For this week’s installment of our Week in the Life of a Working Mom series, I’m happy to introduce CorporetteMoms reader Amanda, who lives in Toronto with her son and works as an executive assistant.
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.
First, Some Basics About This Working Mom…
Job: Executive assistant at a large professional services firm
Home Situation: Live with my 18-month-old son and two cats in a rented semi-detached house in the west end.
Childcare Situation: Home daycare, $38/day
A Week in My Life
My toddler (“L”) wakes around 6:30 and I convince him to snuggle me in bed for another hour. Let him climb all over me for another half hour before we get out of bed. Leisurely breakfast, and we go to a moms’ healthy lifestyle-themed market. Come home for lunch and a nap. His father (who lives on the other side of the country) is in town for work, so we run some errands and then meet him at a playground for some family time. Back at home I make dinner for L and I. Some playtime and a bath follow before his bedtime. Before I go to bed I do some tidying in the kitchen and cook a stew for lunches and freezer dinners. Got no housekeeping done all weekend, but it was worth it for the wonderful playtime with L. I never have time to do more than the basics during the week, so I’ll have to work extra hard the following weekend to get things like the mopping and bathroom done.
We asked A whether she always cooks weekday lunches and dinners on Sundays:
I actually like to spread it throughout the week! I’ll do prep work the night before and cook 2–3 times a week. The other nights, we eat from the pre-prepped stuff in the freezer. One-pot/pan dishes are amazing for this. I have a few go-tos that I don’t keep recipes for; they are all skillet dishes, including a sweet potato and sausage hash; a spaghetti squash with meat sauce; and a taco, slaw, and ramen thing.
Back to the workweek today. As usual, L wakes around 6:00 and I bring him into bed with me to snuggle in order to catch a little more sleep. I probably wouldn’t be able to do that if his father and I were still together — but if we were still together we’d be able to take turns getting up with him, so I guess it evens out. We have our typical rushed morning getting dressed and having breakfast — although at least I was organised enough to have overnight oats prepped. I cycle to work and drop L off at on the way, pulling him in a bike trailer. We manage to get out the door around 7:45. Work is typical, though with a few more meetings than usual. I squeeze my workout in on my lunch break, and head out around 5:00 p.m. Daycare pick-up needs to happen before 6:00 p.m. We get home around 6:15, and dinner is a defrosted freezer meal. While it heats up, we have some playtime, and L finally goes to bed around 8:30. After he goes to bed I prep our lunches and pack my bag for the next day while running some laundry. Our washer/dryer is small and only fits about half a basket, so I’m generally running laundry four nights a week. Zone out in front of the TV for a bit, and then crash into bed around midnight.
Tuesday looks a lot like Monday. In fact, it’s nearly identical until after work. It’s the last week of L’s swimming lessons, so he has a sandwich for dinner and we go to the pool for his 7:15–7:45 p.m. swim lesson. He got his report card this week and passed into parent-and-tot 3. I’ll sign him up for that in the fall. Home for a snack and his bedtime. Bedtime routine has gotten really goofy the past month or so. He loves to run around naked and play “try to catch me,” so he’s usually in bed much later than he should be. It’s no wonder I get to bed so late; after prepping lunches and bags I still need some time to decompress with a book or TV show.
L’s dad is still in town for work, so he’s agreed to take L for an overnight tonight since I have a 9:30 p.m. soccer game. Usually my mom or ex-MIL babysits while I play. I drop L off at daycare in the morning and I won’t see him again until Thursday pickup. After work, I treat myself to dinner at a restaurant near my office and a mini shopping spree (where I buy only things for myself for the first time in at least two years) before going to my soccer game. By the time I get home it’s past 11:30 and I still need to prep for the next day and shower and decompress. I don’t get to bed until after 1:00 a.m.
A told us more about playing soccer:
I am actually answering this question in my soccer gear, we just finished a game. I’ve played since I was a little kid, with some breaks, but my adult self has been playing continuously for a decade. Minus the second half of my pregnancy and the first four months postpartum.
Woke up this morning feeling sick, with a wicked headache making it hard for me to get out of bed. Since my office has an agile office situation and the executives I support are all travelling today, it’s an easy decision to work from home. I set up my office on the couch and get as much done as I can with the difficulty focusing that comes with a headache. Hop on the bike just after wrapping up at 5:00 p.m. to pick up L. He’s very happy to see me, and as usual when his father dresses him, his clothes don’t match. Better than last time though, when he was wearing a pyjama top with khaki pants. I forgot to take meat out of the freezer, so we had a frozen pizza for dinner, and since I didn’t have to travel from downtown we had an extra half-hour of playtime before bed.
Back to the usual routine of waking up when L wakes and snuggling him for some extra snoozing, rushing through getting dressed and having breakfast, and commuting in to the office. Work and daycare pickup go smoothly, and bedtime is the typical goof session. We FaceTime my parents for a little chat, and L plays peekaboo and kisses the iPhone when my mom asks him for a kiss. He’s a charming kid, and extremely easygoing and mellow. Life is hard when you’re juggling a full-time job and parenthood by yourself, but it would be so much harder if my baby had a difficult temperament. I don’t have to do any prep work for the next day, so instead I open a bottle of wine and binge on some Netflix.
We asked A to tell us the hardest thing for her about being a single mom:
I’m not sure I can drill it down to one particular thing. I think for me personally, it’s the lack of people in a peer group. My few closest friends are child-less, and the parents that I do count among my friends and acquaintances are all partnered up. I feel isolated and left out of a lot of things.
I wish L would sleep in later. My ex swears up and down that he sleeps for hours and naps perfectly when he’s with him. L has his own junior membership at the gym, in order to attend the daycare there while I work out, so we do that in the morning. Head home for lunch, and he falls asleep in the car, much to my chagrin. I try to transfer him to his crib for a nap, and I think I’m successful, but five minutes later he’s crying. So I give him lunch and put him down for a nap again, but it takes a half hour and two times checking in for a mini-snuggle before he falls asleep. He sleeps for about an hour and a half, which is good when he’s with me. Allegedly he’ll sleep for 3+ hours when he’s with my ex. I joke with my friends that he knows that time passes quickly when he sleeps, so the longer he sleeps there, the sooner he’ll see me again. It gets me through the times I miss him. We have an anniversary party to attend later in the afternoon, and en route we stop to pick up a bottle of wine for a gift. I manage to lock my keys in the car, so I call CAA to come and open it up. They’re pretty quick, thank goodness. L isn’t often in large groups where he doesn’t already know people, so I’m surprised to learn that he’s hit a stage where he’s shy around strangers. But he eventually opens up and spends a good deal of time toddling around with the other boy at the party. We only recently moved back to this city, and it’s been a couple years since I’ve seen most of the people there. Attending it is like my “comeback,” wherein I reveal that I’m back in town and that my relationship recently failed. It’s bittersweet.
Thanks so much to Amanda for sharing a bit of her life as a working mom! Readers, what’s your biggest takeaway from her week of work as an executive assistant as well as her general work/life balance?
Stock photo via Stencil.
This is so interesting and so different than a lot of the previous diaries, thanks for sharing! In Canada, does the govt subsidize childcare? $38/day is so cheap and I know Toronto is not a cheap city in general.
I’m not the author but I’ll answer- Daycare is only subsidized in Toronto (Ontario) if you are below a certain income threshold. I’m not sure if the $38 is with a subsidy, I’m in Toronto and I agree it seems low! We pay $1,000/month in the outer limits of the City (but still the City proper) at a co-op not for profit daycare, which I think is a great deal (kiddo is in the preschool room). Daycare centres downtown are over $2,000 for an infant spot.
Daycare is subsidised in Quebec. State-run daycare used to be $7 a day (may be more like $9 now?) and home daycare is around $35 – $38 a day, hen if you are low-income and working you get a refundable tax credit which brings it down to the state faycare level.
Add to that free for the user healthcare for all and very cheap, good education.
Really, people who disparage the high taxes in Quebec have no idea what they are missing. I am more than happy to pay high taxes so everyone can profit from this, as I profited when I was younger and poor.
Come on over, just learn a bit of French first. (Not born in Quebec, born and raised in Europe, in case my shameless plug for Quebec makes you wonder.)
Kudos to you for balancing work, parenting, and “you” time so well. And thanks for sharing a single Mom’s perspective.
Thank you for sharing! I’m also recently divorced, and I really appreciate seeing the perspective of another similarly situated mom! My ex is in the same town so I’m not handling as much on my own. However, I totally identify with lack of peer group–partnered-up friends are still my friends, of course, but dynamics are different.
Happy to see a Canadian featured!
Thank you for sharing! I’m thinking about having a kid of my own, it’s really interesting to see how you have managed it
Thank you for sharing. Your days sound so sweet, biking to work and snuggling in bed in the mornings. I’m sure things are pretty tough for you, with the recent end of your relationship, moving to a new town, and having such a little one but you clearly love your son and cherish the time you have with him. The way you write about the life you live together is beautiful. He’s so lucky to have you as a mom.
I actually came back to this post this morning to say something similar – there is a particular joy that oozed through your description of your life together:-) I get the sense your little one is very cherished and enjoyed. I’m also really impressed by the rhythm of life you’ve gotten going – biking to work, cooking, going to the gym. I wish I lived nearby so I could be your friend!
I loved this one too, in part because it is so different from the others. And not just because you’re a single mom, but because I think this might be the first one of these posts where there is no mention of what you do at work, whether you like it or not, etc. Given that so many folks on here are such high achievers, it’s kind of refreshing to see someone featured with a more “normal job” — hope you don’t take offense by that because it’s not intended at all. Thanks for sharing.
+1. I also have a very “normal” job and work to live, so this was a refreshing change of pace.
I really enjoyed this, especially seeing how much you prioritize and get out of play time with your little one. It particularly resonated with me as I’ve been sad about how much more I’ve been focused on work lately than my kids – who are much much more important. It reminded me of how lovely (and precious and fleeting) cuddle time is!
You have your priorities right.