I’ve enjoyed reading about the work lives of a variety of women through Anne’s How She Does It series. My schedule always seems so average compared to all of you work from home entrepreneur types, and I got a kick out of Anne’s plea for pieces from us office types. I went back and forth on what to include, and in the end I decided it would be most helpful to go through what a typical day looks like for me.
I naturally wake up early, between 4:20 and 5:15 most mornings. I use the time to clear out my inbox, work on any blog projects I might have, update my calendar, or do any quick work tasks that I want to get off my plate before a busy day begins. We try to have calm mornings that include conversation and eating breakfast together, but it doesn’t always work out that way. I’d say we’re at about 70% which is probably average for having 6 and 3 year olds in the house.
My kids are capable of dressing themselves, but they sometimes lose the power of motion when a good episode of Wild Kratts comes on. My son takes a bus to school, and my daughter gets driven to a preschool program at a local day care. Once the kids are off to school I get a little treat. I spend 45 minutes each way commuting by subway, and during that time I read. I think that if my work ever knew how much I enjoyed commuting they would ask me to come in on weekends.
By the time I get to work, I am ready to work. I’ve spent time with my kids, I’ve read, and I’ve hopefully already cleared something from my to-do list. I’ve already cleaned out my inbox, and I can spend what is normally the most productive hour of my day working while the rest of the office is busy getting started.
I’m a senior programmer for a market research firm, which is a fancy way to say we do surveys. My work mostly centers around getting surveys to respondents, and cleaning everything up on the back end so the data are useful. I like my job because there aren’t a lot of time-wasting meetings or phone calls leaving me big stretches of time to get lost in a program. I love my job because it is project based, meaning that if something is horrible to work on it is over in about a month.
Crafting a work arrangement that fits our life has been a slow process. The first time I asked my supervisor for a work from home arrangement I was 36 weeks pregnant and had to spend 2-4 hours at the hospital once a week for non-stress tests. He didn’t say no, but he did say he would have to get it approved by the higher-ups. This made it seem like it would be difficult for him to ask on my behalf, and the answer would probably be no. I ended up using sick leave instead of working from home in order to avoid drama.
When I came back from maternity leave, I started asking for permission to work from home once a week, but only one week at a time. My supervisor was comfortable saying yes to that arrangement on a week by week basis, and pretty soon it became permanent without any additional approval necessary. When my son started school I wanted to volunteer as a science teacher one half day a week, once a month. Instead of asking for permission, I submitted a leave slip for the time that I would miss.
Having a family dinner every night is important to me. I leave work every day at 4:30, and avoid any additional work or checking emails until the next morning. At first I got some pushback from clients, but they soon realized that I was up working for them at the crack of dawn. They learned to trust that I would get their work done. I have what you might call a flexible work arrangement, but none of it is written down on paper or in any company policy.
There are things I’ve had to give up as a working mom. My house is a wreck, and I wish my kids knew the long, boring summers that I used to know instead of scheduled days at camp. I wish we had more time for play dates, and I wish I could have more time to experiment with Julia Child’s recipe for French bread.
However, I have a job that fulfills me, and I can still show up at school every once in a while. I spend a lot of time commuting, but I also spend a lot of time reading while commuting. There are some people who might say I’m not doing right by my kids, and there are some people who might say I’m not fully using my talents to better the corporate world. I only know that my family is happy, and I mostly enjoy my job. Life may not be perfect, but it’s good enough most days.