An Ordinary Day In The Life Of A Mompreneur
“My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long University education that I never had — every day I’m learning something new.” - Richard Branson, founder Virgin Group
A few years ago, my husband and I both had similar jobs in the corporate world, making equal salaries, and sharing the household tasks quite evenly. All that drastically changed when we had a baby and I decided to start working from home in order to care for our child. Don't get me wrong, this is something I was genuinely looking forward to and more so, something I always felt destined to do. Our plan suited me well as I also felt the need to re-orientate my career. Little did I know, though, how challenging the task ahead was going to be...
In retrospect, I’d start by saying that there’s something predictable, stable and secure about that 9 to 5 work week. That said, I wasn't truly passionate about what I was doing and I wanted more freedom and purpose in my life. I also really wanted to stay close to Noah (my little one) in his first years since, unfortunately, I didn’t have that with my mom and today, I can see how that lack of maternal nurturing in my early years has affected my life in numerous ways.
My toddler is turning 3 years old this month, and boy, has this journey been hectic! Much more so, in fact, than I had ever imagined. Since day one, and still today, I struggle to maintain an equilibrium between my sanity and a somewhat controlled and balanced life. We have good days, but other days are just... argh!
Without further ado, here’s my rant on what an ordinary day as a Modern Mompreneur looks like:
7:00AM: My alarm goes off and my husband is almost out the door and on his way to work. He wakes, showers, dresses, let's the dog outside for a wee, has a quick breakfast, kisses us goodbye and leaves for the day. This is my indicator. I have about 30 minutes to myself before my son wakes up. I tidy up my bed, get dressed in my yoga / home-wear / all-day outfit, brew myself a cup of tea with ginger and lemon - no sugar, and make note of the tasks I want to try to accomplish for the day. I also think of the 3 meals I have to cook for the family, all while respecting my IF schedule and Keto diet, my son's dietary preferences (that's right, he's a fussy eater but we also want him eating healthy, right?), my husband's appetite for tasty food, as well as the family's 2-meatless-days-a-week commitment. Unfortunately, cooking just isn't second nature to me, so I struggle half the time with preparing 3 whole meals a day and pleasing everyone at the same time... It’s usually around the time that I pull a few things out of the freezer and grab my cup of tea to take a sip that I hear my toddler waking up and calling for mommy.
I go upstairs, ready for our cuddles and morning sweetness to ensue. I try to convince and assist Noah in using the potty (we're in full-mode potty training phase), choosing his clothes and getting dressed, taking his vitamins and brushing his teeth before we head downstairs and "start our day". All this with a healthy dose of encouragement and compliments, every step of the entire way. Within seconds, I tidy his room and off we go. He usually walks over to his toys in the living room while I have my (now cold) tea and prepare his breakfast. I serve it to him on the coffee table and let him eat independently while he chats away and I try making a story out of his toddler mumble jumble. All the while, I unroll my yoga mat on the floor and set my morning session up on the TV. Generally speaking, I haven't even started stretching and Noah is already climbing on my back or using my downward facing dog pose as monkey bars... I do the best I can during the 20-minute yoga flow session, where my little one comes and goes on my mat the entire time. So, you’re thinking, implicate him! Or maybe, that it’s a good time to start teaching him about personal space? Well, neither of those options are working quite yet!
YOGA: Check. We're both lying on the floor for the final Savasanah relaxation pose, one of us sweating quite a ways more than the other, but overall happy and smiling. After turning the TV off, I switch to morning music on the audio system and clean up his breakfast, half of which has already been licked off the floor by Boo, our 14 year old German Spitz. I then officially feed the dog, water the plants, wash a few dishes, laundry and any other random cleaning if needed. At this point, instead of heading to my desk to work as I would've liked to, I try figuring out how I'm going to entertain Noah this morning. Unfortunately, and I know this is a reality for many, I couldn't find a full-time spot for him in the morning at the local nursery, so he only goes 3 afternoons a week for now. In other words, the rest of the time, he's on my watch.
I think I’ve found a pretty good list of things to do during the time he's with me, we alternate active play, learning games, outdoor walks and muddy puddles, colouring, play-doh, singing rhymes, reading books, building blocks, racing cars, making jigsaw puzzles, dancing, role playing, but also gardening, cooking, tidying, keeping up the potty training routine, snacking mid-morning, running errands or doing anything that can keep him busy and wear him out by nap time. I try doing different things from one day to another in order to keep him interested too. On Tuesday mornings, I take him to his swimming classes at the local Leisure Center, on Thursday mornings, I take him to a kid's cooking workshop in town, and on Saturday mornings, my husband or I takes him to a fun boogie dancing class for kids. I don't know about other children, but my little boy sure has a lot of energy and needs to exert it as much as possible. It's impossible for me to keep up with him every single day, so I do let him play on his own too, and I try not to panic when he starts getting bored. According to the French, a little bit of frustration and boredom is good for children as it develops their patience, independence and imagination. When possible, I try escaping “toddler world” for 20 to 30-minute "breaks" and sit at my desk, desperately trying to accomplish something related to my work. However, 30 minutes is the maximum uninterrupted time I will get and hence, it's usually just mission impossible.
11:30AM - Time for lunch. I let him watch a few cartoons while I'm in the kitchen preparing his meal. I let the dog out for another wee and then struggle to convince Noah to eat his food. I end up feeding him myself while threatening to turn off the cartoons... (not particularly proud of my parenting skills here, but it's the only effective way I've found so far). Daddy comes home to have lunch at 13:00, so by the time Noah finishes eating and TV time, I'm back in the kitchen preparing the adult's meal. We have lunch at the dining table and Noah joins us out of culinary curiosity. Hubby goes back to work and I finish up the dishes. It's time for Noah's nap.
If he's at home all day, I take him up to his bedroom to put him down, and take advantage of a little time to work while he sleeps - that's if I don't fall asleep right next to him as I sometimes do, especially when he doesn't want to fall asleep by himself and the wait is just too long for me. On the other hand, if it's a nursery day, he'll climb into his stroller and I'll push him to the nursery. It's a good 10 minute walk and with the fresh air, he quickly falls asleep on the way over and naps 30 to 120 minutes. He usually wakes up cranky, but after his mid-afternoon snack, he's happy to play with his little friends, or just resume playing at home. On his nursery days, I walk back home happy to be able to dedicate 4 whole hours to my business. It's never enough for all that I have to do, I have to prioritize and be super efficient, but still, I'm able to make phone calls, answer emails, plan meetings, blog, and follow-up on my ever-growing / never-ending task list. I do manage to get stuff done, but 3 afternoons a week is very little time to accomplish it all on my own. The thing that considerably helps is that I can actually do almost anything from home and online. Hopefully, I'll acquire more time soon. In the meantime, I sneak a few more hours in on certain nights around bedtime or on weekends when hubby takes over a bit.
18:00 on nursery days - My boys will be through the door any minute. My husband picks Noah up from the nursery and they usually come back all chatty and playful. Occasionally, hubby will take care of dinner, but usually, I'll get that ready and we'll all be at the dining table by 19:00. We talk, laugh, vent, then hubby and I alternate on the rest of the day's chores, although it's pretty safe to say he's tired most evenings and I end up doing most of them on most nights… To be honest, I don't really understand it, since when we were both working in the public before having Noah, we equally shared chores despite the fact that we were tired upon coming back home. I know that's gotta change a bit, in my opinion. Anyway, more dishes - and by now I’m usually planning a way to convince our landlord to buy a dishwasher - taking the dog outside for a walk, putting out the trash when needed, more tidying, more laundry if needed, Noah's bath and "PJ party" (yes, readers, that’s right, my son literally throws a naked party by himself, on his bed, every night, before we can get him in his PJs :) ) We're still working on Noah's sleep training and trying to have him sleep a little earlier every night but, despite the bedtime story, the ceiling lights and the comforting, sometimes, it's easier said than done. It can go two ways: either we manage to put him to sleep early and have a little time of our own to watch a movie, read, journal, work or just lay back and relax OR Noah will join us for another round of cartoons on his tablet before we all go upstairs and help him fall asleep. By that time, we're too tired to go back down and just end up in bed ourselves, killing a bit more time before falling asleep.
Weekends are a bit lighter in terms of routine and schedule, as my husband will take over with Noah half of the time. We usually do a half day each on Saturdays and spend Sundays all-together as a family. In this way, everyone gets time for themselves. I pamper myself on Saturdays or run any personal errand I need to. And we'll get out on Sundays or even for entire weekends once in a while.
I haven't mentioned the days where hubby can't pick Noah up from the Nursery and I have to go back and pick him up too - that's 40' minutes of walking back and forth in a single day. I also haven’t mentioned the days when Noah is sick, particularly cranky or needy all day, the occasional potty accidents - on top of the average 6 potty trips a day, the change of dirty clothes, the occasional tantrum, or occasional pet-pee accident in the house either. Or the days when the weather is really bad and we're stuck indoors, the days when I'm down, or hubby comes home in a bad mood. And let’s not forget the nights when Noah wakes up or when I end up working very late in bed and not getting enough sleep. We do have a babysitter and manage to treat ourselves to a date night every week, but despite that, being far from our families and Noah's grandparents, it isn't easy living without placing him at the center of everyday life. In reality, my whole life revolves around my son's schedule and routine, as well as the household's needs, and whatever leftover time I have, well, that goes to work and lastly to myself!
A lot of spouses, or people in general, don't imagine what it's like to go through all this on a daily basis. When they come home after a long day of work, they just want to chill, but the homemaker's duties go on endlessly. And because in most cases, the mompreneur isn't making as much as the working spouse, well, it's sad to say, but the mompreneur isn't taken as seriously or importantly... In all, being a mompreneur is really about being capable of juggling all these different aspects of several people's lives without any recognition. And if you count all the different hats I wear in a day - nanny, maid, cook, child educator, chauffeur, nurse, dog walker, all the while trying to simultaneously run my own business in the background... Well, that's a LOT for anyone to handle.
Of course, I don't want to complain too much because this is the life I chose and in all, I am very happy to be able to spend so much time at home, and with my little one. I enjoy cooking for the most part, and love pleasing my little family who is often grateful in return. I just want to point out how challenging it is for women or men who choose to work from home while caring for their children. Overmore, with the Coronavirus pandemic, I just realized how much my lifestyle is in itself isolating, with very little social interaction and a majority of time spent at home. I can't imagine how things will go if I have another child. But that's another story. In all and for now, I'm hopeful that as Noah grows up and the eventual reliance of more school time for him, things will improve and I’ll have more time to concentrate on my work and myself.
Sarah The Digital GypSea
United Kingdom, July 2020