Stay-at-home mums shouldn't have to justify what they do all day

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If you're a stay-at-home mum, or have been in the past, chances are you've been on the receiving end of the question "But what do you do all day?"

The assumption being, of course, that if you're a stay-at-home mum, your days are all long coffee dates, Netflix, and reading the latest Liane Moriarty bestseller while your kids play quietly with their toys.

The problem is that the prevailing view that stay-at-home mums (SAHMs) sit around drinking tea means that in 2017, women still feel the need to justify their lives - to outline, minute by minute, precisely what a day at home with the kids entails. In short, to defend themselves.

The question is - why should they have to?

Earlier this year Katy Jackman penned an article for Scary Mommy entitled: "I'm here to tell you what SAHMs do all day so you can stop asking now." In it, Ms Jackman shares an account of child-wrangling many of us can probably relate to - the battles, the boredom (yes - even though you're busy you can still be bored), the laundry and everything in between.

The goal? To shoo away nosy parkers in the hope that they'll stop asking.

She writes:

10am: Play with the lil' guy. Attempt to fold laundry while lil' guy throws clean clothes around the room. Reheat coffee. Get smacked in face with Pop-Tart box.

10:05am: Tell him, "No Pop-Tarts."

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10:06am: Give in and give screaming kid Pop-Tart.

10:07am: Watch kid take one bite of Pop-Tart and give the rest to the dog. Die a little inside.

And that's just seven minutes. The rest of Ms Jackman's day is, as she calls it, a sh**show, that delicate balance of meeting little people's needs, household tasks, and holding onto as many of your marbles as you can all the while.

While I understand Ms Jackman's need to write the piece, and for others to share similar accounts, I can't help but wonder - why is it anyone else's business what SAHMs do all day? Why on earth should anyone feel they need to justify how they spend their time?

The reality is, asking "What do you do all day?" or the like is quite often a judgement, disguised as a question. And it's a pretty rude one at that.

Aussie mama of twins Amanda Strode was left in a similar position to Ms Jackman recently, feeling as though she needed to justify what she does as a pregnant SAHM to her boys. 

In a passionate post to her Instagram page, the super-fit mum, who is currently 29 weeks pregnant, shared that a comment left on one of her photos "cut [her] pretty deep".

It hurt.

 

A post shared by Anna Strode (@bubs2bikinis) on

"I wish I got to stay at home all day and exercise with my child," the commenter wrote. "Instead I have to go to work and do WORK."

For Ms Strode, enough was enough. 

"Work?! You think I don't WORK?!" she wrote. "You think 2 x 22 month old toddlers just let me kick my feet up all day after I've done my morning workout? You think I'm beaming with energy as I grow a new baby and frantically do my best to keep up with twin boys that run rings around me?!"

Just like Ms Jackman, fed-up with the misunderstanding of what SAHMs do, the soon-to-be mother-of-three shared the ins and outs of her day - adding that the aforementioned exercise consisted of approximately 30 minutes of it.

She writes: 

"My days are spent changing shitty nappies, dealing with tantrums, playing cars and trucks, making food that gets thrown on the floor before it's even tasted, walking the streets trying to get tired, grumpy children to nap, attempting to teach two little humans to SHARE instead of bite, pull hair, scratch or push each other, pushing swings, climbing up and down bloody forts that shouldn't even be in kids playgrounds because they are so damn unsafe, singing the alphabet, going for adventures to keep the bubs happy, vacuuming 3 times a day because of all that food that I worked so hard to cook wasn't even considered eating ..."

It's exhausting reading in and of itself - and that's just a snapshot.

As Ms Strode outlines, words hurt. The language we use matters. Those questions SAHMs often hear - "But don't you get bored?" - and those off-handed statements - "Oh, staying at home would drive me crazy" - do hurt.

Quite simply Ms Strode and Ms Jackman shouldn't be placed in a position where they feel the need to justify their time - or their choices. It's no one's business but theirs.

Because when it comes down to it, we're all just doing our best to keep the show rolling.