For this week’s installment of our Week in the Life of a Working Mom series, I’m happy to introduce CorporetteMoms reader G, who lives in Westchester County with her husband and four kids (and an au pair) and works in NYC as a private practice physician. 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: Live in Westchester County and work in NYC
Job: private practice physician
Home Situation: Live in a 2,500-square-foot townhouse with my husband (52, BigLaw partner) our kids (son, 10, with ADD and dyslexia; daughter, 7; son, 4; and son, 20 months), and our au pair. The three boys share a room.
Childcare Situation: Au pair plus a part-time sitter for a total of 61 hours per week. $460 per week in stipend and pay, plus about $9,000 in au pair fees and about $10,000 for nursery school for the two little guys.
Stock photo via Shutterstock / pathdoc.
A Week in My Life
7:30 a.m. I get up. My husband and I have a deal that on the weekends he gets up early with the baby and I sleep in, then he gets a nap in the afternoon. I have coffee and get kids’ clothes ready for church. I am on call for our answering service and I get a call for a prescription refill.
8:15 a.m. I get in the shower and start the LONG process of getting four kids ready to go to church. My husband is unpacking our grocery delivery (it comes between 5:00–6:00 a.m. on Sundays and is left on our front porch), cleaning up the kitchen, and helping corral kids.
9:40 a.m. We finally get out the door. I am teaching church school this week (I do this 6–8 weekends per year) — this is during the service (10:00–11:00 a.m.). This means when I don’t teach church school I can sit in church and actually pay attention, so it’s worth the time to teach. We spend a few minutes socializing at coffee hour.
11:30 a.m. Back at home, anyone who didn’t eat too much coffee cake has lunch. I eat something and change.
12:15 p.m. I head out the door for a run. While I am gone, my husband will put the baby down for a nap and take a nap himself. The big kids will play on their own in the basement.
1:15 p.m. I get back and sit down to do some work for a few hours.
2:15 p.m. My husband takes the 10-year-old to his soccer game. I play with the middle two kids and read a bit.
5:00 p.m. We all get ready to meet friends out for a family dinner.
7:30 p.m. We get home from dinner and start the bedtime routine. I put out clothes for the kids for the morning and read to my older two kids, while my husband reads to the little boys.
7:45 p.m. The little boys are in bed.
8:30 p.m. It is lights out for the big kids. I get the laundry ready to go out. My husband and I send out most of our laundry, and what can’t be sent out (delicates, largely) is done by our housekeeper on Tuesdays. Our part-time sitter does the kids’ laundry with some support from our au pair. I select my clothes for the next day, get ready for bed, and read.
10:00 p.m. Asleep.
5:00 a.m. I get up, shower, and dress.
6:00 a.m. I leave with a huge travel mug of coffee.
7:00 a.m. I start seeing patients at 7:00 three days a week, and patients LOVE this. This also means I am home after school three days a week. My husband is responsible for mornings, including getting the kids dressed and fed and lunches made.
7:30 a.m. Our part-time sitter arrives. The big kids walk to school either together or with my husband on his way to the train. The big kids are gone from 8:15 a.m.–3:00 p.m. on school days. The 4-year-old goes to school from 8:45–11:15 daily, and the baby goes to play group twice per week in the mornings with our au pair. Our part-time sitter also does all the children’s laundry/ironing and helps keep the house sorted.
11:30 a.m. The part-time sitter hands off to the au pair.
12:00 or 12:30 p.m. I get back to the kitchen and chat with staff and eat something in between patients. I also return phone calls, call in refills, and deal with paperwork in odd moments between patients each day.
5:30 p.m. I see patients until 5:00 p.m. on Mondays. I get in the car and drive straight to pick up my 10-year-old and his friend at soccer practice.
7:00 p.m. We get home. The au pair has fed the other kids dinner. My husband and I again tackle the bedtime routine. Mondays are always tough because the housekeeper comes Tuesdays and the kids are responsible for cleaning up the basement playroom so she can vacuum. The au pair is off duty now.
8:30 p.m. We sit and eat dinner, and the au pair joins us. Then I change, put out my clothes, and read a bit.
Here’s what G told us about her family’s au pair experience:
This is our first year with an au pair. She arrived in July, but it was something we had been thinking about for awhile. We had always had nannies from the time my 10-year-old was born. Given my husband’s schedule and mine, daycare was unlikely to work for us. However, we found nanny care to be exceedingly expensive in the tri-state area. Additionally, even nanny care was not as flexible as we would have liked. … The benefits of the au pair for us are cost (about 1/2 the cost of a nanny), level of education (our au pair has much more education than our nannies did), flexibility (including the need to adjust the calendar on even a weekly basis), and turnover — unlike with a nanny, you are required to reassess your childcare needs on an annual basis, which is I think is helpful. We absolutely love our au pair and will miss her when she leaves in July. But we have already identified our next au pair and cannot wait to welcome her.
5:30 a.m. I get up, shower, and dress.
6:30 a.m. I leave for work. My husband will do the usual morning routine. Our au pair starts at 7:30.
9:00 a.m. The housekeeper comes after all the kids are out of the house. She is amazing and has worked for us for more than 15 years. She does a deep cleaning weekly, washes all the linens, irons my sheets (her idea, not mine), and remembers to polish the serving pieces for the holidays, etc.
7:30 a.m. I arrive at work. (My commute takes longer when I leave later.) I do some paperwork, then run to the hospital for Grand Rounds from 8:00–9:00. I see patients from 9:00–3:00.
3:30 p.m. I try to be in the car by now. Traffic is awful coming home and I get there just in time to pick up my 10-year-old and take him to the dentist to have his palate expander assessed — no more turning!!! Yippee! As the medical parent, a lot of these “medical” responsibilities fall to me.
5:30 p.m. We get home and the au pair is off duty, but she mercifully stays to help with the baby while I make dinner.
6:45 p.m. We eat when my husband gets home.
7:30 p.m. We head upstairs and the au pair cleans up the kitchen (out of the kindness of her heart — she is amazingly helpful). We get the kids to bed.
8:30 p.m. I run out to my book club. (I try to read all the books, but this is a great opportunity to connect to local moms and have a glass of wine.)
10:00 p.m. I get home and don’t get to sleep until after 11:00.
5:00 a.m. I get up, shower, and dress.
6:00 a.m. I leave for work. Today’s vat of coffee makes Monday’s look like child’s play.
7:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. I do some paperwork and see patients. Wednesdays are always my busiest days in the office.
2:00 p.m. I get home and gobble down some lunch (leftovers) while the au pair gets my daughter at school. (They get out at 2:00 on Wednesdays.) The baby is napping. Then the au pair runs to get my 4-year-old from “soccer.” As she walks in, my daughter and I leave for her violin lesson. The lesson is 2:45–3:15 and is five minutes from our house. I read in the hallway outside her lesson and go in for the last five minutes to hear her progress.
3:25 p.m. We arrive home. I make coffee and head back out to take the 10-year-old to therapy at 3:45. His session is from 4:00–4:45 and it is a necessity! I read in the waiting room.
5:00 p.m. We arrive home, and his reading tutor has beat us there. He is with the reading tutor from 5:00–6:00 (another necessity — he gets extra reading help at school too, but the private tutor has made the biggest difference!). During this time, the au pair bathes the other three kids and I return work emails and make dinner. After the tutor leaves, he showers.
6:45 p.m. We sit down to dinner when my husband gets home.
7:30 p.m. Start bedtime.
8:30 p.m. When everyone is in bed, I sit down and work for an hour or so and watch some TV with my husband at the same time. I then doze while he watches more TV.
11:00 p.m. Asleep.
We asked G about balancing her oldest child’s special needs with her other kids’ needs:
Right now, we are in a really good place with support in and out of school and with a medication regimen that is working. A year ago we were not, and that meant constant phone calls and meetings to try to get his needs met. I did feel like he was getting the lion’s share of the attention and my 4-year-old (then 3.5 years) was especially suffering. It was at the time that I instituted Starbucks dates with the 4-year-old. The first time we went, I bought him a Horizon milk and he started talking loudly about how much he LOVED the milk and how GOOD it was. It broke my heart a little that he was so excited to get a milk in Starbucks just to spend some time with me.
6:30 a.m. (!!!) I get up, get baby up, and head downstairs. Coffee.
7:00 a.m. In the shower. Get dressed and help the kids get dressed. (Because this is my husband’s area, I get lots of complaints that I don’t do the mornings “right.”)
7:30 a.m. Sitter arrives and husband leaves.
8:15 a.m. Get big kids out the door. Pack my bag and leave with the 4-year-old at 8:25. We walk to his school, which takes about 10 minutes. We chat about some construction taking place on our way. He plays with friends outside and I chat with other moms. Doors open at 8:45. I drop him in his classroom and walk with another mom to get a cup of coffee and walk to the train station.
9:07 a.m. I take the train into the city. I read. I get on the subway and then get off a stop early. I walk to the bank and to a gourmet grocery where we like the pasta sauce, and get sauce for dinner.
10:15 a.m. I get to my desk. I have a meeting about a new medication.
11:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m. I see patients.
5:40 p.m. I leave to take the 5:58 train home.
6:40 p.m. I walk from the train station and arrive home with my husband. I throw together a quick pasta dinner while my husband gets the kids to set the table.
6:50 p.m. We sit down to eat.
7:30 p.m. We head up for bedtime.
9:30 p.m. Asleep.
5:00 a.m. Up at 5:00 for last time this week. Shower and dress.
6:00 a.m. Out the door.
6:25 a.m. At my desk. Chat with the junior partner about the practice issues — we meet informally every Friday morning.
7:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. See patients. I return emails and calls and prepare for the weekend.
12:45 p.m. I leave and I am home at 1:30. I grab lunch (leftovers) and meet with the au pair regarding any kid issues and the schedule for next week. (I prepare schedules about 2–4 weeks in advance, but we discuss the next week’s schedule on Friday afternoon and try not to change it after that.)
2:15 p.m. I leave with my 4-year-old for our weekly Starbucks date. He gets a cookie and I get a latte. He is the third child and doesn’t have many activities yet. As a result he misses out on 1:1 time. This is our protected time, just the two of us.
2:40 p.m. We walk to school and pick up my daughter.
3:00 p.m. We arrive home and I sort backpacks and sign math and spelling tests. I do 40 minutes of yoga using the Down Dog App.
3:55 p.m. I leave to take my daughter to French. (She asked for French lessons, which we thought we could get at school — WRONG. So she goes to a local Alliance Francaise.)
5:00 p.m. I get home and return pages and emails. Au pair leaves with baby to pick up my daughter. (Au pair is a saint!) I open a bottle of wine and make dinner.
6:15 p.m. My husband gets home and au pair, daughter, and baby get home at 6:45 and we sit down for dinner.
8:00 p.m. We start the bedtime process.
8:30 p.m. Everyone is in bed, and au pair has cleaned up the kitchen. Husband and I finish our wine.
9:30 p.m. I am in bed, and asleep not long after.
Here’s what G said when we asked her about fitting in workout time as a working mom:
Much of what I do [as a doctor] is help people to lose weight. I feel I need to start by leading by example. My goal is to do something 6 days per week — 3–4 longer workouts and 2–3 “better-than-nothing” workouts, which might be parking my car further from the office or doing the New York Times‘ 7-minute workout.
6:45 a.m. Wake up, get a cup of coffee, and get changed.
7:05 a.m. My friend arrives to run. We run for 45 minutes and then grab coffee and head home by 8:00.
8:40 a.m. Carpool arrives to take the 10-year-old to soccer. I do a home facial, plan the meals for the week, order groceries online to be delivered Sunday morning, shower, and get the the kids dressed while my husband hits the farmers market and local grocery store. (He usually takes the baby with him.)
11:45 a.m. Make lunch and eat.
12:30 p.m. The baby and my husband are napping. The big kids are watching Indiana Jones and I am reading.
4:00 p.m. Snack time for the kids and coffee time for me. Hang out with the kids.
5:45 p.m. I start dinner for the kids and change to go out.
7:00 p.m. We walk to PTA fundraiser cocktails (with a great local taco place catering). Chat with friends, have a drink or two, eat tacos.
10:00 p.m. Get home, and in bed by 11:00.
Thanks so much to Reader G for sharing a bit of her life as a working mom! Readers, what’s your biggest takeaway from her week of work as a private practice physician, as well as her general work/life balance?