Friday, November 10, 2006

A Day in the Life of a Working Mom

This is what my life looks like these days:
6:00-6.30Get rudely awakened by Ayaan’s morning greeting on the baby monitor. Listen to him entertain himself for a while before convincing myself to get up and go get him.
6:30-7:00Pick up Ayaan, give him his cornflakes and follow him around to ensure that he doesn’t drop any and eat it off the floor.
7:00-7:15Change Ayaan out of his diaper and nightclothes, attempt to look reasonably presentable, put on shoes for Ayaan and myself, strap Ayaan into his stroller and head off for the morning walk.
7.30-8.00Walk to the park, play with Ayaan in the park and then walk back.
8:00-8.15Feed Ayaan his breakfast.
8:15-8:30Eat breakfast with Ayaan hovering around and expecting every alternate bite to go into his mouth.
8:30-8.45Transfer clothes from the washing machine to the dryer. Put away the clothes back from the dhobi. Take a 5 minute break away from it all.
8:45-9:00Look at the clock with shock – where did all that time go? Have a rushed bath and get ready for work.
9:00-9:30Drive to work.
9:30-5:30Work, work, work.
5:30-6:00Drive home.
6:00-7:30Take Ayaan to the park.
7:30-8:00Sort laundry out to put into the machine. Leave Ayaan with Jai to take another 5-minute break. Put finishing touches to Ayaan’s dinner.
8:00-8:15Give Ayaan his dinner.
8:15-8:30Play with Ayaan and attempt to get him to sit on his potty.
8:30-9:00Wash and change Ayaan, play and read to him and put him to bed. Phew!
9:00-10:30Eat dinner, watch TV.

To add to this, there are days when I have to work late or travel. And weekends are not time for rest either since I try to use them to make up for the time I have missed with Ayaan.

This kind of a hectic schedule arises from the fact I am much more hands-on than most other moms (both of the stay at home and the working varieties) I know. I think it arises out of my being a minor control freak and makes me hesitant to delegate Ayaan’s care to anyone since I feel they couldn’t do it better. When Ayaan was a baby, my mom was the only other person allowed to change his nappies (I couldn’t say anything to her since she was the one who taught me how to tie the nappy in the first place!). I had to relinquish some of this control when I went back to work but I still want to change his diapers, feed him his meals and bathe him whenever I am at home.

As a result, I am always, always exhausted these days. I can’t think of too many days when I feel rested – I think I might have forgotten what that feels like!

What irks me most though is that at the end of the day, I am still left with a feeling of discontent. I feel like I am not doing my 100% best at either of my jobs (mother and professional). I operate at lower levels of efficiency and effectiveness at both than I would like. I often envy stay-at-home moms for their ability to give that 100% to their jobs as mothers. I don’t however envy women without kids though – I’d rather be an 80% perfect mom to Ayaan than not have him in my life at all.

That being said, I have two disclaimers that must be put up:
  1. Though it may sometimes seems like it (because I don’t mention it often enough), it’s not like Jai has nothing to do with any of this. Often, when I have had a really late night or I am not well, he will pick up Ayaan when he wakes in the morning and tend to him till the maid comes. On the evening park activity, our aim is that atleast one of us should be back in time to take him to the park atleast 4 times in a week and so far we have managed to split it pretty evenly. And of course, he takes over the reins from me when I have to travel for work.
  2. I know there are many moms out there who will see this and say “Huh! You call that tough?!” I especially have a healthy respect for moms who don’t have the benefit of household help and have to do all this and also worry about the cleaning, laundering and cooking. Seriously, I don’t know how you do it!


  1. I think about kids all the time and how they change your life...and although I know no one wishes they didn't have a child, all this sounds sufficiently daunting for me to put it off another year.

  2. I can see how having a kid can make your entire world be built around him/ her :) And yes i have a whole lot of respect for Moms like you. Kudos! And don't think like you're unable to do both jobs well enough simultaneously. You do. And someday you'll be glad when Ayaan is all grown up and you will have had a wonderful satisfying life. nice post.

  3. Hopefully it will get easier soon. What I don't like is the feeling that many people can't organise their lives as well as you do and either the work or the family suffers. Maybe that should be a book for other families in your situ - how to organise work around Ayaan.

  4. Wow! I just can't believe how much you take him to the park -- before work even! That's amazing. I usually try to delegate taking the kids to the park to my husband -- but that's also b/c I'm pregnant and my 20 month old weighs almost 40 pounds, so he's hard for me to handle on the slide, etc.

    And I think no matter what you were doing and how you were spending your time you'd feel not good enough -- I'm pretty sure that's just one of the basic characteristics of motherhood that we have to ignore. I'm sure you're doing great.

  5. “Huh! You call that tough?!”
    I call it tough because I am going through similar phase myself. It feels like I am busy all day with a demanding job and a demanding kid.

    I think you are doing a great job of balancing job, kid and house work. You are doing so much better than many mom's out there!

  6. wow! you sure achieve a lot in the mornings! i'm going to take a print out of yr schedule :)
    and you manage to get home by 5:30?!!! really lucky i must say. with this terrible blore traffic, i get home only by by 8:30 or 9 pm on most days.

  7. [Beks] It's daunting and exhausting but I wouldn't trade it for the world...I would still recommend it heartily

    [M] I hope so. One of the scariest things for me is regret and I hope I don't regret any of the choices I am making.

    [Ranjit] I guess everyone is probably doing their best. But how do you know if your best is good enough!

    [Dixie] To start with, I am not pregnant so that helps. Also, in the morning, taking him to the park is the best way to deal with his early morning funk - handling him at home is far tougher - plus it's the only exercise I can squeeze into my day.

    [Twisted] Thanks for the empathy!

    [Aqua] It helps that my office is only half an hour away and I save some of my work (which doesn't require meetings) for the night after Ayaan goes to sleep. And atleast twice a week I come home too late to even see him - either because of meetings or because of travel. And often the maid takes him to the park and I meet him there for just a short while before bringing him back. This was more like my ideal day - which happens maybe twice a week.

  8. i meant to say maybe you should write a book about scheduling kiddos and work, would be very useful to the other mummies / daddies out there.

  9. Man, reading that made me feel lazy! The amount you accomplish by the time I get out of bed is embarassing! Good for you for wanting to be so involved in Ayaan's life. (Of course, at this latitude, the sun doesn't even get up until after 8 at this time of year, so perhaps I have an excuse for staying in bed so long, too?) I'm glad to hear that Jai also gets to have that bonding time--so important for little boys.

    I've heard it said that if boys do not start identifying strongly with their fathers by 18 months of age, they are much more likely to undergo gender confusion in later years. This doesn't mean they still can't be a "mommy's boy"--at least for a while! (I certainly enjoy the hugs and kisses my "cuddliest" son dishes out!)

    From one busy mom to another--do remember to take the occasional evening for just you. If you are drained emotionally, you will not be a good mommy or wife. One night to yourself can do wonders for the quality of parenting you do every other night of the week (or month.)


  10. Rohini, I can understand exactly what you go through everyday. Although I must say your mornings start so so much earlier than mine!

    I am forever being ticked off for cribbing about how tired I am and how I dont ever have enough time to get everything completed in a day - the standard one is "So get a maid"...i can never properly explain that I want to spend whatever time I can spare with my son ad that having a maid will just make me lazy about doing all those things.....

    next time you are dead tired, remember that this is probably the only phase in ayaan's life when he constantly needs you and enjoy that feeling. Soon I'm sure you'll be cribbing to him how you never see him and begging him to stay at home and spend some time with you!
    ......that's how i keep myself from losing my mind on those exceptionally tiring days.

  11. oh and please dont stop yourself from complaining just cos someone else might have it tougher than you do! people like me thrive on knowing that there are others out there in exactly the same boat as I am in!

  12. where are your feet woman? I shall worship you. If i were working full time i would not even look at my son when i came back home and oh.. neither son nor i have ever seen 7 am from this end of the day.

    i guess this is why i cannot work full time. I am a control freak too and refuse to let anyone else do anything for the Brat, but I cannot push myself to do as much as you accomplish in a day.

    also, Ayaan sleeps in a separate room? how? how? how did you manage that? i need tips!!!

  13. [Ranjit] But that would be all preachy and 'I know better than you do', no?

    [Talena] I agree with you on the part about taking out 'me-time'. However, these days it has been hard to come by, what with all the work for the new house on the weekends... I haven't been to the salon since I got my hair straightened almost 6 months ago (and this from the woman who went every weekend just a couple of years ago!)

    [Lawyermamma] Stop complaining? Me? Never! It's what keeps me going! I am with you on the maid bit - my baby maid too leaves when I get back from work and I have it like that by choice.

    [Mad Momma] What can I say, guilt (mixed with being a control freak) can be a powerful driving force. Well, Ayaan slept in his own cot in our room from the very beginning and after a while we realised that he (being a light sleeper) slept better when on his own, so we moved into the guest room.

  14. oh maaaaaan!! youre really spoiling your husband!!! ive already settled all the timetables with Ed of when who will get up and deal with what issue when it comes to kids and who's tunr it will be when!

    ROFLMAO... and i dont even have kids yet!

  15. Trade places for a day huh? I would have said yes, but then I read this post. Kudos to you!!! I wonder how I'll manage post marriage, post kids.

  16. rohini - kudos to you!! i'm really glad you are one of those moms who take a hands-on approach to raising your child. i wouldn't have it any other way, either. but try not to take guilt trips - you're doing the best you can! :)

  17. [Grafx] I think I tend to underplay Jai's willingness to help. That is not an issue at all but I take the lead because I would have it no other way - all comes with the control freak package. He does take Ayaan to the park in the mornings whenever I need to sleep in, he steps in completely when I travel and makes it to the park in the evenings as often as I do!

    [Video] Ha! Thought you would say that! Feel better about being 25 now?

    [Shilpa] I think guilt and motherhood are inseparable!

  18. mommies rock! all we children do pay silent tribute to our moms for all that they do ALL THROUGH (after we're born ie) for us and the family :)

  19. [Sneha] I hope Ayaan feels that way when he is all grown up.

  20. WOW! That is is a full schedule, though I would say you are lucky you get the time to take Ayaan to the park (TWICE a day!:-O) and get in bed by 10-10:30 :P I don't get to do either. Oh, I envy you because (1) you don't have to worry about cooking and cleaning and (2) you are getting EIGHT hours of sleep! (thats what it seems like by looking at your schedule)

    I am managing quite well without maids and other help but then I have to pay the price! As I always say to my mom - "I miss the doodhwallah, sabziwallah and the dhobi more than I miss family" :D Keep up the hard work - Ayaan will thank you for it one day.

  21. 9:30-5:30 Work, work, work.
    I seriously need to understand what people do during office time, 930-530.

    I just idle around..doing lot of things , which might just take lotsa rows in the column that you'd put up :)

    Afta reading the post...I know one day Im going to be having a schedule something similar to this...I'm just scared of that day :O

  22. [Gettingtherenow] That's the reason why I can never imagine living in the West. There is no way I could survive doing my own housework. And the eight hours of sleep is the only way I can have the energy to survive my day!

    [arzoon] Well, work also includes coffee breaks, gossip breaks, etc but I have majorly cut down on them to ensure that I can leave on time.

  23. Wow. That's quite a schedule.
    All I gotta say is, hats off to all you mothers! Rohini, I can totally understand the discontent and feeling like you aren't fantastic at both jobs, but a) your son probably thinks you are a fantastic Mom, and b) when you're burning the candle at both ends, something's gotta if you're still a good employee on top of being a great mother, I think that's nothing to be unhappy about! Right?

  24. [Nee] I tell myself that but its hard to be happy with not being good enough (esepcially if you are a control freak)

  25. I often feel the same- that i am not doing justice at either place

    At least you do not avoid travel at work- i feel guilty as hell about that

  26. And on top of this, u r planning for an MBA as well??!!!! Hats off to you! Really admire that! Keep it up :)

    Came here from Sudha's blog.

  27. Some real balancing act this :)

    pls note the change in my blog address :)

    Pearl :)

  28. You & Jai are doing a great job with Ayaan:-)don't feel guity cuz as a SAHM mom of 2, sometimes I feel bad thinking that I am not doing a great job with my kids either.. I guess as a mother you always feel that u should do more(well at least I do)

  29. I remember your chore list where you got to do all the taking care of Ayaan. Even in theory that's scary! V's been doing everything he possibly can for WB since day 1, and it did give me some time to breathe. Being a control freak myself I insisted on hovering around and making a nuisance of myself, but father and son liked each others' company just fine, and I eventually learnt to stay away.

    Mind you, every time I read one of your posts the more strongly I feel like giving up this parenting business. A cute kid is no justification for sleep deprivation's, what I say :)

  30. To quote my mum: "Don't try to be a supermom! You are the perfect mother and your son feels so, so don't push it!"

    Just thought I'd mention it.

  31. [Artnavy] In my job, travelling comes with the territory so I don't have much of a choice. If I did, I am sure I would avoid it like the plague.

    [Hobbes] You got the wrong impression - I am not aspiring for an MBA - been there, done that a long time ago.

    [Sapna/ Pearl] Hi! Welcome back!

    [Mommyof2] I guess guilt is an integral part of the motherhood package - nature's way of making sure you do your best...

    [Sue] Actually Jai helps quite a bit. He didn't so much when Ayaan was a baby but in the past few months, he's becoming quite the model dad. And if I take the lead, it's not because of any chauvinism in him but due to the control freak in me.

    Your mom is wise!

  32. Great writings. U really have the art of putting your thoughts down so well on paper.

  33. As a stay at home mom - I so envy you - for managing to balance home and work. Dont see it as not being 100% efficient in both spheres - think of it as getting double the satisfaction - at home and at work!!!

  34. Hi, I can completely relate to you. It sometimes helps to know that there are other moms around there feeling the same like me.. And good to know you have some household help too.. I think that really helps.. I work too and just like you, I try to compensate for every minute I am away from my daughter.. Finding an easy recipe that the entire family will love and trying to find short cuts with household chores are my other fascinations.... as I have to deal with that too.. I am glad that I visited your page.. Will come back again..