Today: A working mother who plans ahead to make sure she finds time to fit in workouts, dog walking, and lots of caffeine.
Location: Denver, Colorado
Occupation: Client services director
Location: Denver, Colorado
Occupation: Client services director
8:15 am. — After dropping the kids off at daycare and taking my pit bull mix out for a walk, I make a beeline to my favorite coffee place down the street. This is my daily indulgence. I couldn’t make nitro cold brew at home even if I tried, so I justify the $4.50 daily cost (plus a $1 tip). At least it’s 25 cents cheaper because I bring my own mug. I feel rejuvenated after the caffeine hits. I have an 8-month-old who still doesn’t sleep through the night, so I need this pick-me-up. I’m hoping my little one will get on a better sleeping schedule soon, and I’ll be able to do things like read for pleasure without drifting off in the middle of every page. But for now, it’s a coffee-fueled life.
12 p.m. — I sneak in a workout between meetings. The perks of working from home! I run a half mile to the gym, hop on the elliptical, and do a core workout, answering a few emails between sprints. My $55 a month membership includes childcare, so I bring my 3-year-old occasionally on weekends. Today, though, I’m solo.
I’ve always loved running, and right after each of my kids was born, I really missed being able to be active. I decided to commit to getting back to it when my little one was 2 months old. Plus, my exercise sessions are often my only alone time in an entire day, so I make the most of them.
4:30 p.m. — Time to take the pup for a walk. I love spending time with my dog. With two kids and a full time job, I take care to make sure I don’t neglect her.
Daily Total: $60.50
12 p.m. — Time for a home workout — with a few breaks to answer emails and IMs. I use the Aaptiv app for many of my exercise sessions. It’s worth the $100 annual cost. It gives me some structure, since expert trainers guide me through the moves, and it helps me continue to push myself and stay creative with my fitness. Today, I do burpees, which are unequivocally the worst. I also do lots of lunges, some squats, and Russian twists.
4 p.m. — The dog and I have a great walk and on the way home she insists we stop at a pet store. She parks herself outside the shop and refuses to move her 60 pound body. I really don’t have a choice except to buy her $9 worth of treats or she’d never move. Plus, she has perfected her begging face. It’s a small price to pay for a loyal pal who gets me outside and exercising.
6 p.m. — It’s really hard to cook with two needy kids at home, so I prep dinner before picking them up at daycare. I run out to the butcher shop down the street and pick up $15 worth of meat. I cook enough pork tenderloins for three meals. That way it’s off my mind for a few days and I’m not stressed about what to do for dinner.
Daily Total: $124
1 p.m. — One of my meetings gets cancelled, so I decide to sneak outside for a quick run. When I woke up it was nice and sunny. But the temperature dropped at least 20 degrees since then, and when I’m about a mile in, it starts misting. Even though the weather makes for a miserable five miles, I’m still glad I went out.
4:30 p.m. — I try to take a few minutes at my desk at the end of each day to look over tomorrow’s schedule, making sure I’m not double booked and seeing if there are any 30-minute breaks where I can squeeze in a workout. If I find a good slot, I’ll make that a private appointment on my work calendar; that way no one tries to schedule a last-minute meeting. My husband and I also have a shared Google Calendar where we put work trips and big events so we can make sure we don’t both commit to being out of town at the same time. Logistics are hard with a dog and two kids, but we make it work. I always feel better when things are planned out, and it’s the best way to make sure I fit in moments for self-care.
6 p.m. — Surprise! My in-laws decided to come for dinner, so I save the pork for another day. Instead, we all go out for tacos. This is a win: I get a night off from serving up food, and I have extra hands to help feed the kids. For once, I get to eat before my food gets cold. I love seeing the little ones bond with their grandparents. Being close to family is the main reason we moved to Denver. It’s fulfilling to all be together. We pay the $95 bill, because they’re taking care of the kids when I go on a work trip next week.
Daily Total: $95
6 a.m. — It’s insanely hard for me to commit to early morning workouts these days. I’m usually up two or three times at night with the baby. But today, I pull it together to make it to spin class at a local studio. When I think about shutting off the alarm and rolling back over, I remind myself it’s a good way to start the busy work day that’s ahead of me — and that I’ll be losing the $20 class cost if I don’t go. It feels great to sweat once I’m on my bike, and I’m super happy I made it.
3 p.m. — A few weeks ago, I purchased a teeth whitening system for $78 after seeing an Instagram ad for it, and the Colgate kit came in the mail today. It’s my first day of 10, and I’m excited to try it. With all the coffee I drink, I hope it gives me a confidence boost about my smile.
4:45 p.m. — It’s been a loooong day, so I hit up a coffee shop with my dog. I relish in my afternoon $5 Yerba Mate latte, an herbal tea made with leaves from the yerba mate plant. I know the coffee thing gets pricey... but it also lets me talk to at least one other adult face-to-face during the day. I usually listen to podcasts or audiobooks while I walk the dog (unless I’m on a call for work). I just finished The Catch and Kill, which was intense and interesting.
Daily Total: $103
1 p.m. — I decide to whip a smoothie for myself for lunch in the Vitamix I bought a few years ago for $299.95. I throw in a scoop of Simply Tera’s whey protein powder ($33.99), plus ingredients that are already in the fridge from this week's grocery store haul: spinach, banana, unsweetened almond milk, and frozen peaches. When I have back to back meetings, it’s easier and quicker to make a nutritious smoothie than it is to whip up a full meal. Usually I drink it with a massive spoonful (or two) of peanut butter.
I’m determined to nurse until 12 months — just about four more to go. It’s a personal choice, but breastfeeding definitely takes it out of me. I have to be patted down at airport security every time I come back from a trip with a cooler full of milk. I have to coordinate pumping times with meetings, trying to work out, and all my other daily chores and activities. Plus, pumps are noisy; I almost died when my boss asked what sounded “like a metronome” when I was on a call with her (she doesn’t have kids).
There isn’t much I can do to make it more glamorous, but I at least have a Willow hands-free pump ($499.99) so I’m not tethered to an outlet. The other reason I’m still pumping is because it’s special alone time with my guy. I know I’ll be sad when he stops needing me for food. I’ll often apply Aquaphor Healing Ointment ($10.30) after feeding because my little one is teething.
5 p.m. — My husband’s birthday is tomorrow, and I let our 3-year-old pick out a gift, a cake (triple chocolate), and a card for him, spending $65 total. My little one likes a card with a whale on it that says “thank you.” Not exactly a birthday card, but we all do have a lot to be grateful for, so I go with it. I find it truly fulfilling to give my loved ones thoughtful presents and make sure they feel cherished. My heart is full just thinking about my husband’s face lighting up during his special day.
Daily Total: $970.23
7:30 a.m. — Time to hit the gym again. I do cardio and weights at the crack of dawn because my husband is going mountain biking for his birthday and I know I’ll be alone with the kiddos the rest of the day. I’m glad I made this quiet time for myself in the morning. I stop in for another $4.50 coffee (plus a $1 tip) on my way back home.
11:20 a.m. — I have my groceries delivered. Sometimes “self-care” just means “outsourcing chores.” If you’ve ever taken two kids into a grocery store, you get it. We get about $140 worth of food, which should cover us for the next week. A few items that are always in my cart are Chobani yogurt, Cheerios, and kombucha.
6 p.m. — Time for my wonderful husband’s birthday dinner. My in-laws take us out for delicious lobster rolls, then we come home and devour the birthday cake we bought the day before. It’s always good to spend time with family. But to be honest, I wish I could get a little more alone time with him. We don’t get much kid-free time before 9 p.m., unless we can get both children to nap at the same time on weekends. We’ve been on two dates since October, but we’re currently planning a trip to make up for it.
Daily Total: $145.50
10 a.m. — My kids and I have a playdate with one of my “mom friends” and her son. We moved to town fairly recently, and I don’t have a ton of close friends here yet. It’s nice to finally be able to have an adult conversation with another person face-to-face. Of course, the second we get to the playground, both kids have to pee. We frantically search for a bathroom, and find one in a cafe. While we’re there, we decide to pick up a coffee and bagels for $10.
3 p.m. — I treat myself to a gel mani for my work trip next week. This $40 splurge is definitely not a regular occurrence these days, but I love how put together I feel with a manicure — even though I’m in leggings and fleece that has spit up on it 99% of the time.
5 p.m. — I go for a run and get to take a nice, long shower afterwards. I haven’t taken a shower that included both shampoo and conditioner in five days. Pretty gross. A lot of times, I have a kid coming in to talk to me and I have to hurry it up. So a leisurely shower is a gift. This is the most relaxed I’ve felt all week. I get to shave both legs. I even use Kate Somerville’s “ExfoliKate” scrub in the shower (I bought it about a year ago for $80 if that tells you anything about how frequently I have time to use it). My husband is watching the kids while I’m having this “me” time, which is nice. He owed me, since I’ve been doing way more than half of the childcare while he’s really busy with work.
Daily Total: $130
Weekly Total: $1,628.23
Reflection: My wellness routine is really important to me — but not more important than taking care of my family. I’d hate to miss big moments in their lives or even morning snuggle time with the kids at this age. Because of that, it’s a real balancing act. I definitely need the leisurely Sunday showers and runs for sanity, but I try to make sure it doesn’t cut too much into time with my loved ones. To do that, I have to plan my days in advance and take any opportunities I can get to squeeze in self care. Otherwise, the days can easily fill up with everyone else’s to-dos.
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