This is in answer to all those annoying questions and comments I’ve had since we decided to move here and exchange my title from Army officer to Housewife. Comments from people at home like “So, what do you do all day; eat bonbons?” (Queu mental image of Sybil Fawlty with bouffant do and all) don’t really deserve an answer but I aim to please. So here it is.
Back in Sweden we are like most Swedish forcedly gender equal families; constantly stressed out. We both worked full time as army officers and travelled a lot with work. Sometimes the only time together was a high five in the door, one of us going and the other coming. We also had a house and two kids to take care of. Trying to piece it together every day was trying. But being a housewife is not all roses and cake. Just this Friday morning was as stressful as any bivouac ambush before taking your much needed morning dump. Find it hard to believe? Read on.
Part 1: Getting everyone off to school and work
I get up at 0445 every morning. Pack Peter’s lunch bag which consists of 3 meals. Then I make his 12 egg white omelette and espresso breakfast and have it ready for him when he comes back from his morning power walk. Then I wave him off to work.
0600 I wake up the kids, serve them breakfast and pack their snack boxes. At 0715 our alarm goes off telling us to get moving. Usually we end up scrambling out the door at 0726. School starts at 0730.
Part 2: Domestic work
After everyone is at work and school. My focus turns to getting housewifey domestic things done. Kids have to be picked up at 1200 so that leaves me about 4h to do the things I’d rather not do with kids in tow (or rather things they don’t like being dragged along on). Fridays are particularly stressful as this is my weekly spa-day. Getting myself housewife pretty for the weekend. It is also garbage day so I had to carry all the garbage out to the curb this morning before we stumbled off to school.
So this morning I managed to be at the gym by 0735, fast forwarded my workout because I had an appointment with my dermatologist at 0830. Managed to pop by the fitness store and get Peter som BCAA powder on my way.
I arrived at my dermatologist on the dot which may be considered late by most but early by Brazilians standards. After 1h and 40 min on the massage bench getting my face diamond peeled and foiled in gold I started looking at the clock. My next appointment was in 20min and my face was still covered in gold foil! Definitely felt my stress hormones acting up at this point. At 1029 me and my new face were out the door racing to get to my next appointment: my Friday 1030 manicure. Usually I get my nails done at 1100. It takes almost exactly 1h for the girls to do my mani and pedi (working simultaneously) so it’s always a little stressful in the end cause I don’t want to be late picking up the kids.
Turned out nobody missed me at the beauty parlor. You can basically never be late in Brazil but the Swede in me still wants to be 5 min early to every appointment. Totally unnecessary stress! After making the very difficult decision about what color to paint my nails this week and getting my eyebrows done I picked up the kids at 1200 after a quick stop at the green grocer. Very pleased with myself in spite of the fact that I haven’t eaten since breakfast. This is a common sacrifice in my stressful schedule.
Part 3: Afternoon activities
Kids have activities every day. Olivia does gymnastics 12h a week now that she is on the competing team and James plays soccer 2h a week. So our afternoons are busy with sports, homework, snacks, tidying the house, playdates, getting dinner ready etc. (In Sweden kids were in daycare from breakfast until dinner)
Part 4: After dinner
Dinners are always special and Instagram worthy. I can’t get away with making “falukorv och makaroner” or “mamma scans köttbullar”. Because A. we can’t get that here and B. I’m a housewife, the one important roll or presentation I have each day is welcoming my hard working husband. The least he can expect from me is a beautiful wife (hence the beauty treatments) and a gourmet dinner. So after dinner I take care of dishes and then start preparing food for breakfast, lunch boxes, dinner the next day. Sometimes I even bake. Finally I clean the kitchen and get it ready for breakfast the next day. The kids get their bags ready for school and lay out a clean uniform. Showers, fang brush and bedtime story and they are down for the night. After that I am pretty tuckered.
Unfortunately I’m not done yet. I have to start some laundry. Here lights have to soak over night and be washed with a bar soap by hand. (Laundry here is a future blogpost all by itself) Doing laundry at night enables me to hang it in the morning which is preferable because that is when the sun is on our clothes line. So the laundry is dry by midmorning and ironed, folded and put away by dinner. So one machine of laundry takes about 24h.
By 2100h I am done with my housewifey workday. That is when I catch up on social media, write emails, cards, read, play the guitar, watch some TV etc and feel good about a well completed day. After all, anything worth doing at all is worth doing well, right?
Conclusion; the sum of all stress i constant
So there it is. This was an expose of a basic day. Not mentioned yet are all the other stressors that don’t occur every day but add tasks to my busy days like buying birthday presents (Brazilians are big on birthday parties), hosting dinners, doctors appointments, shopping, I would also like to add the language issue as a stress factor. It is constant. There aren’t many foreigners here so we are often approached by curious Brazilians. In my housewife role I’m constantly trying to understand and make myself understood at the grocery store, the tailor, the hairdresser, manicurist, dermatologist, my personal trainer, the window cleaner, the maid, the gardener etc…
So, in conclusion, it’s not stress-free being a housewife. I believe the sum of all stress is constant but caused by different things. A bivouac ambush is stressful but so is hosting a dinner party for non-english speaking Brazilians.
I read somewhere that vitamin D helps reduce cortisol levels e.g stress. So for medicinal reasons I put a bikini on and get some rays by the pool on a daily basis. Another thing on my busy daily to-do-list…
Those of you who enjoy sarcasm will soon be able to read my own guide to how to be a Brilliant Brazilian housewife😊😂
If you don’t enjoy my sarcasm then wait for my “7 days of “vacation”” which will give an accurate account of a normal week in our albeit hot but mundane everyday life in Brazil. (Everyday is not a vacation despite the location).