A Working Mom’s Work Is Never Done….

My dear friend, mentee, and former staffer always said I should write about food. I love it. I talk about it. I make other people want it. Someday I will write about that. These days my life is less consumed by mouth-watering tasty morsels and more by quick meals that won’t upset the baby’s stomach or that fit in my lunch bag along with my many snacks and pump parts. That same friend also said I should write about my trials and tribulations as a working-mom. So here I am, taking the plunge.

In my ideal world, I would work part-time. I don’t know what that would like, but if I’m dreaming, I’d spend 3 days/week working, doing a job I love with people whose company I enjoy and I would spend 2 days/week (plus weekends) with my kids (and husband). We would go to museums, beaches, have lunch and playdates with family members and friends, we’d do our weekly shopping during the day. I would show them the every-day world around us and immerse them in our community. Yes it would be exhausting, but they are my kids and I want to have a bigger part in raising them – even before they create their first real memory.

Unfortunately, that is not realistic. Our family lives mostly modestly. We own a 3 bed, 1 bath ranch that we are quickly outgrowing. We do like to eat out and annual vacations are a must. However, despite our professional successes and middle-class lifestyle, we cannot survive on one income. We cannot survive on one and half incomes. Until that does become a reality, Dave and I work full-time+ jobs and our kids are in daycare. We squeeze as many family-friendly trips, visits, and meals in on the weekends around mid-day naps, do our food-shopping and Target runs after 9pm, and see our local friends / neighbors at weekly concerts on the green during the summer (if I get home from work on time). That’s just the base. Let’s build on that…

Concert on the Green

Desi and his friend James playing in the Common.

I’m breastfeeding. That means whenever my baby is hungry and we’re together, I nurse him. I also pump every 3-4 hours when I’m away from him. Right now that’s Monday – Friday from roughly 7:00am until 6:00pm. My goal is to do this for a year. I was able to do it for Desmond and I want to share the same nourishment and bonding experience with Phoenix.

pumping in the car

Pumping in the car on the way to work.

I work in the city. That means what could be a 30 minute ride is actually an hour commute there and at least an hour back. I work for an event marketing agency which means I sometimes have to put in hours at night and sometimes be on-site during a weekend, or all weekend. Not a complaint, just a reality. Sometimes Phoenix comes to help me (aka I need to work and feed him). Let’s take a look at a day in this life…

Mama's Handsome Assistant

Mama’s handsome assistant during Sail Boston. (Photo Credit: Valery Vasilevskiy)

~6:00 Desmond wakes up. We change his diaper (and possibly his pajamas), get him breakfast, and put on a show – these days it’s Bubble Guppies.

~6/6:30 Phoenix will be ready for his first feed. If I’m lucky enough to get up before him, I wash my face, brush my teeth, do my make-up / hair, and get dressed. If he gets up first, I feed him and then give him to Dave so he can burp him. Then I get ready.

6:30 – 7 Pack my lunch and grab 2 sets of clean pump parts / bottles; get Desmond’s water cup; put Phoenix’s 3 bottles in his bag.

7 – 7:30 Dave gets both boys and their stuff over to daycare and I mentally prepare for an hour’s worth of traffic. Somedays I make a frozen breakfast sandwich and pour a cup of home-made cold-brew to go.

7:30 – 8:30 I eat my breakfast in the car and sit in traffic, talking on the phone to whoever is up and wants to chat (usually it’s my Mom, Stepmom, and/or Sister).

~8:30 Arrive at work.

~11 – 11:30 I pump.

~2:30 – 3 I pump.

If all has gone to plan Phoenix has had a bottle around 9, 12, and 3. That means I need to be home for his 6pm feed. Traffic can make the commute anywhere from 58 minutes to an hour and a half. I need to leave by 4:40 to make sure I’m home to feed him.

~6 I arrive home, nurse the baby while Dave works on dinner. Desmond is either watching a show, playing with toys, or playing outside. Tonight I fed the baby on the front step while Desmond looked for bugs. This was a suitable solution.

6:30 We eat dinner. By we, I mostly mean me and Dave. Despite our best efforts Desmond doesn’t usually do well with dinner. He prefers snacks to almost any meal. He fights his way to the table, we bribe him for bites, and shortly after that Desmond excuses himself to wash hands and then climbs all over me while I try to eat. I’m hoping he grows out of this quickly.

6:45 We take our after dinner walk around the block. Desmond is fascinated by sewers, bugs, bunnies, chipmunks, neighbors and their vehicles so he stops every other minute. Sometimes I wear the baby, sometimes I leave him with Dave. Sometimes I stay home and hold the baby. Every other night or so, Phoenix gets a bath. One of us puts the baby to bed around 7:30.
Baby Wearing

7:15 Time to get Desi ready for bed. We either do a bath or wash his face, then it’s a quick ‘trip to the Dentist’ where I brush his teeth and make him repeat after me with ‘ahhs’ and ‘eeehs’ to the tune of ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’ or ‘Let Me Clear My Throat’. Diaper, jammies, 2-3 books, stories (the kind I make up where he is the star), and snuggles and chit chat before I leave his room. He cries out for a second, but then it’s peaceful.

For a minute I think I’ll sit and relax on the couch. Then I remember that I’m not done for the day and snap back to reality. Time to clean up after dinner. Dave and I alternate who does the dishes but it can be anywhere from a full sink to a couple dishes and might require an unloading of the dishwasher.

8:15 Now the fun evening activities begin. I sift through the expressed milk in the fridge, find the ‘oldest’ batch and pour 3 4.5oz bottles for the next day. Then I properly label my milk from that day’s pumping sessions. I have to do some maneuvering so I can relieve some of the pumping bottles from the fridge and combine same-day milk into big bags.

8:30 – 9:00
I prep the bags for the next day. This consists of clean pump parts, 3-4 bottles, and figure out my lunch.

9:00 – 10:00 I finish in the kitchen washing bottles, log some additional work hours, pay bills, make to-do lists, plan birthday parties, respond to emails/texts/calls, work on my cousins’ upcoming wedding ceremony, clean up the playroom (I mean living room), hang the kids clothes, go to the grocery store / target, and/or any other household things that need to be done.

10:00 Shower. Sometimes I’m quick. Sometimes I need to wash my hair. Sometimes I even shave. Rarely do I shave and wash my hair in the same shower. Don’t nobody have time for that.

10:30 – 11:00 I pump. Again. This is the 3rd pumping session – and if I’m lucky gives me just enough for the next day’s bottles. I soak the pump parts or put them in the fridge for the next night.

11:00 Get in bed. Toss and turn. Think of all the things I need to do and didn’t get to. Look at Facebook. Then Instagram. Then maybe around 11:30 I try and fall asleep.

1am or 2am or 3am or 4am or 5am
– Whenever I hear Phoenix on the monitor I get up, pick him up, nurse him back to sleep and get back in bed. (Lately none of these wake-ups are happening because I have a unicorn baby – but we are approaching the 4 month sleep regression and after that teething – so I’m sure it won’t last)

6:00am – The alarm goes off or Desi wakes up and we start all over again.

Are you exhausted from reading this? I don’t blame you. It’s ridiculous. But the moral of the story is that my work is never done and although it’s exhausting, I just keep going. I love my family and I would give just about anything to have more time with them. I also love being able to provide for them and living a life where we have everything that we need. The days are long though and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I need more balance. If you’ve read this far and have any advice, by all means – please share.

What are your thoughts?