The Secret Life of Working Moms

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The Secret Life of Working Moms

Being a Working Mom Is Hard

Simply being a mom is hard, so there is no question that being a working mom is hard.  Even those that aren’t working moms don’t need much convincing.  However, exactly what that hard looks like varies greatly depending on your family situation and your career.  Here I’ll share what my schedule looks like as a working mom and share some thoughts from other working moms with very different careers and family situations.  If you are a mom getting ready to go back to work, grab my tips for returning to work.


Working Mom Schedule

Here’s what my typical day looks like with a 13-month-old and a career as a veterinary pharmacist.  Grab all my tips for managing working mom life here and here.

5:45am

Get up and get a quick 25-minute home workout in.  Grab my tips for fitting in a workout.

6:25am – 6:50am

Shower and get ready.  I’m a big fan of sleep, so my mornings don’t start early enough for me to fully style my hair.  Whatever I can do with it while it’s wet is the style of the day.

6:50am

Pack my lunch and breakfast and make coffee. I love fancy coffee, but a daily trip to Starbucks is not something I have the time or budget for. Therefore, I use my Nespresso and milk frother to make my skinny latte in the comfort of my own kitchen.

7:00am

Wake Paxton up

7:05am

Get Paxton started eating breakfast. He usually eats either a banana or an Ego waffle with butter and cinnamon sugar and water to drink. If he’s still hungry after that, we top off with some blueberries.

7:15am

Brief hubby on where Paxton is at in his morning routine. I’m lucky because John is a stay at home hubby, so I only have to get myself ready and out the door in the mornings.    When I leave, Paxton is usually still eating breakfast and wearing nothing but a diaper.

7:16am

Run out the door so I’m not late to work

7:30am

Arrive at work.


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7:30am – 1pm

Work. I’ll also find time to drink the coffee and eat the breakfast that I brought from home.  Some days it’s close to lunchtime before I get breakfast of overnight oats eaten but that’s a gamble I’m willing to take so that I can get a few extra minutes of sleep.

1pm1:30pm

Lunch break where I work on blog stuff, read the current book for my book club or browse social media.

1:30pm – 6pm

Work

6pm

Leave work

6:20pm

Get home. 

6:20pm – 7pm

Play with Paxton and get him ready for bed. John has already fed him dinner, so this time includes a bath, lotion, a couple of stories and a bottle of milk.

7pm – 7:15pm

Snuggle time with Paxton as he’s falling asleep.

7:15pm

Put Paxton in his crib.  At this point, I won’t hear from him again until I get him up the following morning.

7:15pm9:30pm

This is the extent of my free time.  During this time, I catch up with hubby, eat dinner, pick up around the house, work on any projects I have going, watch TV and get ready for bed.  If I’m not in bed by around 9:30, my 5:45am alarm is awfully rough.

Alternative Thursday Night

On Thursdays, I work a second job in retail pharmacy after finishing my first. On that night, I go straight from job number one to job number two.  I end up getting home at 9pm in time to eat dinner, catch up with hubby and go to bed.


This schedule allows me to work 4 days that are 10 hours each which gives me three full days to spend with Paxton.  While I have limited time with him on the days I work, it’s nice having an extra day completely free.

This is what my typical weekday involves.  However, it doesn’t capture when I have weekend work trips or pick up an extra shift in retail. I usually have one or the other of these once to twice a month.


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Doing housework either falls to hubby or I do it on my days off because I’m generally too exhausted after a long day at work.  If you are managing to find time and motivation for organization, you can grab my organization hacks here. If you are overwhelmed by baby clutter, but don’t have the mental energy to tackle it, join my free email challenge where I help you get all the kid items under control in small steps.


Working Moms in Other Professions

Now that you’ve seen my schedule, career and family differences mean that no two moms have the same working mom experience. Here are summaries of working mom life from 4 other working moms.

Working At Home

Abby Jacobs has a 16-month-old and is a parenting blogger. For her, being a working parent looks a bit different than most. She said, “I work from home, so the time I put into my blog is broken up throughout the day. As soon as my son is down for a nap I hurry to get to work and try to get as much done as I can in that time period. It also means I’m up working after his bedtime most nights. But, it also means I get to enjoy him while he’s awake. My job allows me the unique opportunity to raise, support, influence, and be a key part in his life–all while making money from home!”


Working With Other People’s Kids

Mary Smith is a teacher with a 5-month-old and a 2-year-old at home.  Here’s what being a working mom is like for her. “As an elementary school teacher, I spend my entire day with children. I wake up at 5AM to get myself ready before I get my own babies ready for daycare. The drive to work is the only peace I will see until my head hits the pillow at night. Many don’t realize being in education is so much more than just teaching. I plan every minute of every day, accounting for different learning abilities and interests. I manage disciplining 20 tweens going through 3 learning stations per hour, and also make sure they are staying on task. I mediate disputes between students and counsel the ones having problems. Tutor, nurse, janitor, and lunch lady are a few of the other roles I play each day. And breaks? Spent in the closet pumping milk for my infant, then speeding off to meet/call parents, write lesson plans, grade papers, finish documentation…or if I’m really lucky, I get to sit for a brief moment to eat some lunch in the 15 minutes I have left for myself.

By the time I leave work, I am mentally exhausted. I’ve given all my energy to my students, and sometimes feel I have nothing left over for my own kids. It’s a mad dash to get in the front door, let the dogs out, change the diapers, get dinner fixed, clean the kitchen, bathe the boys and then try to find a few minutes of quality time with them. Some days we don’t even manage a story before bed. But I do the best I can and make the best of the weekends and holidays. When it gets tough, I just remind myself how lucky I am to get off for so many breaks and summer vacation, because some working parents don’t even have that.”


Fixed Working Hours

When asked what being a working parent is like, Clio Franconi said, “Running all the time.”  She has a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old and is a director’s assistant.  She explained working life as, “I have fixed working hours, and even if my work environment is cool, I still struggle to get there on time and then have to rush to go pick-up the kids. Everything has to be calculated, organized, and planned so that either one of us parents can go take care of our kids before the school closes. (Plus of course, all the rest of the chores). It’s great to be able to have some adult time and share it with awesome co-workers, but frankly, it is exhausting. There’s so little time to just be together, as even when we do spend time to play or read in the evening, everyone is so tensed and tired after the whole day running around. On the other hand, when I’m at home, I can completely shut the work drawer in my head and dedicate myself fully to my husband and kids. The boundaries between the two are very clear and they don’t get mixed, which helps me concentrate on the present moment.”


When You Have a Lot of Kids

Trish Brockway is a labor & delivery nurse with 7 kids at home ranging in age from 4 to 28!  Here’s her take on working mom life. “My career was my dream and calling from a young age. I love it! I love the hours and how I can work it around my family life. For many years I have been a travel nurse. Traveling has worked well for our family, as we also homeschool. I love that my children have toured the country and seen more of it than most adults can claim. We studied the Alamo while walking through it. My kids could stop and imagine the life of the men trapped inside the walls. How cool is that?
I am also fortunate to work as a PRN nurse when not traveling, which means I set my schedule. The hours a nurse works, twelve-hour days, is a blessing and a curse. My day starts early and ends late. I leave my younger children before they wake. I kiss them goodbye while they sleep and most often, kiss them next after they are asleep at night.” 

Final Thoughts

Working mom life varies greatly depending on how many kids you have and their ages, the demands of your career, your husband’s work situation, and your work schedules. For example, my daily schedule looked very different when I had a newborn and I was still breastfeeding. 

Just don’t let the working mom guilt get the best of you.  You can read my story with mom guilt here. But remember this is a mental battle.  After you read my mom guilt experience, read about why being a working mom is awesome. No two experiences are the same, but they are all hard and can all be rewarding. 

Are you a working mom?  What has your experience been like?

The Secret Life of Working Moms

6 thoughts on “The Secret Life of Working Moms

  • February 22, 2019 at 11:40 am
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    Lauren – I love this roundup and perspective from so many working mammas. Awesome article. I have a schedule similar to yours, except I leave work closer to 5:15-5:30, and my hubby doesn’t stay home – so we’re doing a daycare dash in between. It is SO exhausting being a working parent, and articles like these remind me we’re all in it together.

    One of the things I’m constantly trying to remind myself of is that I still need to take breaks, and mammas in the newborn phase need breaks more than any of us. Taking care of yourself shouldn’t be the last priority because if you’re sick or overwhelmed you can’t take care of your family either!

    Reply
    • February 25, 2019 at 7:35 pm
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      I think there are benefits to kids going to daycare, but for the sake of my sanity, I’m really glad we don’t have to do the daycare dash!

      Reply
  • February 23, 2019 at 8:21 pm
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    I am not a working mom, but I guess you could consider me a “work from home” mom because I’m trying to establish my blog. I can’t even imagine how busy your days are as a working mom, but it is nice you are able to work your hours the way you do so that you get a full day with Paxton. I bet you cherish every minute of this day and the weekend! That is great your husband stays home with him. Everyone’s situation is definitely different and it will constantly be adjusting depending on the age of your child. What is most important is encouraging, supporting and reminding each other that you aren’t alone, taking care of yourself and giving yourself lots of grace! You are doing a wonderful job momma!!

    Reply
    • February 25, 2019 at 7:31 pm
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      Yes it’s definitely helpful to hear that other moms don’t have it all together either!

      Reply
  • February 27, 2019 at 2:56 am
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    Lauren, I love this post and the perspecive it offers. I do want to clarify that yes, I have 7 children but only 3 at home. Lol!

    Reply
    • March 7, 2019 at 4:47 am
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      Lol I guess only having 3 at home makes it a little more managable, but the fact that you have raised 7 is still impressive!

      Reply

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