Since having my first child six years ago, I’ve been fascinated by moms who manage to bring home the bacon and fry it up.
How do they achieve the elusive work-life balance?
What about the other 70.5% of American moms in the labor force with kids under the age of 18? It’s probably fair to say that everyone’s balance, if it does indeed exist, looks a little different—from moms who take time away from work to stay home to moms who run Fortune 200 companies.
To get an idea of how moms across the country—both with and without partners—juggle their children and their jobs, we asked five moms how exactly they divide up their days (and nights) between work and family.
Cecilia, 34, Manager, Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Kids: Eighteen-month-old son, a baby on the way and a 10-year-old stepdaughter (who lives with her mother during the week and with us on weekends, school breaks and summers)
My day starts around 5:30 a.m. In the first few hours, I nurse my son, do a few chores and then put my son in his jogging stroller and run three to five miles with my husband. I push the stroller halfway, then switch with my husband and he pushes it back. It’s a wonderful way to start the day, and my son loves his morning “runs.” After everyone is cleaned up, my husband gets our son dressed and usually prepares breakfast for us all. He’s a business owner who’s recently returned to school, so he’s gone a lot. By 7:30 a.m., my work phone starts ringing.
I work eight hours a day, usually between 9:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. When emergencies arise at the airport, I don’t have an official start or ending time.
How do I make it happen? A live-in nanny! You give up privacy but gain sanity (especially with a job that doesn’t have set hours and revolves around a 24/7 operation).
Our nanny’s main responsibility is child care, but sometimes she cooks, does laundry or cleans (usually the chores I never have time to do, like washing windows and cleaning toilets). I handle all the shopping, errands and fixing problems around the house. She will help me if I ask her, but generally I’m with my son in the morning, and she takes him right before I leave for work once he’s dressed, fed and ready to start his day. If I get work calls and the baby is in the background, I don’t mind … sometimes it’s nice for people on the other end to realize that you are still home starting your day (what do they expect when calling at 7:00 a.m.?).
I run a quick errand on the way home from work, and my son and I hang out while I cook dinner (sometimes the nanny cooks dinner while I catch up with my son). When my husband gets home from school around 8:30 p.m., we eat a healthy dinner together. My son, who takes a late nap so I’ll have more time with him, goes to sleep at 9:30 p.m. I follow him to bed an hour later.
I usually don’t work weekends, and try to handle as much from home via the Blackberry in the mornings and evenings.
My husband and I both have jobs that require a lot of travel. Most of the time I bring our nanny and my son so he can be near me—I pay out of pocket for their flights. Right now it’s cheap because it’s just the nanny’s ticket (my son is free until age 2), but we stay in the same hotel room. He flew 26 flights last year, and I’ve been on two work trips without him this year.