Let’s face it, this question is ridiculous. When someone is employed as a full-time nanny, no one wonders what they do all day. They’re at work. And yes, being a stay-at-home mom is work. It’s a great job, with a lot of freedom. But make no mistake, as a stay-at-home parent, you will have plenty to do.
A stay-at-home mom will usually spend about 4 hours per day on cooking and household chores, 1 hour per day on transportation, and 2 hours (at minimum) directly supervising her children. A mom with many children or children under three will spend more time than this on childcare.
Look up an image of a stay-at-home mom from the ’50s, and you’ll see pictures of women cleaning their kitchens. It’s the stereotypical housewife task.
When you stop working outside the home, you’re generally the one expected to keep it clean. If you’ve never done this before, it’s amazing what a huge job this is. There’s everyday cleaning like picking stuff up and cleaning up after meals, plus deep cleaning, organizing, the windows and the bathrooms. And don’t forget (how could you?) the laundry. Yikes.
If this sounds like a lot of work, it is. But okay, you’re thinking, a lot of people work outside the home, and they still manage to keep their homes clean. And that’s fair. But when multiple small people are in your house, touching things, doing crafts, and eating snacks, your house gets messy…fast.
Keeping a home clean that is full of children will take at least two hours a day.
Need help managing your cleaning? Be sure to read the guide on developing a stay-at-home mom cleaning schedule.
The biggest household job of a stay-at-home mom? To make dinner. This will save your family money and stress more than just about anything else you can do.
Making dinner can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.
But, alas, dinner is not the only meal of the day. There’s making breakfast, packing lunches, and making snacks. Sometimes a stay-at-home mom will really go all out and make homemade bread, homemade baby food, and lots of other cooking “extras.”
Meal prep and meal planning systems can help cut down on the time you spend in the kitchen. But it will still take a large amount of your time to make home-cooked meals for your family, and it’s a huge part of what you do all day.
There is a certain element of being a mother that is mystical and emotional. But some of it…. is more like babysitting. It’s still vital, obviously. It’s the most important job of a stay-at-home mom.
Here are the basics of caring for children:
- changing diapers
- getting little kids dressed
- nursing and feeding babies
- supervising independent play
- bathing small children
- putting kids down for nap time
- just being there to keep an eye on things
Yes, stay at home parents can do some things, like housework, while also watching children. But there is still a certain amount of hands-on, focused childcare that’s essential and takes a good amount of time.
Education and enrichment for children
The basic childcare tasks listed above are just that, basics.
Most stay-at-home moms do more with their children than just those. (This is not to judge you if you don’t; there are seasons of everyone’s life where the basics are all you can handle!)
But there’s a lot more that you can do with children when you stay home. This is one of the best parts of being a stay-at-home mom. For example:
- reading aloud
- taking kids to the park or playground
- signing up for and supervising online classes
- doing arts and crafts
- baking or cooking with kids
Driving to school and activities
A lot of people understand that little kids need a lot of supervision. But outsiders often wonder what a stay-at-home mom does all day when her kids are in school. The answer? Driving!
If you have older kids, especially in different schools, driving them to and from school takes multiple hours per day. It’s never as simple as dropping and driving away. There’s traffic, lines to wait in, and lots of hassle.
School isn’t the only place that kids go, and for many families, the stay-at-home mom is in charge of after-school activities. That means driving to soccer practice, ballet, art lessons, or whatever else the family is up to, and sometimes driving their friends around too.
Another task falls to the stay-at-home mom. Household shopping is more than grocery shopping (although it’s that too).
First, there’s the constant weight of knowing that you are responsible for everyone having what they need. You need to keep track of food storage, clothes, and just about everything else. Stay-at-home moms have to stay on top of who is outgrowing their soccer cleats, whether they’re running low on mustard, and figure out if they need new towels before the guests come.
Shopping (aside from the grocery store) can be fun. Don’t let it become the focus of your life as a stay-at-home mom. Read how to stop your shopping excessive habit here.
There’s more to life than dinner, laundry, and baseball practice (usually). And for the stay-at-home mom, planning all of life’s other stuff is another task to be handled. Here are some examples:
- Scheduling family photos
- Planning vacations for the whole family
- Registering children for school and extracurriculars
- Planning birthday parties
- Buying and wrapping gift
Take breaks and work on self-improvement
Yes, stay-at-home moms take breaks, just like working moms and anyone who works outside the home. There’s no reason for anyone to judge this or for you to feel bad about it.
(Read now: How often you should take a break as a stay-at-home mom, and how to fit it in.)
You’ve seen that a stay-at-home mom has an endless to-do list. The only way to keep sane is to schedule a break.
Be sure to:
- prioritize sleep
- add self-care to your morning routine and evening routine
- schedule alone time
- enjoy your coffee in peace
Stay at home moms work hard and stay busy.
Taking care of a child is not the only thing a stay-at-home mom does. Not by a long shot.
Just because someone is staying home doesn’t mean they aren’t working. But if you ask, most women who stay home with their kids will tell you they absolutely love it.
Just don’t ask us what we do all day.