For this week’s installment of our Week in the Life of a Working Mom series, I’m happy to introduce CorporetteMoms reader Sarah, who lives in Dallas, TX, with her husband and son and works as an in-house counsel. 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 Plano, works in Dallas
Job: In-house counsel
I live in a 2-story, 5-bedroom, 3-bath, 3,000-square-foot home with a nice size backyard and pool (hooray for the suburbs!) with my husband (38-year-old architect), our son (4-year-old with autism and speech delay) and our three pomeranians. My son has his own room. We use the other bedrooms (besides the master) for guests/in-laws and our home office/gym. We hope to be able to convert one of the guest rooms into a nursery in the near future!
Right now, my son goes to a special needs preschool from 8:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. He rides the bus to and from school. After school, the bus drops him off at daycare, where he receives applied behavioral analysis therapy (ABA) until I pick him up after work around 6:00 p.m. In the fall, my son will go to kindergarten [Sarah wrote this in 2017], but the daycare will be out of the school-bus zone, so we are hiring an after-school nanny. His ABA therapist will also work with him at home. We pay $535/month for daycare. The nanny will be $1,000/month.
A Week in My Life
-Sundays are “get ready for the week” days in our house. I wake up around 8:00 a.m., which is the same time that my son usually gets up. I am lucky that I have a 4-year-old that likes to sleep in on weekends!
-I make breakfast for son around 8:15 a.m. My husband likes to make breakfast for the two of us on weekends. My son is a picky eater and will not eat what we eat, so I make his meals separately. Hubby and I ate ours around 8:30 a.m.
-After breakfast, my husband starts laundry and I go over my to-do list for the day. It consists of reminders to meal prep for the week, do dishes, and pack my work bag and son’s backpack for Monday. Before, I get into all of that, my husband, son, and I retreat to the couch to binge watch Netflix (us) and play spelling/reading games on the iPad (my son).
-Lunchtime rolls around at noon and we decide to eat out at a restaurant as a family. We go to a Mexican restaurant where my son and I, who are gluten free, can always find something on the menu to eat.
-Around 2:00 p.m., my husband decides to clean the pool, while I start meal-prepping for the week. Meanwhile, my son is running laps around the house and stopping only to dive into the comforter and pillows on our bed with the iPad blaring loudly because autism. ;)
-Husband is doing laundry, checking on our son, and fiddling with the pool salt levels during this time.
-I get dinner ready at 7:00 p.m. for all of us. We try to eat dinner at the table together most nights, but my son’s utensil skills are not the best, so this night he gets to eat leftover pizza upstairs with us. #winning.
-8:00 p.m. My husband gives my son a bath and helps him brush teeth while I get my clothes, lunch, and our work/school bags ready for the morning.
-8:30 p.m. I help my son put his pj’s on, read a book, and tuck him in.
-9:45 p.m. I go to sleep. Husband stays up until 11:00 or 11:30 p.m.
Sarah had this to say about being a mom of a child with autism:
As a special needs parent, you also have to be your child’s teacher, therapist, and advocate. It’s exhausting! Since my son was diagnosed at age 2, I’ve had a crash course in autism, insurance, occupational, speech, physical and behavior therapies, individualized education plans, advocacy, federal law covering special education, and biomedical treatments. It’s like having a second full-time job. Each day at the office, I juggle my work tasks, plus anything autism-related, such as coordinating insurance to pay for therapies, making doctor’s appointments, or talking with my son’s teachers or his therapists about what’s improving or not improving with regard to behaviors or skills. I’m always tired. Did I say that already?
Raising a child with Autism can also be lonely and all-encompassing. I’ve made a concerted effort this past year to go on date nights with my husband and girls’ nights out with my friends to combat these feelings. I’m a better parent, spouse, and employee when I have time away to have some fun. So if your readers know a special needs mom, invite her out for a drink. She needs it!
6:00 a.m. Wake up (me).
6:15 a.m. I do a personal development routine called The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod almost every morning. The routine includes silence (meditation or Bible study), affirmations, visualization, journaling, reading, and exercising. (I cut out the exercise portion this week because I am newly gluten-free and going through a horrendous detox. It should be gone by next week.) My morning routine is amazing and has helped me to deal with my stress level at work and at home. I am a special needs and full-time working mom, so I need all the help that I can get.
7:00 a.m. I make myself and my son breakfast while my husband wakes our son, gets him dressed, tries to help my son to not make too much of a mess while eating, packs his lunch, puts on his backpack, and waits with him until the bus arrives at our house at 7:20 a.m. for school. Meanwhile, I get ready to go to work.
7:50 a.m. Leave for work. I drive from the burbs to north Dallas, which can take anywhere from 35–45 mins depending on traffic, accidents, construction, or all three.
8:00 Husband gets ready. Leaves at 8:30 a.m. and arrives by 9:00 a.m. He works farther away in Dallas than I do and with traffic, so it makes more sense for him to leave later and work a little longer rather than sit in rush hour traffic for two hours each way. I wish that I was kidding.
8:15 a.m.–1:15 p.m. While we are at work, our son attends a special needs preschool.
12:00 p.m. We have a dog walker that comes to the house every weekday to let our dogs out and take them on a 20-minute walk.
1:15 p.m. My son takes the bus to daycare, where he will meet his ABA therapist to work on his therapy goals.
5:00 p.m. I leave work on the dot to make it to daycare by 6:00 p.m. when it closes.
6:15 p.m. Arrive home. After some downtime, I make dinner.
7:00 p.m. My son and I eat dinner together.
7:30 p.m. My husband gets home from work.
8:00 p.m. My husband gives my son a bath and helps him brush teeth while I clean up the kitchen, get my clothes, lunch, and our work/school bags ready for the morning.
8:30 p.m. I help my son put his pj’s on, read a book, and tuck him in. Watch TV and catch up with my husband.
9:45 p.m. Meditate with guided meditation app. Then, I go to sleep. Husband stays up until 11:00 or 11:30 p.m.
Sarah told us a little more about her morning routine:
I’m always looking for ways to lower my stress and found out about The Miracle Morning book on a wellness blog. The author is an incredible person who turned his life around by performing 6 daily habits (silence, affirmations, visualization, journaling, reading, and exercising) each morning to set the tone for the day. I always wanted to journal, meditate, or read an actual book, but never had the time. The Miracle Morning showed me how to do all of these things in 1 hour — sometimes less. I seriously feel so accomplished and ready to take on the day when I do this morning routine.
(Same routine as Monday.)
6:45 a.m. Wake up a little later today because I am teaching a seminar for work in a town close to my house.
7:00 a.m Morning routine with a quick dash downstairs to make my son breakfast. Husband does his usual routine of getting our son ready for school while I get ready for the day.
8:15 a.m. Our son is at preschool.
9:00 a.m. Drive to work seminar.
11:15 a.m. Drive to the office to work there for the rest of the day.
(Same evening routine as Monday)
We asked Sarah about how she and her husband split up parenting duties:
My husband and I had this talk a few months after my son was born. I was going back to work, and my husband also works full-time. Back then, we started to take turns doing the nightly feedings. That morphed into sharing who did dinner, bath, bedtime, etc. Our duties are based on who is available. I leave for work earlier than my husband, so he takes most of the morning duties. I arrive home from work earlier than than he does, so I take on most of the nighttime duties. Now that we have a nanny, she makes our son’s dinner. One less thing to do!
6:00 a.m. Wake up. I took the day off today to attend a lecture by autism superstar, advocate, and all around great person Dr. Temple Grandin.
7:00 a.m. Morning routine and make breakfast for my son. Husband gets our son ready and out the door by 7:20 a.m.
8:00 a.m. Drive downtown to attend lecture.
8:15 a.m.–1:15 p.m. Our son is at preschool.
11:30 a.m. Leisurely drive home with a stop at Chipotle to pick up lunch for myself. I even have time to call my good friend and fellow special needs mom to catch up. The rest of the afternoon, I sit on my couch and catch up on my recorded shows. 12:30 p.m. The dog walker arrives. I forgot to cancel since I was home to let the dogs out. Oops!
3:00 p.m. Pick up my son from daycare for his dental appointment. His ABA therapist accompanies us in case my son is overwhelmed.
4:00 p.m. Dentist. It goes very well, all things considered! Lucky, the dentist also has a son on the spectrum.
5:00 p.m. Drive home and relax until I have to make dinner.
7:00 p.m. Make and eat dinner.
7:30 p.m. Husband arrives home.
8:00 p.m. Bath and bedtime routine for our son. Watch TV. Catch up with my husband.
9:45 p.m. Meditate and go to sleep. Husband stays up until 11:00 or 11:30 p.m.
6:00 a.m. Wake up. It’s a holiday, so my son is off from school and daycare is closed. My husband took off of work today to stay home with him.
7:00 a.m. Morning routine and make breakfast for myself. Get ready for the work day. Husband and son are both sleeping in today. Lucky!
7:50 a.m. Leave for work.
8:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Work, work, work, but I enjoy lunch out my with my boys at noon.
9:00 a.m. Maids arrive at the house for our weekly house cleaning. My husband leaves the house with my son to run errands while they clean.
12:30 p.m. The dog walker arrives at 12:30 p.m. I forgot to cancel — again.
5:30 p.m. Arrive home. It’s Friday, so we order dinner in from our favorite gluten-free pizza place. We spend the rest of the night watching a movie (Hidden Figures — so good!), catching up, and playing with our son.
8:00 p.m. Bath and bedtime routine for our son.
11:00 p.m. Go to bed. I am too tired to stay up any later.
6:00 a.m. Wake up and begin my morning routine. I can usually sleep in later and go through my routine more slowly on weekends, but I am dropping off and picking up my son today from physical and occupational therapy. Normally, hubs does the therapy runs on Saturdays, but I want to meet the new OT therapist myself. Yes, I am that mom.
7:00 a.m. I wake up my son for breakfast and get him dressed before his therapy sessions.
7:45 a.m. Leave to drop off my son at therapy. His therapy session is from 8:00 a.m.–10:00 a.m. every Saturday.
8:15 a.m. Arrive home and husband makes me breakfast. We do absolutely nothing but putter around the house until I leave at 9:50 a.m. to pick up our son.
12:00 p.m. We go out together to eat lunch as a family. I love these outings!
2:00 p.m. Fence installation company arrives to discuss estimates. Goodbye, falling down fence!
3:00 p.m. Pick up groceries for the week.
4:30 p.m. Get ready to go out with one of my special needs momma friends for pedicures and margaritas!
9:00 p.m. Arrive home after night out (Yes, I am old) and watch a movie with some wine and my husband. While I was out, he made my son dinner, bathed him, and put him to bed. Feeling very lucky!
Thanks so much to reader Sarah 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 counsel, as well as her general work/life balance as a special needs mom?
Stock photo: Shutterstock / Alexander Lukatskiy.