Today’s post is for sharing. If you’re anything like me, you may have spent hours on the internet searching for “a day in the life of XXX,” looking for some idea of how to better plan your day. Throughout my working years, I searched for many “days in the life.” Whether I was working full-time while getting a degree, working full-time with a newborn, taking on a new role, working with two kids under three (those years were a blur), or working with kids and aging parents, I looked for whatever would give me an idea of what my life could look like. It wasn’t because I wanted to model another person’s life, but I wanted to know that my chaotic schedule was “normal.”
While I occasionally still look for those “day in the life of” schedules, I have accepted the fact that there isn’t one that exactly resembles my situation. It wasn’t until I began talking with my working and juggling friends that I found my confirmation. As we talked over coffee at times (and wine at other times), we shared stories of misspelled emails, late night work meeting, early morning project completion, and best tips for not falling asleep in unproductive meetings. We discussed life as early birds, night owls, those times where we functioned as both, and gave tips on how we made it to the next stage of life. Throughout these get-togethers, I found that my confirmation was this: do what you can to get your work done and have some semblance of a life. This will look different for each person and it will also look different as your life changes.
I’m in this place again. While my job field hasn’t changed (higher education), my children are slightly older, I’m no longer able to stay up past a certain time (goodbye all-nighters), and I’ve gotten more involved in my community. With this comes another schedule change. Below, I have listed a typical day for me as a working mom of two. Right now, I’m working from home some days and in the office other days, with the expectation to fully move back into the office. The schedule below is an office day schedule in the summer. So, if you’re looking for an example of a chaotic schedule to compare yours with, here we go (this is a typical day for me working on a college campus, although it always in progress):
2am—Child bursts in to jump in bed with spouse and I
3am– I toss and turn as I get kicked by kid; either spouse or I go into child’s bedroom to actually rest (depends on the one getting kicked the most)
4am/4:30am– Get up, grab coffee, and sit at computer to write
5am– Get second cup of coffee and continue writing
6am– Both kids are up and they let dog outside and then feed her. I make my way to the kitchen to start breakfast (if I’m the one getting no sleep all night, hubby makes breakfast)
7am – Office day. Kiss everyone bye and drive to work [40-50 min. commute, depending on traffic]
8am – 5pm: Somehow, it’s swamped though it’s summer. The day is met with emails, scheduled meetings, last minute scheduled meetings, crisis management, advising, and more emails. *I normally do not eat lunch because I’ll fall asleep afterwards.
*Since it’s summer, I’ll leave the office between 3pm and 4pm and finish work at home.
4pm– Drive home. If I have a virtual meeting, I’m still connected.
5:15pm– Start dinner and let spouse get break from kids. *Quick note about dinner: I mass cook once per month, so this is a reheat of a homemade freezer meal with a salad or veggies for a side. Really quick!
6pm – Eat with kids, family clean up, and play with dog. Answer emails that came through phone.
7pm – Kids bath, prep coffee pot for next day, and family watches a show.
8pm– Put kids to bed (Child #1 will fall asleep in 10 minutes. Child #2 will fall asleep in 30 minutes and wake up at 2am). Spouse and I actually get a chance to talk now.
9pm – FREE TIME!!! Quickly text with sister (other working mom), watch a movie or read a book, get things ready for next day, spend time with spouse. *Depending on the writing stage that I’m in, the next two hours may be writing and research time. Otherwise, it’s my free time.
11pm-Fall asleep to movie or book.
*Spouse is a night owl and high school teacher, so he’s up until about 1am.
If I’m working from home, the schedule is a complete blur, but I manage to get things done. Now, let me briefly discuss the weekends. Unless I have a function, I give myself a lot of grace on the weekends. We all sleep later than usual, I visit my parents, schedule trips to the park with the kids, and we cookout at home. I make time to get together with my friends at least once per month and I am a huge fan of vacations. Why work all of the time and not enjoy the fruits of your labor? Therefore, if you want to have some fun, be sure to plan it so that your work doesn’t take over. AND, be unapologetic about it!
Working from home and juggling non-work responsibilities is truly a test of mental and physical endurance. However, these are phases. The schedule above was not my schedule a few years ago, and I suspect it will change again in another few years. Therefore, hang in there everyone.
Stay safe and keep leading,
Note: One of the things that help me stay on schedule is mapping out my weeks on a 168 hour calendar. Download below for yours.