The 17-Hour Day Of A Successful & Single Mom

Being a working mom is hard, and it can often feel like "a day late and a dollar short" is the best case scenario: missed deadlines, forgotten dry cleaning, and never, ever seeing friends. But we don't have to reinvent the wheel to figure out a better way through. Just look around at all the super successful moms kicking ass on a daily basis.
This Is How I Do It is a new day-in-the-life series featuring some of these impressive women, who juggle big careers and families with grace and humor. Their stories won't literally do your laundry and pack your kids' lunches while you answer email, but they offer an honest peek at how someone else gets her life together every day.
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Photo by Sam Maller.
Sharlee Jeter, 37, is the president of her brother Derek Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation. She is a single mom to Jalen, 6.
My day-to-day:
6:45 a.m. Alarm #1 goes off, but I usually hit snooze.
6:50 a.m. Alarm #2 goes off, hit snooze, then place the phone under my pillow so it doesn’t wake Jalen who has climbed into my bed in the middle of the night.
6:55 a.m. Alarm #3 (FINAL ALARM) goes off, and I hop out of bed and attempt to start my day. I spend the next few minutes scrambling to catch all the other snooze alarms I forgot about from alarms #1 & #2 and start making Jalen’s breakfast. Jalen has the same thing for breakfast every morning: two cinnamon Eggo waffles, two hard boiled eggs, water, and one Flintstone vitamin!
7 a.m. Jalen rolls out of bed, walks right by me, does not say a single word, and goes straight into his playroom to eat his breakfast. This is okay, as we are both not morning people, therefore neither of us wants to speak to each other. I start my coffee, which is what allows me to function, then I let Jalen know I’m jumping in the shower.
7:15 a.m. I check on Jalen, making sure he is eating his breakfast. Usually we go back and forth over how many waffle squares he doesn’t have to finish before he is done with breakfast. Once that negotiation is over, I go back to getting ready for work.
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7:30 a.m. Jalen comes into my bathroom to tell me that he has finished the agreed upon waffle squares, and I tell him to go get dressed for school.
7:50 a.m. Jalen asks me if he can hide behind the couch (same location every single morning) to scare Charmine, our nanny, who arrives at 8 a.m.
8 a.m. Charmine arrives for the day and reviews the “Jalen list” I made the night before, and we discuss any questions she may have. I make a “Jalen List” every day. It helps keep us organized and helps to keep me sane.
8:05 a.m. Charmine makes sure Jalen washes his face, brushes his teeth, and is ready to leave for the day.
8:15 a.m. Jalen comes into my room to get complimented on how nice he looks, and to say goodbye, and that he loves me.
8:20 a.m. Charmine and Jalen leave for school, and I finally have some peace and quiet. I hurry to get dressed for work because usually I am already late at this point.
8:40 a.m. I pack my breakfast and lunch for the day and gather my work bag and purse by the front door.
8:45 a.m. I leave home and head for the parking garage, which is one block away from my house. Unless I am really late, and then I will jump on the subway.
8:55 a.m. On the road, headed to the Brooklyn Bridge to get to my office in Union Square.
9 a.m. I call my parents every single morning on my way to work. This conversation includes my goings on for that day, what crazy thing Jalen did the night before, or before he left for school, and when is the next time I am going to see them.
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9:30 a.m. When I am lucky, I start my work day at my office.
9:45 a.m. In my office kitchen microwaving my breakfast.
10 a.m. Meeting with my assistant, Johanna. We discuss the schedule for the day, what things are pending, what things I must do right away, and finally, our least favorite thing…how many meetings I need to fit into my schedule that we don’t have room for. To say I am over-scheduled is an understatement.
10:30 a.m. Meeting #1 with my development coordinator to discuss proposals for new corporate and brand partnerships for the foundation. Also discuss plans for our upcoming fundraiser, which always lasts longer than we both intend.
11:30 a.m. Meeting #2 is my weekly PR call. We discuss social media, press, and red-carpet plans for our annual fundraiser.
12:30 p.m. Race to the bathroom, and then ask Johanna if I missed any important emails while I was in the first two meetings. I usually am texting her on my way to the restroom, with everything I need to follow up on after my meetings.
12:40 p.m. At least one of my staff has noticed that I opened my office door, so they usually are waiting for me when I return to ask me a question or two or three.
1 p.m. Usually try to get in a few quick phone calls or emails before using my lunch to run errands that I can never accomplish after work. All while receiving constant text reminders of people I need to call back or things I need to confirm that are time-sensitive.
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1:49 p.m. – Close my office door.
1:50 p.m. Time to call my brother (and my boss), Derek to get anything answered that is pending. If he is unavailable, I draft all the pertinent information into an email, then text him to remind him to check his email. Then I wait to see if we need to attempt a call for later that evening, after Jalen goes to bed.
2:30 p.m. Meeting #3 is my monthly with Excel Sports (Derek’s agent) to discuss all current projects for Derek, the calendar of events, including upcoming books for Jeter Publishing.
3:30 p.m. Meeting #4 is a bi-monthly meeting with Derek and our core team who works closely on his day-to-day and business ventures. I also discuss the upcoming fundraiser.
4:25 p.m. Open my office door.
4:30 p.m. At this point, my entire staff is waiting for me to open my door, as they have numerous projects or things they would like to discuss with me before I leave for the day. I will discuss as much as I can, and quickly try to wrap up any pending to-dos for the day.
5:10 p.m. Johanna’s phone alarm goes off to remind me that I have five minutes before I have to leave to make it home in time to relieve Jalen’s nanny, who leaves at 6 p.m.
5:15 p.m. Johanna reminds me again to pack up and head out the door. This dance goes on every day without fail. There is never enough time in the day for a full-time job and being a mom.
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5:30 p.m. Johanna comes in, doesn’t say a word, but gives me a look of disappointment...so I sweep everything I need from my desk into one large pile, and slide it into my work bag, with my laptop, and say goodbye to everyone in the office as I run to my car because I am LATE!!!
5:45 p.m. Make a work call on my way home while sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic. That’s when the guilt sets in because I know that I left work late.
6 p.m. Realize I am now officially very late and not even on the Brooklyn Bridge yet.
6:20 p.m. Arrive to my parking garage.
6:25 p.m. As I race to my house, I respond to numerous texts saying I will get back to everyone once Jalen goes to bed, or tell people I will call them back.
6:30 p.m. I drop everything at my front door, as my son’s nanny (who is a gift from God!) looks at me, smiles and says, “Hello, Mommy! Long day? Jalen, the Mama is here!!!” Jalen gets up from eating his dinner, and gives me a big hug and kiss! Tells me he had a good day, then goes back to finish eating.
6:35 p.m. Charmine finally leaves for the night. I sit down with Jalen as he finishes dinner and starts on his nonstop storytelling about his day, what he plans to do with me that evening, and usually does not come up for air. He follows my every step around the house, so I don’t miss anything he has to say. He starts every sentence with, “Mommy, can I tell you just one more thing?”
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6:45 p.m. “Mommy, can I tell you just one more thing?” “Sure you can, Jalen.” I get my work clothes off, sweats on, hair up, and walk out to the living room. Now it is Jalen time.
7 p.m. I play with Jalen while he is constantly yelling, “Alexa, play 'Vertigo' by Jason Derulo,” or “Alexa, play 'What If' by Jason Derulo.” This often leads to Jalen asking me to watch his new dance moves or listen to him sing.
7:45 p.m. It is time to get ready for bed. Jalen brushes his teeth, goes to the bathroom, washes his hands, takes his allergy medicine, then comes to me and says, “Mommy, it is time to go to bed!” Jalen and I then pick out his clothes for the next day of school, and choose a book to read before bedtime.
8 p.m. Facetime Lola and Grandpa (my parents) to say goodnight.
8:05 p.m. Jalen calls his dad to say goodnight.
8:10 p.m. Read a chapter from Jalen’s current favorite book, and then say our prayers and lights out for Jalen!
8:25 p.m. Jalen yells to me that he is having bad dreams every time he closes his eyes. I remind Jalen that he could not have a bad dream because he hasn’t even fallen asleep yet, and tell him to go to bed.
8:30 p.m. Try to decide if I want to return phone calls or eat something. Usually phone calls win. I like to try to work on at least one thing for the next day, so I can check it off my never-ending to-do list.
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8:45 p.m. Finally eat dinner.
9:30 p.m. Grab my iPhone to answer any missed emails from earlier in the day.
10:30 p.m. Text/email any to-dos for the next day to Johanna so I won’t forget them.
11:30 p.m. Go to bed (when I am lucky!).
Photo by Maureen Cavanagh, The Players’ Tribune.
My current passion project: I just finished co-writing a book entitled The Stuff: Unlock Your Power to Overcome Challenges, Soar, and Succeed along with my friend Dr. Sampson Davis. We recently launched The STUFF Movement in order to collect stories of people who have overcome obstacles and highlight the elements within them that they used to succeed and overcome.
The best part of my day: My ride to/from work because it allows me to organize my thoughts and decompress. Also, walking in my house after work, when Jalen runs up to me and yells “Mommy!!! You are home!”
The one thing I wish I didn't have to do: Budgets. I hate having to do budgets, both personally and at work. They are a necessity, and they keep all finances in order, but they are the most difficult thing for me to do and keep track of.
The one thing I always worry about: That I am being the best mother I can possibly be, and the best boss I can be. I always want to make sure that I help develop those in my life who I’m responsible for helping to grow. I worry at times if I am doing a good enough job.
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The secret to being a successful working mother is: There is a secret? LOL. I would have to say the one secret for me would be that it is okay to walk away from work to be with your kids, and it is also okay to walk away from your kids to get things done for work. One is not worse than the other. Also, it is okay to ask for help. I have a team of friends and family who help me and jump in to watch my son. It allows for kids to be more well-rounded, learn from different people and cultures, and how to better communicate with others.
The one thing I would tell other working moms: Be true to yourself. Never compare yourself and your situation to other mothers and never compare your children to other kids. I believe a lot of working mothers have guilt around having a successful career. But I have learned that being a good mother is more about knowing what makes you the best person and parent.
For instance, I love my job and have a very fulfilling career. If I didn’t have my career, I know that I would not be as good a mother as I would want to be. Some mothers feel like they must be home and spend time with their children all day, and they are amazing parents. To me, one is not any better than the other. Knowing what makes you happy is most important. A happy mother makes happy children.
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I think the one thing that I discovered after a while, was to understand that your job needs your attention and passion, and it is not the exact same passion and commitment your kids may need. I used to think balance between work and motherhood meant to give the same level of commitment and passion to both, or the same type of commitment and passion to each. I've learned that you can give 100% attention to being a good parent, and 100% attention to being good at your job. They are different skill sets and come in different forms. What works for you professionally is usually not what works personally.
Becoming a mother changed this thing about me: Becoming a mother definitely gave me a lot more PATIENCE and realistic expectations of myself and others! I was always someone who wanted everything to happen right away exactly the way I expected. It is not healthy to live day-to-day in that mind space. It set me up for a lot of disappointment and was a very stressful way to live. Once I had my son, I learned very quickly, that nothing is planned in their world. No matter how hard you attempt to schedule things, you never leave home on time, you always forget something, and our children determine when things get done. This moved over to my day-to-day life, especially at work. It was a very positive thing for me, and it allowed me to have realistic expectations, not only for myself, but for others.
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Who helps raise your kids? Tell us about your village: My village is a large one. I was raised by a family that is very close. We also believe strongly in the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” When Jalen was first born, I relied heavily on my parents. As a single mother, my mom became my best friend and taught me a lot about parenting and how to take care of a baby. My parents have been a huge part of my son’s life and spend a lot of time with him. Thank GOD for FaceTime, as they have a tough time going more than a day without speaking to, or seeing him. Early on, my cousin was often at my house, and worked for me at the Foundation. This was an extra set of hands when we would get home from work.
One of the biggest blessings was my son’s nanny, Charmine. She loves him like he was one of her own. She is a master of being a part of our lives, while also allowing me to be his mother. I have heard at times, this is not as easy of a relationship for some families. Charmine is now part of our family, and I know that I would not be at this place in my career without her being a huge part of our lives.
Welcome to Mothership: Parenting stories you actually want to read, whether you're thinking kids or not, from egg-freezing to taking home baby and beyond. Because motherhood is a bigif — not when — and it's time we talked about it that way.
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