What Do You Do?

People often ask me what I do, especially women.
 The question has become more frequent of late as my daughter approaches secondary school. From September she will not need to be taken to or fetched from school. It seems that in many people's eyes there will then be no reason why I should not be working outside the home. 
Except that I already have a job, a job I find rewarding, fulfilling and which I am good at.

So, what do I do?

Well, yesterday I -
took my daughter to school
went to the supermarket to buy food for the week
called at the farmshop for a small sack of spuds
put all the shopping away (I love doing this)
made bread (see yesterday's post)
made an emormous batch of granola
made a panful of chicken stock with the remains of our Sunday roast
put it in the freezer
washed two loads of laundry
line dried the laundry
put away the laundry
fetched daughter from school
helped daughter with a SATS practice paper (whilst reading blogs)
made Charlie's sandwiches for the next day, cut bread so the children could make theirs
made a chicken and pasta bake for supper using up the leftover chicken
used the last of a batch of yogurt and my last tub of frozen damson purée to make damson yogurt for pudding
crocheted another big granny square
uploaded some photos and wrote a blog post

Today I -
took daughter to school
went to the supermarket to buy the things I forgot yesterday
called at the garden centre to buy a new rosemary plant - the December ice and snow killed my old one
made more bread, this time adding a couple of handfuls of chopped sunflower and pumpkin seeds
made a big batch of my veg hash 
put it in the freezer
put some mung beans to soak for sprouting
made another batch of yogurt
made four dozen flapjacks
washed three loads of laundry
attempted to get it all dry
did a huge pile of ironing
mended three garments
fetched daughter from school
took younger son to the asthma clinic for a review of his treatment
discussed money-making schemes with younger son including the possibility of making biscuits to sell to his friends (he needs a new set of cymbals)
made Charlie's sandwiches and cut bread for the children to make theirs
made a smoked mackerel and  rice dish for supper
crocheted another big granny square (at least I will have done by bedtime)
uploaded some photos and wrote a blog post

Then there were all the things I should have done but didn't -
cleaning the bathroom and downstairs loo
hoovering the stairs
tidying the little flower bed under the bay window 
pruning my blackberry
planting new rosemary plant
washing the kitchen floor
washing the windows

Tomorrow maybe

The other question I often get asked is
'Don't you get bored?'



  1. Hi Sue , bored ? ...as my sons teacher always tells them " only boring people get bored "
    I could easily fill my days at home but I do feel lucky to be able to work part time as opposed to full time .
    My rosemary died in the winter too :0)

    Jacquie x

  2. Not sure why that got a smiley face !

  3. Like Jacquie I have a part-time job, I am able to work evey morning I wouldn't want to work if it was the afternoon! I do have a job I enjoy if I didn't I would't be there! Come home, quick lunch while reading emails and blogs then I do everything you do except supermarket shopping which is done on Tuesday afternoons when my husband picks me up from work (this is the only thing I do on a set day) and cook evening meal, sit down knit or crochet, or whatever I'm creating at the time, but I do give myself Friday afternoons of as my ME time!
    So yes "only boring people get bored"!

  4. Hi Sue
    Like you I do what I consider to be the most important job in the world!
    and yes my life revolves around my family and home, but I'm never bored and yes I do know how lucky I am!!

  5. I loved when I did all of those things. That was my life for 10years until smallest littlie went to school then finances forced me back to work. But the flaw was my family were too used to me baking, cooking, mending, cleaning and so on that now my life consists of teying to do all of those things and work and not really doing any of the above to the standard I used but hey-ho ;)
    Love Tickety-boo


  6. Hi Sue
    Running a home is a job in itself isn't it?
    I work full-time, but if I didn't, I'm sure I could easily find enough to do to fill my days with all the things I should be doing, but don't!
    My rosemary plant is clinging to life. If it does manage to survive, I'll bring its pot indoors next winter. It was given to me by a friend, so I'd hate to lose it.

  7. Argh when my mum was asked this when I was little their response was "oh JUST a housewife" life it wasn't a full time job looking after the home and family! Seems things haven't moved on all these years later :(
    I suppose people think it's boring if you're not spending hours shopping etc. Me I'd rather watch paint dry than be a lady that lunches. Give me pottering about at home ANY day :)

  8. Hi Sue,
    I have the exact same job as you.I'm proud of what I do every day.
    I really, really wish my cooking looked like yours though!
    Great post,loved it.

  9. Excellent, excellent! You do the most important job in the world, you look after the home and you are there for your children should they need you. I've just had a fortnight's holiday from my part-time job and it was just wonderful to have time to clean the house properly, fill up the freezer with homemade goods, potter in the garden and tend to my vegetable garden. I'd have absolutely no trouble filling my time should I find myself unemployed at any stage. Keep up the good work!

  10. Don't get me started! My children are only 3 and 6 and I am constantly asked when I'm going back to work. Er, why would I want to? My last job was far more boring than being a SAHM.

  11. I have spent many years at home, worked part time and now full time. There is no one above the other. I have been lucky enough to find all the stages of my life fulfilling. I regularly feel guilty about life balance (I have a bit of a post about his going round in my head)but I suppose I am lucky to have long holidays working in education. That is when I grab at sanity and relish the slower pace of my days... We have fought long and hard to have the choices - what I can't stand are those who wish to stand in judgement of the choices of others. Sorry didn't intend for this comment to be as long or to get quite so passionate!

  12. I do the same as you but not quite as well. My list of things that should have been done at the end of every day is much longer than yours... Ax

  13. Anonymous7:46 pm BST

    You really are very lucky. I work full time, have a husband and son, and have to fit in most of what you do in my "spare time". My choice, so I can't really complain.


  14. Sue, when someone asks you "what you do".. tell them you're a "Domestic Goddess". That should do the trick. I've always felt that raising children was the most important job in the world, and you're doing a great job of it.

    Hugs from Oregon, USA -- Teresa :-)

  15. Hi Sue, what a great post. I am lucky to work part-time and could happly spemd the whole of each day at home, pottering around and not be in the least bit bored. I wish I was as organised and as good a cook as you though. That would really be the icing on the cake! Have a great week being 'bored'. xx

  16. Please never feel you need to justify what you do. I used to have the same job as you (currency love not cash) My day was filled with being a Mum, wife, smallholder. Later a B&B owner added to all of that. I never missed a school play, an appointment, I went to every school sports day, baked, washed, dried, loved and supported my family totally. My then husband would come home every day, eat supper, put on clean clothes, sit and read the paper, go to bed in clean sheets, eat a packed lunch every day AND YET ALWAYS NAGGED ME AND ASKED WHAT I DID EVERY DAY WHILST HE WAS OUT AT WORK!!!!!

    Now, I live in a little cottage of my own, with two part time teenagers, work 'outside the home' for minimum wage (almost)have very little time to myself or for the part time teenagers but am so thankful that I was able to support my children the way I was able to when they were growing up and as you do for your family. Just because you don't go out to work doesn't mean you a)aren't working & b) have it easy. Not at all. Having done both, I think it is was the easy option to be at work for my husband. We choose to have our children, so raising them is the most important job in the would.

    Maybe you should just answer what do I do? More like what don't I do!!!

  17. There isn't a more important job in the whole world than yours - bringing up a family and creating a happy and loving home.
    I'm retired after working full time for over 30 years, people ask me "what do you do with your time?" "Live" is my response.

  18. I have been on the end of some very cruel tounge lashings from working mothers when I stayed at home and even when I worked part time. Why beats me. You do a grand job, oo add entertain thousands of people every week with clever witty writing and excellent informative foodiness. Rant over.

  19. what a fantastic post, i feel exactly the same. the days rush by and sometimes i feel like i don't have enough hours to do what i need to. I too love being a homemaker and feel very lucky but hate being asked 'that question'

  20. Anonymous8:57 pm BST

    Ok, after following your blog for a very long time, you have finally got me posting.
    I too am a stay at home mum to two, 12 and 8 years. I too get all the same questions and strange looks as if I am from another planet! I too am at it all day long wondering how anyone can say that "they'd get bored sitting at home all day." That is why I love reading your blog as it is so comforting to know there are at least two more from the the same planet - my Mum's the other one :0)

  21. I love this post. There is great value in taking care of a family!

  22. Anonymous9:02 pm BST

    You have the most important job in the world and do it well from the sound of it - power to your arm. Just hold your head up high and let the smaller minded people keep wondering.


  23. Hello Sue
    As most of the comments say,i too work part time but would oh so love to not have to,I could find plenty to keep me occupied in my days,but needs must and all that.
    All i can add is(and i mean this in a nice way)Shall we just BIG ourselves up for being who we are anyway!
    Best Wishes(And as ever great posts)
    Sue xxx

  24. My son and DIL just had their second baby and her family when visiting said "O.k. whats next" ?
    She was a bit taken aback and said she was going to stay at home and bring up her children.

    I went back to work (part-time) when my children were at university. They needed me at home before that.
    I was lucky that my husband made a good salary and I will always be grateful that it made it possible for me to have a good life at home.

  25. Winding Ways10:40 pm BST

    Or there's my personal favorite question: "Aren't you just wasting your education?" As if
    rearing children and management of the home is beneath intelligent people.

  26. You are doing the best job in the world and it looks like you also go way above the call of duty with all that you do! I would love to eat at your house. I also was able to stay home most of the time and my kids were thankful. Have a good week. xoRobin❤

  27. Great post Sue.
    Anne xx

  28. Well done Sue. I am a retired primary teacher who stayed home with her kids until they were in high school and then only returned to work to finance their schooling. I've taught those kids whose mothers have worked ( either through choice or necessity )and put their children in nursery and after school care and believe me you can see a difference.
    Keep up the good work!

  29. Really great post! I can't count the times that I have been asked that. I am no longer a 'stay at home mom', now I am a 'stay at home wife' and I love that too. I am still busy as can be but get to have a bit more choice in that. And Bored? I have never undersood that, as there is plenty to do in life for anyone to keep busy with important things. Thank you so much for these words today, as some people don't realize how much it takes to run a loving home.

  30. I think you are great at what you do. :)

  31. http://shonkywonkybarnadventures.blogspot.com/3:11 am BST

    WHAT DO YOU DO? I dislike this question. A Lot! Bored??!! What does that mean? If the day ever came, I'd embrace it and enjoy "being bored". I hate the "what do you do?" question. With that you are expected to respond not about what you really do (the fullfilling stuff, the family you made as a couple - wow) the time you spend together, sharing, laughing, learning, bickering, building fores, tents, bridges, laughing, loving each other and our friends growing, nurturing, harvesting,cooking and preserving good food from scratch.

    In between all of this, bordom - if we could recognise it would be a chance to either chill and enjoy - watch the clouds, talk to or better, listen to a friend or fmily member. Forget the time for a bit. Boredom is not bad - it's an opportunity.

    Sadly, the expectation is that you respond to "what do youdo questions" with what you do to pay taxes, be on the wage treadmill and contribute to a rather dodgy system, which looks shakier by the day but is still controlling many of us.

    What do I "do"? Well some of the abouve, but I breathe to enable all of this. Oh, and I hold down a part time job to hopefully sustain all of the above for a "better" lifestle. Actually, my lifestyle is fine -just need to adjust things - make wine and beer, walk, don't drive. Question trips out - can you walk to work? Share a lift? Not go out at all. One life that doesn't involve weekly supermarket sweeps for things we can "manage" without is a better life.

    Sorry, Sue, slightly ranty. This should be me own blog poat, not a comment, however I still hate the fact that on the whole when you meet people, the WDUD question pops up.

    Perhaps we need to answer........pick my tonails, buy cheap bones to make stock, buy expensive chicken to nourish my children for a whole week and still have leftovers. Perhaps people shouln't ask "what do you do?"

    Fart, roll over, get up for a pee, shower, wash hair, clean teeth...................even more mundane than my blog, but less mundane, I suspect than someone detailing their vacuous day of meetings, chasing deadlines, keeping middle managers with mental health issues sweet etc. Another target to meet, money, money, money. Agggrhhh.

    Do feel free to edit. Sweet dreams Jen

  32. What makes me chuckle a little is that we are the opposite - I work full time and my husband is a stay-at-home dad & artist. His days are FULL UP and I would never say he does not work - I usually tell my friends that he works harder than we do! His being mostly home means that we can both spend more time just "being" with the kids.
    And I gave up on Rosemary, it never makes it for me; Parsley, Sage, Thyme, Chives - all good; Rosemary, nope. :( Must be the 6 months of snow it can't handle.

  33. I enjoyed all of what you do when my children were young, then my marriage broke down so I had to go 'out' to work so we could eat, I drove two of my children to their dance (her) and band practice (him) 7 days a week. Years later I am no longer working full time, but have had to take on another part-time job as my money is running out, what would I prefer to be doing, just what you do, that is my ideal, looking after those I love and making sure they have a comfy home, wholesome food and a caring ear to come home to. 'Stay' at home mums do more in their day, we would be millionairs if we got paid to do what we do. So even with two part-time jobs I still have time to knit and crochet, thank goodness as I would go insane.
    x Sandi

  34. I have always worked throughout my sons growing up years, if I could have I would have stayed home. What ever we as women have to do for our families, we should support each other and not make unhelpful comments about said choices. Life is hard enough without pressures from others, I would retire tomorrow if I could and never ever be bored at home, you can be bored at home and bored at work, it's not where you are that makes you bored it's you. If you know what I mean, sorry will get off my soapbox now.

  35. Phew - read all the comments. So Say All Of Us! Whatever you do in life, I think it is important that you do it to the best of your ability. If you don't you ARE wasting your time - we only get one shot at it. You are someone to look up to in the Domestic Goddess stakes. How many children these days have no idea what a home cooked meal tastes like. We all make our choices in life, we should revel in the fact we can.

  36. Mrs Albion10:07 am BST

    Hi Sue - love reading your blog and looking at the enticing food. I have made different lifestyle choices to you in that I have always worked full time - partly for economic reasons and partly because, for me, I wouldn't enjoy being at home full-time. Part-time would be great but 2 lots of school fees mean this is not an option.

    We all make choices based on our personal and financial circumstances and what we want from our lives. We should never make judgements about others choices. We don't have knowledge of the facts that lead to their decisions.

    What we shouldn't be doing is attacking those who have made different choices to our own. We are all trying to do our best for our children and families by whatever means we see fit.

    I believe my children have benefited hugely from my being at work. Equally I suspect they would have thrived just as well if I'd stayed at home. What matters is that they are healthy, happy and well adjusted.

    I do envy you having time to do all those tasks properly. Like several others, I end up doing them in my free time and sometimes it all gets a bit much. On the other hand, I love the fact that for 99% of the time I manage - but I suspect not quite as fabulously as you!!

  37. Why do we, as women, have to have this discussion over and over and over again. As if there were a 'right' or a 'better' choice.
    You don't have to justify yourself. But neither does any working woman.

  38. Pati from London10:36 am BST

    Dear Sue, I think your post is great and thought provoking. I hate this question of "what do you do"? The role of mum/housewife is probably the most important yet hardest role I've ever done (perhaps I say this because my kids are still little and not independent but I do feel is very challenging as I struggle to get "me" time) and the least recognised by society. When I had my first child 4 and a half years ago, I had to quit my full time career as my employers thought that my role was not suited to a part-timer, which was what I wanted. I found a simple part-time job to be able to be with my daughter and keep my brain functioning. Then the second one came along (now 2 and a half) and decided to stay at home and go back to University (instead of doing a non-fulfilling job) as a part-time evening student, once again, to look after my family properly and keep my brain going. Now am expecting my third and I know things will get even harder as the kids are all quite little and even though I love being at home (and NEVER EVER get bored), I know I would ideally like to combine the family life with a part time career as this would be the most suited option for my personality, but wouldn't do it to justify my existence in front of society. Sometimes when people ask this question of what do you do, it does feel as if one has to justify the reasons why one is not working, as if being a housewife/mum is not a good enough option... Is it because we don't get a salary? Is it because it is old-fashioned? I do admire women (and men) like you that work hard at home to keep everyone happy, putting themselves at "the back of the queue" and making sure everyone is happy and ready to fulfil their own careers, obligations, studies or whatever. I feel that a mum/housewife could write an amazing variety of skills in a CV as part of the experience gained at this role: skills such as organisation, budgeting expenses, creativity, general administration, management,handling complaints, negotiating/arbitrating conflicts, finding information/data gathering, adivising people, overseeing operations, training/teaching people, developing a climate of enthusiasm, teamwork, and cooperation, nursing and be in charge of first aid kit, analysis,maintaining emotional control under stress, supporting others, communication skills... the list is endless.... Have a lovely day and keep up doing the wonderful job that you do. Pati xx

  39. How annoying to be asked "what do you do" as if you need to give any defense. The fact that you love what you do is all that matters. My rosemary is also clinging to life. I think the culprit may be those beautiful but deadly beetles, the ones with irridescent, green/gold backs. I've spotted them in my garden before and am hesitant about replacing the plant only to have it attacked again.

  40. Hi Sue, I do work outside the home but look back with great fondness to the days when I didn't need to, and forward with relish to the days when I won't need to again. Bored?! People who ask that question must have no interests or passion. If every day had 48 hours I could still fill them as I am sure you could.
    I love reading your blog.


  41. My 'kids' are 23 and 22 and I'm still a stay at home mum... wouldn't have it any other way!
    Its the best job in the world and I feel very lucky to be able to do it!!!

  42. There is so much to do at home and I still don't get it all done. Of course there is the boring stuff like cleaning but lots of nice stuff like cooking, sewing and making things - all the things that make a good family home - does a bit of dust really matter !

  43. Mary ,East Coventry USA3:12 pm BST

    Doesn't it all come down to personal decisions and respect for others? As someone noted,why are we still having these discussions? No one should make anyone feel defensive about their choice. And yet,sadly, we do.

  44. Anonymous4:21 pm BST

    Yeah, home schooling my 12 yr old son, home cooked meals, home baking, ferrying my very busy son to his activities, housework, laundry, gardening, crafts when I can squeeze them in... who has time to be bored?

    We tried the route of a part time job for me last year. The quality of our home life declined dramatically, as it was proven to my husband that our home life truly is a juggling act with a multitude of balls in the air. We'd rather watch our pennies than to live in a house that isn't a home so I am blissfully a full-time homemaker again.

  45. I have a job and I still hate that question - my paid job doesn't define what I am - I bake, craft, raise my kids, shop, clean, cook from scratch, grow veg and soon keep chickens as well as the stuff that fills my day between 9 and 5.

  46. I don't have a paycheck, and I don't have children, but I sure have many occupations. I drive several relatives to appointments and to the store, I tote, fetch and carry for these and other people. I have a fuller calendar than most of the "employed" people I know, but I still get the "it must be nice to not have to go to work" line. Especially without the mitigation of children.

  47. Anonymous9:36 am BST

    Unfortunately we allow ourselves to be defined by whether we receive money for what we do. If we did you wouldn't find so many women trying to justify what they do - to partners and husbands as well as society. I think we also have to remember that one size does not fit and we should be mutually respective of people whose circumstances or choices they made, are different to our own.

    Staying at home I was responsible for a life 24 hours a day. I helped that life to grow and mature into an adult human being. Children do not need you less as they get older - in many ways they need you more in their teens than ever. There is much to get them safely through. I have done that now, and it feels good! There should be no excuses necessary - there are more skills involved in parenting than in most jobs. Why we don't value that as a society I just don't know. I never felt beholden to my partner - we were a team and actually as I probably worked hardest, I am entitled to know that the money bought in by him was ours and not something I had to feel guilty asking for. It was/is ours and I never have to justify myself to him; I wish that was the same for everyone. Many a husband thinks he is entitled to better than his wife and a greater share of the money pot because he 'goes out to work' Women who do work, have to try and fit in as much as they can when they get home - taking on more than a fair share. It must be incredibly hard in so many ways. I think partly we just don't care about children - it is a low status job looking after them (think how little the child-minder, nursery assistant etc gets paid - a huge part of a salary maybe but a pittance for them. In my view we exploit other women, we pay them so poorly and doing so enables us to keep the idea going that raising children is so easy that anyone could do it. Perhaps if we didn't pay minimum wage to our child carers this might help.) So what do I do? Pretty darn well everything there is to do. I would ask what they did and say that I did much much more!

  48. Only just seen this but felt I too must comment. Being in my late fifties I've lived through a major change in attutudes. When I was first married and a mother, eyebrows were raised at working mothers. By the time my daughter was school age, we were in today's world - what do you do was a constant enquiry and pitying smiles bestowed on those at home all day. When my daughter was a teenager she went to boarding school - her choice as she'd been awarded a prestgious music scholarship and she loved it. I went back to work and was constantly asked how I could bear to send my daughter away by people who happily put their newborns into nursery from early morning till suppertime. When daughter went to Uni I stopped work as my husband had a residential job and worked such odd hours we would hardly have seen each other - I found I was back in the patronising world. People, especially those who had not known me when I had a high-powered universiy job, would assume because I wasn't working I never had and my brain was mush. Now I'm a full-time carer - how nice people say, you can spend all day at home doing what you like..... I'm always tempted to say, 'yes, in the ten minutes a day when I'm not cooking for, cleaning up after, dressing and coping with a stroppy 92 yr old' but I usually just smile.

  49. When our children were born I stopped paid work and devoted myself to bringing them up. I don't think there can be many jobs more worthwhile than being a full-time Mum. Once my children where in full-time education I was lucky enough to get a part-time job at their school, which I still do. Like yourself I don't think I would have time to work more hours and quite honestly I wouldn't want to as my days are filled with enjoying looking after my family, home and garden and not forgetting some me-time crafting. :) Pj x

  50. you inspire people, that's another thing you do xxxx

  51. Sorry, I missed this post yesterday. I have spent the last 6 months at home. I usually work full time but a sort of nervous collapse has meant 6 months of sick leave. Apart from the actual depression, I have loved being at home...collecting son from school, baking, housekeeping, having time to chat to other mums and feeling much more involved with my son's life. I return to work in a couple of weeks and I am dreading it. I would love to be a stay home mum...I've worked since I graduated and I now I want to stay home. Sadly I can't. It is a shame that people feel the need to determine someone's worth by the amount of money they bring in/the seniority of their position at work etc. And in all of this housekeeping and mothering are so undervalued. You do a fantastic job...as do all stay at home mums...as do all mums who work outside of the home too. We are all brilliant and we do the best we can with what we have. xx

  52. lovely post and lovely comments. I do think as women we really should know better than to make comments about being bored, what do you do etc. It really enrages me, surely any mum knows that if you are at home with a child and spending time on the house/garden/cooking, that does not leave you time to be 'bored', specially if you try to include crafts/hobbies in your life.
    We need to value what we ALL do in our lives. We know how much work it takes to keep on top of a home and family.
    In that spirit, I will somewhat immodestly add that your post also made me have somewhat of an epiphany about myself - I work 30 hours a week as a social worker and have a husband and an 8 year old; I have a VERY full life as a result but I still bake, cook lovingly with wholesome homemade food, garden, make jam, clean, and also enjoy making homemade crafts like crochet. I realised that yes I am beyond exhaustion at times, there are not enough hours in the day for me because I am trying to do it all.
    I would hope that other women would show understanding of other women's lives - I would never say that someone who didn't work must be doing nothing all day. We should be glad for those who have the gift of time at home and not try to negate that just because we have to fit our homely life into less hours.

  53. I love this post. I too had a friend who is due with her 2nd baby tell me that she thinks she would be bored staying at home with the kids. I just laughed and said that there is always something to cook and clean! But those things aren't for everyone, but like you I enjoy being at home and doing that kind of work.

  54. Fab piece Sue :o)
    You should read this: -



  55. I'm hear you Ali -- why is this topic always tinged with a little defensiveness or pride, or, less happily, desperation? I am a woman lucky enough to be able to stay at home with our two kids, and I, too, enjoy the cooking, cleaning, gardening, creative puttering, and quality time I get with my children. The problem is that it is not safe. It all depends on my husband's income and my willingness or ability to make terms with him. Great if I can, but what if I can't?


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