This is part of the Work from Home Series I started in response to questions I get about how I manage my time and obligations with my family life.
Find more advice in these posts in the series below:
I often get asked about how I manage it all. ‘All’ meaning working from home, caring for our house, being a mom and wife, and all the other 9 million hats I wear.
As a working mom will tell you it’s hard to wear both hats and wear them well and not forget the other things you need to do like occasionally care for yourself, or spend some real face time with your spouse or friends. In some ways being a parent makes it easier to be more efficient, but it can also be hard to switch off when you’re in mom mode. It can be equally challenging when you have a sick child or a schedule of classroom and after-school activities that make your head spin.
So in the interest of sharing what a snapshot of my life is like I’ll share what a ‘typical’ day looks like, though in reality 90% of my days are anything but typical!
I’ll also share a few tips on financial needs any working parent should consider, but especially those of us who left and re-entered the workforce with a few additional tips for the self-employed.
A Snapshot of Daily Work and Life:
This is new to me, but I’ve found getting up earlier allows me some time to wakeup before the real chaos of the day starts.
6:25am: Teen to School
We grunt at each other until he’s out the door. It’s slightly amusing how grumpy we both are in the morning.
6:30-7:30am: ‘Me’ Time
Make coffee and breakfast for myself, peruse emails, make today’s to do list, and check on today’s post. Possible waste time on Facebook. Though usually one of the kids is up and starts talking my ear of about something, or wants breakfast or cuddles.
7:30am: Wakeup Call
Sometimes the younger kids (10, 8, 6) get up before now, as does my husband. Anyone who isn’t up though gets a wakeup call.
7:30-8:30am: Morning Chaos
The real chaos begins. Breakfast for everyone, lunches get packed, kids get dressed, and backpacks get packed. The kids can usually accomplish all their tasks by 8:00am leaving about 25 minutes before their bus arrives. If everything is ready to go I do busy work like throwing a load of laundry in, washing dishes, or vacuuming. I might put clothes if I have somewhere to go.
8:25am: Off to School
Time to get socks, shoes, and coats on and send the kiddos off to school. They pick up the bus right in front of our house, so I don’t have to walk them out, I just watch them from the window since I’m usually still in my PJs.
8:35am: Morning Chores
Before anything else I do a little dance around the house as I tidy up for 10 minutes. I have a chore schedule I stick to (with some flexibility) so I spend a portion of the morning working on that (anywhere from 10- 30 minutes).
Whether it is writing, emails, or errands/appointments now is the time I get it done. Sometimes this means spending my ‘lunch break’ running errands so I don’t have to take kids along. Other times it means lunching at my desk.
I also build in break times, and usually use them to do some light cleaning like straightening up, dusting, etc. This year I’m attempting to take one weekday off a week to just have some time to breathe. It’s slightly selfish, but given that some days I put in longer hours (or work on Sundays) this helps me have some semblance of balance.
If I have trouble getting going I just force myself to do the thing I’m avoiding on my to do list. That usually gets the productivity ball rolling.
3:00-3:30pm:Home from School
The kids arrive home, and I aim to have all my work done.
On most days this is kid time. We talk about their day, they get snacks, and tackle homework. Once homework is done they can play outside or play games. I cook dinner, wash dishes, change over laundry, and more. If I have a deadline I have to meet, phone calls, etc. I will hibernate upstairs while the kids play. I aim to do this as little as possible, but sometimes it is necessary. I often check in on my social media accounts when I’m not doing anything else since I can easily put my phone down if I need to.
If it’s a day where they have after-school activities or robotics dinnertime will shift, and so will our routine. My husband comes home most nights early enough to help with evening activities, cart the kids off to robotics, etc. but those days we’ll eat earlier or later and that usually means more time offline.
8:00pm-?: Evening Office Hours
The younger kids go to bed at 8pm and require little help from us, so after 8pm I can either be found back at the computer (usually on our comfy couch), or after doing the dinner dishes I will fold laundry in front of the tv or veg out.
I try to go to bed on a routine schedule, but often find I’m up until 11pm or later. If my husband is home (and stays awake!) we might have a date night on the couch, though just as often we’ll have dueling laptops open working.
A few things to note:
- Exercise is not a part of my daily routine now, something I’m aiming to change in 2013. I have been adding in small amounts of exercise as i have time like a 10 minute walk or 50 jumping jacks here and there.
- I shower whenever I can find time-sometimes this is the evening, sometimes it’s before the kids get up.
- My kids are older now, but when they were babies, toddlers, or even preschoolers I wouldn’t ever leave them alone to play. I might supervise from the next room or while doing dishes, but that was a big part of keeping them safe in a house full of kids. If you have young kids I’ll offer some tips and links to moms who are in the same boat soon.
- Errands and grocery shopping have mostly shifted to the weekends for me so I can take full advantage of kid-free hours for work. I typically do our big grocery trip on Sunday with one kid in tow.
- I have no qualms about taking an hour or a day off if I need some time for myself. That may mean staying up late or feeding the kids sandwiches for dinner, but it is usually worth the effort.
- We eat dinners at home as a family at the table as often as possible. Even if it’s just a harried meal before someone is off to somewhere else.
- The kids have chores that they do daily, and weekly which help a lot.
- The husband does a LOT. While we aren’t 50/50 (I don’t think that even exists) he does everything he can to help whether it’s cooking, cleaning up, reading bedtime stories, or being available to the kids when I need to travel. Just like in any house we both have things we’re better at so I tackle most of the organization and meals, while he does a lot of cleaning up.
- We are planning to work on a token system for screen time in 2013. I think it will help immensely to have more clear expectations about screen time with the kids.
So that’s a ‘typical’ day in my life. Some days may involve emergency school calls, trips out-of-town, or life , but this is how we usually roll. What does you day look like?
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