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  • Wherein I Answer The Question: So, You’re A SAHM? What Do You Do All Day?

    July 12, 2007

    This morning I thought I would go to the grocery store and buy milk. We were out of milk. So I thought I would go to the store and get milk and that would be that. We would come home with our milk, eat cereal and then get on with our lives and find the cure for age spots or build a fort in the den out of blankets. Either one.

    So I mentioned to the little boy that we should get in the car and go buy some milk and if – IF! – he was a good boy and a cooperative boy, there could be something in it for him. It is probably an indictment of my parenting that I no longer even bother to pretend that bribery isn’t central to my parenting philosophy. It is. Don’t judge me people. Anytime I can buy some cooperation for $1, I’m in.

    If you don’t have a three-year-old, then perhaps you are imagining that we jumped in the car, drove to the store, bought milk and a matchbox car and came home.

    If you have a three-year-old, then you know that we didn’t leave for the store for another two and half hours.

    What could take two and a half hours you are wondering? I wonder this too. Here is what I remember:

    There was dawdling, dragging, dilly dallying, frittering, loitering, lolling and lollygagging,  slithering, dithering, stalling, straggling as well as horsing and monkeying around. There was a lost shoe, a boo boo, a shirt with an itchy tag and the grand finale — the announcement of a poopy diaper just as I snapped the latch on the car seat.

    So then, we went back in the house and repeated the above in reverse order.  By late afternoon, I decided we didn’t really need milk that bad.

    And there you have it. That’s what I do all day.

    59 Comments »

    1. Beck says:

      I love being asked what I do all day. LOVE IT.
      I had to take my younger two kids into the office with me at my oldest daughter’s appointment yesterday, and it was exactly like trying to have a calm medical appointment while herding monkeys at the SAME TIME.

      July 12th, 2007 at 7:54 am

    2. Twisted Cinderella says:

      That is what it is like at my house too.

      July 12th, 2007 at 8:01 am

    3. Lisa says:

      Ahh..the good ol days! Unfortunately things haven’t changed much in the 17 or so years since I was a SAHM. Sadly, it still takes me two and a half hours to get a 20 year old son ready to go shopping! Wonder how long it’s gonna take him to pack up for vacation today?

      July 12th, 2007 at 8:07 am

    4. Sally says:

      My girls are 17 and 12 and I have been a SAHM for 15 of those years. I know what you are talking about, and
      as they get older it is still just as hard to get them out the door and ready to go. They are always busy and on the go, so much of the time I am a “chauffeur” for them and their friends (although the older one drives now, so that helps). I have been asked many times over the years what I do all day and even looked down upon by career women by my choice to stay home with my kids.
      But I don’t regret a minute of it!!

      July 12th, 2007 at 8:19 am

    5. Rachel May says:

      LOL!!! I’m sorry — do you live at my house? *looks around to see if someone is watching*

      July 12th, 2007 at 8:52 am

    6. Anne Glamore says:

      There are some things we’ve been talking about doing since February, but obviously they just aren’t that pressing.

      July 12th, 2007 at 8:59 am

    7. Susan says:

      I hate that question. My sister-in-law actually asked me that when Jonathan was little. I think I just stared at her and stalled with “um…” I really couldn’t account for my time, but I was exhausted at the end of the day.

      July 12th, 2007 at 9:09 am

    8. Everyday Mommy says:

      The five year-old, calling to me from the den, “What are you laughing about!?”

      “What do you think I’m laughing about?” I reply.

      Pause.

      “ANTIQUE MOMMY!” he shouts.

      You are officially a household name.

      July 12th, 2007 at 9:10 am

    9. BooMom says:

      LOL!! BTDT – more often than not I call Hubs to get some on the way home..and while you’re there hon, can you get…..

      July 12th, 2007 at 9:20 am

    10. Janelle says:

      I love a good bribe, er, INCENTIVE. I am that kind of mommy, too.

      July 12th, 2007 at 9:35 am

    11. Terri says:

      I can so relate to this especially the poopy diaper part. My girls are out of diapers now, but this happened more than once when they were still in them.

      July 12th, 2007 at 9:39 am

    12. Kim says:

      My husband thinks that I am crazy for sneaking off to Walmart to grocery shop at 5:00 and 6:00am!
      Sometimes, you do what you gotta do!

      It’s easier than dragging along 3 kids! They are all waking up when I return, just in time to help carry and put away groceries! Tell me, who’s crazy?!?

      July 12th, 2007 at 9:46 am

    13. Laura says:

      Why, oh why, do we get this question? Personally, I would assume that anyone who asks this is volunteering to babysit or clean my house.

      July 12th, 2007 at 9:46 am

    14. MichelleVan says:

      Daughter K: Swing Mommy Swing with me. Play with me Mommy, Mommy Mommy, Dance with me Mommy. Mommy can I paint. (oh oh, she’s 3 and one half going on twelve).

      Me: Make extra strong coffee, write blog post, dont’ edit blog post cuz K is up. Re-read blog post later and find mistakes. Try to correct them and K hits the keypad while swinging off my leg. halk the post is deleted but I cut my losses and move on with my day. Clean dog poop from the yard so she can swing. Put on Doddleboobs for dancing music. Clean up Paint off chairs, floor daughter.
      Make more strong coffee.

      Hubby comes home. Hi dear, what’s for dinner.

      (wonderful site! I’ve subscribed. MotherPie sent me over).

      July 12th, 2007 at 10:19 am

    15. laura says:

      So true. So true. You put it so well. Sometimes I wonder what I do all day and you put it just perfect.

      July 12th, 2007 at 10:39 am

    16. Lexi says:

      I get asked this question a lot…by my husband. I love going to Meijer to shop because they have these TV carts that play Bob the Builder that you can rent for $1. Of course you can’t fit much in the cart part, but I’m willing to drag another behind me if it means not playing hide-and-seek in the supermarket.

      July 12th, 2007 at 10:40 am

    17. Jola Naibi says:

      You are officially my favorite blog…I can relate to your impressive TTC story because it reads a lot like mine but in a different sort of way. The way you channel your wit and humor in your writing is commendable. I need to also let you know that I found you through Good Housekeeping. I read Scarred, for life and I had to look you up. Thanks for sharing and putting a smile on my face. I’ll be back…often

      July 12th, 2007 at 10:52 am

    18. Sheila says:

      Oh can I relate except that I have a 2 year old and a 3 year old. That poopy diaper just as we get into the car kills me.

      July 12th, 2007 at 11:04 am

    19. wordgirl says:

      Sweet cheese on a cracker! How could I judge something that worked so well for me all these years? Sometimes my kids could be persuaded to go on errands with me for low, low price of one of those gumball-style capsules that contains a plastic parachute or a fake plastic watch. Sometimes it was an entire package of green army guys (also cheap). Sometimes it meant getting all of my errands done at Wal-Mart so that we could cruise on over to the toy aisle as soon as I was done with whatever boring task I was holding them hostage with. Now? No one wants to go with me ANYWHERE and the two oldest take themselves wherever they want. So sad.

      July 12th, 2007 at 11:10 am

    20. MichelleVan says:

      I just reread my comment. Obviously I don’t edit comments either when K is sitting on my lap. Ack!

      July 12th, 2007 at 11:14 am

    21. Rocks In My Dryer says:

      “Anytime I can buy some cooperation for $1, I’m in.”…oh, yeah, sister.

      July 12th, 2007 at 11:31 am

    22. mcewen says:

      Oh good [sorry]! Not just me then.
      Cheers

      July 12th, 2007 at 11:31 am

    23. Kari says:

      I love to read posts like this. It makes my groundhog’s day existance seem so much more normal with a 2yo and a 3yo.

      July 12th, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    24. chickadee says:

      oh that is so the truth. multiply that by 3 and you have my life. plus if you take them down the toy aisle you will never, ever get through shopping.

      July 12th, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    25. Kacey says:

      It could be worse— you could have a one year old and a new baby, in addition to Sean. Then, you would take his diapers away or go bonkers. I loved your post yesterday, that boy has a mind like a steel trap! I sure appreciate your sharing your life with us.

      July 12th, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    26. Clare says:

      I remember one time we were on a 3.5 hour car trip at the 2.5 hour trip I bribed the girls by “inventing a game”. The one that could be quiet for the longest won 1.00. The both were very quiet until the end of the journey so I gave them both 1.00. That was the best two dollars I ever spent. Clare

      July 12th, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    27. bubandpie says:

      Brilliant. Just brilliant.

      July 12th, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    28. Suki says:

      OK, I know I’ll get flamed from here to high-heaven (hey, at least I’m not hiding my name behind “anonymous”), but I have to wonder if at 3.5 years old, things might not be running a touch more smoothly if the boy were out of diapers. Yes, I know then there would be trips to the potty before you go and after you arrive and all that hassle. And I’m sure lots of people will jump in to say that I don’t know your child, or that there is probably some valid excuse for why he isn’t potty-trained or that if I don’t like what I’m reading that I should click the little red X in the corner. But hey, comments are for feedback and reaction, right? My first reaction was “3.5? In diapers? That’s taking the whole ‘whatever dude’ thing pretty far”. I’m now standing here cringing and holding a fire extinguisher. Have at it!

      July 12th, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    29. WeevilMaw says:

      I routinely call hubby and aske him to stop at the store on his way home.

      Last night at bedtime it took 45 minutes for the to brush their teeth, put on theire jamies, and then select a video/dvd to watch as they went to sleep, and then actually get in the bed and lie down and BE QUIET! The watch a movie before bad thing is a special occasion/weekend deal we have. There was much giggling during the teeth brushing process,then drinks of water, then both got tummy aches, a disagreement over what DVD to watch, a malfunction with the DVD which caused another disagreement over which video to watch, conflict over sharing of (or touching of) pillows, an illegal round of jumping on the bed, a disagreement over whether to leave the closet light on or turn it off, and three different rounds by each of night night kisses and hugs with mommy. The last part made the rest all worthwhile.

      July 12th, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    30. Romie says:

      My little one is generally cooperative, but sometimes very contradictory in what she really wants. Getting in the car is okay and going outside. Sometimes going into the store isn’t as easy.

      July 12th, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    31. Tam says:

      Although I don’t have a 3 year old yet, I adored this post! I like having fair warning of what I’m in for…

      July 12th, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    32. Jeana says:

      Suki–

      I am perplexed as to why, knowing how that comment would probably be taken, you would nonetheless post it anyway. You’ve already responded to your own comment, so all I might add is that, while there is a purpose to the comment section, I think you may be misunderstanding what exactly that purpose is. And that there is a purpose for the filter between your mind and your mouth; or in this case, keyboard.

      July 12th, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    33. The Small Scribbler says:

      You are one patient woman.

      Kate

      July 12th, 2007 at 6:00 pm

    34. Rachel Langston says:

      I still say (my children are now 6 and 4) was to leave my husband alone with my oldest child when the baby was about 2 weeks old. I wasn’t gone that long, but my husband was still in his bathrobe when I got home about 3:30 p.m. He had not eaten; he had not been to the bathroom; and he had answered the door in his pajamas. He told me then (and he has kept his word)that he would never ask me what happened to my day. Would that others wouldn’t ask either!
      Great post!
      Rachel

      July 12th, 2007 at 6:36 pm

    35. Joanna says:

      You mean we aren’t suppose to bribe?? Who decided this?? Must have been a man or someone who hasn’t tried shopping with a 3 yr old. Not judging, just nodding! Whatever it takes to survive. I had twins and you better believe that I bribed them AND their little brother too! Matter of fact, I’m still doing it.
      Hey, my boys were out of diapers by 3 BUT there was still the accidents. I have a strong feeling that AM does not want to deal with ‘accidents’. I remember questioning one of my boys why he pooped in his big boy pants and he claimed that batman did it not him.

      July 12th, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    36. Sincerely Anna says:

      Amen and amen.

      July 12th, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    37. Christal says:

      Suki, unless you have *tried* to potty train toilet-resistant 3.5 y old boys, just take it from me, it ain’t as simple as all that. Trust me on this one. I had 6 boys and 4 were “trained” after 3. One was *well* after 3. The deal was, he poops, he cleans. Running the tub for himself and all. I couldn’t deal, so he had to.
      AM, I do sympathize. And I agree you are patient!
      ~C

      July 12th, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    38. Tracey/Real Estate Girl says:

      well, not one to be known for a word of encouragement, here goes…

      it gets no better when they are teenagers! Well, except for the poopy diaper.

      Maybe.

      July 12th, 2007 at 9:27 pm

    39. Kathy/ Lessons from the Laundry says:

      Sometimes I actually try to give my husband a run down of “what we did today”. It usually exhausts him and I can tell he either a)lost interest by the second time he heard “but he forgot to wear shoes” b)thinks I’m making the stuff up c)secretly wants my life. It is a crazy life but someone has to do it…and occassionally love it.

      July 12th, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    40. katie m. says:

      That was just hilarious. I have three children under five and some days I think I have been insane for loner than I was sane …
      Thanks for the laugh.
      K

      July 12th, 2007 at 11:12 pm

    41. Poppy says:

      Have you been spying on me????

      I swear you just described the day I had with my almost 3 yr. old granddaughter.

      I too am all about buying cooperation. These days a 59 cent bottle of bubbles and I’m golden 😉

      July 12th, 2007 at 11:55 pm

    42. Thea says:

      Yeah, I don’t see what would go more smoothly if he was out of diapers. Maybe the poo but not the plan!

      July 13th, 2007 at 12:31 am

    43. Steff says:

      i have had an extra 3 y/o for the last 10 days as my mom had surgery and my sisters day care was closed for vacation last week so someone had to be able to keep her a min of 5 days i got elected…lol

      i have had 4 trips to the store like you describe this week…i have determined we are well and truly done and no more babies for me…i dont have the patience for a third one

      not to mention the fact that my 3 y/o son told my neice she has to pee standing up so she has missed the potty all week….ugghhh

      and my sister and mom may never allow her to visit us again because of the new potty problem and my boys taught her to make fart noises and say ” i FART” loudly
      oh and were sending her home with a new Camo purse

      July 13th, 2007 at 12:34 am

    44. Kim says:

      I’d like to kiss whoever invented bribery. Some days it’s the only way I make it through….

      July 13th, 2007 at 6:59 am

    45. AngelMom says:

      I have never been asked what I do you do all day. Most people know a SAHM is the busiest person you can find. I have 7 children and if I pick up or have the children help pick things up a little all day long I’m lucky if all I have at the end of the day is dishes to put in the dishwasher. As for going to the store before daddy gets home……I don’t even think so! LOL : )

      AngelMom
      Parenting
      http://igoparenting.blogspot.com

      July 13th, 2007 at 8:04 am

    46. Mary says:

      One day when my son was 2 I had a stomach flu….no babysitter available. Just me, the boy, and puke bucket all day. I laid on the couch.all.day. When my husband got home at 5 and the house looked like IT had thrown up toys all over the place and there was a school of goldfish scattered across the carpet and a bottle of apple juice spilled on the kitchen floor…..He asked that famous question. WHAT DID YOU DO ALL DAY? My reply…… (imagine the smallest weakest voice)……..
      nothing dear. From that point forward every day that we walked through the door and I was in the upright position and you could actually see the floor….he knew what I did all day.

      July 13th, 2007 at 8:33 am

    47. Lara says:

      I love Mary’s comment. I say we all stop what we “do” all day and let our families see what the house would look like. Ha!! The problem is we would probably all cringe at the sight. As for still being in diapers at 3.5….relax!!!! They all learn to pee on the potty eventually and hopefully no one goes to Kindergarten in diapers. 🙂

      July 13th, 2007 at 10:21 am

    48. Rene says:

      My kids are teenagers now. I remember those days! Preparation for traveling took longer than the trips themselves, and then there were all the extra stops during potty training time. I knew the cleanliness status of every potty in town!

      — Lara, I work in an elementary school and I did potty train one of our kindergarteners. And I used . . . yep, you guys call it bribery. Actually, I called it by the psychological term: reinforcement. You receive a bribe before you perform and reinforcement comes after you preform. People in the world of work don’t call their paychecks bribes, now, do they?

      July 13th, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    49. Gwen says:

      Jeana,

      I am responding to your comment (attack) to “Suki”‘s perfectly civil and legitimate question.

      Suki–

      I am perplexed as to why, knowing how that comment would probably be taken, you would nonetheless post it anyway. You’ve already responded to your own comment, so all I might add is that, while there is a purpose to the comment section, I think you may be misunderstanding what exactly that purpose is. And that there is a purpose for the filter between your mind and your mouth; or in this case, keyboard

      I have only been reading and infrequently commenting on various blogs I like to read for about a year and I’ve wondered something about posting comments. Since you’ve established yourself as an authority on blogging comment etiquette, maybe you can clarify for me what the “purpose” of the comment section is.

      I was not at all disturbed by “Suki”‘s comment as she appeared to be falling all over herself trying to apologize for any misunderstanding her comment might engender. She was, in fact, not answering the question in her post as you seem to think. She was merely trying to ask questions in a conversational fashion (in a sense, musing aloud why the child is not potty-trained), which an internet forum doesn’t allow all that well (since you cannot see facial expressions, tone of voice, etc.)

      Your reaction is the reason why I don’t ask questions or proffer my own musings on various things I read in any blog. I, like Suki, would find myself apologizing in advance for simply asking a question. Surely the blogger anticipates all kinds of responses (you do know that anyone, anywhere in the world can read this blog and comment don’t you?) and as long as the comments are legitimate and not rude, they should be allowed and thus prompt civil and polite responses.

      So, tell me. What is the “purpose” of the comment section in any blog? Is it just for the groupies of a particular blogger to fawn over said blogger? Or can someone ask a question or post a thought? If so, how do you suggest a person do this that would meet whatever your criteria is for a proper comment?

      July 13th, 2007 at 4:14 pm

    50. KYouell says:

      The whole potty-training thing really gets me. My mom is one of those “put ’em in cloth and they’ll get tired of being wet fast” types. I saw it when she would babysit my much-younger cousins and I’m sure she was like that with my brother & I. My oldest (2yo son) has Down syndrome and frankly, is just going to do some things later than a typical kid. I’ve read that it’s not unusual for a boy to potty-train at age 4. OMG, we’re in for a few years more of diapers and a bunch more eye-rolling from my mom because *I* haven’t accomplished this yet.

      So, Suki’s comment seemed quite civilized to me. And I would venture the guess that you can’t train a kid if they don’t mind sitting in a dirty diaper. That’s the sign that we are looking for and we’ll start as soon as it shows up.

      I appreciate the advice that bribery may help! Or is it a paycheck? 😉

      July 13th, 2007 at 8:01 pm

    51. Just Mom says:

      Wow! You mean I’m not the only one?

      July 13th, 2007 at 8:50 pm

    52. Beverly Dixon says:

      I once read an article where the mother had a really bad day with the kids, one where you put the milk in the closet and the tennis shoes in the fridge. her husband comes home and is surprised by the mess and asked what she had been doing all day. She responded “They’re alive, I’VE DONE MY JOB11111

      July 13th, 2007 at 10:31 pm

    53. Chris from Canada says:

      It’s the lollygagging that gets me. Everytime.

      Chris from Canada

      July 14th, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    54. Kris says:

      I love the comment about buying cooperation for a dollar. My daughter hasn’t learned the value of coins yet, so I bought a nap for a dime the other day. hehe
      K

      July 14th, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    55. Fstop Steve says:

      As a nationally ranked lollygagger, there is a future in this particular pastime. You should encourage it.

      July 15th, 2007 at 11:26 am

    56. Kerri says:

      I so love your blog!!! I have even started reading it out loud just because it seems to flow better since I’ll be howling with laughter by the time I reach the end anyway! There is a 14 year old a nine year old and a 19 month old living in my home. Not to mention a dad who has not yet reached antique status. If for even a second I ever start to forget that then I run out of milk and have a day that would qualify nicely for the “so what did you do all day” day!

      July 15th, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    57. Jenny says:

      Too funny! I love your blog. My baby is almost 2 years old, and I feel like it takes longer and longer to get out of the house every day. He’s walking up and down the stairs by himself now… won’t accept any help from me. So I spend 25 minutes at a time just trying to get him to come the rest of the way. If I try to pick him up, he turns to jelly and throws himself down. It’s hilarious this age.

      July 15th, 2007 at 11:24 pm

    58. catherine says:

      Love your blog!!! The potty training thing? nothing to do with you as a mommy. I have 3 grand children and I raised three children. Each one is different. Some are early and some are late.
      Toddlers are a blast!!! Have fun and play. The house will be there later to get cleaned up. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Time does not stand still for anyone. So happy for you and your husband. God bless and keep your family.

      August 11th, 2007 at 1:16 am

    59. Lynne says:

      I am laughing so hard, that the tears are rolling down my face!!! I just happened upon your website through “Like Merchant Ships”…..and I am so glad I did! Your posts are hilarious ( well, most of them are…the others are just…beautiful). Between the “Mary Tyler Moore” day and this post…I have not laughed this hard in awhile! I am a 46 year old SAHM, but my kids are 21 and 16….I am remembering all of the same moments when my two were little…oh, how I wish for their babyhood back. They are two wonderful kids ( I have a boy and a girl), so opposite of each other…both were a totally different experiences…but now, since both are so active and have their cars, both are hardly home. Husband and I just look at each other…in those early years, we would have loved a free night together…we have it all too often now…just he, the two dogs, and me. The years fly by…it is so wonderful to read how you are enjoying your child…and your blog is a precious gift to all who read it. Thank you so much.

      December 4th, 2007 at 5:19 am

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