This week, I’ve been trying to nail down a neighborhood contractor for a home repair. Though I haven’t been successful, I have been reminded of how little respect some people have for the time of stay-at-home parents.
I’ve been communicating with this person via text for the last three days, and here’s how it’s gone:
Tuesday 8:35 AM
Hi Jim, we’ve got a problem with XYZ. Can you please help? [photo attached]
Wednesday 11:04 AM
“I took too long to answer this text. I apologize. I will need to come look at XZY.”
Thursday 8:49 AM
“I’d appreciate it if you would take a look at XYZ. We’ll be home most of today other than an errand or two. Let me know if you have a moment to stop by.”
“I may have sometime later this afternoon…
Can I text you when I’m close by?”
Thursday 3:01 PM
“Something has come up and today will not work out. May I attempt on stopping by tomorrow?”
Friday 2:00 PM
[STILL NO SIGN OF HIM]
So here’s what I have to say to anyone that does not stay home with young children and may need an update on what our daily schedule looks like.
1. There is a schedule.
People who don’t stay home with kids sometimes think that our calendars are completely and utterly blank between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. No place to go, nothing to do. Just totally flexible. That’s not actually true.
2. We’re not just home all the time.
And here, contractors are my absolute favorite. Ones who, as soon as they learn you stay home with kids, feel they can monopolize your entire day.
“So, what time can I expect you next Tuesday?”
“Well, maybe sometime between 8 and 12. Or maybe 1-4. But if I’m running late, you’ll just be here waiting for me, right?”
3. Even if we are home, that doesn’t mean we’re available.
Do you know there are days when I stay cloistered in my house with the shades drawn, just so I don’t give passersby the impression that I might be “available”? Like the last three days I’ve spent potty-training my two-year-old, who has been on and off the toilet no less than 283 times each day.
Yeah, not available.
And please don’t bother knocking. I will literally pretend I’m not home.
4. Disruptions to the schedule can have punishing effects.
I see it Every. Single. Monday. While we’re busy living it up on the weekends, keeping the kids up past their bedtimes and nap-skipping, they’re slowly unraveling. And by Monday, they’re a mess. Nothing like a couple of tantrums to start your week off right!
5. We’re not being rigid to annoy you.
It’s for the kids. They need structure in their little lives, and frankly, so do we. We need to know that naptime comes at 2 o’clock and dinner comes at 6. We all thrive on a little predictability in our day.
6. Our “free” time is precious.
There’s nothing that makes me crazier than my phone ringing during naptime—when I’m trying desperately to squish a day’s worth of cleaning and writing and phone calls (and, god forbid, a moment of relaxation!) into an hour—and finding myself on the receiving end of some salesperson’s spiel. Oh hell no. These moments of relative peace are precious, and you can’t have them.
7. We’re not trying to offend you.
You texted me yesterday morning, and I still haven’t responded? Chill. It’s not because I didn’t see it or I didn’t think it was important. It’s just that since then, there’s always been something MORE important to attend to, because we’re never really “off-duty.”
8. TGIF is a joke.
Years ago, I walked out of Buy Buy Baby with a squirmy infant on my hip, my purse in hand, but not the items I had just purchased at the checkout. The good Samaritan behind me in line called me back to retrieve my stuff and jokingly reassured me, “TGIF, right?!”
Of course, I thanked him. But as I walked away, I chuckled because he obviously didn’t realize that life as a stay-at-home parent is pretty much the same no matter the day of the week. Holidays are actually more work for us, and vacations are anything but (have you read this piece? It’ll have you in stitches!).
9. You can’t judge our day against yours.
Too often, I hear stay-at-home parents lament how little they’ve “accomplished” during the day, but what is our measure of success? We’re not writing reports, attending meetings, or presenting at conferences.
We’re building literacy, one book at a time; building self-esteem with each high-five; and building whole, happy little people in a way that can’t be quantified. I just don’t have an Excel spreadsheet to show for it.