A Week in the Life of a Working Mom: A Midwestern Lawyer Mom with Four Kids

lawyer mom to four kids in the midwestFor the sixth installment of our Week in the Life of a Working Mom series, I’m happy to introduce CorporetteMoms reader Elizabeth. She’s a 42-year-old consultant/ lawyer mom to four kids; she lives in the Midwest. Our usual caveat applies: Please remember that this is is a real person who has feelings and isn’t gaining anything from this, unlike your usual friendly (soul-deadened, thick-skinned, cold-hearted, money-grubbing) blogger — so please be kind with any comments. Thank you! – Kat

If you’d like to be featured (anonymously or otherwise), please fill out this form! You can see all posts in this series here. You can also sort by tag, such as “daycare,” “au pair,” and “lawyer mom.” (We’re working on devising a system that makes sense.)

First, Some Basics about this Working Mom…

Name: Elizabeth
Lives: Midwest
Job: consultant/attorney — I lead annual strategic planning efforts for hospital clients, as well as hospital mergers.
Age: 42
Home Situation: 

My husband is family medicine physician who covers inpatients at the hospital every third weekend. We have four school-age children: A, 13-year-old son; E, 10-year-old daughter; B & D, 7-year-old twin sons. We live in a 4000-square-foot house in the suburbs.

Childcare Situation: $18,000/year.

We have had Au Pairs for the past four years. The last two have been males. Prior to that we covered childcare with a number of options: a preschool teacher/nanny, a college student that lived in during the summer, hubby took Mondays off and I took Fridays off. We love the Au Pair help. My spouse and I have schedules that change from week to week, depending on his inpatient load and my travel. Having an Au Pair has eliminated the hours of stress and scrambling with multiple care providers to try to cover different hours we needed. For instance, the preschool teacher was a wonderful caregiver but had a family of her own so was unavailable to help in the evenings or weekends. Fortunately, we have a supportive family network nearby that was able to assist in some of those previous pinches. But it is nice now to have that family come to support the kids’ extracurricular activities or have special one-on-one time with the children, rather than serve in the role of an emergency babysitter.

Our Au Pairs transition about every year or so. We have appreciated the ease of picking a new care provider to sync up with the evolving needs of our children. For instance, our first Au Pair was a nurturing female who was excellent with our toddler twins. Or more recent Au Pairs have been active males who play sports and make up fun games to play. I expect in a few years we will be interested in a caregiver that can provide more homework support.

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A Week in the Life of a Working Mom: Income Partner in Boston

For this week’s installment of our Week in the Life of a Working Mom series, I’m happy to introduce CorporetteMoms reader Diana Barry, who lives in the Boston area with her husband and three kids and works as an income partner. Our usual caveat applies: Please remember that this is is a real person who has feelings and isn’t gaining anything from this, unlike your usual friendly (soul-deadened, thick-skinned, cold-hearted, money-grubbing) blogger — so please be kind with any comments. Thank you! – Kat

If you’d like to be featured (anonymously or otherwise), please fill out this form! You can see all posts in this series here.

First, Some Basics About This Working Mom…

Name: Diana Barry (not her real name)
Location: Work in Boston, live nearby
Job: Income partner in a medium-sized firm
Age: 38
Home Situation: Live with DH (techie) and 3 kids (9, 7, 5) in a 6,000-square foot house in a far-out suburb
Childcare Situation: About $35K/year for nanny, $5K for preschool

Note: Diana’s week in the life is from this summer. 

A Week in My Life

Sunday

Oldest is going to sleepaway camp today! We just got back from vacation last night, so today I am taking her to Target to obtain sufficient shirts and shorts (up to 14 from 9), plus some PJs, to be enough for camp, since she can’t do laundry while she is there. I get up with the kids around 7:30 (DH is a night owl and is almost never up early) and we head to Target around 9:30. Luckily it’s not terribly crowded. We stop by Costco at 11:00 to get seltzer and sunscreen, etc., and I drag them in and out in 30 minutes. We also pick up some pizza for lunch. Back at home, I help the oldest pack while DH plays with the other kids. When it is time for her to go at 3:00, our youngest is sleeping, so DH stays at home with the younger two while I take the oldest to camp. No tears, she just gets a little quiet. I get home around 5:00 and fix leftovers for dinner. Then I hop on a call for an alumni board that I am on while DH is playing video games with the kids. We put them to bed at 8:00–8:30 (it is so quiet with only two!) and DH and I watch a show before my bedtime at 10:00.

Monday

The younger two kids are going to day camp today. I have set our nanny up with about 10,000 errands to do while they are at camp, and DH has some work tasks for her too. I head to the office around 9:00 (I try to avoid peak traffic and make my days in the office short, since we live far away) and work until about 3:00, then come home and finish up at 5:30. DH works from home but had a couple of meetings at lunch and after. I make Vietnamese ground pork, rice, and veggies for dinner and then we all go swimming before the kids go to bed. Then DH and I take out the trash and have alone time.

Diana told us how she makes her commute more enjoyable:

Once a week my husband and I commute in together, which makes it much better! We can discuss the kids, our shared projects, etc. — a couple of times we have even had conference calls together during the commute! Otherwise, traveling off-peak is the best way to make the commute as short as possible. And I mean really off-peak: leaving the house at 5:45 and leaving the office at 2:00, for example, or going in at 10:00 and staying through dinner, then driving home afterwards. OR leaving the house at 9:30 and leaving the office at 2:00, so I am only in for a couple of hours.

Tuesday

Up at 7:15 and have breakfast with kids. I have calls from 8:00–10:00 a.m. today, so nanny drops the kids off at camp while I am on calls. Then we go over additional stuff for her to do this week. I do some more work and then have lunch with DH from 12:30–1:30 or so. Work all afternoon, then I make the kids leftovers at 5:30 while DH goes to an off-site dinner meeting. After dinner, they play while I get caught up on more laundry from our vacation and put some things away that were still packed. I put them to bed at 8:30 and then read a book/watch TV until 10:00.

Wednesday

Up at 7:30 and have breakfast with kids. I pack their stuff for camp and do dishes from 8:15–8:30 and then do all their sunscreen and yell at them to get their shoes so we can leave for camp at 8:50. Drop kids off at camp, then go to CVS to get some gum and nail polish and a prescription refill. I wake DH up at 9:30 and then do some work before our joint call at 10:15. After that call ends we do more work until noon, then grab some lunch and I throw in more laundry. We work all afternoon and then leave at 5:30 to go to a dinner with friends. Traffic is horrendous but we get there around 6:30. After dinner, we drive home and watch a show from 9:00–10:00 (nanny has late day and has put the kids to bed). DH’s out-of-town guests arrive after I go to bed.

Diana told us about choosing a nanny: 

This is our second nanny; we found the first one on Craigslist and this one on Care.com. It was really hard in both cases to find someone willing to be paid on the books!

Thursday

Same morning routine with kids as Wednesday. Then at 9:00, DH rides with his friends to his office while I take our car to my office. I have several meetings and don’t leave the office until 5:00, and traffic is horrendous. I call DH and arrange to meet him and his guests (work/personal friends) at dinner, and get there around 6:30. After dinner, we go back to the house and have dessert with the guests (nanny put the kids to bed) before bedtime.

Friday

Day off from work (I am at 80% time). I get up with the kids and get them off to camp like the other days. Then I go to the grocery store and get a few emails done. DH and his friends are on a day trip (work) so I have planned to squeeze in a massage at lunchtime. Bliss! I go back home and try to get all the laundry done and put away before going to the farmers market and picking up the kids at 4:00. I also do some more work email in the afternoon. I make a few veggie salads and hot dogs for dinner for the kids. (DH is not home yet.) We do some reading and TV time, then I throw them in the tub before their bedtime at 8:30. DH gets home and he eats dinner; we do our budget and watch TV before 10:00.

We asked Diana about her 80%-time schedule, and she said: 

My job was originally advertised as “part- or full-time”, so I negotiated the 80% going in. It is great — people don’t usually bother me on my day off and I have time to run errands and do a lot of household-management stuff that I wouldn’t otherwise get to do. Since I am at a mid-sized firm, my hourly requirement is lower than biglaw so I don’t usually have to make up hours on my day off.

Saturday

I try to sleep a little later but can only manage until 8:00. The kids are tired from being at camp all week, so they just want to watch TV all morning, and I let them so I can get all the laundry done (finally) and clear out the too-small stuff from the youngest’s drawers — a never-ending chore! After DH gets up, we have some lunch and then DH and our middle child play video games while the youngest takes a nap and I take care of dishes, paperwork, etc. After naptime we take them out to see Despicable Me 3 and then back home for breakfast for dinner (they don’t eat much, too full of popcorn!) and bedtime.

Thanks so much to Diana for sharing a bit of her life as a working mom! Readers, what’s your biggest takeaway from her week of work as an income partner, as well as her general work/life balance?