Week in the Life of a Working Mom: Finance in Pennsylvania

For this week’s installment of our Week in the Life of a Working Mom series, I’m happy to introduce CorporetteMoms reader C, who lives in suburban Pennsylvania with her husband and two kids and works in finance at a nonprofit. 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: C
Location: Live and work in suburban Pennsylvania
Job: Finance at a nonprofit
Age: 30
Home Situation:

I live in a 3000(ish)-square-foot, 4-bedroom, 4-bathroom single family home with my husband, toddler son, and dog. Our second son is due in a few months. (Note: Since submitting her Week in the Life, C and her family have welcomed their baby!) My husband and I both work full-time. He typically works a second-shift schedule but is in a role where his schedule and work demands can change with little notice.

Childcare Situation: 

My son is home with my husband in the morning. Husband takes Son to Grandma’s house in the afternoon when he’s on his way to work. I usually go see Son at lunchtime, as Grandma is close to my work. It is an awesome arrangement that helped me ease the transition back to work while trying to keep up with nursing. I stopped nursing a month after returning to work, even with that amazing arrangement! Grandma takes Son back to our house after lunch. Son will nap for 2+ hours at our house in his crib but will only nap for a maximum of 30 minutes at Grandma’s house. Grandma will also finish any simple household tasks that we start but don’t finish such as folding laundry or putting away dishes. It is a unicorn and very appreciated arrangement.

Stock picture credit: Shutterstock / By Andrey_Popov.

A Week in My Life

Sunday

I try to sleep in one day a week (like today). Every other day of the week, I try to wake up before Son, for “me time.”
7:30 a.m. We wake up to the monitor kicking on with sounds of Son happily babbling. He seems to have a switch that changes him from babbling mode to “Get me now!” Husband and I leisurely brush teeth, dress son, and start our Sunday routine of changing and washing sheets and towels.
8:00 a.m. Breakfast. Son isn’t sitting for meals at this point. He has two bites of something before asking “Down… please?” We consent to getting him out of his chair and he walks to the basement door, looking desperately at us while hanging off the doorknob. I explain that Daddy and I need to eat so he may go downstairs to play but we’re going to sit upstairs and eat. I take him downstairs and he plays alone while we eat breakfast at the kitchen table in somewhat confused silence while listening for disasters downstairs. This is the first time Son has really played on a different floor of the house alone. It’s amazing.
8:30 a.m. We ride the wave of content toddler and do some light cleaning — vacuuming, dusting, and cleaning bathrooms. Son checks in on us, we check in on him. It’s an oddly lovely and pleasant morning!
10:00 a.m. We get ready and get out of the house. Every morning we usually run an errand or do something just to get out. On this day, we go to the park. Son is gaining independence at the park and is far less clingy than he was even a few weeks ago.
11:30 a.m. We stop for lunch at a burrito place. Much to our surprise, Son eats really well. After lunch, we drive home as fast as we can while trying to keep Son awake before his afternoon nap.
12:30 p.m. Success! Son is asleep. Husband would usually take nap time to do yard work or something. Instead, he sits on the couch and accidentally falls asleep. Meanwhile, I decided that I am going to start trying to meditate every day and I am going to start today! I meditate in our office upstairs where I have a yoga mat and meditation cushion collecting dust. It’s nice outside, so my Kindle and I retreat to the deck but I quickly doze on my chaise. I then move inside and clock a good hour of napping myself.
2:30 p.m. Son is awake! He stands at the open back door and yells greetings across the yard to our neighbor, who is mowing his lawn. “Hey!! Hey!!” Neighbor turns off his lawnmower they holler back and forth. It’s super cute.
3:00 p.m. I spend the hour it takes Husband to mow the lawn trying to keep son safe and content. Son plays with his plastic outdoor toys, raking mulch, and running around with a broom.
4:00 p.m. Husband finishes the lawn and we decide that the whole concept of dinner is too much. We text our neighbors and arrange an impromptu cookout. All three of us run to the store for propane and hot dogs.
5:00 p.m. We enjoy a lovely dinner with the neighbors! They have two kids and Son is sandwiched between them. The kids eat well and then play independently while the adults sit and chat. It’s strangely calm and none of us want to cut the evening short. They leave somewhere around 7:15.
7:30 p.m. Brushing teeth, pajamas, three books, Son in crib. Husband and I watch some TV, decompress, and head to bed around 9:30 p.m.

Monday

4:45 a.m. Wake up, throw on clothes, brush teeth, stumble downstairs, through the yards and make it to my neighbor’s driveway at 5:00 a.m.
5:00 a.m. Run with my neighbor. During my pregnancy with my first son. I was too paranoid to run after having a miscarriage, and then I had some minor complications that put me on activity restrictions. This pregnancy, I ran a half marathon at four months pregnant. I have cut my mileage a lot, but I need to run for mental health as much as physical and I am thankful for every run I can log!
5:45 a.m. I am home, which is one of the best parts of running early. I water our plants, brew coffee, read my Bible, and meditate. I also clean up the kitchen, emptying the dishwasher from the night before.
6:30 a.m. Shower, makeup, hair, clothes.
7:15 a.m. Husband gets up and we eat a quick breakfast together.
7:35 a.m. I leave for work.
8:00 a.m. Son wakes up and I’m already at the office. Husband provides breakfast and gives Son a bath. Son usually gets a bath at night but we ran out of time after our cookout. Husband has a toddler seat on his bicycle. They ride eight miles around the local neighborhoods with a stop at the playground.
12:30 p.m. I take lunch. Since Son is home with Husband, I made an appointment to get my nails done over lunch. Getting my nails done is something I just started in the last month or two, and it’s a huge mental boost for me to feel pulled together while pregnant.
1:00 p.m. Husband had to make a run to work so Grandma arrives for afternoon duty. Grandma and Son play, snack, and then nap from 2:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m.
1:45 p.m. I’m back to work after my nails and Subway date with myself.
5:10 p.m. I leave work — it’s only about a 20-minute drive home.
5:30 p.m. I arrive home, Grandma heads out, I start heating up leftovers. Son and I try to eat outside but I didn’t clean up well enough from the night before and there are ants everywhere. Husband arrives home, which is a huge distraction, and we abandon dinner in favor of playing outside. I hand Son bites of food while Husband pushes him in his tricycle. Eventually we all go for a walk and bring the dog.
7:30 p.m. Bedtime routine. Same every night.
7:50 p.m. Son is in bed, inexplicably laughing to himself. Husband and I watch one episode of something on TV and head upstairs to bed by 9:30 p.m.

We asked how C’s family childcare experience compares to our recent “granny as nanny” guest post from reader Kristine: 

I think [the post] and subsequent comments said everything I would have to say. It is successful for us because of very open communication. At times, I have felt like I am relinquishing some parenting control when things are not done the way I would prefer. Some of this is my issue. I do not dictate to my mother what to do. She is kind enough to take care of two children, for free. As long as she is keeping them safe and healthy, I am thankful for the arrangement and the relationship I have with her and that she has with the kids. I trust her to make the best decisions she can for the kids and for her mental and physical resources that day. I am thankful that my children are being raised similarly to how I was and believe that the benefits outweigh the costs for us.

Tuesday

Overnight: I sleep like garbage. It’s hot so I open the windows. Son wakes up at some point and Husband changes his diaper. Now I close the windows because it’s pouring rain.
4:45 a.m. It’s still raining! Neighbor and I send texts that we’re bailing at almost the exact same time and I go back to sleep, BUT…
6:30 a.m. Suddenly it’s late and Son is awake already. I wash my hair in the sink rather than taking a shower. It’s nice to have time to play with him and read books before I head to work.
7:45 a.m. I leave for a networking breakfast with other women in my organization. It is delicious food and great conversation.
9:30 a.m. I get to the office and have less than 30 minutes before meetings start.
12:15 p.m. Leave early for lunch to meet Husband at Grandma’s house. Husband has an early work commitment and Grandma had volunteer work in the morning and wasn’t sure when she’d get home. She is there already and it’s fun to spend a few minutes together in the middle of the day. Son is in a great mood. (P.S. Grandma provides lunch for the whole family because she is amazing. Husband usually takes his to-go.)
1:15 p.m. I’m back at work for more meetings. Grandma takes Son home and he naps 2:30–3:45 p.m.
4:30 p.m. I leave work and get home before 5:00 p.m. Son and I take a walk and enjoy quinoa and veggies prepped earlier in the day by Husband. Son begs for fruit and veggie pouches instead.
7:15 p.m. Bedtime routine with a bath added.
7:45 p.m. Son is in bed, but no random laughter tonight! I pick up the house and meditate (three days in a row)!
I try to go to bed a little earlier on nights when Husband is at work. I’m probably in bed by 9:30 p.m.

Wednesday

Early morning hours: Husband arrives home
4:45 a.m. Wake up and start running by 5:00 a.m.
5:45 a.m. Home and performing my same morning routine as on Monday, leaving for work a little after 7:30. Husband got up at 7:15.
8:00 a.m. Son wakes up when I’m already at work. I’m not sure what Son and Husband do all morning, though he certainly texted me at least a picture or two. Husband drops Son off a little early so he can get his haircut before work.
12:30 p.m. My notes the week say “lunch is brief” — I was probably stressed out by work. I visit Grandma and Son and apparently we played with cars.
The afternoon routine is typical. Husband and I work, Grandma and Son nap and play.
4:30 p.m. I force myself out the door from work even though I could’ve stayed for awhile. I hate feeling like I’m missing time with Son and I don’t ever want to make Grandma feel taken advantage of by me working late unexpectedly.
Son hardly eats any dinner, even though dinner is chicken nuggets.
6:15 p.m. Play outside with neighbors. As per our usual, everyone is having too much fun and is too content so we stay outside too late. Son tries to help their baby learn to touch grass. My heart is mush watching Son be so gentle with the baby.
7:30 p.m. Just get inside from playing. Oops. Bedtime routine. Son isn’t actually landed in crib until after 8:00 p.m. I perform my usual evening routine from the other nights.
9:45 p.m. I am too tired to meditate but find that a meditation app I have used in the past has a bedtime stories feature! I drift to sleep and don’t wake up all night! I always wake up when I’m pregnant. It’s amazing.

C shared how her husband’s second-shift work schedule affects their relationship in a positive way: 

At times, it is intimidating to leave work and know that I am going home to where it is all on me to get through the bedtime funnel; however, his schedule is mostly a positive thing. While I solo parent in the evening, he is the solo parent all morning and we are typically both equally vested in the running of the household in terms of cooking, cleaning, emotional labor with planning our days, etc. His schedule forces us to be better partners and parents in a way that I don’t think we would have if we were on more similar schedules.

Thursday

Early morning hours: Husband arrives home
4:45 a.m. Aforementioned wake-up and run routine
6:15 a.m. Distract myself from meditation by picturing us finding out that we’re having a boy and being overwhelmingly happy. Do the same with a girl and feel the same way. Give up on meditating and go get ready for the day!
Husband and I are both off today. Coincidentally, my mid-pregnancy ultrasound was scheduled on the same day as our wedding anniversary, so we decided to make it a special day. We didn’t find out our first son’s gender until he was born but we are not interested in a surprise this time around.
Son is awake just before Grandma arrives at 7:30 a.m. and Husband and I head off to the ultrasound. I am cannot-contain-myself excited to find out gender, and especially so when we learn that we are having another boy! We are absolutely a two-kid family, no more, so I am thrilled to know that I am a boy mom.
Husband and I have a date day. We go out for breakfast, wander through some shops, and then grab lunch. We get home around 2:00 p.m. Grandma has just gotten Son down for a nap and because she is amazing, she even vacuumed for us. Husband and I each crash on our respective couches until Son wakes up.
4:00 p.m. Son wakes up and is very angry to find that Grandma is gone. He does not handle adult shift changes well when he is napping and doesn’t know what’s going on. Lots of screaming.
4:30 p.m. It’s a Thursday and we’re all home! We go to the park.
5:30 p.m. Home from the park. It was kind of a bust. Son doesn’t eat his dinner of hot dog and veggies.
Judging by my lack of notes, it was survival mode the rest of the day.

Friday

I have an absolutely crazy day at work with meetings from 8:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Accordingly, I took no notes of what happened. I can surmise that I did not run that day. Husband went to work in the afternoon so Son and Grandma had their normal routine. I imagine I survived the evening routine and crashed into bed.

Saturday

5:45 a.m. Slept in! Up and running with neighbor by 6:00 a.m. We go a little longer than usual because it is nice out and it’s the weekend.
7:15 a.m. I try to crawl back into bed but within five minutes, Son is awake. We slowly get ourselves ready, eat breakfast, and play.
9:30 a.m. Head out of the house to run errands involving a jewelry store and Mother’s Day presents for the grandmothers and myself. I leave very happy. We take son to the park and back to the burrito place since he ate so well there last week!
1:30 p.m. Home from our busy morning of errands, park, and burritos. Get son to nap and we all crash until…
4:00 p.m. Everyone is awake. We spend the evening eating leftovers and preparing to host our families the next day to let them know we’re having another boy. We have three sets of grandparents within a 15-minute drive of our house. Often, it’s easier for us just to host family events.
Crash into bed… Another week down!

With C’s new baby in mind, we asked her about the transition from one kid to two: 

I’m still learning how to manage when they are both crying at the same time and it’s only me. The other adjustment for me is specific to family planning. After my first was born, the door was still open to having more children. This time, we know that we are done. There’s a feeling of permanence and finality that I am adjusting to now. … It has made me more motivated to create good habits (date nights, diet, etc.) quickly because I know that we will not be resetting the clock again, if that makes sense.

Thanks so much to C for sharing a bit of her life as a working mom! Readers, what’s your biggest takeaway from her week of work in finance at a nonprofit, as well as her general work/life balance?working mom in finance for a non-profit - image of a woman with a calculator

Comments

  1. Boston Legal Eagle says:

    Thank you for sharing! Go you for running every morning, even while pregnant! That is very impressive. And I’m super jealous that your son sleeps till 8am – ours goes to bed at around the same time as yours, but usually wakes up by 6am. Glad to hear your arrangement has made you more equal parents.

    Curious, have you kept up your respective schedules with 2 kids? I would imagine that solo parenting 2 is a lot trickier for all involved (husband in the morning, grandma, you in the evenings)

    • Reader C says:

      That is a great question. I am still on maternity leave but we will be keeping the respective schedules with two kids. While my husband is back at work, my mom and I have often been tag-teaming and I have utilized help from other friends in the evenings a lot. I think all of us are nervous about the responsibility of two kids for one adult but we will manage. I tell myself that stay-at-home moms seem to pull this off… right?!

      • i pray that it is possible bc i’m pregnant with twins and will be doing bedtime alone every single night! i also tell myself that there are families where a parent is deployed and the other one is home with multiple kids and somehow manages to do it, so hopefully i can do it too.

  2. Tired Mommy says:

    Some advice I got here re: dealing with two crying kids at the same time. If the baby is ok, help the older first since the older will remember and possibly hold it against you while the baby has no clue. This really helped me get through the jealousy I’d phase with older son. Now I just try to trade off so someone is always waiting, but not always the older or the younger. I tell myself it’s teaching them patience :)

    • Similarly, I was told to verbally tell the baby to wait when you helped the older one, even if he’s sleeping. Like, “Baby, wait in the car seat while I help Toddler put on his coat and shoes.” and “Baby, please be quiet, I’m putting Toddler down for his nap now.” and “Baby, one minute, I’m listening to Toddler’s story.” That really helped my toddler feel like she wasn’t always “second” to the Baby.

  3. Interviewing while Pregnant says:

    May repost tomorrow in case it’s too late in the day…

    Any positive stories of being hired at a new job while 3-4 months pregnant? I’m interviewing and a very strong candidate. I know that legally I don’t have to disclose anything, but I personally don’t feel right about that. Maybe later in the interview process when things are getting way more serious/final? Job would be WAY MORE RELAXED than current gig, so I’m not too worried about work/life at a new company post-baby…. it simply cannot be worse. What am I not considering? I would of course try to negotiate paid leave, but I know that will be hard. Halp.

    • FWIW, I told myself I was going to save interviewing for mat leave unless * * the perfect * * opportunity popped up. And here we are.

    • Anonymous says:

      I got hired while interviewing in the third trimester but I had a friend who got a job interviewing at 2 months. She did disclose and got the job.

      My two cents: I wanted a place that was family friendly and if they counted pregnancy against me, then it wasn’t a place I wanted to work.

    • DDDDD says:

      I did – I interviewed at 6 or 8 weeks pregnant and was offered a job when I was 12 weeks pregnant. I disclosed. I started when I was 3 months pregnant. I figured if I told them and they were less than positive, I didn’t want the job anyway.

  4. Leslie Knope says:

    I am so impressed with your early morning runs. I have a similar schedule and need to be back at the house by 6 am due to partners work schedule. Any tips on getting out there at 5 for a tired mama?

    • Following! I am also impressed. And jealous of your running neighbour – I haven’t found anyone reliable and relatable since my last regular running partner moved :(

  5. My husband works nights (7 p-5a) and we find it is so hard since we are both essentially solo parents in survival mode. We have a part-time AM nanny, but my husband still never gets to sleep. Any tips for making the opposite shifts work? Our daughter is 8 months and I feel so badly for my husband. :(

  6. Reader C Re: Running in the AM says:

    Tips on getting out at 5am:

    1. Lay out absolutely everything you can the night before including clothes, reflective gear, etc.

    2. Set the timer on the coffee pot so the coffee is brewed right when you get home from your workout. It’s nice incentive not to skip.

    3. Commit to doing it just a few times and paying attention to how you feel. I’ve learned that an hour long run gives me a lot more energy than an extra hour of sleep. I also love looking at the stars and think it feels amazing to leave the house in the dark and return when the sun is coming up. It feels like such a natural way to wake up.

  7. Reader C Re: Opposite Shifts says:

    7pm – 5am sounds so hard, especially for your husband’s sleep! What’s not working with the AM nanny?

    We’ve done opposite shifts for about a decade so we adapted pretty well long before having kids. We prioritize our time together above everything else so to the extent possible, both of us try to do housework, cooking, cleaning, etc when the other isn’t around. This is a lot harder with kids. We’ve also always kept a journal we use to write notes back and forth. It’s corny but it helps us stay connected.

    Not sure that answers your question!

  8. Cmoze says:

    I love the journal idea!
    He also has to be at court 2-3 days a week at 9 am. I understand part of that is just the career (cop) but now with a kid he can’t sleep all afternoon and we can’t reasonably afford full-time care. We dated/we’re married 5 years before our daughter, and night shift for 3 of those. No fun!

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