I've had a lot of non-parent friends ask just what it is that I do all day. Often the enquiry made is in politer terms than that, but the meaning is just the same.
I make meals and clean.
Quite simple really. Except, how is that this takes all day?
7am: Daughters awake. DD2 breastfed for 10-15mins. DD1 cereal and milk for breakfast. Make her lunch for creche. Make my breakfast. Feed DD2 solids (takes about 5-10mins).
Clean up: Bib, possible change of clothes and dirty muslins from cleaning up high chair.
Get girls in the car, take DD1 to creche. On return breastfeed baby.
9am: DD2 down for morning nap. Unload/ stack dishwasher. Tidy up kitchen. Put washing on. Get on computer to see what other mothers are up to. Try to sneak in shower. Open curtains and windows upstairs.
9.45-10.30. DD2 wakes up. Breastfeed for ten minutes. Many parents have coffee groups. What do we talk about? How sick and tired we are of cleaning and making meals. Chore time: supermarket shopping, returning library books, plunket appointments etc.
11.30: DD2 solids feed for about ten-fifteen minutes. Produces bib, muslins and sometimes a change of clothes needed. Hang out laundry, but if baby being clingy then playing with baby. Breastfeed baby before nap.
12pm: Baby back to bed. Lunchtime for me. Hang out laundry, sort out dinner for the evening (need lots of time when there are 2-3 meals to be made. Other cleaning (often folding laundry, cleaning up toys etc).
12.45-1.30pm: Baby up, needs more milk. Snack time for baby - often a very messy rusk or cracker (produces laundry). Playing etc. Breastfeed before creche pickup.
3.30pm: Pick up from creche then on to afternoon activities like playdates, gym and ballet.
4.30pm: DD2's dinner time: solids. Takes about ten minutes. Cooking dinner for four year old. Give dinner to four year old. Put DD2 down for dinner time sleep. Clean up: muslins and bibs from the baby, and muslins from the four year old clean up. Put dishwasher on.
5.45pm: Baby up. Four year old playing (creating mess but having fun).
6.20pm: Final breastfeed for Baby.
6.30pm: Vincent home from work, says goodnight to the baby. Eats dinner (which is often the same as the four year olds, but can be different). If four year old massively messy from creche then shower time.
7pm: Four year old goes to bed in elaborate twenty minute teeth brushing, reading and singing extravaganza. Four year old has terribly messy clothes by the end of the day, always need washing. She often brings home a wet/ dirty set of clothes from creche.
7.30pm: If I haven't eaten then I have it now. Tidy up kitchen (takes about thirty minutes). Deal to laundry again.
10.30pm: Dreamfeed for the baby (thirty minutes).
I haven't mentioned changing nappies, tidying up toys, extra spills, stripping beds, dirty fingerprint wipe downs, the interminable seatbelt process, the amount of crap that needs to be carried around to meet all these needs and then all the one off things. We have a giant seven litre washing machine and tend to do at least one load a day, frequently two. The dishwasher goes at least twice a day, and often three (five is the record). On the days that the oldest isn't at creche there is of course a lot more housework, but then a lot less time to do it.
It is relentless. With one child it can be hard enough, but when you have one infant they can't spread as much mess as a crawling baby, or a walking toddler. When you finally collapse into bed you know that you have to do it all again tomorrow. I read recently that it is perfectly normal to love your children, love being a mother but hate the work of motherhood. There are many aspects of the experience of motherhood that are fantastic, but I have not yet come across one mother (yes I'm generalising but the numbers are on my side here) that has enjoyed the relentless, mind numbing chore that is cleaning up after children.