Wednesday, September 25, 2013

a day in the life - Working Mommy Post - Meet Kiersten

Happy Wednesday afternoon!  
Thanks Kiersten for sharing your family with us and how you do it all! 
Your family is adorable! 
Hi! I’m Kiersten and I blog at Berry and Bramble. I’ve been following along with Melissa for several years now, and am thrilled to be participating in her Working Mommy series! I’m a wife to Jason, husband of 5 years, and mommy to Nicholas, born in January 2012. I had the privilege of staying home with Nicholas for the first eight months of his life, and then went back to work full-time last October. I work at a small company in Austin, TX, where I manage our marketing and advertising department. Here’s an average day for me…

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

6:15am – I hear Nicholas crying over the monitor. I go get him, change his diaper, and bring him into our room. Jason is getting out of the shower, so he takes Nicholas into the kitchen for breakfast.

6:40am – I hit the shower and start getting ready for the day.

7:00am – I join the boys for breakfast. Coffee. Need coffee.

7:30am – Jason leaves for work and I take Nicholas into my bathroom while I finish getting ready.

Keeping it real here—this is what my bathroom looks like after I attempt to blow dry my hair and put on make-up with a toddler running around. And, yes, those are what you think they are. Sometimes, feminine hygiene products strewn across the bathroom floor are worth five minutes of peace.

8:00am – I run around the house gathering my laptop bag, purse, possibly a gym bag if I’m working out that day (but not today), and anything Nicholas needs for daycare, and then we finally head out the door. Most mornings, I am usually sweating by the time I strap him into the car seat. (In all fairness, it’s about 95 degrees inside our garage. That’s just Texas.) Getting out the door is a marathon!

8:40am – We arrive at daycare. Thankfully, today’s drop off goes smoothly.

8:55am – I walk in the door to my office and organize myself at my desk. Time to get myself psyched up for the day! I am working on a big marketing plan for our next fiscal year and have quite a bit of writing to do.



5:15pm – Pack up my bags and head out of the office. We alternate daycare drop-off and pick-up, so it’s Jason’s turn this evening. Meanwhile, I head to the grocery store to pick up some shrimp for our dinner. (I always meal plan for the week, but sometimes plan to drop by the grocery store once midweek, if necessary, to pick up any really perishable ingredients like shrimp.)

5:40pm – I arrive home, do a quick 5 minute tidy up of the kitchen and organize myself to make dinner.

5:50pm – Jason and Nicholas arrive home. About half the time, all three of us eat together as a family. The rest of the time, we’ll feed Nicholas first and then eat our dinner after he goes to bed. This evening, I know I won’t have our dinner ready in time to eat together, so we sit Nicholas down in his high chair. He doesn’t seem hungry, so he winds up just eating a big bowl of Greek yogurt with some apricot jam mixed in. Not the most well-balanced meal, but he’s your typical toddler—some days he eats anything he can get his hands on, and other days not much at all. I know in the end it all balances out, and he is growing and healthy, so I don’t worry about it too much.

6:15pm – Bath time! This is usually Jason’s quality time with Nicholas. On the nights we all eat together, I use this time to clean up the kitchen. Tonight I use it to start cooking our dinner. We are having a tried and true shrimp and grits recipe from Southern Living. It’s a lighter version of the southern staple, quick to prepare, and super tasty.

6:30pm – Nicholas is bathed and changed into PJs. He plays in his room a little bit with Jason. I pop in for a few minutes to join in the fun.

6:40pm – Nicholas is ready to start winding down for bed. Dinner is pretty well under control. I usually put Nicholas to sleep at night and that is our quality time. I take him into the bathroom to brush his teeth (not his favorite activity—it’s kind of like wrestling a cat). Then we head into his bedroom to read several stories, rock, and sing a song or two. We pull the shades, turn on his white noise machine, and dim the lights. I let him pick out a few favorite books, and then we settle into the glider. Some times we look at his animal flashcards. After we’ve read for a little while, he’ll ask me to sing “Py-ger” (The Itsy Bitsy Spider) or “Wo wo wo” (Row, Row, Row Your Boat.) Finally, I put him into his crib and after I kiss him, his Bert, and his Ernie, then I wish him goodnight and head out the door.

7:05pm – I throw the shrimp into the pan to finish up the shrimp and grits recipe, set the table, and serve our meal.

7:15pm – Dinner time! We always sit down at the table for dinner and, on the nights it’s just the two of us, this is when we catch up with each other and reconnect.

7:45pm – Jason cleans up the dishes, while I go start a load of laundry. Then together we quickly fold a load of laundry sitting on the couch.

8:15pm – And it’s finally relaxation time! There are plenty of nights when we’ll each go do our own thing, but tonight we decide to watch an episode of Hard Knocks (HBO’s reality show documenting NFL training camp for the Cincinnati Bengals) together. NFL football is normally not really my thing, but the show is actually really interesting.

9:05pm – We straighten up the living room for a minute and then head into our room to start getting ready for bed.

9:35pm – I climb into my bed and open my Kindle. When I’m in the middle of a good book—tonight it’s Sisterland—I like to read for a few minutes before bed.

10:05pm – Lights out!

That’s a glimpse into our day-to-day. Here’s how we manage everything else:

Housework, Errands, and Meals
We do a good job of diving and conquering when it comes to housework and errands. Jason is a great help around the house, and we both take care of chores as needed, but we do have some tasks that each one of us tends to cover. Jason handles anything outside like yard maintenance, trash, and recycling. I handle all the meal planning, a lot of grocery shopping, most of the cooking, and most other household errands. Jason tends to do dishes. I tend to do more laundry (although Jason is good about throwing in a load when necessary.) We don’t currently have any help with deep cleaning (although I would love it!), so we will usually spend a few hours every other Saturday and power through cleaning the bathrooms and doing all the floors. We don’t have a set schedule, but I am learning that if I just make a point to do a little something every day, it really helps over the long term.

As far as meals go, as I mentioned above, I am a dedicated meal planner. I really hate having to do numerous trips to the grocery store, so I try to plan out our meals each week and make one streamlined grocery store trip (or add a second very quick visit for perishable ingredients as mentioned above.) Wholesome, made-from-scratch food is something I am passionate about, so this is an area where I choose to invest a lot of time. We usually eat at home six nights a week, and I am not a huge fan of prepared or packaged foods (just a personal preference), so I will cook most items from scratch. But, I often prepare enough to have leftovers the next evening, or I’ll do make ahead items that I can freeze and then just throw in the oven when we want to eat them, so those are both ways I help save a little bit of time.

Couple Time
Jason and I try to get a sitter and do one date night a month. Sometimes we’ll have the opportunity to do more, other times it might be more like 6 weeks in between date nights. Occasionally, we’ll also do an at-home date where we do something like order in sushi, get a nice bottle of wine, and watch a movie together. We also try to connect over dinner each night for at least 15-30 minutes.

Family Time
Because Nicholas goes to bed so early, we don’t get too much time with him during the week. This makes me sad and is one of the main things I struggle with when I think about our full-time work schedules. I try to make the most of our evenings and really soak in my time with him when we’re eating dinner together or when we’re playing or reading before bed, but it’s just not a lot of time. As a result, we’re really motivated to make sure we get lots of family time in on the weekends. We typically don’t plan much on the weekends—we may have some housework, but we’ll try to tackle that early in the day or during naptime, and if we have errands (like Costco), we just make a family trip out of it. We also try to do lots of visits to the park or the pool, and spend time as a family in the yard.

Personal Time & Time with Friends
As any parent knows, time alone or with friends is hard to come by. Our “alone time” tends to be when either one of us is working out. Right now I’m fortunate that my office is sponsoring a boot camp for employees every Monday and Thursday morning, so I do that each week and then try to squeeze in one other workout—either a run early in the morning before work, or sometimes a quick lunch workout at the gym in my office building. Jason usually works out after work or during naptime on the weekend. Aside from that, neither one of us has much alone time, except in the evenings after dinner—but we have to choose between spending time together, having alone time, or just getting stuff done around the house.

When it comes to time with friends, I am extremely lucky to have such a supportive husband. I belong to a book club that meets once a month on a weeknight and he always willingly handles dinner and bedtime with Nicholas so that I can go. I’ll also meet up with some girlfriends maybe one other weeknight a month for a girls’ night, and he always encourages me to go. When he has a happy hour or something else with work friends or his buddies, I will take over “baby duty” so he can get some friend time. I am a big believer in the value of cultivating our individual friendships, and so we make that a priority. I think it’s really good for us both as individuals and as a married couple to go spend time with other people once in a while. And, although we were the first in our group of friends here in Austin to have a baby, we’re starting to have more and more friends with kids, which is great. It’s nice to be able to get together with those friends, with the kids, and spend some time bonding with other who understand where we’re at in life right now.

Managing a full-time job both inside and outside the home can be stressful and exhausting at times, but I know we are extremely blessed. Knowing other moms are thriving in a similar situation is so encouraging to me. I hope this little glimpse into our lives was encouraging for you as well! I’d love for you to visit me at Berry and Bramble and follow along!

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