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For this week’s installment of our Week in the Life of a Working Mom series, I’m happy to introduce CorporetteMoms reader S, who lives in Texas with her husband and daughter and works as a legislative staffer. 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 and work in suburban and rural Texas
Job: Legislative staffer working outside the Capitol
Home Situation: I live in a two-story suburban home with my government-employee husband and one school-age kid, with another kiddo on the way.
Childcare Situation: My daughter attends school and we have occasional after-school child care, but not regular. We spend $300 a month for after-school activities.
How is the work-life balance in your industry in general? What are common ways of juggling responsibilities that you see your colleagues and coworkers doing?
On the district/constituent services side, work/life balance is easier to achieve, and most do pretty well with a mix of school and child care for kids. It depends on combined incomes — legislative staff, even in district, don’t get huge paychecks, so a lot of us rely on flexibility from our bosses.
How do you handle household chores, such as laundry, grocery shopping, housecleaning, etc.? Who does what, and when — and how often?
I handle most of the regular household chores with our kid beginning to pitch in regularly. Laundry happens as needed — “If you see it needs doing, you do it” is our casual policy. I use grocery delivery to take a major timesink off our schedules. As the weather improves, we’d like to add lawn service to our expenses but can’t make the budget stretch.
A Week in My Life
10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. Church, where we have multiple duties; we take separate cars because husband has to be there earlier than I do. Afternoon resting for the week ahead, catching up on email or other mundane parts of our jobs. Kiddo occupied with books and tablet access.
Husband takes kiddo to school, I work from home for the day, catching up on constituent correspondence and taking calls. A quick stop in at a luncheon to give a legislative update, but back online immediately after. I go offline at 2:30 to pick up kid from school and take her to dance class. During the hour she’s in class, I work on responses and eat a late lunch/early dinner. Grocery delivery between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m., and laundry folding while I walk kiddo through reading homework. Husband gets home after 11:00 p.m., so dinner is a very casual convenience food affair for all. Kiddo in bed by 9:00 p.m.
I take kiddo to school at 7:20, then come home to get ready for meetings over coffee and lunch. I can dress fairly casually for informal meetings — a blessing, because I haven’t had time to shop for maternity wear yet. Kiddo has a special art class after school, at the school, so I have an extra hour and use it to pick up some maternity blouses and make some phone calls for the volunteer work I do. I pick up the kiddo at 4:00 and we head over for a vision therapy appointment she has. Dinner is light, husband home around 9:00 p.m. and kiddo in bed when he gets there.
Here is some more information from S about her volunteer work:
I serve on the board of directors for a statewide political organization and have been on that board since 2011. It requires some travel, and I’m around a lot of women through it. Through the positions I’ve been in on the board, I’ve picked up or honed skills that help in my regular employment. I’ve organized large conference-style events, worked with multiple volunteers for a variety of campaign and advocacy needs, and I’ve had to work with individuals with a wide variety of backgrounds and in very different life stages than my own. The connections alone are invaluable. I think finding a volunteer outlet is a great idea for women who are interested in broadening their professional network and skill set, especially if that volunteer role ties back to your career in some way.
A much longer day. Kiddo and I run behind by ten minutes; she’s not late, but she misses walking in with friends. Internet down at home and at local coffee shop and restaurant options, so I spend a good portion of the day troubleshooting that. Run to district post office to pick up mail, answer media calls about district issues. Pick up kiddo on time. Pregnancy symptoms in high gear, so we make an early evening of it and homework goes untouched. Husband home late.
We asked S for more details about how her pregnancy is going — and also asked about her planned maternity leave:
My pregnancy has been going pretty well; I’m due in September. I’m classified as “AMA” (advanced maternal age) so I have a few extra appointments and things to deal with. The biggest challenges in terms of work has been 1) finding affordable maternity workwear and 2) scheduling what can be rather long appointments around my work schedule, which is erratic some weeks, and my daughter’s schedule. I had to find an ob/gyn with a small practice and early hours, and thankfully did. For maternity leave, I can take the standard six weeks and work with my boss on flexibility after that. As of this writing, we haven’t had an in-depth discussion about those details, but I am going to rely on the ability to do some work remotely.
On time today for school, then wait at home for internet service repairman. Find out there’s just a lag in service generally in the area, but it’s working fine by early afternoon. Break away for chamber of commerce ribbon cutting in district, one hour round-trip. Open inbox to find over 300 constituent emails waiting to be catalogued in system. Begin work on that before picking up kiddo, who comes home with a request for a parent-teacher conference. Start that process, then take kiddo out for a fast food dinner and shopping for this weekend’s class birthday parties. Help kiddo with reading homework for an hour. Another late night for husband, as we’re in legislative session and his job requires him to be at the Capitol late.
Husband’s day to take kiddo to school. Conference call with staff, first and only contact with them for the week. One hour. Then work on emails and correspondence before getting ready for a checkup at the ob/gyn. Spend a little time on shopping for work maternity wear online in between, and updating calendar for the coming week. Set social media posts for office for the next few days and prepare press releases for legislation. Kiddo has Scouts in the afternoon, so pick up late. Plan on dinner out as a family if husband home by 6:30, but otherwise be prepared with dinner at home.
Early morning, kiddo watches cartoons while husband and I catch up on emails and household chores. It’s raining, but we have three birthday parties on the calendar, one of which is a family event, so we split up and cover all of them. Dinner is pizza, because we’re all exhausted, and it’s an early night.
Here’s what S had to say when we asked her to pass on advice about kids and chores:
My daughter is elementary-school age. I consider the chores I give her to be what she does to contribute to the household, and have always talked about them that way. She is in charge of feeding our dog in the latter part of the day; if she’s not home to do it, or if something else gets in the way, I have her do something else to replace it. She is also in charge of putting away her own clothes, dusting furniture she can reach, and cleaning her bathroom. I’d like to better schedule it, but at this point in our busy lives, things happen when they happen, so I just include her when I’m doing things myself. Over the years, I got her ready for her own responsibilities by having her help me with mine whenever possible, and she sees both her father and me do work around the house. That example is crucial, but they also have to understand — everyone has a role to play and something to do.
Thanks so much to S for sharing a bit of her life as a working mom! Readers, what’s your biggest takeaway from her week of work as a legislative staffer as well as her general work/life balance?
Stock photo via Stencil.