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Why Stay-at-Home Moms Get Nothing Done All Day

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JANIE PORTER
Janie Porter
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When I was a childless TV news reporter, I would laugh when my stay-at-home mom friends would tell me that their houses were a mess. How on earth do you stay home all day and you don't get anything done? Don't kids nap for hours at a time? If I spent all day at home, my house would be immaculate.

I figured stay-at-home moms must be really lazy and unmotivated, and since I was in a highly-demanding TV news job, I started to look forward to being a full-time mom. If anything, I figured staying home with kids all day would be a nice break from chasing murderers and covering apartment fires. Well, now the joke's on me. Fast forward three years and, yes I love being a mom. But I'm still eating the naive, self-important words of my former, non-mom self everyday. I thought I'd share one of my recent days with you -- and this was actually on a day when I had some household help.

Note: The goal of this post is to make you laugh! I am not saying that my life is harder than yours, or that stay-at-home moms have it harder than other parents. I'm all about moms supporting other moms, not creating mommy wars and pointless debates on whose job is harder. We all have it hard. And we're all awesome for getting through each milk-spattered floor, poop-stained, spit-up-on-our-shirts day. So, please, just laugh at my pathetic day. And just leave it at that.

4:43 a.m. I wake up. I try to go back to sleep, but end up getting up to work on SheJustGlows.com and return four-day-old emails. Probably my only chance to get any alone time all day.

7:46 a.m. Toddler and baby wake up. Toddler is mad when I tell him he can't have Goldfish for breakfast. He gets bread instead. Tantrum. Hold and cuddle baby while I spend the next 10 minutes telling the toddler he can't have Goldfish. Probably repeated the message 19 times.

8:12 a.m. Toddler remembers he wanted Goldfish and goes to snack pantry to get them himself. He can't. Tantrum.

8:16 a.m. Goldfish tantrum repeats.

8:21 a.m. We finally settle on oatmeal with tons of pancake syrup. At least Goldfish-gate is over. Toddler is finally in high chair, and now I can put baby in high chair to feed him as well. Baby won't eat the bread. I heat up some leftover chicken in the microwave and cut it up. He eats some, but he's still hungry. I get him a banana. He scarfs it. I get him strawberry banana yogurt. If it takes more than three seconds to get the next spoonful in his mouth, he lets out a shrill, high-pitched shriek. I bring the laptop to the counter next to him so I can stand there and check emails with one hand while I spoon feed yogurt, on repeat, with the other.

8:27 a.m. Toddler demands to watch Transformers from high chair. I move high chair and allow, even though that show is way too old for him. (Don't judge.)

8:31 a.m. Baby is finally done and I need to wet paper towel to clean him up. No more paper towels in kitchen. I go to garage to get new roll. While there, I remember I haven't switched the laundry load from last night. I throw the clean laundry on the laundry bed. Then I head back to the garage to switch the load and return to the kitchen. I clean baby up.

8:39 a.m. Toddler is done and needs to be cleaned up as well. We have to leave for the park in 20 minutes. I should probably change both of their diapers, since I never did when they got up. And I should probably get all of us dressed. After all, none of us have pants on yet. Including me.

8:44 a.m. Housekeeper arrives 15 minutes early. Answer door. Oops, I have no pants on. Hi, Monika. I let her in as I cover my morning breath mouth. Must leave house. But first, pants.

8:45 a.m. Wash both high chair trays in the kitchen sink and clean up breakfast dishes, along with lunch and dinner (still in sink from last night). Try to distract baby from housekeeper's cleaning supplies on kitchen floor. Take baby into his room for diaper change and clothes. Still no pants on me.

8:50 a.m. Yell for toddler to come to his room so I can dress him. He won't. Spend 10 minutes asking him or walking him to his room for diaper change, then he runs away. Repeat three times. Finally get fresh diaper and clothes. Runs away before I can get shoes on. Oh well. We're 80% there.

8:55 a.m. Brush teeth and get myself dressed. Pants finally on. Hair is three days dirty, so I put on a hat. I don't have makeup on and haven't even washed my face, so sunglasses will do. Add deodorant and shoes. I feel dirty, but at least my teeth are brushed.

9:02 a.m. Pack diaper bag for park playdate. Size 3 and 5 diapers, wipes, bib for baby, change of clothes, water for me, cell phone and wallet, sippy cups. Need snacks. Get some graham crackers from cupboard. Toddler hears the sound of snacks and finally comes running. I corner him to put on shoes. He resists but I win.

9:08 a.m. Leave house and head to park to meet friend. Text her to say we're eight minutes late. Sorry. Should have texted earlier. Have five minutes of calm so I call my sister to catch up. Finish up as we pull into park, while the toddler yells, "Mommy, stop talking!" from his car seat. I park car. His shoes are off. I put them back on.

9:12 a.m. Greet friend and let kids play on playground. The next two hours consist of snippets of adult conversation, broken up by kids fighting, timeouts, snack breaks, four phone calls with my husband about website issues, reminding kids to share snacks, telling kids we don't have the exact snacks they want, sprinting to stop my baby from falling off a five-foot-high playground platform and coaching the toddlers on taking turns at the drinking fountain, swings and slides.

11:37 a.m. Was planning to go home for lunch, but friend suggests Chick-Fil-A, which sounds great because it means my halfway-clean house will stay clean for one more hour. Walk back to car and load baby while toddler threatens to run into street. Snap baby halfway in car seat and bolt to stop toddler. Walk toddler to car and lift into carseat. He gets out and runs inside to the back, third row of our Suburban. For the next two minutes, I politely ask him to come back to his carseat so that I don't have to hoist myself into the back of the hot car to physically get him out. He finally obliges. Buckle him in carseat. Open back hatch, collapse stroller and load in back. I get in car, and we leave. Realize just as I leave the parking lot that baby is not fully strapped in. Stop and correct.

12:02 p.m. Walk into Chick-Fil-A holding baby in one arm and diaper bag on other shoulder while holding toddler's hand. During the six-minute wait, the toddler almost knocks over a display, pushes the leg of the man next to us, yells that he wants ice cream to the cashier helping another customer and gets gum out of my purse. As we get to the front of the line, I remember my husband wanted lunch too. I juggle the baby and diaper bag to call him for his order, letting go of toddler's hand and risking an escape. Thankfully, luck was on my side. We order.

12:10 p.m. Let toddler run wild while I hold baby and hoist two high chairs to our table from other side of restaurant. Buckle in baby. Then toddler. OK, I can breathe. They're both restrained. Pacify them with sippy cups and old pretzel fragments from the bottom of my purse while we wait for food. It comes out and everyone is quiet. The next hour consists of reminding the toddlers that they both ordered the same thing and don't need to fight over food, throwing some fries in front of the baby in between, laughing with my friend about how Taco Bell is the best pregnancy craving satisfier ever, scarfing my chicken wrap and reminding the toddler he can have ice cream if he finishes his meal.

1:14 p.m. He finishes meal so, as promised, I wait four more minutes in the line and buy ice cream cones for both toddlers. Friend watches kids at the table. I hear, "Hi, Mommy!" from 30 feet away the whole time I'm in line. I smile.

1:18 p.m. Kids eat ice cream and then want to play on the playground. Sounds fine. My friend and I continue talking until we realize the kids can't find their way down. Spend next 13 minutes in playground, coaching them on how to get down, then spend about seven minutes asking them to put their shoes on so we can leave. We are each holding a baby so we have to wait until both toddlers are agreeable. Say goodbye to friend while toddler runs ahead. Find him at door to parking lot with a Chick-Fil-A employee who stopped him from running out into the drive-thru line. Embarrassing. I'm sorry and thank you. Scold him while walking back to the car. Open door and he pulls his running-to-the-back-of-the-car stunt again, except this time he doesn't come out. I get in to get him out and buckle him in seat, then change baby's dirty diaper.

1:31 p.m. Get home and carry diaper bag and baby into house while toddler walks. It is clean and smells wonderful. Better put the toddler down for nap now so I can enjoy a clean house for a fraction of a day. Monika did a great job. I realize I forgot to leave her a check. I take off toddler's shoes and change his diaper. He wants to watch TV, but I say no. Meltdown. I get him sippy cup and carry him to his bed while he kicks his legs in protest. I hope this is short-lived. Luckily he was tired, so five minutes later, he was asleep.

1:36 p.m. Just me and the baby now, so time to unpack the diaper bag and get some things done. I put him on the floor with some toys that I know won't keep him happy. All he wants is remote controls and my cell phone right now. Our tenant had left a voicemail while we were at the park, so I return her call. The kitchen drain at our rental house is clogged. I call a plumber and text her to say he's on the way. Return a few personal emails, email insurance agent to follow up on question I asked a few days ago, add applesauce and graham crackers to grocery list (I know there was something else we needed but I forgot what), text husband to see what time he's going to be done with work and start to think about dinner. I should probably thaw some chicken.

2:13 p.m. Baby shrieks. I was in the other room, but I think he lost his balance and bumped his head. I console him and smell a dirty diaper. Time for a change.

2:21 p.m. Haven't put baby's pants back on yet when the insurance agent calls to answer my question. I call my husband to update him. Then call insurance agent back. Toddler will be up soon. I should try to get more done. But I'm getting tired, and I want to play with the baby. I sit on the floor of the living room and get out an airplane and a fire truck. We play.

3:07 p.m. Bananas! That's what I needed. We've been out for like four days. I walk to the kitchen to get my cell phone and add it to the grocery list. While on my phone, I see my mom had texted me about dates for their next trip. I open my laptop to check our calendar and respond. The baby crawls into the kitchen and starts dismantling the Tupperware cupboard. Oh well, at least it's all plastic.

3:31 p.m. I switch the laundry load from this morning and put the clean clothes on the laundry bed. Should probably start folding these clothes. I stand next to the bed and start folding.

3:46 p.m. Loud crash in the kitchen and baby crying. I'd forgotten about the glass bowl in my Tupperware cupboard. He dropped it on the tile floor and it shattered. Thank goodness the baby's OK. I put him in his walker in the living room and get out the broom to sweep it up. When I open the broom closet, it wakes the toddler, who comes out while I'm sweeping. I ask him to stand still so he doesn't get glass on his foot. So he runs into the backyard. Barefoot.

3:59 p.m. I finish cleaning up and the baby and I follow toddler into the backyard. Both kids are barefoot, but who cares? It's just another fight I don't have in me. For the next hour, I remind the toddler not to hit the baby, enforce three timeouts, set up the kiddie pool and walk around the side of the house to get the hose to fill it with water, get both kids snacks and waters and milks, play "I Spy" and apologize to the next-door neighbor through the back fence for the toddler's loud shrieks, the whole time wishing I'd brought my water and sunglasses out because I'm super thirsty and the sun is bright.

5:03 p.m. The hubby is done with work. Darn it, I never thawed anything for dinner. Salads and leftovers it is. I realize I haven't cooked dinner in two weeks. I apologize to him. He smiles and says, "you don't need to apologize" (because he's amazing). I remember I have an extra box of mac and cheese in the pantry that I can make for the kids. Score.

5:10 p.m. Hubby plays with kids while I prep dinner. For the next 30 minutes, I'm alone in the kitchen and it's simply amazing. I finally get my glass of water. It's the first time all day that I'm not being touched or asked for something. Cutting up carrots and romaine and throwing orange powder in a pot has never been so fun.

5:43 p.m. Dinner is ready, so I serve up plates and bring them to the table. Hubby puts boys in high chairs. I pour milk in sippy cups and bring to kids. We sit down and pray. I forgot my water in the kitchen. Hubby needs drink. Toddler needs spoon. We all need napkins. I get up and get them. As I sit back down, I realize I never put salad dressing on my salad. I bring my plate back to kitchen and dress with oil and vinegar.

6:01 p.m. Everyone else finishes eating as I take my third bite. Hubby makes toddler stay seated while I finish eating. (We're trying to teach good manners.) The next seven interruptions grate on both of us, so we finally cave and let the toddler watch TV so we can talk for a few minutes in peace.

6:08 p.m. Hubby just gets back to table from turning on toddler's TV program when baby starts protesting too. I get up, wet a paper towel, clean the baby up, get him down from high chair and sit back down. He crawls over to my leg, so I pick him up and try to eat my salad with one hand (which is almost impossible because salad is possibly the hardest food ever to eat one-handed). Hubby takes baby but baby cries for me across the table. I take baby back. Forget the salad. I had a big lunch.

6:15 p.m. Hubby plays with kids while I clean up dinner. I do dishes, clean kid trays, put extra food away and prep kid lunches and snacks for our playdate tomorrow morning.

6:43 p.m. It's our quality family time together and all the toddler wants to do is watch TV. We turn it off. Crying. He asks for Curious George over and over. We probably say no nine times.

7:03 p.m. We go outside to the lanai and talk while the kids play with toys and take turns going down the plastic slide. For the next 30 minutes, we start approximately five adult conversations that are never finished because of the toddler taking toys from the baby, pushing the baby, the baby falling or the toddler wanting other toys that are not in the lanai.

7:34 p.m. Diapers are dirty and it's bath time. Thankfully, hubby takes this task almost every night, and I couldn't be more grateful. I try to finish folding the laundry bed. I get about 50% done by the time baths are over. Hubby yells that there are no more clean pajamas. I grab a couple from the clean laundry pile and bring into the kids room to help dress.

8:06 p.m. The baby is exhausted so I lay him in his crib while the hubby and toddler roughhouse. I suggest they do something more calm and almost-bedtime appropriate. They sit on the couch and read a book instead. Toddler requests four more books before bed.

8:21 p.m. It's bedtime. Toddler lays facedown on the living room floor in protest. We reason with him that he's tired and let's get his favorite sippy cup from the cupboard to bring to bed. A furious "no!" is yelled into the sisal rug. We let him lay there while we finish two of our five previous conversations (including a ruling on the insurance question) as the toddler returns from Meltdown Land. He demands to bring his fire truck to bed. We say no. He caves and we walk him into bed. He lays down.

8:35 p.m. We go back to laundry bed and keep folding. (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention: We have to because the laundry bed is our bed.) Toddler walks into our room. We walk him back to his bed. Repeat four times. He finally falls asleep.

9:24 p.m. We finish folding laundry, but we're too tired to put it away. We transfer the folded laundry stacks to our dining room table.

Maybe I'll wake up at 4 a.m. again tomorrow and put it away before the kids get up. Or maybe it'll sit on the table for the next four days.

Either way, it's fine.

It's not like I'll be making dinner anytime soon.

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Formerly an Emmy-nominated TV news reporter, Janie Porter is the creator of SheJustGlows.com and (often-unshowered) stay-at-home mama to two boys under 3 years old. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter for more posts about finding your inner glow, less-than-perfect parenting and clean eating.