Lists have always implied social order. -David Viscott
If I am going to be good at this “Stay-At-Home-Mommy” thing, what is it, exactly, that is required? My oldest child is of the opinion that the important tasks are the ones that are assigned to you – everything else is optional. (This means that if I want her to do anything, I have to assign it specifically.) On the flip side, both kids use specificity to their advantage – only things that are clearly defined in a “no” list are forbidden. We have conversations like this:
“Chickadee! Are you supposed to be standing on the couch?!”
“I NOT standing. I bouncing.” Hm. Point to the munchkin.
Okay, so the list of things assigned to me starts with that:
1. Attempt to stay one step ahead of the children. But that’s pretty basic. And it reminds me – it’s time to update the parental controls on the computer.
The next few things on my list, come from the observation that there are some advantages that two-working-parent families have over SAHM (or SAHD) families. (Let’s get that out of the way, right now. I am annoyed by the whole “Mommy Wars” thing. Different strokes for different folks.)
2. Don’t stay home. The world is a big place – let the kids see it.
3. Get the kiddos some social interaction – playgroups, Mother’s Day Outs, whatever. Completely aside from learning how to socialize, kids need to see and meet different kinds of people. Otherwise, when they do finally make it out into the world, the variety of personalities, races, body types, and all of the other varieties that make humanity wonderful – would be pretty scary, when confronted for the first time.
4. Have a routine. Working families are forced to have a routine. We aren’t. But we get pretty cranky when we don’t follow one. Plus, it makes bedtimes and mealtimes sooo much easier. I’ve learned that it makes the back-to-school routine easier, too, if we follow a routine during the summer (albeit, a looser one – it is summer, after all.)
See? Good stuff from working families. Observation is good. And, speaking of observation:
5. Pay attention to other kids, other families. What are they learning? What to we need to learn? I realize that too much comparing of kids leads to insanity, but at the same time, some of our little playgroup friends were already learning board games, and I hadn’t thought of that yet. Again, different folks have different ideas.
6. At the same time, learn to selectively ignore people. Yeah, different folks have different ideas. Someone is going to tell you that you are a terrible mommy, and it’s going to hurt. Just try to remember, that you are the one who’s had to wander the grocery store for two hours because it’s being renovated and everything is in the wrong place and the kids are cranky and want to get out of the basket – not them.
7. Get a village. Not only for the different perspective for the kids, but to give a different perspective for Mommy, too. You need girlfriends who understand what it’s like to have a daily conversation about the latest Backyardigans episode or Barbie movie, or answer “Why?” Eight thousand times.
And, don’t forget the traditionalist approach:
8. Dinner. My job’s on the home front – my job is to cook. Yeah, you can go all women’s lib if you want, but I’m home at the pre-dinner hour, so my job is to cook it. Besides, haven’t you heard? Aprons are hip again – seriously. Google “designer aprons.” Over 5 million pages pop up. (Some of them really are pretty cute – yes, I have one. But I need at least one more…) That, and if I’m cooking, then I get to decide the menu. You don’t like it? You cook.
9. Laundry and other housework. What, Favored Spousal Unit and Beloved Offspring are supposed to go around naked because playing Civ IV is more fun than folding socks? Not much of an excuse, is it?
10. Repair people, et al. I’m home, so it makes sense that if something needs to be repaired, I should arrange for that. I know when we’ll be here, and know when we can wait.
11. Know stuff. The family calendar. Where things are. I’ve answered the phone and checked the mail, so I know when stuff happens. I’ve put things away, so if anyone knows where it is, that’s theoretically me.
I’ve been thinking this out for quite some time. Admittedly, part of this post is expanded from a facebook post of mine from several years ago. (I have edited and expanded – a lot – so hopefully, that makes me not quite so lazy. Cut-and-paste blogging. What is this world coming to?)