what did you do all day?

The other day I drove back to school, in heavy falling snow, with a pair of worn out almost hole in the knee Columbia blue snow pants for my nine year old, Caleb.

You see, it started snowing just as we were leaving for school and as we pulled up in that drop off line – don’t you love the line? – he looked at me and said Mom!! Mom!! – I don’t have my snow pants! ย Of course he didn’t. I asked him if he wanted me to go home and get them but he knew I was busy and getting ready for a business trip and that he forgot them and I heard him mumble no, it’s okay, mom, I don’t need to go outside.

So I drove home.


And stayed at home for approximately 92 minutes until the thickness of the snowflakes and the piling up of snow made me decide to grab those snow pants and to trek on unplowed 4 inches thick of snow roads to his school with those going outside to play is mandatory with snow pants pants.

What did one of your kids forget?

That’s what I was asked when I came in and handed over those critical recess pants to the gals in the office. ย And then, then out of the blue I blurted out…

Isn’t this what us moms do?

And it is.

Sometimes we go through life day in and day out doing the same things over and over and over. Tucking sheets just so and washing laundry and inside outing teeshirts that our kids threw in the wash. Or we scrub out crayon from the dryer or wipe up foot prints on the floor and sort out toys. We print out pictures for school projects and do experiments and listen as our fifth grader tells us tales from his locker.

We rock our babies and hold our toddlers hands and make dinner and lunch and pack lunches and cut oranges and apples and dole out Goldfish and drive to school and work and back. We put hair in ponytails and help with teeth brushing and read the same story again and again and again. We help them learn to tie their shoes and put peanut butter on bread and be independent.


And sometimes, if you’re like me, you’ll get to the end of the day and look around and wonder what in the world did I do all day?

We’re looking for the big things – like the weekend I went stir crazy and decided to paint my bedroom furniture and the walls and then my family room (I must have had extra caffeine or something). Or the trips to Legoland or the American Girl Store or all of that. And in the looking for those big moments the little normal every day beautiful things can be lost.

Like trekking to the grade school with snow pants.

Chances are you have those moments. In fact, I’m telling you that you do.

You have these moments that are unbelievably beautiful – not because they’re extraordinary – but because they are the moments that make up motherhood. They are the things that you do that no one sees. No one acknowledges them really. There aren’t gold stars given out for the days that you stay up all night with a little one with an earache (let me tell you – that just happened in my world.) Or for the times when you have to coax a seven year old into laying still so you can put ear drops in.

There isn’t an award ceremony for the times when you fought for your kids and marched into doctor’s offices and demanded answers. Or when you decided to spend an extra five minutes coloring. Or when you simply laughed and danced with your kids. Or for trip after trip after trip to school with kids in the back and coats zipped and hats on the heads and sweet moments together.


What about the battles? The times where it’s you against the three year old and the decision to not get dressed? Or the meals made again and again and again? ย Or the times when you take electronics away from your middle schooler because they sassed back and the day turned into an epic battle? Or the macaroni and cheese dished up and the orange cups opened with juice spilled everywhere and the juice poured and cups cleaned?

And all of the times when you were so tired but just kept on going.

Don’t discount the strength in being a tired mom who simple mothers.

I know it’s easy to wonder what you got done everyday. And to judge your day’s success by the completion of your to-do list. But listen – that to-do list? It’s a guide. Not a grading tool.

Checking every box doesn’t make you a better mom.

It just means you checked every box that day.

Sometimes real life happens when we move away from the list – it happens in the margins and moments and within the structure of our days. It happens in the five minutes waiting for your middle schooler to get picked up for school as you laugh about something he saw on Youtube.

Relationships and motherhood strength happens all the time. You, in fact, do so much more than you give yourself credit for. No more dismissing your days and wondering what you’ve accomplished. No.

Do you know that for Caleb he might not have thought anything about those snow pants showing up – well, he was probably relieved because what kid doesn’t want to play in fresh snow? – but he probably didn’t think wow my mom is awesome and she did so much for me and drove to school. No. He’s a kid. He thinks blocks of ice are awesome.


But that’s what we do.

That’s what moms do.

It’s all those little things, those little moments, those times when we just give up our time and self for our family that add up and layer together and create these unbelievably beautiful stories that take place in the margins of life.

I know it’s so easy to be hard on yourself.

I know because I am on myself.

But today?

Today when you wonder what in the world did I do today?

Remember those little moments.

Don’t discount your ordinary beautiful story.

And if you’re ever asked what did you do all day? Take a moment and remember all those small things. Write them down. Remember them. Get teary eyed about them – about you – because you are changing lives with those days where you wonder what you did all day.

Because you didn’t do nothing.

You mothered.


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25 Responses to “what did you do all day?”

  1. March 4, 2015

    Christy Reply

    This is so true!! I often find mysled trying to figure out what I did all day. As I am finishing up Kindegarten registration papers I feel such sadness because I realize that my last baby will be moving right along. How I wish I would of spent a few more hours coloring or reading? Children continue growing no matter if there are dirty dishes or not. Thank you for this post.

  2. March 4, 2015

    Michele Reply

    I love this and I thank you so much for laying it all out in this way. I have had to actively decide to accept that mothering is enough, every day. The repetition of what we do all day was the toughest part for me to deal with. I don’t want my boys to thank me, I just want them to feel secure, loved and important. As long as they end the day feeling this way, I had a productive day.

  3. March 4, 2015

    Dana Reply

    I love this. Moms do so much! And you are right that the kids don’t notice and think we’re awesome (though wouldn’t that be cool?).
    I love how you said “No more dismissing your days…” I agree. I’m in. I resolve to no longer dismiss my days as if I didn’t do anything. Thank you, Rachel.

  4. Motherhood and mothering days do blend together, but the little moments captured in photo or just by the heart make the blending of the days more bearable.

    Yes, motherhood is epic. It’s epic in all the little and big things we do for our children, even if it feels like we didn’t do anything epic in the adult world! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. March 4, 2015

    Simple Peach Reply

    What a beautiful reminder of the things that are so easy to forget! Thank you for the happy tears ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. March 5, 2015

    Katie Reply

    Boy, did I need to read this today! Thank you so much for the reminder that setting aside everything to be Mama is okay. Yesterday ended up being me and Z-man having a cry-fest together. He was sick, I was sick, and he wouldn’t calm down! Thank goodness for Hubs that come home early from his after-work-work, and cook dinner. Here’s hoping today’s Mommying goes better!

  7. March 5, 2015

    sabrina Reply


  8. March 5, 2015

    Kassie Reply

    I love this! It can be so hard to know what we did all day… to think it didn’t count because I didn’t get everything done on my to-do list, but the things that aren’t physically written down on the list are way better – the hugging, kissing, holding my kids!

  9. March 7, 2015

    Jane Reply

    This is a great message for stay-at-home moms who feel they need to answer the question “What do you do?” with an impressive, comprehensive retort. “I mother” is a wonderful response! My friend’s response to the same question is equally wonderful, because it is truth. When asked “What do you do?,” she responds, “What DON’T I do?” Love it!

  10. March 7, 2015

    Deloris Saams-Hoy Reply


  11. March 8, 2015

    Jane Reply

    This is very delightful to read. My children are raised and have children of their own, I am pleased to know I had the time to love them and cherish their moments with them. Now I am doing that with my grandchildren, finding out that sometimes they just plain need grandma time. We talk about everything and anything or just eat popcorn and watch a movie. It’s great to be a grandma and I wouldn’t change a thing.

  12. March 8, 2015

    Jaclyn Reply

    I absolutely love this post. It IS hard to feel like you’ve accomplished anything on days home with the littles. Maybe our to-do lists should look more like: hug, kiss, puzzle, nap…haha.

  13. March 11, 2015

    Dana Reply

    This is my life. One of the very first blog posts I ever wrote was about this very topic. (http://everydaymom.weebly.com/life/what-do-you-do-all-day) I wrote it to remember. After reading this, I went back to read my post. It’s amazing to see how things have changed in the past 4 years. They are still just that busy, but a different busy. Now it’s running back and forth to the school and polishing nails and making lunches and laundry and then more laundry and throw in some dishes. I look back at what I wrote and see how I made lists every day and I laugh. My “lists” now consist of one or two things that HAVE to get done that day or else someone won’t have clean underwear or there will be nothing for dinner…things like that. It’s amazing how much I’ve learned and changed over the years when it comes to this. Thank you for reminding me ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. March 11, 2015

    Ciara Reply

    My mom brought me my lunch on multiple occasions when I forgot it as a kid. I don’t know if I ever told her, but I noticed that she did that for me. I appreciated it and still remember it now years later. The little things matter.

  15. March 27, 2015

    Liliana Reply

    I’m just struggling with depression and to read this helps me a lot, I just wish I was more appreciated by my husband and my baby, sometimes I just don’t feel loved by anyone nor needed it but just for being the maid, being away from all my family and friends it’s so hard and lonely, hopefully it will get better

    • May 19, 2015

      Melissa Reply

      Hang in there Liliana! Being a mom can be a very isolating job, especially if you’re home by yourself with a baby all day. It really helped me to join some local mom’s groups. Just talking to other moms made me feel more normal! I hope it gets better for you soon!

  16. April 17, 2015

    Missy Shupe Reply

    I said the same words to my work the other day “it’s what a mom does!” We get to the bus stop and 2 minutes before the bus usually comes. We have water, lunch, instrument but my 10 year old daughter then looks at me and says “mom I forgot to put on my deoderant!” There was only one solution in my mind. With 5 inch heels I ran up the steep hill, punched the code into garage, ran threw the house, grabbed deoderant, ran out, shut garage door, ran down the hill out of breath gave her deoderant and by the time she got it on, the bus had arrived. Whew! I did it…and so do the rest of u. I would run that hill again if I had too.

  17. May 19, 2015

    Nikki Reply

    I understand this and really needed to re-read this post. Last year was a struggle, we had reached the end of the year and things were looking up, then in Dec 2014 tragedy struck I nearly lost my husband my girls their Daddy and once again everything was on my shoulders. I have mostly been a stay home mom only working when we need me to. The last few years have been a financial and emotional hell for us. He had just found his dream job and I was going to be a full time mom again. He came home about 3 weeks ago after 1 month in ICU&TRAUMA care and 4 months living at rehab hospitals. Now, I literally am taking care of my whole family first hand. I can’t work because I need to be home to help him,I love caring for my family, but I don’t get but a rare night like tonight to bask in quiet without having to do something for someone. I forget that the little things to get kids ready for school, the hour spent helping my husband getting ready for the day matters or helping him bathe, etc… I am helping my kids grow to one day be amazing women, and helping my husband heal. Running to appts and school, and errands, house work, yard work, laundry, dishes it all matters. My kids have been helping more and my husband does what he can but I don’t always get thanks. However, I need to remember he is still here my kids are healthy and we are together. Life is great, tiring but pretty great! Thank you for your posts. I love all your posts they are always just what I need to hear. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. August 6, 2015

    dalia Reply

    thank you for this reminder! It is so easy to down on myself, this helped me see….thanks!

    • August 6, 2015

      dalia Reply

      oops…to get down on myself. ugh!

  19. February 15, 2016

    adisa campara Reply

    You are amazing!! Eventhough I am a young mom to boy and girl twins I can just about understand all of your topics you have really helped me find joy in the littlw things and thank you for that!

  20. February 16, 2017

    Kelly Tchorz Reply

    I feel like many days I am just running in circles. It’s hard to recalibrate and realize your life is not linear when staying home to care for little ones.
    You have to learn to embrace the peaks and valleys, the repetition, the unexpected obstacles, and keep these memories close. These are the days I’m going to miss when my son is older and my house is quiet.

  21. September 7, 2017

    Jenifer Reply

    Every word hits home. Thank you so much for the time, effort and thought put into sharing this with all of us.

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