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 New Mexico with her husband and two daughters and works as a corporate auditor.
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
First, Some Basics About This Working Mom…
Location: Lives in New Mexico, works in Texas
Job: Corporate auditor, 45–60 hours/week
I live in a 4,000-square-foot home with my husband (family medicine), our two daughters (ages 8 and 4), and our dog.
Our children attend an after school program twice per week, and Grandma picks them up from school three days per week (and taxis them to after school activities).
School tuition: approx. $6,000 per child per year. After school program: varies, depends on our use (payment is on a per-hour basis). Grandma is compensated for gas and given a credit card for expenses incurred on behalf of the kids — she uses this to buy the kids dinner, snacks, pay for events, purchase supplies they may need, etc.
A Week in My Life
Sunday is spent preparing for the week. We start the day by attending Mass as a family, and typically go out for brunch afterwards. The rest of the day is spent on tasks necessary for the week ahead. My husband handles meal prep — he will prepare chicken breasts, make enough rice to last all week, wash and chop vegetables, and pre-assemble lunches and snacks. The kids tidy up, finish homework and school projects, and my oldest child practices violin. I use this time to empty their backpacks, go through their school papers, and catch up on school communications. I also make sure all laundry is washed, dried, and put away — taking special care to have all uniforms and ballet attire needed during the week accounted for and ready to be packed.
I plan outfits for the week for both myself and the kids; I consider the weather as well as our schedules and set out the attire we will need for Monday thru Saturday in six distinct “piles.” If I have important meetings I will grab traditional office attire for that day; if I will primarily be sitting at my desk I opt for something more casual. If the clothing is wrinkled I steam it, and I add to the piles any clothing changes that will be necessary (for dance lessons, yoga, gym workouts, etc.). Sunday is also the day I clean makeup brushes and jewelry. It’s not a must but it’s a personal preference to start the week with clean tools and sparkling jewelry! Finally, I make sure to take time to RELAX because Sunday evening tends to be a time when anxiety peaks. Something about the transition from weekend to work week puts me slightly on edge, so I address it by taking a bath, or reading a book, or both — usually with a glass of wine.
We couldn’t help but notice that C is very organized! Here’s what she told us about that:
I was definitely less organized before I had kids, and more organized with two kids than with one! I probably thought I was in organized in my college days but I wasn’t juggling nearly as many responsibilities then as I am now. Motherhood teaches many lessons!
5:00 a.m. Alarm. I get up, work out, and aim to be in the shower by 6:00.
6:30 a.m. Wake up the kids. Breakfast is a joint effort with my husband and I getting the kids (and ourselves) what we need. Then my husband packs the lunches while I dress the girls.
7:30ish We are all out the door.
8:00 a.m. School drop-off is my first stop. Next up is my commute from New Mexico to Texas, which on a good day is ~45 minutes and goes by quickly with a good podcast.
9:00 a.m. I arrive and settle in at the office.
Mondays are primarily spent on strategy and planning for the week ahead. If I don’t structure my week and my time, I won’t own it and I will be reactive rather than proactive about what I want to accomplish. Therefore I block off time on my calendar so as not to be disturbed Monday morning and shut my door. I grab a coffee or some hot tea, my planner, and some blank paper for brainstorming, and think about what I want the week to look like and what I need to get done. Confession: I love this time! After being at home with the kids all weekend, sitting in my clean and quiet office with a hot cup of comfort and TIME to myself to think and plan is a lovely moment.
When the planning is finished I dedicate some time to responding to phone calls/emails and touching base with colleagues. Lunch is probably from the office cafeteria (which is quite good) or a nearby restaurant. After lunch, my goal is a productive afternoon. I like to accomplish this in two large chunks of time, with a break in between.
5:00 p.m. My husband leaves his office and picks up the kids from the after school program.
6:00 p.m. I leave work, commute home, and sit in on my daughters’ violin lesson (which happens at home). During the lesson, my husband exercises, and afterwards he will start dinner. Mealtime as a family is important to us; we sit and talk about our day, then my husband cleans up the kitchen while I get the kids bathed and ready for bed. If there is homework to finish it is done now, but ideally my daughter gets it done at the after school program. I check the homework and clean out the backpacks and lunch boxes, and I aim to be in bed not long after them.
The Tuesday morning routine is very similar to Monday — up at 5:00, exercise, kids get up at 6:30, we eat breakfast and get ready and we’re off to school. I always perform a Tuesday morning bag check when I get in the car — do I have two backpacks, three lunches, a ballet bag for my oldest, a yoga bag for me, my laptop bag, and my purse? If the answer is yes, we’re off!
Tuesday afternoons in the office consist of meetings. I spend the first part of my morning doing productive work, and the second part of my morning is spent preparing for the afternoon meetings.
Lunchtime on Tuesdays is spent in a group yoga class, which happens at my office and is free! A comprehensive wellness program is an employee benefit that I take advantage of and am grateful for. Yoga in the middle of the day calms anxiety, helps me find balance, and energizes me for the afternoon of meetings that lie ahead. I pack a lunch or grab something to go from the cafeteria for “yoga days” and quickly eat it at my desk when yoga is finished.
For my daughters, Tuesday is a day that Grandma picks them up from school and takes them to the ballet studio. Afterwards Grandma takes the girls to my house, where she feeds them dinner, assists with homework, and gets them ready for bed. By the time I arrive home there is not much left undone for me to do (so thankful!), but I typically will run a load of laundry to stay on top of it. My husband works until 7:00 on Tuesdays, then when gets home he and I will typically have dinner together (kids have already eaten, thanks to Grandma) and we all enjoy a glass of wine before bed — even Grandma, because she spends the night with us on Tuesdays to avoid a commute home in the dark.
We asked C about the pros and cons of family caregivers:
The arrangement with family for childcare is wonderful. I work for a global company and my role requires travel across the world; if not for being able to leave my children with family I’m not sure I could hop on a plane to Europe or Asia and feel comfortable being so far away. There are many benefits to this type of arrangement, but like anything in life there are challenges as well. Grandparents typically have a different parenting style than parents do, which is confusing for the kids to have different sets of rules. The way a mother parents her children is a non-negotiable to the mother, and when disagreements about parenting style come up with a caregiver they might be more easily resolved when the caregiver is not family. This can be a source of tension but at the end of the day I think the benefits outweigh the challenges.
4:30 a.m. is my wake-up time on Wednesdays — I get up a earlier because I do my workout at a gym rather than at home. Grandma has spent the night, and in an effort to not disturb her I quietly leave the house to squeeze my workout in. When I come home I get the kids ready (typically with her help) and then SHE does the school drop-off for me! This means I have a tiny bit of extra time to myself, and let me tell you, I love it. If I’m having a busy week at work I will go to the office early, but often I slow down and indulge in taking my time getting ready instead of the usual rush to get out the door. If I have an errand to run, I may choose to do it at this time before going in to work.
The Wednesday workday is all about productivity. It’s mid-week, I’ve planned, I’ve had pertinent meetings, now is the time to execute and get the work done. I take breaks to snack every couple hours, I stay hydrated, and I focus on the tasks at hand. Lunchtime is probably at a restaurant, or I may use this time to run a quick errand.
Wednesdays are another ballet day for my little ones. Grandma takes them but she does not spend the night — rather, she meets my husband at an agreed upon location after ballet class, and my husband brings the kids home. He is good about starting dinner and having the kids work on homework, and by the time I am home we are pretty much ready to sit down and eat and settle into the bedtime routine.
Wednesday is the one day per week a housekeeper comes. I like a mid-week home refresh, and without a cleaning service I don’t think I would find time to get this done. Worth every penny in my opinion!
Thursday for us looks a lot like Tuesday — I exercise in the morning, drop off the kids at school, do yoga at noon, Grandma takes kids to ballet after school, and she either takes them to my house or meets my husband, who will bring them home. Again he starts dinner (he is great with a sous vide) and when I get home I pitch in to get dinner finished and served. Husband does dishes while I check homework/empty backpacks, bathe the kids, and get them ready for bed. I like to do another load of laundry on Thursdays to avoid a buildup.
Friday! If I’m not feeling too tired I like to get up early on Friday and do my workout at the gym. If the work week has me worn out I may choose a rest day and skip my workout. I listen to my body and if I can push it, I do so, if I can’t I wont. Again I drop off the kids at school, and during my commute to work I reflect on the week. If I haven’t accomplished all that I intended to I set an intention to work efficiently and make as much progress as I can. If I’ve met my goals for the week, I like to spend the day catching up on miscellaneous tasks that are easy to let slide, such as cleaning out my inbox or organizing files. Similar to Monday morning I block off time during the afternoon to ensure I get some closure-type items done. I update team schedules with progress for the week, bill my time, and I make sure to clean and organize my desk so I come into a fresh space on Monday. I also clean out any food items from the refrigerator and wash dishes, so as not to come back to a mess the next week. Setting aside time to do this on Friday means a better Monday for me.
My husband picks up the kids from the after school program and takes them home where they eagerly await my arrival because Friday is the day I bring home take out for dinner and we eat dinner while watching a movie! It is a highly anticipated event for my little ones, and my husband and I enjoy it as well. When the kids have gone to bed, my husband and I discuss meals for the upcoming week in preparation for the grocery haul on Saturday. We both tend to always have dietary goals in mind, so we discuss these with each other and make sure we are on the same page about what we will prepare for lunches and dinners in the week to come. If I have any special grocery requests I let him know, because he is the grocery shopper in our household.
Saturday morning is my favorite workout day because I can squeeze in an extra half hour at the gym. I typically work out from 6:00–7:30 a.m. and go home for protein pancakes with the family before I’m off to the dance classes I teach. I leave for dance by 8:45 and take my oldest with me — the youngest stays with my husband and they go to the store to buy groceries. We all meet at a restaurant for lunch, and have a relaxing afternoon or plan something fun! This is our day to play!
C told us more about her dance classes and how important dance has been in her life:
I started ballet at age 3, begged my mom and dad for lessons, and fell in love with it immediately. When I was 5 years old my dad passed away, and the dance classes that I loved suddenly became like therapy. My mom made many sacrifices to keep me involved and I count it among my greatest blessings that she did. I began teaching dance in high school, I continued studying ballet (and teaching) throughout college, and I have never quit. For me, dance has been both a lifelong love and a necessity. It keeps me sane! People often think I’m crazy for being involved in dance during such a busy time of life, but it is a privilege to be able to engage in this passion DESPITE my busy life. Now that I have two daughters to share a love of dance with, it’s like a new lovely phase of a beautiful journey. I hope to still be dancing when I am 100 years old!
Thanks so much to Reader C for sharing a bit of her life as a working mom! Readers, what’s your biggest takeaway from her week of work as a corporate auditor, as well as her general work/life balance?
Stock photo via Shutterstock/Andrey_Popov.