Nothing puts me on the defensive faster than being asked, “Don’t you get bored?”
My mind starts to race as I think: Bored?!? Are you out of your mind, of course not!!! Making food, serving food, picking up food, cleaning sticky hands and faces, wiping down furniture, countertops, floors, and little butts, doing loads of laundry, folding and putting away that laundry, playing blocks/farm animals/trucks/reading books/etc., changing diapers and clothes…
That’s all before 9:00 am.
But lately I’ve been thinking about the question, and, well…
I am bored.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things to do. I definitely keep busy. There’s a pretty relentless cycle of chores and routine that’s required to keep a household with three children under five running. But it’s a fairly mind-numbing list of things to be doing each day. Loading and unloading the dishwasher isn’t exactly my jam. And there’s a difference between being busy and being bored.
To be fair, I think the “don’t you get bored?” question-askers are really trying to ask a different one: “What do you do all day?” Assuming I can’t possibly find enough to keep me occupied all day long as a stay-at-home mom. And that’s an entirely different question. I could give a run-down of a typical day’s schedule and still feel like it wouldn’t truly encapsulate what on earth I spend my time doing.
But. Back to the boredom question.
Am I bored? I think if us parents, especially those of us who stay home, were to start answering that question honestly, without putting our defenses up first, we would answer with a resounding, “YES!”
It’s the relentless again-ness of everyday motherhood.
Wipe down the counters…again.
Fold the laundry…again.
Pick up the sippy cup that was thrown on the floor…again.
Change a diaper or two…again.
Wash off the high chair…again.
Taxi our way to and from the school drop-off and pick-up line…again.
Referee a fight…again.
Pick up the toys…again and again and again.
That’s exhausting. It’s not necessarily hard (though that depends on the day’s level of sleep-deprivedness). It’s not that I’m searching for things to do (though sometimes I search for things to do to help me avoid the things I actually need to do). But it can be extremely boring.
All of this doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy being home. It doesn’t mean I’m longing for a job outside of the home. I don’t think I want to go back to being “at work” all day. Not now. The boringness of being home – it’s just honest. There were parts of my career before babies I found boring, too. There were parts of going to school for 12 years and college for another five I found boring. I don’t think anyone would have told me that I should have switched careers or dropped out of school just because there were parts of it I found boring. It’s what you do with the realization of this is boring that matters.
So I write. I read anything I can get my hands on. I take photos and enjoy editing those photos. I need some sort of outlet. It’s a bit of a respite when I get a chance to sit down in the evenings or during naptime and have a chance to write or go through photos, journal, or catch up on reading. I take time out on the weekends to go to a coffee shop. I meet up with friends for pedicures or take a date night out with my husband. I take myself out of the boring and fill up with something I enjoy, something that matters much more than the 37th load of laundry.
Some days, I step away from the boring and dedicate an entire day to play. I make a rule that nothing needs to get done except the bare minimum to survive (making food, cleaning up said food). Those days, projects don’t get tackled, bathrooms don’t get cleaned, stacks of clothes might sit in their baskets. I let it go so I can enjoy playing and not worry about the things that “have” to get done (or at least not worry much). I have two four-year olds and two and they are fun to be with right now. They’re interesting and have personalities and even full conversations. They’re more interactive by the day. Even on the worst of days turning on some music or TV (What’s that? Screen time? You monster!) during the day relieves the tedium and makes a huge difference in all of our attitudes.
If other moms ask me about staying home, I tell them honestly now that it can be boring (and lonely, but that’s a whole other post…). But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. It doesn’t mean I hate it. Sometimes…that’s just what it is. You fight your way through the boring and find ways to liven it up where you can. And hey, if you find a way to make doing the dishes interesting, please let me know.