So….What Exactly Do You DO All Day? A Day In The Life Of A Suburban Stay At Home Mother

I'm pretty content with the way things are right now, but I definitely hold on to some feminist guilt about not having my own income, and I'm very sensitive to SAHM stereotypes and wage a constant battle against them.
Publish date:
March 21, 2013
babies, mother, housework, naps, suburbs, playdates, toddlers, housewives

As I've mentioned before, I'm a suburban stay at home mother.

This is a job description that brings a surprising amount of judgment, disdain, and preconception in people. I know this because back when I was an ambitious professional student, I used to judge suburban stay at home mothers and had much disdain for them. What do they DO all day?

I'm pretty content with the way things are right now, but I definitely hold on to some feminist guilt about not having my own income. Though I’ve definitely gotten whiffs of judgment from friends, a few family members, and former colleagues (“Are you tired of changing diapers yet?” “You can take care of this right? It’s not like you have a job.”), I’m mostly waging a constant battle against the smartass, loudmouth inner monologue of MYSELF from approximately 1992- 2008.

As a result, I'm very sensitive to SAHM stereotypes and wage a constant battle against them.

So, what DO I do all day? Usually I try to leave the house at least once: grocery store, playdate, walk, playground, Gymboree, SOMETHING. But here is exactly what I did last Tuesday:

I was supposed to host a playdate for 8 mommies and at least 8-10 babies and toddlers aged 7 months to almost 4. But my son has the sniffles and though he is cheerful and has no fever, he is coughing a little bit and his nostrils are coated in dried green boogers.

Not wanting to be chased out of my own home with torches and alcohol swabs, I postponed my playdate. The weather is shitty and Baby and I will be cooped up and sniffly.


Roll out of bed, pull pajamas on and go downstairs to get Baby's breakfast started while Husband changes his diaper before running out to catch the train. Judging from the commotion I can hear on the downstairs baby monitor ("Oh my god, OH MY GOD! What's all this? What did you EAT?"), Baby has recently had a vigorous bowel movement.


Baby sits in highchair and picks at his pieces of banana, then devours a toasted frozen waffle with some apple butter. I empty the dishwasher and turn the kettle on for my coffee, then sit in front of him, alternating playing with my phone with chatter about his breakfast (“How are those bananas? I’ll give you your milk in a few minutes. Play with the ball while I tear your waffle into little pieces. Yes, look at the window, there are people outside.”)

Then I give baby his bottle of milk, throw some waffles in the toaster for my own breakfast, peel an orange, get my coffee ready, and take the empty bottle out of baby's sticky fingers.


Bring my breakfast into the living room, clean baby's face and hands and pick him up and put him in the playyard in the living room. Baby plays with a few toys and books. His latest fave is “Bunny” (AKA “BEEEE! “BEEEEE!”) -- a stuffed bunny from Ikea -- which he carries around in his mouth like a cat while cruising the perimeter of his playyard and also trying to yell at the TV.

I eat my breakfast and watch "House Hunters" DVR’d from last night (blessedly, it’s a sensible young couple who aren't irrationally obsessed with granite and chose a very nice and practical house that they can grow into and make their own). I have no need to yell at the television. I eat my breakfast and enjoy my coffee.


Bring Baby into his mini-playroom to play. Plop him down in front of activity table and turn it on. Run downstairs to turn dryer back on to finish drying the damp clothes I put in last night before bed. (Our dryer sucks. I hate our dryer. We really need to get somebody in to look at our dryer).

Grab a few clean Husband shirts and a few of my sweaters that were drying on a rack and run upstairs to hang Husband shirts and throw the rest on the bed. I can hear the piercing tunes of the activity table from downstairs, which means Baby is happily playing and hasn't crawled under the futon to bang his head against the metal slats (WHY is that so much fun?), so I quickly throw the clean laundry from yesterday all over the bed and sort it: Husband's stuff on his side of the bed, my stuff on my side, baby's stuff at the foot of the bed.

Run back downstairs to sit on futon in playroom and play with my phone again. Baby has tired of the activity table and is crawling back and forth on the rug while holding one Fisher Price plastic ring in each hand. He won't let go of them as he pushes himself up to cruise across the wall, doing the perimeter of the room until he gets to me on the futon. Baby cruises along the futon I sit on and tries to grab my phone out of my hands. He says "TOE!" and grabs at my toes.

I catch a whiff of poo smell so I pick him up and change him on the changing pad we keep down here. The poop is abundant and full of pieces of grape tomatoes from yesterday and baby just HAS to scratch his right asscheek while madly kicking his legs. I attack him with wipes and take him upstairs for his nap.


Put Baby in his crib and sing the nap song. My original lyrics? “Naptime, naptime, nappy nappy nappy time.” As soon as I turn to leave the room he screams like he's being murdered. I run downstairs to shower while listening on the baby monitor to Baby's screams turn into soft babbling and then finally, quiet. I sit in the living room in nothing but my towel and alternate between texting and laptop. I make a shopping list at Ikea of things to get to make our basement a kid-friendly family room. I put a shopping list in my Google calendar for when we go to Target later.

In a few weeks Baby and I are taking our first plane trip ever (without Dada), so I watch Youtube videos for travel tips with toddlers. I constantly refresh Joe My God and xoJane and xoVain and Dlisted. I call the baby rental place I am using for gear on our trip and give them my credit card information.


I run upstairs to quietly get dressed before baby wakes up. I put moisturizer on, then my earrings and rings. I absentmindedly put a few pieces of clean laundry away, then run back downstairs to get baby's lunch heated up in time to cool. I microwave a little bit of my modified version of this beef, sweet potato and apple stew, throw all breakfast dishes in the sink to rinse, clean baby's high chair tray, sit down and play with phone again.


Baby wakes up and starts babbling. I run down to the basement to get the dry clothes out of the dryer so I can dump them on my bed before I go in to get Baby. He's standing up, smiling, and his nose isn't too crusty. He's still wearing his fleece footie pajamas from last night and the neck is very damp from drool. I change his diaper and dress him in a navy turtleneck bodysuit, khaki chinos and gray socks.

It's rainy out but not too cold so he'll be OK with just a hooded sweater when we go to the store later. I bring baby down to his highchair and put some chunks of sweet potato and beef stew on his tray. I put his bib on and defrost a bagel for my own lunch.

Baby was happy 4 minutes ago, but for some reason the sweet potatoes and beef seem to piss him off. I give him a few minutes to pick at it, then try to feed him some of the stew broth, thinking it might be good for his sniffles. He noisily blows raspberries after each mouthful, spitting the broth all over his bib and onto the neck of his turtleneck.

I still need to put a bit of makeup on and eat my own lunch, so I don't want to have to sit and feed him and I don't have any other suitable finger foods ready, so I give him some smoked gouda cheese and some crackers. I get my bagel ready and sit down to join him.

When we're done eating, I give him his bottle of milk (yes, I'm still using bottles) and run upstairs to put on a little bronzer and blush, mascara and lipstain. Baby is still sucking on his empty bottle and he didn't have the healthiest lunch, so I decide to try to give him some applesauce. He eats every bite. I clean his face and hands, then put him on the floor while I put on my jacket, scarf, purse and backpack diaper bag. In the time it takes me to do this, baby crawls halfway up the stairs. I climb up to get him, put his hooded sweater on and then we're off.


Go to Target. It's too wet and disgusting out to put Baby in a shopping cart, so I use the stroller and hang reusable bags from the Mommy Hook. Buy some household and baby stuff we're running low on: dishwashing detergent, extra wipes and diaper creme, nothing special. But since baby has his millionth cold this winter and Husband has to go out of town for a few days and I'll be on my own, I cave and buy this adorable set of toy cars that I've been dying to get since I was pregnant.


Back home. Let baby play in playroom some more until all he does he cruise the futon and try to suck on my knees.

This happened a lot today. Hours and hours of this.


Snacktime. Cut-up pineapple? Nope. Cut-up apple? Maybe. Baby picks at the apple while I go pour some honey nut Cascadian Farm cereal into a little cup. He eats the cereal and drinks his bottle.


Bring Baby up to change diaper and put down for nap. He screams like he's being murdered again when I turn to leave the room. I go downstairs and get a mug of ice cream, then settle down on the couch to watch a few minutes of TV ("DVR'd "Sixteen Candles"-- isn't Jake Ryan still the dreamiest guy ever?). I wait for baby to quiet down. He does not quiet down, indeed his fussing turns to anguished screams.


I had planned to save Baby's new toy cars for a more rainy day but it's only 4:30 and Husband won't be home until around 7:00. Baby is at the gate to the playroom while I inspect the box of cars, cut one out with a box cutter, wash it and bring it over. The car makes noise when you wheel it back and forth. Baby is into it, he's reaching, he wants the car.

I toss it into the middle of the room and baby crawls to it and happily plays with it on and off until Husband comes home. I get the laptop and try to get some writing done until Baby decides it’s more fun to try to slam the laptop shut than play with the shitstorm of toys strewn all over his playroom.


Husband comes home and joins us in the playroom. He gets baby to chase the new toy car. Dinner will be leftovers tonight and I have to run back out for more groceries to prepare for another playdate. I give instructions for Baby’s dinner and get ready to head out.

There you go. Not quite what I do EVERY day, but this is definitely a fairly typical day. If it ever stops being 37 degrees out all the goddamn time I will take Baby to a playground and never, ever leave.

What did YOU do last Tuesday? If you don’t have kids, does this make you want to immediately get sterilized or are you kind of into it?