Week in the Life of a Working Mom: Corporate Auditor in Texas

corporate auditor work-life balanceFor 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

If you’d like to be featured (anonymously or otherwise), please fill out this form! You can see all posts in this series here.auditor mom work-life balance - image of a business woman reviewing bar charts with a man

First, Some Basics About This Working Mom…biglaw partner work-life balance - image of a business woman

Name: C
Location: Lives in New Mexico, works in Texas
Job: Corporate auditor, 45–60 hours/week
Age: 37
Home Situation: 

I live in a 4,000-square-foot home with my husband (family medicine), our two daughters (ages 8 and 4), and our dog.

Childcare Situation:

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

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!

Monday

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.

Tuesday

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.

Wednesday

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

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

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

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.

In this post, a working mom shares her work-life balance as a corporate auditor in TX, including how she and her husband juggle their two kids, commuting across state lines, traveling often for work, and more.

Comments

  1. Boston Legal Eagle says:

    This is the kind of life I hope to have in 5-10 years, when our kids are elementary school age, including having grandparents involved in afterschool care and getting to workout everyday!! Awesome that you still get to fulfill your passion with dance and teaching dance lessons. And how cool that your office provides free yoga. It sounds like you have a great partnership with your husband in terms of parenting as well.

    Your life seems to just flow very well, at least from this outsider’s perspective. Has it always been this smooth or were the small child/still figuring out career years as hectic as mine feel now?

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi Boston Legal Eagle,

      The small child years were insane! It took me a long time to really adjust to motherhood, and as soon as I felt like I kind of had it figured out along came the second child and I had to readjust. I’ve had to readjust again now that they are both old enough to be involved in activities. I think I’ve come to a realization that readjusting will be a constant!
      My routine sounds great in writing but trust me, it is hectic. I have many days where I feel overwhelmed but I remind myself that I am very blessed with help and support, and I also remind myself that one day I will really miss the pace of life where the kids are young and vibrant (and the house is a mess).
      Best of luck to you in these small child/figuring out career years!
      -C

  2. Emily S. says:

    It seems like you have lovely family and childcare systems! Good on you for keeping up with dance; I really miss dance and every now and again I go so far as to research adult classes I could take. Love that you’re sharing dance with your girls!

    • Thank you Emily! I encourage you to continue researching adult dance classes! There are also some great online resources to practice ballet at home.
      -C

  3. rosie says:

    I really like the idea to make a point to do something relaxing on Sunday afternoons to try to reduce the usual Sunday anxiety.

    How far away is Grandma? Just curious if she’s super local or not, since you mentioned the sleepovers (or if it’s just about it being after dark).

    • Hello Rosie. Do you also experience Sunday anxiety? I have experienced it for as long as I can remember.

      Grandma lives quite close to my office but about an hour away from my home and the school my children attend.

      -C

  4. Agreed, this is a very aspirational post. The calm and contentedness flows off the screen. I feel so far away from this that I’m in awe. I’m trying to figure out what I’m doing “wrong” to not have this level of organization in my life.

    – How did the arrangement with Grandma come about? Has she always been involved to this extent? It sounds like you have an extra bedroom for her to stay in, how did that negotiation work with you and your husband? Did you consider a nanny or au pair or is that a plan for the future? (I don’t have a spare bedroom but wonder if a part-time nanny might work.)

    – How often do you travel? Does your husband travel or have busy times on weeknights or weekends? It seems like you have a lot of weekly routines, do they get disrupted when one of you is gone? Do your kids have trouble adjusting to travel weeks vs regular weeks? (Mine misbehave for the first few days after one of us returns from travel, I think maybe they’re testing to see if we’re sticking to the routine?)

    – Does husband have “me time” as well during the week? How do you coordinate schedules so his hobbies don’t overlap with yours?

    – And echoing Boston Legal Eagle, how much work was it to establish this rhythm in your lives? Was it always there from the beginning, or did you have hectic periods before? I assume your husband is 100% bought into this system, was that a struggle? What about your kids?

    • You are not doing anything “wrong”. The truth is, the level of organization I have implemented is primarily to keep anxiety at bay. I would love to be a calm person (I envy calm people!) and I feel closer to calm when I feel prepared, which is why I prepare. Also – I very much have the personality of an auditor which spills over into my personal life and habits. Auditors are very tuned into finding process improvements and efficiencies. I tend to over analyze how things should operate, even in my household. That’s a thought pattern I wish I could turn off if I’m honest!

      The arrangement with Grandma came about when my working arrangement shifted from working at home to working in a corporate office. I spent 9 years working as an external auditor for a CPA firm located 200 miles away from where I lived. I have a huge amount of gratitude to that firm for allowing me to thrive in my career from home while my children were infants. It was a big decision to leave that arrangement for a fast paced corporate setting, but it was a good career move for me. I discussed it with my family and they gave me their full support; part of that was Grandma offering to help with the kids. I have a huge amount of gratitude for that as well. My career is important to me and fulfilling, and I know that not all women are lucky enough to have the support of those around them. Mothers are often judged for career aspirations! Anyhow, that is how the arrangement came about.

      My kids have trouble adjusting to travel weeks vs regular weeks as well! Are our kids conspiring? ;)

      My husband enjoys working out so he finds time to do this daily – typically on his lunch hour and/or immediately after work when he gets home. We have opposite exercise times, meaning I workout early in the morning and he works out in the evening. I prefer going to the gym and he prefers lifting weights at home, so he is able to exercise while the kids are working on homework or playing within earshot. He also has one day per week where he goes in to work late and stays late, allowing him a few extra hours to himself in the morning. He does usually go to the gym on this day, and he also visits the barber or the chiropracter….some of the things he likes to do for self care.

      This rhythm in our lives was definitely NOT always the case! The adjustment from me being a work from home parent to working in an office full time was not easy on any of us, but we all adjusted and we all benefit in many ways from the structure. I enjoy morning drop off with the kids, my husband enjoys picking them up, Grandma gets alone time with them also. My husband is definitely 100% bought into this system. I think he and I complement each other well and have a great partnership. He understands my career goals and my desire to not let motherhood alter them, and he wants to see me happy and successful. I support his career and life goals in the same way. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy, but we have found a way to make it work together.

  5. Love to see another dad who owns quite a bit of the grocery/cooking – it’s that way in our household too.

    I also take a Tuesday noon yoga class and it is the best. I think every employer should offer this benefit.

    That Friday take out movie idea is so cute – echo what was said above about hoping this can be my life in 5-10 years!

    • Pogo, gotta love a Dad who cooks! It is only relatively recently that my husband discovered a love for cooking. He is really good at it and he enjoys it, where as I turn it into an item on my to do list that adds stress. Thus – it makes sense for him to be in charge of it!

      I completely agree that this is an amazing employee benefit! I love that time on the mat, I look forward to it, and I feel off when I skip.

      Thanks for the comment!
      -C

  6. Reading this series gives me some hope that I could successfully manage a second kid…

  7. avocado says:

    I am so impressed that you are carving out time to teach ballet! I take an adult class whenever I can, which was every week for several years but has been sporadic this year thanks to my daughter’s sports schedule. I find it to be a great form of meditation. It requires so much concentration that it is impossible to worry about anything else.

    • So happy to hear you take an adult class when you can, Avocado! It really is great for the body AND soul. I hope you find time to treat yourself to more classes as you are able.
      -C

      • Anonymous says:

        I love this, too. I’ve played piano since I was 5 and my teacher occasionally marvels that I make time to learn difficult pieces when I have so much going on with kids, demanding job, etc. But what he doesn’t understand is that I do it BECAUSE I’m so busy, not in spite of. It’s something that’s mine, that I love, that keeps me sane and is good for my soul. I just wish it doubled as exercise the way dance does!

        • I wish I could create music – it must feel amazing! I’m sure that taking time for this does wonders for your soul. I think it’s so important for people to engage in something creative, I’m so happy you do! Thanks for writing.
          -C

  8. Hi C! New mum of a 4 month old here. I sent this posting to my husband on how planning pays off. We’re decent planners but have room for improvement; we’re still at the point where he gets nights out but I’m still handling 95% of baby stuff. I’m hoping this changes with time. I love how you talk about dividing up your week – planning vs. meetings vs. execution days. Can you share a bit more about that?

  9. Hi, BPS! Keep in mind that it will get easier for your husband to share responsibilities as your child grows. When my girls were at the 4 month old age I was also doing the majority of baby stuff. If you let some time pass you may notice that the amount of work on your plate naturally lessens.

    Happy to share about how I divide up my work week. My role requires time spent in meetings, time managing the workload of others, and most importantly deliverables (the audit work itself). It’s important that I balance the deliverables and the time spent in meetings. I do this in two primary ways: 1. I plan work for staff (so that if I am stuck in meetings there is still forward movement on the deliverables) and 2. I schedule time for myself to do uninterrupted, productive work. During this time I only reply to URGENT emails/phone calls, and I typically shut my office door to convey a message that I should only be interrupted if absolutely necessary. How do I know what to work on? I plan it out. Monday morning the first thing I do is analyze the work accomplished in the previous week, double check deadlines, and prioroitize. I delegate to staff what I can, and put the rest on my own plate. I look at the meeting schedule and schedule blocks of time for productive work where it makes sense. Many of my meetings recur at the same time each week, so often the blocks of time I reserve for focused work recur on the same days/times as well. But of course this is flexible because schedules have a way of changing! The Monday morning planning really helps, but the key is to keep it to ONLY Monday morning and a Friday afternoon recap. I can’t spend too much time in planning, because the majority of my time needs to be productive. But if I don’t do the planning I’m not able to deliver on time, quality work. Does this help? If you have a more specific question feel free to reply!
    -C

  10. Organized Weekends says:

    I love how organized and planned out your schedule is (planning soothes my anxiety as well). However, anytime I try to get something going like what you do on the weekends that makes your week better, weekend plans get in the way. For example, I find it very hard to meal plan/shop/meal prep on the weekend because I usually have plans with friends/family/kids at some point in the day or evening, and that gets in the way. Plus it’s fun things I want to do, especially after a work week. Anybody have any insight on how they manage this? It can’t be one or the other!

    • I love this approach – and although I have a meeting heavy calendar, many are recurring on the same days of week, so this is a great model. And yes, I figure as our little one gets older, there will be a natural shift of things so just enjoying all the time-in-arms for now :) Thank you for sharing and replying!

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