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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 R, who lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and two young children and works in finance for a Fortune 500 company. 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, coldhearted, money-grubbing) blogger — so please be kind with any comments. Thank you! – Kat
First, Some Basics About This Working Mom…
Lives: Chicago suburbs
Home Situation: Typical suburban 2,500-square-foot house with my husband (airline pilot), kids (daughter, age 4; and son, age 1.5), and 60-lb. dog.
Childcare Situation: Daycare, $600/week
Stock photo credit: Shutterstock / sirtravelalot.
A Week in My Life
6:00 a.m. – Up with kids and dog, lazy cartoons and breakfast for all. Lots of coffee for adults. Slowly get showered and dressed.
9:00 a.m. – Short walk around the neighborhood to get some fresh air. We look like a parade with dog, Husband, wagon with Daughter, buggy with Son, and then me.
9:30 a.m. – Snack and then playtime for the kids while we clean the house and do laundry and generally chat.
10:30 a.m. – Husband leaves for a baseball game. I get out the art stuff out and color with the kids.
11:30 a.m. – Lunch
12:30 p.m. – We head out for errands and a stop at a toy store. They act surprisingly well and I only lose each of them once in the toy store, so I consider that a win.
1:30 p.m. – Ice cream next door to the toy store.
2:00 p.m. – A very late nap and quiet time for the kids. Should be work time for me, but Son fell asleep in the car and doesn’t do well with transitions, so I spend all of naptime holding him. I’m not super upset about this — I won’t be able to hold him for an hour for much longer.
3:00 p.m. – Small snack and then outside in the backyard. Lots of bubbles and baseball and swinging. Neighbor kid comes over to play too, talk to his dad for a while about preschools.
5:00 p.m. – Daddy is home. Lots of happiness ensues while I check my email.
6:00 p.m. – We’ve ordered a pizza for dinner. We have beers. Kids have milk.
7:00 p.m. – Bath and reading and bedtime for the kids. I put Son to bed most nights by myself since he’s still young, and if he’s home, Husband does the whole potty/teeth/pajamas routine with Daughter in the meantime. Daughter is more adaptable now but likes both of us to do the final song/prayer/kisses if we’re home.
8:30 p.m. – We watch the Amy Schumer comedy special on Netflix since some friends were talking about it last week. It’s okay but not very funny.
9:30 p.m. – Chat for a while, then bed around 10:30ish.
6:00 a.m. – Up to shower and get ready. This is my busy week at work, so Husband is on kid duty when he’s home so I can get a few more minutes of sleep. I eat a quick breakfast at home with everyone.
7:00 a.m. – Try to leave for work. Kids need more kisses.
7:10 a.m. – Actually leave for work. Need to stop for coffee.
7:45 a.m. – Work like crazy. Text with Husband to make sure kids are dropped off at daycare and happy. He is doing a thousand house projects this week, plus laundry and mowing and running errands, plus doing some at-home training for his work. This is the off-week for the cleaners, so he runs a vacuum and picks up the house. He also does all the meal planning and grocery shopping for the week before he leaves.
11:45 a.m. – Run to Verizon to get a case and charger for my new phone. Eat a bar in my car for lunch on the way back.
12:15 p.m. – More work. Getting lots of input, verifying the numbers a thousand times, and refining the scripts.
4:45 p.m. – Head home.
5:15 p.m. – Get home. Husband is making dinner. The kids are watching Paw Patrol and are very engrossed. I check personal emails and texts, and scroll on Facebook and Instagram. I rarely go on there but like to check out the local events pages to plan activities for the weekends.
6:00 p.m. – Dinner together as a family. We chat about our days.
7:00 p.m. – Playtime. We have a random dance party to KidzBop songs on Alexa. Yes, my 4-year-old knows how to operate Alexa. Generation Alpha!
7:30 p.m. – Stories and bedtime.
8:15 p.m. – We watch a second comedy special, Dave Chappelle. Even less funny than last night. When did comics get so unfunny? Maybe we’re just old and talking about sex isn’t as scandalous? I guess we’ll go back to watching shows. We just finished Big Little Lies, maybe it’s time for Stranger Things? There’s a different one Husband wants to watch, Les Revenants, maybe? We only watch TV together a few nights a week, so it needs to hold interest longer than a binge.
9:15 p.m. – I work a bit while chatting with Husband.
10:30 p.m. – Bed
6:00 a.m. – Shower and getting ready. Skip breakfast this time; I’ll eat a bar at work.
7:00 a.m. – Leave the house. Stop for coffee.
7:30 a.m. – At work. More running around. Take some time to email about my sister-in-law’s baby shower that I’m helping host. My mom texts some old Mother’s Day cards I sent her, and they are the cutest things I’ve ever seen. I declare myself a child Monet and then get back to creating a graph in Excel. Text with Husband — kids are happy at daycare and he’s still doing a ton of stuff for work and home.
12:15 p.m. – Eat a super quick lunch at my desk while working.
12:25 p.m. – Back at it. Starting to go over all the logistical stuff to make sure call goes well, in addition to putting final touches on the actual material. Our admin left the company a couple weeks ago, so I’m doing all of this logistical stuff in the meantime.
2:00 p.m. – Have an impromptu conversation with HR team about hiring. I explain that we aren’t offering high enough salaries to be competitive in the market, that I have to fight with my HR rep every time I put an offer together. The male manager says “Why are all the women I work with like that? You, X, Y, Z. You’re all the same. No, it’s a good thing, I promise. You’re just … direct.” I laugh it off and say “Maybe you just need a direct approach” and don’t say anything else since I’m the only female there, but am annoyed on the inside.
5:00 p.m. – Head home.
5:45 p.m. – Get home, they’re just starting to eat dinner. I join and we all talk about our days. Daughter tells an elaborate story about looking for worms in the dirt with two friends.
6:30 p.m. – We all play together.
7:00 p.m. – Bedtime. It’s rougher since the kids are a little wound up. I try really hard not to rush them when I need to work, but still. My Son could be read to for hours if that would delay bedtime even further.
8:30 p.m. – Work.
11:00 p.m. – Bed.
5:30 a.m. – Shower and ready. Need to be in earlier, so rushing out the door.
6:30 a.m. – Try to leave, but kids are up and want snuggles.
6:45 a.m. – Leave the house for real.
7:20 a.m. – Grab a coffee at work on my way to a meeting for a dry run of the call. It goes really well, which is a good sign that all this work was in the right direction. Still worried about the logistics and technical pieces though. Luckily I work with awesome people who are stepping up and helping out wherever they can.
9:15 a.m. – Text Husband for updates on Son’s dr. appt. I’m nervous about this one.
9:45 a.m. – Hear that appt. went really well, and no changes to his prescription. Super happy. Just need to check in after another six months. We’ll schedule that later; I never know who is home on what days until the week before the month starts.
10:20 a.m. – Realize I forgot to make plans for the dog for this weekend while we’re gone. Text Husband in a panic. He handles it — gets a neighbor to save the day. They’ll come let him out and feed him several times while we’re gone. Phew.
2:00 p.m. – Get mildly annoyed that I miss a meeting I wanted to be in, because I’m doing the admin stuff. I know they won’t think less of me, but it still stings.
6:00 p.m. – As I’m packing up, get a compliment from the CFO that this quarter’s work is the best yet. I say a professional thank you, but happy dance on the inside.
6:45 p.m. – Check up on texts before I walk in the door — another daycare mom friend says there’s a lice outbreak at daycare. Lovely. Read a bedtime story and do a lice check on both kids, then bedtime.
8:30 p.m. – Have a small glass of wine with Husband. Gloat about my compliments. Grumble about missing the meeting. Work a little, but then decide to just lie in bed and chat with Husband instead.
10:15 p.m. – Bed
We asked R if/how her priorities changed after she had kids:
Not so much that priorities changed, but we have to work a lot harder to make them happen and they look really different now. We really enjoy traveling, but now that involves shorter-but-more-frequent trips to see family rather than visiting new countries. We enjoy outdoor time, but now it’s lots of playing at parks and riding bikes in the driveway rather than multiple barre classes each week.
4:30 a.m. – Up and shower
5:15 a.m. – Leave the house. Before I leave, write small notes for everyone and leave them on the table. Stop for two coffees, this is going to be a long day.
6:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. – At the office. Prep everything. Earnings call goes great. Everyone happy. Now time for analyst and investor calls. Those also go well.
(9:00 a.m. – Text Husband for quick update on kids. Morning was good but since he’s leaving for work, they were a little clingy. Days when he leaves are rough.)
(2:00 p.m. – Husband texts to verify he made it to hotel.)
4:30 p.m. – On kid duty again, so must leave the office at 4:30 to get to daycare on time. Luckily my boss knows this rule and is okay with it.
5:10 p.m. – Grab dinner and ball glove from home, feed dog and do quick walk.
5:20 p.m. – Pick up kids from daycare. Daughter has drawn me a picture with lots of hearts on it. Told everyone I “had a big day” at work. Dad must have told her that’s why I was gone early this morning. Cute! My heart melts. Son has a meltdown because he doesn’t want to put his coat on.
5:45 p.m. – Get to gym early so kids can eat dinner (aka crackers, cheese, and raisins) at the little tables in the vending area.
6:00 p.m. – T-ball practice for Daughter. She is the smallest one in the class, the only girl, and we haven’t taught her anything. It shows. Other kids are actively fielding the ball while she is trying to throw it while still in her glove. This is a class for 4- to 6-year-olds, why in the world are they doing baseball drills already? She has fun though. Son sits on the sidelines with me, playing and watching Moana on my phone.
7:00 p.m. – Home from practice. Son is throwing more of a fit, so turn on cartoons for Daughter while I get him ready for bed. He’s not having any of it. Tantrum city.
8:00 p.m. – His tantrum turns into her tantrum. I didn’t floss or brush her teeth the right way. She doesn’t want to go to bed. She hits her head on the headboard. It’s a total meltdown and the dog is running back and forth between the kids, trying to help them stop crying.
8:30 p.m. – I give Daughter an ice pack for her head, I sing a song to Son until he calms down, I say proper goodnight to Daughter and promise to check on her. They calm down and are finally quiet.
9:15 p.m. – I call Husband. Tell him about the evening and we laugh about the insanity. Then I read a book for a while and am asleep before 10:00 p.m.
5:30 a.m. – Shower and get ready before kids wake up.
6:15 a.m. – Kids up. Get them (and dog) ready and fed. It’s Dress Like a Superhero day at daycare. Son picks out a Batman shirt. Daughter can’t decide between Batman, Batgirl, or Ninja Turtles. Then decides on a ninja dress.
7:10 a.m. – Usher kids out the door. They don’t want to wear jackets so I stick them in their backpacks anyway when they’re not looking. It’s show-and-tell day, so we have a mini-panic until we find Batgirl. Sing Moana songs on the way to daycare.
7:30 a.m. – Kids are dropped off, and head to work. Gas station has long lines so I have to skip my coffee run. Grab a Coke inside the station. Wonder if it’s a holiday or something, can’t figure out why it’s so busy. Quick chat with Husband to let him know kids are dropped off and happy, and see what his day looks like.
8:00 a.m. – Work. Catch up on blogs then need to do my non-earnings call job that I’ve basically ignored for a week. I catch up with my team and make sure they’re doing okay. Start prepping for forecast cycle.
10:00 a.m. – More investor and analyst calls. Eat a couple granola bars. Count that as lunch.
11:30 a.m. – Run to Target over lunch to grab stuff for Teacher Appreciation Week next week. The school has a theme for each day, so get some chocolates, drink coozies, cute socks, and something flower-related from the dollar spot. Times six — I’m not entirely sure how many teachers they have. I know of four for sure, plus maybe a floater or two? I need to ask someone at pickup. Make a note on my calendar to grab coffee and donuts for the whole staff to take into daycare on Thursday. That will cover anyone I forget.
4:30 p.m. – Leave to get kids.
5:15 p.m. – Pick up kids and make sure we didn’t forget Batgirl. Play in the driveway when we get home even though it’s overcast and drizzling. Forget to ask how many teachers they have.
6:00 p.m. – Husband planned something easy for dinner — mac & cheese and hot dogs. The kids watch cartoons while I make it. Then we all eat together and talk about our days. Get them excited about seeing family tomorrow. Realize I haven’t packed anything. FaceTime with Daddy.
6:45 p.m. – Pack the kids up for the weekend.
7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m. – Bath and bedtime. (And a second lice check, just in case.)
8:30 p.m. – Start packing. It’s only an overnight, so not hard, but need to get the pack n play in the car and make sure we have changes of clothes, diapers for Son, pajamas, etc. I pack little activity bags for the kids in case they get bored there. I’m sure they’ll be fine, though.
10:00 p.m. – Read and then bed.
We asked R about her Target trip and whether she or her husband is typically in charge of that sort of thing:
Somehow, Teacher Appreciation Week sneaks up on us every year, and we’re woefully under prepared for other school theme things, too. Whoever happens to be home, see the flyer, and has the ability to run to Target is the one who buys the stuff. Usually we talk through rough ideas via text before the person goes to the store. We’ve talked about the need to be more organized about school stuff so we don’t have to scramble all the time, and maybe we could be more thoughtful about it, but neither of us has made that happen yet. I suppose we won’t until the kids are old enough to be upset that they didn’t have the perfect costume for Dr. Seuss day or whatever.
5:30 a.m. – Shower and get ready. Make sure car is packed. Make coffee.
6:30 a.m. – Kids up, get them (and dog) ready and fed.
7:00 a.m. – Get on the road. It’s about a three-hour drive to family, which is why we’re spending the night. I get too tired to drive there and back in one day. We have a Potette potty in the car and have definitely used it in a cornfield, but don’t need to this time. Listen to kid songs on CDs until they fall asleep for the last hour of the drive. This means naps aren’t happening today. Fun.
10:00 a.m. – We arrive. Kids play with cousins. I chat with adults. I feel relaxed and happy and so calm to be back in my tiny little hometown. Love watching my kids play with the same toys and find the same nooks I did 35 years ago. Eat wayyyyyy too much food. Talk a mile a minute.
7:30 p.m. – Son goes to sleep in pack ‘n’ play. 30 min later, he’s quiet. Then Daughter goes to sleep in bed in the same room. (I’ll sleep in the bed with her later.) I stay up and chat some more.
11:00 p.m. – Crawl into bed. I’ll pack back up in the morning before we leave.
Reflecting on her schedule, R added:
I guess I didn’t realize how busy we are until writing it all down. It makes me worry a little bit that we’re not getting enough downtime — and the kids aren’t even in school yet. I wonder if we need to protect certain time as “schedule free” and maybe that would give us some breathing space. But since my husband has such a varied schedule each week, it’s hard to say definitively “Mondays are always family time” since he isn’t home for half of them, and if he is, we want to spend that time catching up on all the family/friend/activity things he’s missed. I wonder if we’ll need to do it anyway though, especially as the kids get older.
Thanks so much to Reader R for sharing a bit of her life as a working mom! Readers, what’s your biggest takeaway from her week working in finance at a Fortune 500 company, as well as her general work/life balance?