Week in the Life of a Working Mom: Federal Government Attorney

attorney mom stay at home dadFor this week’s installment of our Week in the Life of a Working Mom series, I’m happy to introduce CorporetteMoms reader S, who lives in a small Southern city with her husband and son and works as an attorney for the federal government. 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…biglaw partner work-life balance - image of a business woman

Name: S
Location: Live in a small city in the South; work in a nearby small town.attorney mom stay at home dad - stock image of a woman looking at a folder
Job: Attorney for the federal government
Age: 30
Home Situation: I live in a 3-bedroom house halfway between downtown of the city we live in and the small town I work in. I live with my husband, whose main job is staying home with our 3-year-old son, C.
Childcare Situation: My husband watches our son full time. We have family come watch C about 2–3 hours per week on Mondays when our work schedules overlap.

A Week in My Life

Sunday

7:00 a.m. C wakes up. Usually, he’s content in his crib and I can stay in bed for another 30 minutes. But we have guests still sleeping in the guest room next to his room and he starts whining for me. My husband is already up for the day to get ready to go to work. I get out of bed, get C, and bring him back to bed with me. I let him watch an episode of Wild Kratts while we cuddle and then try to take a shower.
7:30 a.m. No shower. C wants to eat NOW. Take him to the kitchen and give him a banana and peanut butter. On his Christmas plate. With the bunny fork. And milk in the dinosaur cup. Toddler moms, I know you understand. C has recently started to refuse to sit in his high chair, so peanut butter gets smeared all over the table. He yells at me to eat too, so I make some coffee (with his “help”) and eat a cookie from a party last night.
8:30 a.m. My best friend spent the previous night. She wakes up and we spend some time together drinking coffee while C runs around.
8:45 a.m. My dad arrives to spend the day with C.
9:30 a.m. I finally get in the shower and start getting ready while my dad and my best friend watch C, which is super helpful, though I’m somehow running late.
11:00 a.m. Donuts before church, and then church. I’m volunteering in the nursery today. C is acting up. I wonder if he always acts up or just when I’m around.
1:30 p.m. We get home and I feed C applesauce, scrambled eggs, and broccoli. He eats all the applesauce, then promptly falls apart. Nap time! C actually goes straight down, which is unusual for Sundays, when naps are a little late.
1:30–3:30 p.m. Glorious adult time talking without interruptions with my husband, best friend, and dad. We love having visitors over.
3:30 p.m. C’s up. He sees the baby pool in the backyard, so out we go. C plays in the baby pool and bosses us around on where and how to sit.
5:30 p.m. We come in because it’s about to storm. Dad and my best friend leave. I suggest putting a movie on for C while I cook dinner.
6:50 p.m. Dinner takes longer than expected, but is very good. Homemade red curry with tofu. C eats the lunch he didn’t eat earlier.
7:15 p.m. We have small group with a few people from our church. We put C in his pajamas and drive to our friends’ house. They have twins, who are running all over the place when we get there. C says goodnight to everyone and we put him to bed in a pack n play in our friends’ bedroom. He’s such a champ sleeper.
10:45 p.m. We leave group, pick up C out of the pack ‘n’ play and put him in the car. He fusses a little bit on the way home, but goes right to sleep in his crib.
11:00 p.m. Husband and I are in bed too.

Monday

6:45 a.m. Up 45 minutes later than I set my alarm for. Have to be at the courthouse at 8:00 for trial. Rough start to the day. Jump in the shower and decide no time to wash my hair.
7:15 a.m. Peek into the bedroom and see my husband is still asleep. I’m ready for work in record time and need to leave by 7:30. C is awake and needs to get up if I want to be able to see him before I leave. Yell at my husband to get up and go get C. Husband does as I ask. C instead screams for me to come get him. So I go get him. I already have my work clothes on, so I tell C that daddy has to change his diaper. (This is a mistake I’ve made more than once.) C objects, but complies. C requests grits for breakfast.
7:20 a.m. I’m a sucker, so start quick grits for C while husband makes me coffee. C throws various fits while grits cook and cool.
7:38 a.m. And I’m leaving late. Head out the door even though C won’t give me a hug or kiss before I leave.
7:39 a.m. C comes running out the door with the husband to give me a kiss after a change of heart. It’s adorable. :)
7:45 a.m. I realize my gas light is on. Definitely going to be late. Text the coworkers to apologize while I wait in line to pump gas.
8:15 a.m. Arrive at work. Trial’s already in session, but it seems I wasn’t too missed. Slip into my office and start the day.

[I’m at work — busy with trial and orienting interns that started today and showed up an hour early. I text my husband at about 2:00 when I realize I’ll definitely be home late.]

9:00 a.m. While I’m at work, my husband has his first soccer practice of the season. He is an assistant coach for high school girls and we decided he would take C with him. He texts me at 10:00 to tell me it went really well! The head coach brought her 18-month-old (she’s also a stay-at-home mom) and the toddler gods were smiling on them!
4:00 p.m. My mom arrives with my aunt to watch C for a few hours. My husband works on Monday nights. He has to be at work at 4:45 and, since I don’t get home usually until around 6:00, we usually have a family member watch C for an hour or so until I get home. It’s usually one of his grandmothers, whom he loves very much. They live a little over an hour away and we’re grateful they make time to watch C for us. It’s such a treat for him that he sees one of his grandmothers every week. This is why we moved close to home after law school.
5:30 p.m. Mom sends me some pictures of C at dinner at his favorite BBQ restaurant near our house. I show him off to all my coworkers who are also stuck at work late.
7:15 p.m. FaceTime with C while he’s taking a bath. Say goodnight to him, but he’s too busy playing in the water. I try to not miss bedtime too often, so I feel sad when I do. But I really love my job and rarely feel guilty for the work I do.
7:50 p.m. FINALLY leave work. I almost never work past 5:30, so I can accept the occasional late night.
8:20 p.m. Arrive home the same time as husband, who also has not eaten dinner. Say goodbye and thank my mom. Eat a frozen pizza with an expensive bottle of wine for dinner. Do a few loads of at-home dry cleaning and check on my garden.
10:00 p.m. Head to bed and watch an episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, which significantly impacts my sleep. Lesson learned.

S told us a little more about the decision to move closer to family:

We loved living in Boston for a few years, but I honestly couldn’t handle the winter, so we knew we likely wouldn’t stay. Plus, I was really tired of using all my “free” time to travel home rather than go on vacation. We love being near home and family and we love that C is close to his grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins!

We also asked S about how she’s able to leave work at a reasonable time: 

My job is largely research and writing, so it’s pretty easy to get out of the office on time every day — the only exception is when we’re in trial, which I know is coming at least a week out. I have amazing coworkers who don’t mind that I leave right on time and an amazing boss who only cares that I get my work done. I frequently work in the evenings after my son goes to bed, which everyone knows and respects (though, I certainly don’t work at home most nights and I don’t feel guilty for not working at home if nothing is pressing). A supportive boss is key.

Tuesday

6:30 a.m. Wake up a bit late but have time to at least wash my hair.
7:00 a.m. C is up and cries for me to come get him out of bed, so put getting ready on hold while I go get him out of bed. He heads straight to eat breakfast.
7:20 a.m. C joins me while I’m getting ready. He loves to sit on my lap while I blow dry my hair, which is adorable.
7:30 a.m. Acknowledge I’m going to be late again, so decide to make some coffee and sit down to eat a bowl of cereal.
7:45 a.m. Head out the door and give C and husband a kiss.
8:15 a.m. Arrive at work, make more coffee, and prepare for the day.

[Today for work I had to travel out of town for some proceedings. I know that I’ll be late again, but I’m hopeful I’ll be home for bedtime. C does well at husband’s soccer practice again. I’m unsure what they’re up to today, though I guess catching up on household chores.]

5:45 p.m. Leave work, but I’m working out of town, so I’m over an hour from home. Husband texts that he’s already eaten, so have to figure out dinner for myself.
7:05 p.m. Arrive home after getting a fast food milkshake. I know C is going to want some attention (and I want to give him attention) when I get home, so hoping the milkshake will tide me over until after he goes to bed.
7:30 p.m. Start bedtime routine with C. Bath, books, a song, and bed. He’s especially cranky, which makes me sad when I only have a short amount of time with him in a day.
8:15 p.m. I eat packaged beans and rice for dinner while finishing an episode of The Crown by myself on the couch. Husband is doing a hobby project in the garage. I log onto the work computer to finish a research project that’s due tomorrow. Feeling a little beat down after two long nights at work and not seeing C much the past two days, so I go back in his room, get him out of bed, and rock him a few more minutes to get some sleepy cuddles.
10:15 p.m. Husband I go to bed. I decide that I should sleep in tomorrow after two long days, so I set my alarm for 7:00 and hope C doesn’t wake up before then.

Wednesday

7:00 a.m. Wake up with my alarm (parenting win) and start to get ready
7:30 a.m. As is becoming his habit, C yells for me to come get him out of bed, so I go to his room, get him, change his diaper, and take off his pajamas. He protests clothes, so I adopt a “whatever” attitude and decide to not fight him. He asks to watch Wild Kratts in the bed with the husband, so we both say “whatever” and off he goes. I briefly think this morning cartoon thing is getting out of hand, but am too tired to really do anything about it at this point.
7:47 a.m. Finally leave the house after a fight with the husband about a skirt I can’t find that I wanted to wear today. I make a mental promise to leave work no later than 5:00 p.m. today.

[Work has been exceptionally busy this week. All my small projects have turned into huge projects, which is interfering with my ability to get my numerous big projects finished. Also, our interns started this week, which has proven to be quite a bit of work.]

5:00 p.m. Leave work!
5:30 p.m. Pull into the driveway at the same time as husband. They’ve been to Lowe’s for some errands and to Kroger for bananas. We’ve decided to make ratatouille for dinner, so start chopping veggies. C wants a banana with peanut butter and a peanut butter sandwich. It’s easy and somewhat healthy, so we go for it. After dinner, we play some in C’s toy room with dinosaur stickers and tractors while dinner finishes.
7:00 p.m. Husband and I eat.
7:20 p.m. Start bedtime a few minutes early because C is losing his cool. Bath, books, and bed. C falls right asleep — he’s exhausted!
8:00 p.m. I help husband for a few minutes in the garage with a project he’s working on. I go outside to check on my garden, even though it’s raining, then read my book club book for a few minutes. I only have pockets of time to read, so have been reading this book for over a month. I legitimately do not know many of the main characters because I’ve been reading so long. I love that the book club forces me to read, though.
9:45 p.m. I decide to head to bed and get husband to come with me. My boss is gone tomorrow, so I set my alarm for 7:00.

Thursday

6:45 a.m. I wake up really confused as to why I’m still asleep. Is it Saturday? I ask my husband what day it is and momentarily freak out that I’ve slept in. When I look at my phone and see my alarm for 7:00, I remember I’m supposed to be sleeping in, so I rest for a few more minutes.
7:00 a.m. I get out of bed and get ready. I dress a little more casual when my boss is out, which is always a treat. Khakis today instead of a pencil skirt. C is sleeping in, which is good. He’s had a long week going to soccer practice with the husband.
7:47 a.m. I’m about the head out the door and realize I need my rain jacket. As I’m going back to my bedroom to retrieve it, I realize C has woken up. I wake up husband so we can get C up so I can see him before I leave. He protests that he wants me to stay and eat breakfast with him, but I’ve got to work on a big project today.
8:00 a.m. Actually leave the house.
8:30 a.m. Arrive at work and make coffee by myself before everyone arrives. I prefer to arrive first, so I can get my day going.

[I’m at work working on an oral argument that is increasing in complexity. I feel bad that I didn’t get this information to my boss sooner than today, but it’s been a hectic work week! I get Mexican for lunch with a friend who now works in the same town as me!]

5:00 p.m. Leave! Two days in a row I’m out right at 5:00.
5:35 p.m. Arrive home and start making dinner.
6:00 p.m. Eat breakfast for dinner.
6:30 p.m. I pack some for my weekend trip to see my brother with C and my parents.
6:45 p.m. It’s raining for the fourth day in a row, so we can’t play outside. We decide to let C watch some cartoons before bedtime, so we all pile on the couch.
7:30 p.m. Decide to skip the bath tonight, so FaceTime with the grandparents and put C to bed after reading.
8:00 p.m. Pack some more. The Husband and I are exhausted, so we also head to bed and watch an episode of TV before going to sleep at 9:00.

We asked S about the decision for her husband to be a stay at home dad: 

My husband had always talked about staying home with our son. Unfortunately, but providentially, he lost his job the week after we conceived our son. Since I had my son during winter break of my third year of law school, and we knew we were moving home after graduation, it made sense for him to stay home with our son for that time. It’s still working well for us!

Friday

6:30 a.m. I’m up and shower for work.
7:15 a.m. C yells, “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” for me to get him out of bed, so I go to his room to start the changing process. I’m already in my work clothes, so the husband changes C’s diaper. We go to the kitchen and eat breakfast together quickly.
7:45 a.m. I head to work.
8:15 a.m. Arrive at work to get ready for the day.

[Crazy busy day again at work. Get lunch out again, which is a nice break.]

5:00 p.m. Leave work
5:30 p.m. Arrive home and finish packing for our weekend trip.
7:00 p.m. Leave later than expected and drive just a couple of hours and stay in a hotel for the night. C does really well staying up a bit past his bedtime.

Saturday

8:00 a.m. Leave the hotel later than expected, of course.
12:00 p.m. Arrive to hang out with my brother.

[We had a fun weekend doing a lot of toddler activities. We went to the zoo and a great botanical garden and headed home Sunday afternoon.]

Thanks so much to Reader S for sharing a bit of her life as a working mom! Readers, what’s your biggest takeaway from her week of work as an attorney for the federal government, as well as her general work/life balance?

Stock photo via Stencil.

A lawyer mom shares her work-life balance over the course of a week, including how it's working with a stay at home dad as their main childcare situation. Great tips on how to leave work at a reasonable hour, moving to be near family, and generally balancing the workload of a federal government attorney and still having fun as a mom!

Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    I like that your kid has a exposure to a broad range of people.

  2. HRHNYC says:

    I’m excited to see another working mom with a garden! It’s a huge challenge to fit it into my schedule, but it’s also my fun hobby and I love it. I appreciate your 8 pm garden checks. I’d do that too, if the potential for running into scary bugs didn’t freak me out.

    • mascot says:

      I grateful for a private backyard so that my neighbors don’t see me wandering out in my robe and curlers to check on the garden and pick up dog deposits. We love our garden/yard and are already stalking our local nursery for spring planting supplies.

  3. LifeScienceMBA says:

    I’m intrigued by the fact that your kid sleeps until 7am or later, with bedtime around 7:30pm. That sounds like a dream to this early bird-mama whose 2 yr old is up at 5:30am every morning.

    I’m wondering, does your husband take over most household chores (groceries, laundry, cleaning) as a stay-at-home dad?

    • Mama Llama says:

      And naps too!

    • Anon with the SAHD below (not S). We jointly manage groceries, by which I mean we coordinate a weekly Peapod order through the Peapod app for weekend delivery so one of us can hold the baby while the other puts groceries away once delivered. SAHD does his own laundry and intends to do mine and the baby’s, but 6 month old terrible napper means that I usually do her laundry with mine on weekends, since we both use the free and clear soap and SAHD likes Tide. We have a housekeeper that comes every other week. We frequently talk about how I need him to do more of the housekeeping (I do the dishwasher every night with my pump parts), but I am sympathetic to the fact that our baby is A LOT of work (more so than our friends’ kids given her 4 months of colic, gas issues, sleep issues (exacerbated by gas), etc.). So, it’s something we still struggle with.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Do you mind telling us a bit more about your job? Spending your days researching and writing sounds like the perfect job.

  5. I have a stay at home husband too! It makes such a difference in me feeling good about my job (BigLaw here, so long hours, but at least I know my LO is home with someone just as invested in her as I am) and for our home life (so much more relaxed now that he isn’t working too and my schedule is the only one we really have to juggle to do stuff).

    • Dreaming of SAHD says:

      How did you guys adjust to a SAHD? We’re still reliant on our two parent income, but in a couple of years we can do fine on just mine and it may make sense to switch to him staying at home as he doesn’t love his job & we pay out of the nose for a nanny. But, he’s also pretty traditional. While he says now that he’s willing, I worry a bit about long term ramifications a la resentment towards me. How have others managed?

    • Anon at 4:15 here. We are only 1.5 months in to the SAHD part (since the first 5 months I was home on leave and he was still working), but so far we love it. The biggest adjustment has been his mom, frankly. He had his own law practice and shut it down to stay home – he was tired of what he was doing and he felt strongly that one of us should stay home with our kids and it sure wasn’t going to be me. It was 100% his decision, and we decided that pretty early once we started looking at daycares. It is an adjustment for me, because he doesn’t do things exactly the way I would do them, but I have to keep reminding myself that good enough is fine and the baby is happy, healthy and thriving. Once the kid(s) are older, I expect he may go back to work, but he swears he is permanently retired and on dad duty (so we’ll see). He plays in the stock market on the side (he had his securities licenses before he was a lawyer) so he is staying mentally engaged that way. I also work from home one day a week, which at least provides a bit of a mental break for him in that there’s adult conversation around and someone to hold the baby here and there if my day is slow.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m a mom with a baby and SAHD in NYC. I am in-house, so make even less than biglaw, and we manage quite well (homeowners and savings, albeit with a 50 min commute). Just live below your means. My husband is far more ambitious about our home life than he ever was in his career, which was not a lucrative path in any case, so I don’t anticipate any resentment issues. I do most of the babycare when I am home (I work a lot too, plus that commute) and he does the vast majority of housework too (though expecting a lag on that front once I ramp back up at work post-leave).

  6. Leslie Knope says:

    Thank you for sharing your life! I totally relate to the toddler only wanting mama dilemma, even with a very involved Dad. It’s hard!!

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