My sister and I have done it all; we've worked outside the home, worked FROM home, and we're both currently staying at home being wife, mom, chauffeur, chef, maid, finder-of-lost things, master of last minute projects, homework helper, and maid (yep, deserves being mentioned twice).
There are many misconceptions about the "stay-at-home-mom" (aka: SAHM). One being she does exactly that: she stays at home. She goes nowhere, she does nothing, other than stay at home with kids all day. Let me just tell you, after a few days of staying at home, doing nothing, hanging out with only her kids she's going to start chanting "red rum, red rum" and channeling her inner Jack Nicholson. The SAHM actually does everything in her power to NOT stay at home. She carves out a routine where many believe one doesn't exist. She craves that routine, she desperately NEEDS that routine. Without it, she is left floundering, flailing about in the unknown, spiraling downward and left wondering "Is it Tuesday? Or October?". No, my friends, the SAHM is actually a silly term. It should actually be the "I don't work outside the home but for the sake of my sanity and lives of my children I need a routine and schedule and I cannot possibly STAY at home all day so I get out as often as possible" mom. But let's be honest, that one is kind of a mouthful and certainly isn't going to become popular via Facebook statuses anytime soon so we'll just stick with the "stay-at-home-mom" for the time being.
The day of the SAHM often begins when she, in a very gung-ho, go get 'em tiger kind of way, sets her alarm early with the intent of getting up and working out before the kids get up. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But lemme tell ya, when you've got visions of Jillian Michaels breathing down your neck, snuggling under the covers for just a "few more minutes" is a BAD idea. So depending on how intimidating thoughts of a sadistic bitch are for inspiring a workout, she begins her day (very often neglecting the workout...for now anyway, she'll "do it later"). Time to wake the troops...the SAHM is often left wondering why it is so very, very difficult to wake sleeping children on a school day yet these same children are often up EARLIER and on a voluntary basis on the weekends. At any rate, when she drags their sleeping bodies from bed an instant chorus of "Why do I always have to get up first?" and "I don't want to go to school today" echoes throughout the house. However, the SAHM is a unique creature in that she has developed an immunity to high-pitched whining. Like dogs CAN hear it? Moms can't, or at least pretend they can't.
For whatever reason, the time spent getting children ready for school seems to fly by. She is rushing around barking out commands and issuing instructions: "brush your teeth" "get some socks on" "NO we do not have time to build a pillow fort" "I don't know where your backpack is, where did you leave it last?" "DID YOU GET YOUR LUNCHBOX OUT FOR ME SO I CAN PACK YOUR LUNCH? I'VE ONLY ASKED YOU A DOZEN TIMES!!! DO YOU OR DO YOU NOT WANT TO EAT LUNCH TODAY!?!?!?!?" To which her child timidly replies: "but I asked if I could buy lunch today" Whoops...sorry 'bout that, go get mom's wallet. The morning rushes by and somedays it's like watching a beautifully choreographed ballet, other days it's like watching a drunk herd of stampeding buffaloes stumble their way around with a deer-in-the-headlights gaze permanently fixed on the faces of everyone in the house (including mom because her cup of coffee is left untouched and forgotten in the microwave...again...).
Once backpacks are finally on, mittens are found, lunch money has been doled out the door slams, the SAHM is left only with the little people. She has the very intent goal of being out of the house by a specific time for running errands and hopefully squeezing in story time at the library. Now, although the SAHM does very often create a schedule for herself and her children, the one luxury of not working outside the home is that she can often afford for wiggle room in said schedule. She tries to avoid hiccups at all costs because they can mean the difference in having enough time to get a coffee before getting through Target, and then the grocery store, post office, and the bank or having to skip the aforementioned altogether and only getting the bank checked off her list for the day. After the distractions of email, Facebook, the ladder leading to big sister's loft bed, Baby Center, Nick Jr., and the never-ending bucket of fruit snacks in the pantry have been dealt with, she is finally able to leave the house (albeit a bit behind schedule).
No time for coffee so she heads to the snack area at Target (where they recognize her instantly) where she settles for a diet coke and a "sample bag" of popcorn for her little person. The popcorn sometimes works for the toddler, sometimes it doesn't as she's at that age where being confined to the cart is akin to losing a limb or dropping a coveted package of fruit snacks. She does her best to calm the screeching, and may have to resort to bribing (my toddler learned the word "treat" early on in life...not proud of that one). She takes a well traveled route throughout the store (the one that avoids the toy and movie department) so she can escape with as few tantrums as possible. But there have been the trips where she has to ask the cashier to return Clap with Me Elmo, Tickle my Foot Elmo, Go Potty with Me Elmo, Sing Annoying Nursery Rhymes with Me Elmo, Kiss my Ass Elmo and 12 "babies" back to the shelves as tossing them haphazardly in the cart at her toddler was the only way she could get through the store unscathed (but she realizes later she forgot milk because there was no room for it in the cart). Story time at the library is usually an adventure; one she attempts only so often (after they lifted the ban on her and her toddler after an unfortunate incident involving a rotating rack and an unsuspecting librarian). There are days her toddler will cuddle in her lap and listen quietly to a few books, but then there are days where seemingly hers is the only toddler running all over hell and gone yelling "MOM!" from all corners of the library and gathering books from damn near every shelf. Time to go...
Lunchtime is typically painless and the SAHM's chance to grab something for herself to eat, sometimes the crusts of the toddler's grilled cheese but if she guiltily skipped that morning's workout, she'll throw together a quick salad. However said salad is often shared with the toddler, who ends up eating more of it than mom. Nick Jr. often provides the background noise like the members of the Rat Pack in an Italian restaurant. The mom has occasionally found herself transfixed by Yo Gabba Gabba without a child in sight. Don't judge. Naptime is a blissful reprieve from mothering for a bit, yet the mom typically uses naptime as her chance to throw in a few loads of laundry, unload and reload the dishwasher, call the cable company (as she promised her spouse she would 2 days ago), emails child #1's teacher about the Valentine's Day party, pick up the explosion of Fisher Price, Mattel, and Lego from her family room (even though it will all end up back on the floor later anyway), and maybe, just maybe get a chance to get on Facebook for a few minutes...but she really should work out since she didn't do it this morning. OR there are the days when all household duties are neglected in favor of nothin' but Facebook and mindless computer games (but then of course she'll spend the rest of the day panicking over unfinished "chores" and feeling guilty for doing them instead of spending time with the kids). Before she knows it, the toddler is awake and the big ones have returned home leaving a trail of backpacks, boots, mittens, and a sheaf of papers which are seemingly important (SO important that they warrant a place of honor under wet, snowy boots). Snacks are handed out, somehow Nick Jr. has found it's way back on (and let me just say that Ni Hao, Kai Lan has made me NOT want to learn Chinese) and homework is started despite the big ones' best efforts to claim they will do it later and please please please can I go outside for just a little bit? The SAHM knows that if she lets them go outside prior to finishing homework, getting them to do it later will result in a battle that rivals Normandy. Blocking out the grumbling and whining she begins to prepare dinner while homework is being begrudgingly completed. She does a quick pick up session around the house because she KNOWS her husband will walk in, take a look around and ask "So, what'd you do all day?" which will result in her wanting to punch him in the baby maker. After a whirlwind evening of dinner, baths/showers, bedtime snack, just "one more" episode of Zack and Cody, a round of Memory, a few more loads of laundry, books, and teeth brushing the ankle biters are off to bed and the SAHM has a chance to breathe for a minute. Before she passes out on the couch to her DVR'd episode of Greys' she gets the coffee pot ready for the morning (even though her cup from that morning is still in the microwave), finds backpacks, makes lunches, scrapes papers off the floor from their spot where they have dried to the laminate under the boots, signs permission slips, picks up another tornado of toys, and then sets her alarm because dammit, TOMORROW she will get up early and work out.