A DAY IN THE LIFE (OR HOW I BALANCE LIFE AS A WORKING MOM)

One of the questions that I think mom bloggers get the most often is, “how do you do it all?” And while I absolutely do not do it all, and do not have it all together, I’ve figured out a system that works for us right now and allows me to do as much as I can. And it all hinges on my secret weapon that I’ll share with you today.

Quiet time.

I’ve always been a huge advocate of my kids learning to play on their own. I’m the kind of mom who reads to them, colors with them, and takes them to the library or the park, but I fully admit I don’t like to get down on the floor and play cars or legos (although I get coerced into it every once in a while).

But both of my boys have bursting imaginations, and there’s nothing I love more than seeing those imaginations take flight as they play together and on their own. Toca Boca just launched their “Stand for Play” campaign, and I love their philosophy that play is not something that’s “nice to have,” it’s essential for raising happy and good kids who turn into awesome adults.

So even though I’m not a playing kind of mom, I make sure there are large blocks of time in their day when my kids can play, imagine, and create. That’s where quiet time comes in, and it’s also how I get anything done during the day with two small children. It keeps them happy, since they get to freely play, and keeps me happy because I’m able to get my work done.

Want to see how we do it? Here’s a little Day in the Life at our house.

7:30am: Everyone wakes up. The boys often wake up a few minutes before, but they aren’t allowed to come out of their (separate) rooms until the clock says 7:30. The second it reads 7:30, they’re in B’s room to squeeze in their 25 minutes of play time (which always means legos) before it’s time to get ready for school.

7:30am: My alarm clock goes off, I check my phone for a few minutes, say my morning prayers, make the bed, and get my exercise clothes on. Also a quick teeth brushing is thrown in there.

7:55am: Remind B to make his bed if he hasn’t already, then get Fos dressed. We lay out B’s clothes the night before, so he gets dressed first thing.

8:00am: Time to head downstairs for breakfast. Bagels cut in thirds with a different cream cheese on each section is the favorite right now. I make a green smoothie and divide it between the three of us, then make myself a piece of toast with butter and raspberry jam.

8:15am: Pack B’s lunch and make sure his backpack is ready for the day.

8:20am: Clean up breakfast, everyone gets their shoes on, and we head out the door to walk to school.

8:45am: Drop off B at school and head home with Fos.

Up until a about a month ago, my friend and I would go on a 4 mile walk at 9am, three days a week. I’ve been sick and very pregnant, so we haven’t been doing it lately, but this is my exercise time and would get us home at about 10am, and then our day would continue as follows, just with no park time.

9:00am: Once we’re home, I unload the dishwasher from the night before and usually Fos asks for a little more breakfast.

9:20am: I pull out the basket of cars and bring them up to my room so Fos can play while I get ready. I take a shower and then do my hair and makeup. Fos loves this morning time on his own when B isn’t there to steal his favorite cars, so he happily plays by himself, telling stories about the cars and driving them around on the rug and the wood floors.

10:15am: I’m all ready for the day, so we clean up the cars and head to his room to read some books together. After a few books, we head back to my room and sort the laundry and get a load started.

11:00am: It’s park day with friends, so we pack a lunch for each of us and get ready to go. We pick up his best friend on the way and the three of us head to the park.

11:45am: Since it’s lunch time, we head straight for the picnic tables and eat our lunch before they head off to play. Other moms are at the park too, so I sit and talk with them while the kids play. Fos calls me every once in a while to show off some funny way he’s going down the slide, or how he made it to the top of the climbing structure.

2:00pm: It’s getting late and the kids are exhausted and sweaty after playing and running, so I load them up in the car and we head home, dropping off his friend on the way.

2:15pm: We switch the laundry, check the mail, and open a few packages that have arrived.

2:30pm: Time to go pick up B from school, so back in the car.

3:00pm: Back home, unpack the backpack, and the boys are up at the counter ready for an after school snack. And I’ll never say no to a snack either.

3:30pm: Once they’re done with their snack, it’s time to start quiet time. This is a full ninety minutes of them playing on their own, and my time to work. They usually play together, but if they’re not getting along then they play separately in their rooms. They mostly build with legos, but they also play cars and imagination games. Also I should mention that I do have to run downstairs to help Fos go to the bathroom, and occasionally they come up to my office and want to show me something they’ve built, but for the most part they know they need to stay in their rooms and that I’m pretty off-limits for these 90 minutes.

This time also sometimes turns into photo time and I’ll hire a babysitter while my photographer and I go out and shoot looks for the week. We usually do that about once a week.

5:00pm: Quiet time is over and it’s time for “School Time” while I get dinner ready. The boys sit up at the counter and each have a laptop (although sometimes Fos opts to color instead). Fos works on his letters, numbers, and reading on Starfall.com, and B works on his coding lessons on code.org, typing on our computer program, handwriting out of this book, and he does his nightly kindergarten homework.

6:00pm: Dinner is on the table, Philip usually walks in the door right around now, electronics are put away, and we all sit down to eat.

6:30pm: Dinner is over and while Philip does the dishes (I love him), the boys and I set up The Game of Life Junior. They got this game from friends for Christmas and ask to play it almost every night. We play a round as a family and try to avoid the grouchiness that inevitably comes when someone loses.

7:00pm: Upstairs and time to get ready for bed. A quick bath for each of the boys, teeth brushed, personal scriptures read, and sometimes a quick interruption for some wrestling on our bed with Daddy.

7:30pm: Everyone meets in B’s room for family scripture study and family prayer.

7:45pm: Philip puts Fos to bed, and I stay in B’s room and read aloud to him for 15 minutes before his bedtime.

8:00pm: Set out B’s clothes for the next morning, then one last hug and kiss, and lights out.

8:05pm: I look at my phone for a few minutes, probably post an instagram, and then Philip and I both get ready for bed.

8:30pm: Once we’re ready for bed, we head downstairs where I work on the computer prepping blog posts, answering emails, or illustrate a tutorial. Philip sits on the couch by me and watches the news or sports center. I don’t work during this time every night…I try to have no work nights several times a week so I can just focus on my husband and spend time with him.

10:00pm: Philip heads to bed, and I head upstairs to my office so I can get some sewing done.

12:00pm: I’ve made a goal this year to be in bed by midnight every night, and although I haven’t succeeded every night, I’m actually doing really well. Probably being 8 months pregnant helps force me there too. Goodnight!

Although this isn’t how every day at our house goes, it’s how most of them go right now. Of course adding a newborn to the mix next month will definitely change a lot of this, but for now this is how I balance everything and try to maintain a good mix of work time with mom time. And it helps me give my kids enough time with me, and enough free playing time on their own, since we all majorly value that and benefit from it!

Check out Toca Boca’s Stand for Play to learn more about the state of play in America, spread the word, and you can even sign up to get one of their cute, FREE posters (the first 2,000 parents will get a free poster if you share on Facebook)! Then have your kids decorate the back and share on social media with #standforplay!

thank you to Toca Boca for sponsoring this post. Photos by Rad and Happy