When you’re a parent, the day can seem very long—the morning rush, that long middle stretch of work or child care, and then the final dinner/bath/book/bed gauntlet. It can wear you out, but there are a few things that would help the day go just a bit more smoothly, if only someone would offer them. Below, 17 things moms, or at least the moms in my moms’ group, will never say “no” to.
1. Someone else making a decision. From the moment you get pregnant, motherhood is a flowchart of decisions: hospital or birthing center? Work, stay at home, nanny, day care, preschool? Twenty more minutes at the park, but takeout for dinner? Violin or piano? Broccoli or carrots? If moms could turn all decisions over to a robot—a robot who ultimately would make the same decision we would, after careful consideration—we’d be happy women.
2. A day in which all the plans are dictated by our desires, energy, hunger and fatigue.
3. Twenty minutes of stopped time in which everyone else is frozen in suspended animation. This would be most useful, for example, when we trudge into the house in the late afternoon, when lunch boxes need to be emptied, shoes put away, coats hung up and dinner started. So sure, maybe this is outside of the time-space continuum, but if everything could just freeze for 20 minutes while I put the daytime stuff away, pee, wash my hands, pour a glass of water and set out my ingredients for dinner, that would be really nice. This also goes for when we’re going out the door, and I need two minutes of peace to check my bag for the day’s supplies.
4. Someone saying “Shall I hold the baby while you…?”
5. Someone who will quietly get up with the kids at 4:41 a.m. and bring us coffee in bed when we are ready to get up, and never expects us to do it in return. (This may not exist.)
6. Friends who are willing to come to you and hang out at your house.
7. A car detail. Opening the car door means three years’ worth of McDonald’s coffee cups spill out. There are 17 open packets of tissues and 19 dried-out pens. Somehow the hummus that was in my hair is now on the dashboard. Please, someone take this car to be cleaned.
8. Someone saying, “Can I bring you a latte?”
9. A shower without a time limit. When we were still in the newborn stage, I would get into the shower and prioritize the body parts I wanted to wash, in case I had to leap out to tend to a crying baby. It went something like this: Are the feet more important than the pits today? How about hair versus face? Can I wash the hair and face at the same time without drowning? I dreamed (and still do) of a shower with no time limit, in which my whole body is washed and sometimes I even get to shave my legs.
10. Someone offering to do the dishes after dinner.
11. And then offering to brush the toddler’s teeth.
12. An uncalculated moment. I’m a planner and have always found it difficult to relax when there are still things to be done, which, when you’re a mother, is always. A quiet moment after dinner? All I can think is still bath, dishes, bedtime and lunch packing to go. A moment in which the to-do list isn’t like an insistent crow on my shoulder, reminding me of laundry to be switched and permission slips still to be signed, would be heaven.
13. Gassing up the car, especially if you’ve got babies strapped in the back and no pay at the pump.
14. Alone time. This could take many forms: alone time to pee, or bathe, or read a book, for example. I myself like alone time to putter, paying bills and tidying my nightstand. I also dream about a little time to shop for a pair of jeans or new napkins without a toddler for company. You know who doesn’t like toddler shoppers either? Housewares stores. Crash, crash, crash.
15. Our partners taking the kids to their parents’ house, without us.
16. A girls’ weekend. We spend so much time in the role of “mother,” running our households and keeping everything shipshape, that it’s nice to be only in the role of “friend.”
17. Free babysitting. This is the mother, so to speak, of all gifts. Like most parents, we’re willing to spend money on a date night once in a while, but adding the cost of a sitter to dinner and a movie stings, especially if it’s just a matter of sitting on the couch while the kids sleep.
So if you have to choose from these 17 things? Go with free babysitting, definitely. It’s the number-one thing we’d never say “no” to.