And why do you care what I do all day?

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This is for the stay at home mom who is fed up with asking what she does with her time. Whether it's asked in a seemingly curious way with a snarky undertone or with a side of “Whatever it is, it's probably not enough” then this was written just for you. And, while you might not feel comfortable looking someone in the eye and asking “Why do you care?” we are in your corner if you decide to do just that.

This is a guest post written by Andrea Marlene and was originally published in April 2016

And why do you care what I do all day?

I'm a stay-at-home mom with three kids. This year my youngest child started school and I am still a stay-at-home mom. You heard me right, my kids are at school during the day and I'm at home.

And why should you care?

If you are not staying home like I do, I would wager that the first thing you thought when you read the above statement is, “What do you do all day?” And the reason I know you're thinking that is because in the last few months, dozens of people have asked me the same question. People who work part-time or full-time, people who stay home with young kids, even people who used to stay home while their kids were at school but that was so long ago they've now forgotten what exactly it was they spent all of their time on.

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Why is it so interesting to other people what I spend my time on? If I said I spend whole days scrubbing the tiles in my shower with a toothbrush, would that satisfy your curiosity? What if I admitted that after dropping my kids off at school I come home, put my pyjamas back on, and sleep for six more hours? Would that answer your question? Because here's my question:

Why do people keep asking me what I'm doing?

I haven't always stayed at home. I have a university degree and I spent several years working at a good full-time job that I liked. I quit after my second child was born for various reasons. I make decisions just like everyone else makes decisions, with careful thought and planning based on what I believe is best for me and my family.

But now that my youngest is in school it seems everyone thinks my ability to run my own life is seriously impaired. I know there are people who respect my choices, but they seem few and far between. And there's even other moms in the same boat as me, but presently all of them are cowering under their beds while mobs of well-meaning relatives bang on their windows, shouting “WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THERE?!”

In my experience, there are four kinds of people who ask me this question

1. People who think I must be rich, lazy, or both

Because, really, why else would I choose to stay home when my husband is at work and the kids are at school?

2. People who are jealous

These people aren't trying to criticize me, they just really wish they had “all that free time,” too. The truth is, while my days are mostly self-directed, I don't have a lot of “free time” to relax. I get pretty stressed out with everything I have to do, just like other people (surprise!).

3.  People who think they know what I should be doing all day

These people irk me the most. They are the ones who quietly judge my lifestyle and talk behind my back about how baffled they are by what I do (or don't do). They regularly suggest to my husband that he doesn't need to do things like go to the bank after work because, “Your wife can do it. She's home.” As if I'm nothing but his servant.

They also drop not-so-subtle hints about what they think would be best for my family, “I'm sure your kids would love to be home-schooled.” Or who push me to volunteer for their cause, “Why don't you sign up for this? You have the time.” And sometimes they send me job ads, “Thought you'd be interested since you must get bored being home all the time!”

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4. People who actually care

These are people with whom I've had a close relationship for years. Friends who are truly interested in my life and have respect for my choices, regardless of what I choose. If you're one of these people then feel free to ask me what I'm up to because I know, based on our history, that you are not judging me but are just trying to be supportive. The truth is, I'm actually a very busy person and if you sincerely care about me I will gladly fill you in on all the stuff that's going on in my life.

If you are not in the last group, don't bother asking me what I do all day because I know you don't genuinely care. Your question is steeped in judgement or expectation and I have no obligation to satisfy your curiosity. I don't ask you to account for how you spent your workday or what activities you did with your children today and you don't need to express false interest in whatever it is I'm up to, either.

But if you are one of those close friends who actually cares, let's have coffee one morning next week! After all, I probably have nothing else to do anyway.

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  1. OMG, next to the phrase, “You’ve sure got your hands full” when I go out with my four kids under 8, THIS is the next most obnoxious question ever. Great article and I feel ya!

  2. “…while my days are mostly self-directed, I don’t have a lot of “free time” to relax….” Thank you for this! I, too, am a stay-at-home mom with kids in school, but I am busier than ever! I remember days at work (outside the home) when I would check my email, shop online, & chit-chat with colleagues in between meetings and actual work. I don’t have that kind of downtime at home, and I so appreciate your words because I finally feel like someone else understands!

    1. Oh, I TOTALLY understand! I even get frustrated with myself for not being able to get more done during the day, but really, by 2:30 I’m already at their school for pick-up so despite what some people think it’s not THAT much time I’m without them. So when they’re gone it’s a mad dash to get as much done as I can. Sounds the same for you! Glad you enjoyed my piece. 🙂

  3. Seriously waited until my youngest started Middle School before I got a “job”. I substitute teach 3 days a week. I started “any day” the first few months and then realized I wasn’t getting any of MY STUFF done! Best way to use my years of classroom volunteer and PTO mom.

    1. I agree…I’m at my kids’ school a lot, too and I love that I can do that at this point in their lives. I may go back to work outside the home at some point but only when it’s the right time for my family and not to please anyone else! Thanks for the comment. 🙂

  4. Actually, I *would* think it would be a luxury to be a stay-at-home wife and mom with the kids in school. At the moment I have 4 kids under the age of four, and I can rarely get anything I want to do done. I also plan to homeschool. If there was a good, Catholic K-12 school nearby, they would go there. I would finally have time to do things a HOUSEKEEPER needs to do! Actually clean, scrub those bathroom floors, have all the laundry done, go food shopping by myself, run whatever errands, etc. And — oh my gosh — be able to keep up the yard and have a garden! I would love to do yard work! Oh, and maybe paint a room or two. Put my sewing machine back into use. Put our wedding album together (after 5 years of marriage, I still haven’t put our wedding album together…).

    So, in my eyes, you do have luxury — to get things done! 🙂

  5. I’m a stay at home dad. Imagine the questions I get. People think I’m just a driver. I do all the cooking, get the kids dressed, do the girls hairs… braid it if they would like. I’m a room “mom”. Every time I walk into one of the schools someone asks me to lift or carry something. I think public schools are a joke so I’m a teacher in the afternoon giving them lessons and homework from the next grade level up. I’ve had teachers steal worksheets I’ve created. We have 3 kids. First one got a full ride to college. Second got a half academic, half athletic scholarship and the third is a few years away but is following the same path.The list goes on and on. People wonder why I’m not out cutting the grass or washing the cars every other day. I’m exhausted just like everyone else but this house runs like a machine because of what I do. Be on the lookout for my book. It’s called UNDER-APPRECIATED.