For this week’s installment of our Week in the Life of a Working Mom series, I’m happy to introduce CorporetteMoms reader Em, who lives in a small Midwestern city with her husband and son and works as in-house counsel for a corporation. 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: A small city in the Midwest
Job: In-house attorney for a corporation
Hours worked in a typical week: 35–44
Home Situation: I live in a 2,500-square-foot house with my husband (32-year-old project manager for a construction company), our son T (2-year-old), our two dogs (and occasional foster dogs), and our pet rabbit.
Childcare Situation: Daycare center 40 hours a week, $900/month
A Week in My Life
6:30 a.m.: I wake up and brush my teeth and wash my face. I made cinnamon rolls and put them in the fridge the night before, so I go downstairs to pull them out so they can warm up. I let our foster dog outside and feed her. I get my coffee and go upstairs to shower and do my makeup.
7:30 a.m.: I go downstairs to put the cinnamon rolls in the oven and get my son’s cup and snack ready for church, then back upstairs to do my hair.
7:50 a.m.: My husband wakes up and gets ready. I go downstairs and pull out the cinnamon rolls, cook bacon, and make the icing for the cinnamon rolls.
8:05 a.m.: T wakes up and my husband changes his diaper, feeds our rabbit, and brings T downstairs. I feed our dogs and we all eat breakfast.
8:20 a.m.: Everyone goes upstairs and gets dressed.
8:30 a.m.: Leave for church.
10:00 a.m.: We have brunch at noon with family on the side of town we are already on, so we decide to kill time instead of going home. We get coffee and a snack at a coffee shop and play at a playground.
Noon: Brunch with family.
1:30 p.m.: We get home and T goes down for a nap. I put our bedding in the wash. I food prep for T and me for the week while my husband plays on his phone on the couch.
3:30 p.m.: I take our foster dog to a vet appt.
4:30 p.m.: I arrive home. My in-laws came over to see T and stay until around 6:00. I feed T a snack and I eat some leftovers from dinner the night before. I do some laundry while my husband cleans the rabbit cage.
6:00 p.m.: We take T outside to play.
6:30 p.m.: Dinner, bath, and bed by 7 for T.
7:00 p.m.: I take off my makeup and feed our dogs and our foster dog, and give them all their pills. My husband and I watch a movie on the couch.
9:00 p.m.: I feed our rabbit and we go to bed.
5:45 a.m.: I wake up and get ready for work. My husband gets up, gets ready, lets our foster dog out and feeds her, and leaves for work by 6:00.
7:05 a.m.: I wake up T, change his diaper, get him dressed, brush his teeth; we feed the rabbit and go downstairs.
7:25 a.m.: We both eat breakfast. I pack our lunches and my snacks for the week, and feed the dogs. I chase our dog so he will come inside. We leave at 7:50 and I take T to daycare.
8:15 a.m.: Get to work and read emails. Check bank accounts and this site. Work on a project but I can’t get anything done because of noise from construction, so I handle a few projects that take less attention.
10:30 a.m.: I get a snack, track down an FSA receipt, and schedule a vet appt. I work some more.
1:00 p.m.: I finally get sick of the noise and leave to WFH the rest of the day. Immediately change into sweatpants.
2:30 p.m.: After finally finishing my big project, I do a couple loads of laundry while answering emails and knocking out a few more tasks.
4:00 p.m.: My husband picks up T and drops him at home, then leaves to fix something on his truck. I need to finish up a task, so I get T a snack and let him sit on my lap and watch YouTube on my phone while I finish up work.
5:00 p.m.: I let our foster dog outside, and T and I go upstairs to change his diaper.
5:30 p.m.: I let the dog in and leave to run an errand.
6:15 p.m.: We get home and my husband is home. I start a side for dinner, and my husband finishes making dinner while I take T up and get him ready for bed.
7:00 p.m.: I feed our dogs and our foster dog and give them all their pills. We finish making dinner and my husband and I eat and talk. My husband puts away leftovers for mine and T’s lunch tomorrow. I do some rescue work.
8:30 p.m.: I feed the rabbit and we both go to bed.
Em told us more about her daily and weekly routines:
My husband and I both routinely go to bed pretty early. We will often be in bed by 8:30, and it is very rare that either of us stay up past 10:00 p.m. My son goes to bed at 7:00, so I still have time to get things done in the evenings. I also do a lot of prep work so mornings are streamlined. I shower exclusively at night and only wash my hair every 3–4 days (thank you, dry shampoo). I prep both mine and my son’s breakfasts on Sunday, and they are things that just need to be heated up, such as protein pancakes for me and healthy muffins for him that I batch-cook and freeze. I also cut up a ton of veggies on Sunday and take those to work on Monday to eat all week as snacks. I cut up fruit for my son for breakfast and have his lunch ready to go the night before. It still takes us forever to get out the door in the morning, but these things enable me to sleep in until 5:45 every morning.
5:45 a.m.: I wake up and play on my phone for 30 minutes. I brush my teeth, wash my face, and go downstairs to get coffee, put away dishes from the night before, and feed our foster and let her outside.
6:30 a.m.: I go upstairs to get ready for work. My husband gets up and gets ready and leaves by 7:00.
7:15 a.m.: I let our foster dog inside and our dogs outside. I wake up T, change his diaper, get him dressed, brush his teeth, and we feed the rabbit.
7:30 a.m.: We both eat breakfast and I get our lunches ready. I feed the dogs and leave at 8:00 to take T to daycare.
8:20 a.m.: I get to work and check emails. I work until my meeting at 10:30.
10:30 a.m.: I attend my meeting with our business team and do follow-up.
11:00 a.m.: I get a snack, check emails, and work on projects.
1:00 p.m.: I eat lunch at my desk while working.
2:00–3:00 p.m.: I work out at our on-site gym and take a quick shower.
3:00–5:15 p.m.: I work more and leave at 5:15.
5:25 p.m.: I arrive home. My husband picked up T at 4:00 and got called back into work, so my in-laws came over. I get T a snack and visit with them while I prep dinner and open packages that were delivered. They leave at 6:00.
6:00 p.m.: I feed T dinner and continue to prep dinner for my husband and I.
6:30 p.m.: I give T a bath, read him books, and he goes to bed at 7:00.
7:00–8:15 p.m.: I feed the dogs and give them their pills. I finish making dinner, eat, do dishes, and start the dishwasher.
8:15–8:45 p.m.: I feed the rabbit and take a shower. My husband gets home and is sick, so goes straight to bed.
9:00–9:30 p.m.: I send some emails and update our budget, let our foster dog out one last time, and blow dry my hair. I’m in bed at 9:30.
With Em’s mentions of foster dogs and rescue, we asked her about her volunteer work:
We foster dogs with two different dog rescues (meaning the dogs stay in our homes with us) and my husband and I attend rescue events, which are events in the community (at local pet stores, for example), where we bring the dogs to meet potential adopters and to recruit new volunteers. I also process adoption and volunteer applications and do home visits for potential adopters. We also help with transporting dogs coming into rescue or that are being adopted (that is what my husband was doing on the evening I described in my write up). I am also on the board of directors for a non-profit that works in animal advocacy. The administrative stuff I do is exclusively done over my lunch breaks, in the car (adoption interviews are over the phone), or after my son goes to bed. The transporting and attending events are usually on weekends, so my in-laws will come watch my son if we are both going, or my son and my husband hang out if just I am going. We typically have events or a transport twice a month. My board of directors meetings are once a month on Sundays during my son’s nap, so my husband just stays with him for those. I also have a fair amount of administrative work for the board of directors, but again, that is done when my son is at daycare or sleeping.
Em also noted:
We use a cleaning service every two weeks … and it is essential to enabling me to do all the volunteer work, socializing, getting to bed at a decent hour, etc.
5:45 a.m.: Alarm goes off and I play on my phone in bed. My husband is already up and goes downstairs to let our foster outside. I get up, brush teeth, and wash my face. I go downstairs for coffee, let the foster in, and empty the dishwasher and put away dishes from the night before. My husband leaves for work at 6:00.
6:45 a.m.: I get ready for work.
7:20 a.m.: T is up. I change his diaper, get him dressed, brush his teeth, and feed the rabbit.
7:30 a.m.: We both eat breakfast and I get our lunches ready. I let the foster out, then our dogs out, and feed our dogs. I drop T at daycare.
8:10 a.m.: I get to work and check emails.
9:30 a.m.: I present a training for our sales team.
10:00 a.m.: I get a snack and work until 12:30. I eat lunch at my desk while working.
1:00 p.m.: I leave over lunch to speak to a middle school class about dog rescue work.
2:15–5:15 p.m.: WFH the rest of the day. My husband picks up T from daycare at 4:00 and they play in the family room.
5:15–5:45 p.m.: A minor work emergency comes up as I’m about to log off, so I start dinner while watching and occasionally responding to emails. My husband lets our foster dog out, feeds her, and gives her her pills.
6:00 p.m.: Finish dinner and we eat. I get our lunches ready for tomorrow. I feed our dogs and give them their pills. I fold some laundry while T watches YouTube with my husband in bed.
6:20–7:00 p.m.: I sort some hand-me-down clothes our neighbor gave us while playing with T in his room. We FaceTime my mom, then change T’s diaper, brush his teeth, and read him books, and he goes to bed at 7:00.
7:00–8:30 p.m.: I change into workout clothes and work out while watching Netflix, then take a shower.
8:30–9:45: I review documents for a nonprofit board of directors I am on. I feed the rabbit and go to bed.
5:45 a.m.: Alarm goes off, look at phone for 15 minutes. I go downstairs and get coffee, put away dishes from the night before, and feed one of our dogs who is getting groomed this morning.
6:15 a.m.: I go back upstairs to get ready for work. My husband is up and getting ready. He takes my car to take our dog to the groomer and fills my gas tank. He comes home to switch cars, then goes to work.
7:00 a.m.: I get T up, get him ready for school, and we feed the rabbit.
7:15 a.m.: We go downstairs and eat breakfast. I get lunch stuff ready and feed our other dog and our foster and let them outside.
7:45 a.m.: I leave and drop T at daycare. I get to work by 8:15 and check emails.
8:30–9:00 a.m.: I have a meeting with our general counsel and outside counsel about the emergency from night before.
9:00–10:00 a.m.: I work on projects.
10:00–10:45 a.m.: I have a customer call. I get a text from my husband that the dog is done at the groomers.
10:45–11:45 a.m.: I pick up the dog from the groomers and take him home. I get a coffee then go back to work.
12:00–5:15 p.m.: I eat lunch and work. Daycare calls and wants to set up a conference, so I schedule for my husband to do it next week.
5:15–5:40 p.m.: Do rescue dog adoption phone interview for applicant.
5:45 p.m.: My husband picked up T at 4:00 and took him to my parents’ house while he transported a rescue dog for adoption. I pick up T and my dad and we go to Costco.
6:45 p.m.: I drop my dad off (they live a few blocks from us), then home to unload the car. T and I eat leftovers for dinner. I feed the dogs and give them their pills, then T and I go upstairs to get him ready for bed at 7:30.
7:30–8:00 p.m.: I update our budget and write some belated thank you cards from T’s birthday party. I make a meal plan for next week.
8:00–9:30 p.m.: I work out, watch Netflix, and hang out with the dogs. My husband gets home and we talk for a bit.
9:30 p.m.: I feed the rabbit, shower, and get ready for bed. I got to bed at 10:15.
Em told us more about her meal-planning, and she raved about Blue Apron:
For about nine months now we have been doing Blue Apron (their three-meal option) every other week. I now meal plan for all seven days a week, every week, and the non-Blue Apron days we repeat Blue Apron meals with a few crockpot or other recipes thrown in to supplement. (I keep a running list of potential meals in my head.) This has eliminated most of the stress of meals, we rarely eat out, and we are also eating four times as many vegetables as we were before. The Blue Apron recipes aren’t quick, but they are very good, and we both really enjoy cooking. My husband started doing a lot of the cooking since we started Blue Apron, and both our cooking skills have improved. Our son’s daycare teachers always tease us about sending him gourmet meals for lunch. I promise they didn’t pay me to say it, but it has greatly improved our lives!
5:45 a.m.: Alarm and play on my phone for 10 minutes, then get up and brush my teeth and wash my face. My husband is already up getting ready. He feeds our foster dog and lets her out, then leaves for work. I go downstairs to get coffee and put away dishes from last night.
6:15 a.m.: I go upstairs to get ready for work.
7:00 a.m.: T is up and I get him ready and we feed the rabbit.
7:10 a.m.: We go downstairs to eat breakfast and I get lunches ready. I let our foster dog in and feed our dogs. We leave around 7:45 and I drop T at daycare.
8:05 a.m.: I get to work and check emails. I make a grocery list, then start working on projects. I get a snack at 10:00.
10:30 a.m.: I have a meeting with our business team.
11:30 a.m.: I do more work and eat lunch at my desk at 12:30. More work.
4:15 p.m.: My husband picks up T at 3:45 and goes home to let the dogs out. I leave work and meet my husband and T at home.
5:00 p.m.: My husband has a haircut so T and I go with him and get dinner and ice cream nearby.
5:30 p.m.: We go to Trader Joe’s and our regular grocery store to grocery shop for the week.
7:00 p.m.: We get home and unload the groceries. I get T ready for bed and he goes down at 7:30.
7:30–9:45 p.m.: I feed the dogs and give them their pills, clean up the kitchen, and review documents for the BOD I am on. I play with our foster dog.
9:45 p.m.: I feed the rabbit and go to bed.
7:00 a.m.: I wake up and play on my phone. I get up and brush my teeth and wash my face. T wakes up and my husband gets him up and changes his diaper. They let our foster out and go to get coffee while I do my makeup and get dressed.
7:45 a.m.: I come down and make breakfast. My husband got T a cookie at the coffee shop so he isn’t hungry.
8:15 a.m.: My husband goes upstairs to shower and get ready. I eat breakfast and our Blue Apron delivery arrives, so I unpack it. T plays in the kitchen.
9:15 a.m.: I leave for my hair appt at 9:45. T has a haircut at the same place at 10:30 that my husband brings him to. My husband then takes him home, gives him a snack, and puts him down for a nap. My appt. is over at noon.
12:00 p.m.: I drive home and my husband and I snack on cheese and crackers and talk.
12:45–3:15 p.m.: I go to visit my grandma at her retirement community. My aunt is there and we hang out until 3:00. I head home and my in-laws come over to take T to lunch and to the park.
3:30–5:30 p.m.: My husband and I go to meet some friends at a local brewery.
6:00 p.m.: We get home and my in-laws are home with T. My husband lets our foster dog out and feeds her and gives her her pills. My husband makes dinner while I handle some business issues for the BOD I’m on, and we eat dinner. I feed our dogs and give them their pills. I get T ready for bed and he goes to bed shortly after 7:00.
7:00–8:30 p.m.: I work on more paperwork for the BOD I’m on and hang out with our foster dog.
9:00 p.m.: I feed our rabbit and go to bed.
Thanks so much to Em for sharing a bit of her life as a working mom! Readers, what’s your biggest takeaway from her week of work as an in-house attorney for a large corporation, as well as her general work/life balance?
Stock photo via Shutterstock / By Leonardo da.