For this week’s installment of our Week in the Life of a Working Mom series, I’m happy to introduce CorporetteMoms reader Laurie, who lives in suburban New Jersey with her husband and two kids and works as an accountant. 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 medium-sized town in the suburbs of New Jersey
Job: Accountant for world’s largest cosmetics company
1112-square-foot apartment with my husband (35-year-old graphic designer at a small internet company — I am the breadwinner) and our kids (daughter will turn 5 at the end of this month; son is 2 years old). The kids share a room.
We were in the process of buying a new home, the offer was accepted, and we just completed inspections. Fast-forward one week, I was completely blindsided with news of a big layoff in the accounting department. We had plans to put our home on the market the next day. We had to pull the plug on everything, and it was very hard to swallow this… We had a five-year plan for living in the condo, and now it’s been nine years.
Childcare Situation: Daycare full-time, five days a week (approx 7:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m.), $30K a year! :(
A Week in My Life
6:00 a.m. Husband is on morning duty. (We alternate this duty daily.)
6:30 a.m. I get up after “sleeping in.” Playtime and watch TV.
8:30 a.m. Daughter requests French toast breakfast, so that’s what we all eat. Usually we go to church on Sundays, but this weekend we don’t make it there.
11:00 a.m. Nap time for son — that means it’s time for a car ride. I don’t even remember the last time we attempted to have him nap at home; maybe he was 1. Car naps are a sure thing for him … sometimes we get lucky and my daughter falls asleep too. Daughter and I go to the grocery store while Husband hangs out in the car with napping son. We take turns as “chef,” which means you are responsible for meal ideas, grocery shopping, and cooking for the week.
12:15 p.m. Back home for lunch.
1:00 p.m. We head out for our activity for the day, first the bookstore and then the arcade.
4:00 p.m. Back home — kids play until dinner and we get laundry done.
6:00 p.m. Dinner together, but most nights the kids have a different meal than us.
7:00 p.m. I give daughter a bath.
7:15 p.m. Teeth brushing, I brush daughter’s and then we team up to brush son’s. Read books as a family.
7:45 p.m. Son’s bedtime. We still put on lullaby music for him, since we used this to sleep train at 18 months. (We turn the music off when we go to bed.) Husband goes out for a walk, and it’s mommy and daughter time. She asks to help me do prep for tomorrow. Being “chef” for the week this also includes prepping the kids’ food for daycare (breakfast, lunch, snacks).
8:15 p.m. The three of us are in our bed for family time. We watch a YouTube video that daughter picks and we also talk about our day.
8:30 p.m. Bedtime for daughter and my husband carries her into bed.
8:45 p.m. Finish chores/prep for tomorrow.
9:15 p.m. Watch TV with husband
10:30 p.m. Bedtime for me.
5:15 a.m. Wake up. We have a system of “shifts” that we stick to, so if son wakes up during my getting-ready time, husband wakes up and attends to him. My “me time” is 5:15–5:45 and Husband’s is 5:45–6:25. I take my extra 10 minutes just before heading out the door. It’s a rare day that 5:45 comes and goes without any kids waking up. I use this time to fold and put away laundry from yesterday.
6:00 a.m. Husband is still asleep, so I wake him. Usually I get both kids dressed, but they slept until 6:45 today.
6:35 a.m. Leave so I can get to the office by 7:30. Husband gets the kids ready and drops them off at daycare around 7:20 on his way to work.
12:00 p.m. Squeeze in a 40-minute workout on my lunch hour — the gym is on the same campus as my office building, so I’m able to work out and shower.
4:00 p.m. Finish work.
5:00 p.m. Pick up kids at daycare.
5:30 p.m. We arrive home. While I cook, son has pulled out the remainder of his lunch from his school bag and eats that, and my daughter is keeping busy with a workbook.
6:00 p.m. Dinner.
7:00 p.m. Free play night routine starts (pjs, teeth brushing, stories).
7:45 p.m. Son’s bedtime. While Husband is out walking, daughter and I do a few pages in her workbook.
8:15 p.m. Family time in bed.
8:30 p.m. Daughter’s bedtime.
8:45 p.m. Chores — empty dishwasher, prep for tomorrow.
9:30 p.m. Watch TV with Husband
10:30 p.m. Bedtime
Laurie had this to say about splitting up parenting duties with her husband:
It was a mutual agreement. … We both work, so we both should share equal responsibilities at home. The week you are “chef,” you do it all—meal plan, go grocery shopping, cook dinner (and clean up), and pack up the kids’ food for the next day. It does get exhausting by the end of the week, but having a complete break from everything the following week is the light at the end! Morning duty stems from the same mentality, but was this responsibility was merely an add-on to the task of putting our son to bed the previous night and tackling any overnight wake-ups. Wake-ups are extremely rare these days. … More so than wanting to make sure we both got “equal” sleep at that time, was being sure that I could put our son to bed. When my daughter was small, somewhere along the line she refused to be put into bed by anyone but Daddy (and I forever felt this was hanging over my head)! I was determined not to let this happen with my son.
And she answered our question as to whether she feels any pressure as the breadwinner:
I wouldn’t say pressure, but there are times I feel resentful towards my husband about it. We can’t afford some of the things that I think we should be able to.
5:15 a.m. Wake up.
6:35 a.m. Leave for work.
7:00 a.m. Husband has to wake daughter up. (Son woke up at 5:30.) Husband does daycare drop-off. Daughter takes gymnastics class every Tuesday at daycare — an outside program runs it and comes to the school. I love that they make it so easy! In the past we’ve participated in dance class and swim class this way also. (They get bused to the swim location.)
11:30 a.m. Daycare calls that son threw up, so Husband picks him up and works the rest of the day from home.
5:30 p.m. The kids play hide and seek and watch some TV until Husband gets back from grabbing pizza for tonight’s dinner.
After dinner, Husband draws with the kids.
7:00 p.m. Night routine, which includes a bath for daughter tonight.
7:45 p.m. Bedtime for son and then Husband goes for his walk. Daughter and I do crossword puzzles and play tic-tac-toe until he’s back.
8:30 p.m. Family time.
8:45 p.m. Daughter goes to bed. I take a break and watch TV before starting chores.
9:45 p.m. Clean up and tomorrow’s prep.
10:30 p.m. Bedtime.
Both husband and I work from home today, so the morning is a bit more relaxed. Husband works from home every Wednesday and Thursday. Thursday is my normal work-from-home day, but it got switched this week because I have to attend a meeting tomorrow.
6:20 a.m. Son wakes up and wants to play in the bedroom, which caused daughter to wake up.
7:20 a.m. The kids are out the door with husband, who drops them off at daycare.
8:30 a.m. We enjoy breakfast together.
12:00 p.m. I go to the eye doctor to have my glasses adjusted — son had bent them up good last week! I wear contacts daily but like to have these as back-ups, especially on the weekend when there’s an early wakeup call. Stop at the supermarket and then prep dinner (tacos tonight) before the lunch hour ends.
4:30 p.m. Leave to pick up kids from daycare.
5:30 p.m. Daughter asks to watch a movie on Netflix, son joins her on the couch.
6:00 p.m. Dinner.
7:00 p.m. Movie ends just in time for the night routine, which includes a bath for son tonight — we do this as a team. Mommy and daughter activity for tonight is writing out an invitation for her birthday party (it would take forever if she did them all — we compromised on her writing just one that would be mailed to her cousins, and the rest will be handed out at daycare) and she does a few pages in her workbook. The usual family time and bedtime for daughter.
8:45 p.m. Chores.
9:15 p.m. Watch TV until bedtime.
Here’s what Laurie said when we asked her how she negotiated weekly work-from-home time:
No negotiation was needed. It was rolled out to my department first as a pilot program and then later was adopted by the entire organization. One requirement is that the day of the week must remain the same. I picked Thursday, since it’s a nice way to start wrapping up the week, particularly when combined with “summer hours,” (which run from the end of May—Sept.) that allow us to work only a half-day on Fridays. Also, my husband works from home on Thursdays as well!
4:00 a.m. Unusual wake-up call, both kids. Husband is on morning duty, so he handles it. Daughter climbs into bed with him (I am already out on the couch due to his snoring), and he restarts the lullaby music for son and he goes back to sleep.
6:15 a.m. The kids are still asleep so I tackle writing the birthday party invites.
6:35 a.m. I am out the door and on the way to work.
6:45 a.m. Husband wakes the kids up and gets them ready and off to daycare.
5:00 p.m. Pick up kids from daycare and teacher informs me that son threw up again. Earlier in the week when this occurred, I wasn’t concerned, because sometimes he eats A LOT before he even gets to daycare, so he is already full, but will still have breakfast and morning snack. We’ve made an effort to reduce the snacking he does in the AM now.
5:45 p.m. Cook dinner and do laundry.
6:30 p.m. Dinner is finished and we go outside to play.
7:20 p.m. I give daughter a bath. Son has a 101° fever so we give Tylenol before bedtime.
7:50 p.m. Husband is out for his walk; daughter and I make a book that she wants to bring in for Show and Tell tomorrow.
9:00 p.m. I feel burned out from the week but force my way through the nightly chores.
10:00 p.m. Go to bed a little earlier tonight.
6:15 a.m. Son wakes up.
6:30 a.m. Daughter wakes up. Son is fever-free but we decide to keep him home from school today. Thankfully, my mom has the day off from work, so husband will drop him off at her house on his way to work.
7:15 a.m. Leave to drop off daughter at daycare and tell my boss I’ll be late. (She is very understanding and never gives me a hard time when things like this come up.) I don’t end up getting to the office until 8:30.
5:30 p.m. Everyone is home and the kids get dressed in their Halloween costumes and play/watch TV while I cook dinner.
6:00 p.m. Dinner and watch a movie.
7:45 p.m. Night routine gets a late start, because I didn’t initiate getting it going — I’m wiped out from the week!
8:10 p.m. Son’s bedtime, and then daughter and I play paper airplanes and in her workbook.
8:50 p.m. Daughter’s bedtime. I must’ve fallen asleep soon after.
5:45 a.m.–6:00 a.m. Daughter and son wake up. Husband is on morning duty.
6:15 a.m. I get up after “sleeping in.”
7:00 a.m. We read books together.
7:30 a.m. Kids are playing while I cook breakfast.
8:00 a.m. Dance party and free play while Husband and I clean up around the house.
9:00 a.m. Arts and crafts time, son’s first time using scissors.
9:30 a.m. Husband jumps in the shower and the kids help me put up Halloween decorations.
10:15 a.m. Shower for me, while husband and kids watch a movie.
11:30 a.m. Car ride for nap time, we grab sandwiches for lunch and eat them in the car.
12:30 p.m. Daughter is up, so we head back home for her to eat her sandwich.
1:15 p.m. Son wakes up and has lunch while daughter plays on her tablet.
2:00 p.m. Playdough.
2:30 p.m. Leave to go apple picking with my parents, sister, sister/brother-in-law/their two boys (about the same age as my kids).
5:00 p.m. Arrive at sister’s house, and the kids play outside until dinnertime.
7:30 p.m. They have a fire and roast marshmallows, but we need to leave … thankfully, we exit without any meltdowns!
8:00 p.m. We are back home and the kids go right to bed.
9:00 p.m. Bedtime
Thanks so much to Laurie for sharing a bit of her life as a working mom! Readers, what’s your biggest takeaway from her week of work as an accountant, as well as her general work/life balance?
Picture via Stencil.