For this week’s installment of our Week in the Life of a Working Mom series, I’m happy to introduce CorporetteMoms reader M, who lives in New Jersey with her husband and daughter and works as a management consultant in NYC. Our usual caveat applies: Please remember thaft 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…
Location: Live in central NJ; work from home, my NYC office, or at a client site
Job: Management consultant at a Big 4 firm, specializing in customer experience and strategy
Home Situation: Live in a 2,300-square-foot home with my husband (37-year-old lawyer at a small firm) and our nearly 2-year-old daughter
Childcare Situation: Our daughter attends a local daycare from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00/6:00 p.m. for $300/week, which includes an employer discount. Her grandparents pick her up once or twice a week, depending on whether husband and I are traveling or will have a late night in the office.
A Week in My Life
My best friend’s bachelorette party was this weekend, so I spent Friday through today out of state. My husband hung out with my daughter and his parents. I returned home Sunday evening (after many flight delays) around 1:00 a.m.
7:30 a.m. Up early to get my daughter to daycare. I haven’t seen her much between personal weekend commitments and a new client that requires travel, so I relish the day to do drop-off/pickup. I work remotely today from my home office, directing my team that’s onsite, and spend most of the day working on deliverables and reviewing my teams’ work.
12:00 p.m. My husband and I pop out to grocery shop for the week and pick up lunch. He doesn’t cook while I’m away, so we try to buy a combination of “easy” items like soups and healthy pre-made meals for him and my daughter. I will also make dinner tonight to last them a few days while I’m traveling for my client.
5:00 p.m. I pick up daughter from daycare. On days that I work remotely, I have a standing agreement with my team that I’m off-limits (barring any disasters) so I can spend time with my daughter. I typically work longer hours when I travel or am in the office, so it balances out.
6:30 p.m. Homemade soup for dinner. Daughter is starting to get randomly picky with her food (too bad for us…), so it can sometimes be a struggle. Today she eats most of the veggie minestrone, so I chalk it up to win.
8:00 p.m. Bedtime routine, including three stories before putting her to bed
9:00 p.m. Catch up on emails, then pack for my three-day business trip
11:00 p.m. Out like a light
Here’s what M had to say about her daughter’s eating habits:
We try to get her to eat whatever we make for ourselves, and if she doesn’t, we’ll make sure she gets some pureed vegetable packs at the minimum. She gets healthy, balanced meals and snacks as part of her daycare, and due to some magical toddler peer pressure she seems to always eat what they serve. Frankly, if she gets picky when she gets home for dinner, I at least don’t feel like a monster if she’ll only eat a meatball or a squeeze packet since I know she ate well at school. I’m sure this is just going to be a phase. Phases last until kids are like 14 though, I hear.
5:30 a.m. Lyft arrives to take me to the airport. Not a wonderful time to wake up, but not the worst. When I first began my consulting career, there were many 4:00 a.m. pickups. I nap during the ride.
7:45 a.m. Flight leaves for my client trip. I nap during the one-hour flight (got to grab those extra Z’s where I can).
8:00 a.m. Husband drops daughter off at daycare before heading into his office.
10:30 a.m. I get to my client site and get to work — lots to do this week with multiple deliverables and a few client workshops on the agenda.
4:00 p.m. Tuesdays are grandparent pickup days, since I’m away and my husband has to go into his office and work late. They pick daughter up from daycare and bring her back to our place to play, eat dinner, and do the normal bedtime routine. Husband usually returns from work around 8:00, so he might be able to take over bedtime duties depending on the day.
We asked M to share advice for other moms who travel a lot for work:
I have found consistent check-ins to be key. Things like FaceTime and Google Hangouts make it really easy to stay in touch visibly. That helps make me feel connected to my husband and daughter. I also try to text my husband randomly throughout the day to keep our relationship and friendship strong. It’s equally important, though, to set boundaries at work where you can: Carve out a few hours of “do not disturb” time, and learn how to say No. Block off my kids’ school “parties” and things like that into my day so when I am home, I’m visible. I didn’t feel that I was able to do that earlier in my career, but I see that flexibility changing. I hope it will be more commonplace soon. On a more fun note, I also use my travel as a fun thing to discuss with my daughter — oh, Mommy goes to work on an airplane, etc. When kids are young they can definitely get into those mundane aspects that we take for granted. Having help really underpins all of this, though, and without my husband and our family members I don’t know if all of the aforementioned advice helps all that much.
Wow, thank you for sharing! I’ve been curious about Big 4 consulting; it would be a great career move for me for several reasons, but I’m leery of the hours and travel with kids. It was really helpful to see what client site support looks like with a little one, and good for you for making it work! The grandparents sound like a godsend. Do you enjoy the travel and feel like you can do it for the long haul?
I always love reading these. I’m curious about who cleans the house and when? When is grocery shopping done? When is laundry done? Are you able to fit in exercise? I’m so interested to know how others fit it all in and if there’s any creative solutions I could use.
I always wonder the same thing. Kat, would you consider adding a question to the “basics” section at the top of each profile that covers household chores–what’s outsourced/not outsourced, who does what, when, and how often? Similar to the child care question.
I think that would be so interesting/helpful. I always remember one of the earliest posts in this series was a mom to 3 or 4 and she had a standing Friday pizza delivery order. I remember thinking, “genius!” While I haven’t adopted that exact practice, I learned from that post that I could save so much time and mental energy by automating certain things my family does/needs every week. I think those are this most helpful/interesting takeaways from this series.
On a related note, I love when contributors mention the little home-related tasks they squeeze into their workday (like running an errand or making a phone call between meetings.) My days often feel like a crazy patchwork of professional and personal tasks, and I enjoy seeing how others juggle the same. Tremendous thanks to everyone who shares their stories as part of this series.
Thanks for the suggestion — we will consider adding that!
Hey – OP here! So I typically travel Mon-Wed, which leaves me time to grocery shop on weekends. We typically go as a family because my toddler loves riding in the race car shopping carts. I definitely outsource house cleaning. We pay someone $100 twice a month (so $200 total) to do a deep clean. Laundry is kind of hit or miss. My husband helps do laundry for our daughter often enough, and that happens randomly throughout the week. I will say that I am much better about going to the gym when I’m traveling. I make it a point to get to the hotel gym twice while I’m gone, then I don’t have too much pressure to go when I’m home (though I still try to get to a class on the weekend here and there).
I eat much better now, but have to say when I first started consulting i probably gained 15 lbs from bad eating/drinking habits. By nature it’s a very social industry so it’s easy to let loose.
I’m 11 years into my career but have been in consulting for 5. It’s a place where I’m constantly challenged professionally and have enjoyed a lot of growth, and I could see myself doing this kind of work long term. But I worry what the next step in promotion might do to my lifestyle. However, a female mentor recently suggested that it’s better to try for the upper levels of consulting and then decide it’s not for me, rather than self selecting out because the shift in responsibilities/hours may not be what I want. I think I’m going to follow that advice for now. I am pretty constantly looking into industry jobs with more normalized hours, though. Just in case.
And yes – grandparents are a total godsend. We probably would not be able to work this out without them.
As a mom who went to bottle feeding early on, reading that you bottle fed from the start (period, no explanation) made me feel less alone in the world of all breastfeeding all the time. Thank you for that!!
Yup, I was a BF martyr (some people enjoy it. I did not.) with my first. Second switched to formula after my first business trip (4 months) and third went after my first business trip (5 months). In the early stages it was just more convenient for me to nurse, but any time it wasn’t direct from my b00b it was formula. I did the pumping thing, I did the carrying milk through airports thing, I learned my lesson :-).
Oh, I’m so glad! I had zero interest in BF at any point. I wanted my husband up doing the feeds just like me and had no interest in hooking myself up to a machine. Also, honestly, the idea of BF squicked me out. It’s great when other moms find success in it but I knew from the beginning that it wasn’t for me. I’m happy to have helped you in some small way!
Thanks so much for sharing! I love your attitude and your positivity! Such a fun read.
This was so interesting because my husband has your job (big 4 consulting) so I am your husband in your scenario haha. He travels M- Thursday though (but then will have a week or 2 here and there with no travel) and we have 2 young kids. It’s really interesting to see how people make this work. It has definitely been trying on our relationship and it makes for a somewhat rough transition back on Friday mornings when I am used to doing the weekday routine myself. I really appreciated your comment on the emotional labor and that redistribution of things is an ongoing discussion. Overall, I really appreciated your positive attitude as my husband often reminds me it is hard for him too, not seeing the kids and me (insert eyeroll here) even thought I know it’s true, but I liked hearing his side through you! Sometimes I just need to see other working professional families with one heavy traveler pulling this off and give myself a little pep talk that we can do this haha, so thanks so much for sharing. Also, good for you for taking on a role with travel and not letting that limit your career and aspirations. You really seem to be making it work :)