Becoming a stay-at-home mom is not something that I took on lightly. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was in a job that I wasn’t in love with (quite simply, it wasn’t writing) and I couldn’t imagine having to leave her all day every day. I decided that staying home was the best thing for both her and for me. I had built up a good amount of savings and paid down debt, so I knew that we would be able to swing it financially on just my husband’s income, at least for a while. Even though things have come a long way, there is still a stigma attached to being a stay-at-home mom.

As for me, I've been doing this stay-at-home mom thing for about six years, and I'll tell you this—it's harder than I realized, and it's constantly changing. My kids are now five and three, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Kids are always entering new stages, and you're struggling to keep up. Then, they can carry stuff around, and the house quickly becomes a disaster. Add to this the fact that I’m also holding down a full-time freelance writing career, which is all I ever wanted to do, and my days are incredibly full and hectic to say the least.

Constantly caring for children is exhausting. You're touched out, stressed out, and just dirty. A day in the life of a stay-at-home mom is full. I’m homeschooling a kindergartener and a preschooler while trying to fit in the time to meet deadlines. It begins before I even set my feet on the floor in the morning. Here's a rundown of how the typical day goes for me:

  1. I’m usually awake for the day before my husband’s alarm goes off at 5 a.m. because my son is asking to be flipped to the other side again—we co-sleep with my nursing son, who will sit up and ask to be flipped to the other side for more milk every few hours. Because of that, my sleep during the early morning hours between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. is pretty segmented, though I will groggily oblige and attempt to go back to sleep until he wakes up again.
  2. Once we hit 5 a.m., my to-do list is already flashing neon in my head as I wait for my son to stop nursing and fully wake up. Sometimes if I’m super awake and can reach my phone, I’ll check my messages and deadlines for upcoming articles that I need to work on.
  3. Once he’s awake between 5 and 6, I negotiate with him about his clothes and convince him to play with daddy while I finally get into the bathroom. It’s the five minutes that I can guarantee to get to myself all day.
  4. If I get to go alone, I take a few minutes just to be alone.
  5. If he’s simply being too difficult, I let my son come in because some mornings the fight just isn’t worth it. I spend time trying to shush him so he doesn’t wake his older sister and get out as quickly as possible to get his butt downstairs. 
  6. Once we’re downstairs, I’ll grab some water, say hello to my husband and organize my freelance writing for the day. 
  7. Depending how long all of that takes, it’s usually about 6 a.m. and I’ll battle between sneaking in writing a quick for my next freelance article on my phone or making breakfast. Usually, I just start in on breakfast before anyone gets mad, including myself. Food is the right answer for my kids and me, who tend to get not just hangry, but super hangry. It's usually not worth all of us having a complete meltdown. 
  8. Down a piece of toast while making breakfast for the kids, knowing that it won't be enough. 
  9. Refill all the water bottles three or four times a day.
  10. Make coffee because… Coffee—that sweet caffeinated elixir that keeps many of us running. Maybe even get to drink some.
  11. Do dishes from the night before (sometimes) while kids run around the house yelling and playing.
  12. Convince my kids to eat. If my son is being difficult, I’ll let him sit on my lap because getting food in him is more important than always convincing him to sit by himself.
  13. Say goodbye to my husband quickly between getting the kids to eat, putting away leftover food and cleaning up the breakfast dishes.
  14. Sweep under the table (maybe).
  15. Play Legos while feeling guilty about not writing or cleaning.
  16. Chat with another adult in some form to help my brain. This could be calling my mom, who gets the most time with usually about 15 or 20 minutes, texting my mother-in-law, and messaging friends and my husband sporadically.
  17. Remember that the dryer sucks, and go put the laundry from last night on for another round because I'm not going to rewash it. It's still okay if it's under 12 hours, right? 
  18. Either do dishes or stack them on the counter… really depends on what kind of day it is. They're either all washed, or they're overflowing all over the counter.
  19. Feel guilty that I don't clean more. See, even I apply the stigma to myself sometimes.
  20. Make snacks for the kids because they don't eat enough breakfast and will soon be hangry monkeys.
  21. Around 7:30 a.m., sit with my son on my lap, sip coffee, and share toast while trying to write on my phone with Daniel Tiger or Octonauts in the background. Add in some non-book learning like science videos and try to convince myself they’re better than just regular shows.
  22. Feel bad about putting the TV on so early, but do it some days anyway. Like on days when my son's tummy hurts because he holds his poop for longer than should be humanly possible.
  23. Make more toast because they're still hungry. Push the apples they didn't eat at breakfast. 
  24. Write on my phone while fielding questions about the names of different superheroes or whatever is on the TV. 
  25. Try to convince my daughter to change out of her "comfy cozy" pajamas.
  26. Around 8 a.m., we’ll go for a walk or play outside if it's nice out. Attempt to write if sitting on the deck.
  27. Break out the homeschooling materials by 8:30 a.m. and struggle through getting my daughter to sound out words when I know that she knows them. 
  28. Get my daughter more food because she says her brain's not working. Let her take laps around the house if she can’t sit still.
  29. Try to convince her to do some by herself while teaching my younger son some letters and numbers.
  30. At the same time school is happening, wash towels, sheets, clothes, or the tub, depending on the day.
  31. Fold and put away laundry from the day before. I'll be real, sometimes two or three days before. 
  32. By 9:30 a.m. or 10 a.m., try to get my kids up and moving via dance party or yoga. Sometimes I just pretend to be a wolf and chase them around the house, but only if my coffee has kicked in. If that doesn’t work, play a game, hide some Easter eggs for them to find (regardless of the time of year), do a craft, or draw. If I'm feeling super ambitious, we may get out of the house.
  33. Sneak in a workout or, most days, just a shower, while listening for screaming and hoping that they're playing nicely together.
  34. About 10:30 a.m. a few times a week, get the kids in the tub for baths because this mama doesn't have time or energy at night for that. 
  35. About 10:30 a.m. on non-bath days, make any phone calls or appointments that we need to get done. If it's an appointment day, I get them there and back. 
  36. Look at the food situation in the fridge. Update the list. 
  37. Update the budget to make sure it's all tracked. If it's payday, I struggle to find time to pay bills in between everything else, but it needs to get done because I don't mess around with late fees. 
  38. Get my laptop out just to do something quick like check on an article or submit an article, which is much easier to do on an actual computer. 
  39. Make lunch by 11 a.m., which usually includes baking bacon, and cutting up apples and cucumbers and try to get my daughter to eat a bit faster instead of taking an hour to eat. 
  40. Eat my lunch because if I don't I'll get hangry. If my son and I don't eat on time, this is the point in the day where I have to deal with him and me fighting. 
  41. Work for a bit while the kids play. Hopefully only needing to break up a couple of fights or reconnect a faulty superhero cape once or twice. 
  42. At noon, brush the kids' teeth and get them ready for a nap. 
  43. Read two or three stories with my son if he’s up for it, otherwise lay down with him and nurse until he’s asleep.
  44. Have some special time with my daughter after I escape from him. This time is usually playing a game or reading a story. 
  45. Write as much as I can while my son is asleep. Some days I only get an hour before his tummy hurts and wakes him up to poop. On good days, I’ll get two or three hours. All of it is spent trying to get as much freelance writing done as possible because the time available can fluctuate so much.
  46. Help him to poop if it wakes him up. Cry if it doesn't work. 
  47. Get him to finish his nap, which is always going back to sleep on me on the couch. Attempt to write on my phone for a while. Give up and watch one show.
  48. Wonder how it got so late. 
  49. Feel bad that I can't hang out with my daughter more. 
  50. At about 3 p.m. after naptime, prepare more snacks.
  51. Cuddle my son on the couch while letting the kids pick a show to watch.
  52. Try to do some more writing while they play together after the TV is off.
  53. At about 4 or 4:30 p.m., make dinner for me and the kids. It’s usually pretty similar to lunch since they refuse to try anything new. 
  54. Pick up toys the kids didn't clean up.
  55. Get everyone to eat enough, which really can take the rest of the evening. Say hello to my husband in passing when he gets home between 5 and 5:30 p.m.
  56. Attempt to clean up the kitchen, but it depends on how ambitious I’m feeling.
  57. Either play Legos or cuddle until the kids' bedtime.
  58. At about 7 p.m., get my son ready for bed, sometimes with a fight, sometimes without.
  59. Make up a story involving either the Hulk or Batman.
  60. Nurse him to sleep.
  61. Sneak away unless I'm too exhausted and end up singing both him and myself to sleep. 
  62. Between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., work for another hour or so. Make myself stop to go to bed. 
  63. Maybe get a chance to talk to my husband for a few minutes.
  64. At 9 p.m., lay in bed for a while trying to sleep, but have a hard time calming my brain. 
  65. Wake up multiple times to nurse my toddler. 
  66. Get up in the middle of the night to make him food if he didn't eat enough during the day. 
  67. Repeat.

All moms do a ton throughout the day, and stay-at-home moms are no exception. If you have a side hustle or your own business, it's even busier. It's no wonder we're all exhausted. Instead of judging, get the stay-at-home mom an extra coffee. She needs it.