Women can do anything — but not everything. As the largest online career community for women, we at Fairygodboss realize that balance is a myth, and that picking what to prioritize when everything feels important on a day-to-day basis isn't always easy. In the #MakingTime series, women share with us how, for one day, they chose to spend their most precious resource: time.
Who: Lori Mihalich-Levin
What: Health Care Partner at Dentons, Founder of Mindful Return, Author, Public Speaker, and Mom
Where: Washington D.C.
My alarm goes off, as planned. Why 6:05? Because somehow, psychologically, that’s easier than 6am! My boys are now 5 and 7 years old, and we’ve finally reached a point in our lives where our children are no longer our alarm clocks.
I come downstairs, see if anyone has already woken up, and head to my yoga mat. I start each day writing in The Five Minute Journal, and doing about 10 minutes of yoga (using music on Insight Timer) and 5 minutes of meditation. My husband is also doing a short morning workout at the same time. I then join him in making breakfast and call the kids to the table.
The 4 of us sit down for a family breakfast. “Q&A!” my boys shout, prompting me to pull out our Q&A a Day for Kids. Today’s question was: “If they made school go all year round, I would ____.” To which our youngest responded, “Do more recess!” And my husband replied, “Rejoice.”
I cajole our oldest to clear his own spot, practice piano, and get himself dressed. Then I head to the shower to get ready for work. When I get out, I discover that our youngest still hasn’t picked out his clothes, so I try to move that process along while doing my makeup. Meanwhile, my husband is packing lunches and trying to get everyone ready to get out the door.
The kitchen timer on our oven goes off, alerting everyone it’s time to get shoes on and get in the car for school. This process can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 15 excruciating minutes, depending on various motivation levels.
The 4 of us get in the car and drive to the kids’ school for drop-off. I then head to the metro to commute to downtown DC for my legal job (I’m a partner on a 60% schedule in the health care practice of a global firm called Dentons). During my metro commute, I listen to a Joe Dispenza meditation.
I get to my office, try to take a few minutes to connect with colleagues, then plunge into work. This morning I had to advise a client on a regulatory issue, then I had another call with another client about a graduate medical education resident rotator agreement. After a bit more client work, I headed out the door to meet a former colleague for lunch.
I head across town to have lunch with a former colleague who recently recovered from a very serious illness and is now back at work. It’s important to me to keep up with my health policy colleagues. Even more-so when I haven’t seen the person in a long time and we’re celebrating life. We catch up on our respective kiddos, squeeze in a few work conversations, and promise to do it again soon.
I decide to walk across town to get back to my office, to get a bit of exercise before digging into work for the afternoon. I listen to Oprah’s Super Soul conversation with Malala Yousafzai on the walk back. Inspiring.
I’m back at my office, responding to more e-mails and advising more clients. I have a business development call to explore some new consulting options related to my legal work.
I try to shut down by 4:45pm to go get my kids, but I get caught up in a project and run a tiny bit over. I change into my commuting shoes, pack up my bags and trying to remember everything I’ll need for my work-from-home day tomorrow, and head out the door.
I’m back on the metro, wrapping up the podcast I started listening to earlier in the day. When I get out of the metro, my husband is there waiting, and together we head over to our kids’ aftercare program to pick them up. My 5-year old runs screaming into my arms, and my 7-year old gives me an “I don’t want to go home yet” look.
Tonight’s a Blue Apron night – grilled chicken, orzo, kale, and baked cauliflower. I cook for about 40 minutes while my husband plays with the kids. We switch off, so sometimes I get that playtime and he cooks, but today I’m in the kitchen. Some of the meal (namely, the chicken) goes over well with the peanut gallery.
Dinner! We always do “best thing that happened to me today” for each family member.
Bath time! My kids get undressed, and pitch them their clothes to “bat” across the room and into the hamper (with a toy Star Wars light saber, of course). I bathe them while my husband washes dishes. My 7-year old and I try to teach the 5-year old a hand game called “chopsticks” during bath time. Then we read stories, and it’s off to bed. I put the oldest to sleep tonight, and my hubby puts the little guy to sleep.
I hear snoring. Time for me to get back online. After a quick check of e-mail and social media, I sit back down on the couch and dig in. A little bit of legal work and then the rest of my “split shift” gets devoted to Mindful Return, the program I founded to help new parents transition back to work after parental leave. I register a few women for the maternity version of the course, communicate with a few employers who have reached out to offer it as a benefit, and sit down to write this piece for Fairygodboss!
My hard-stop at night is 10:30pm, which I’ve now violated by a few minutes to wrap this up. But I’m about to head upstairs to journal for a few minutes, read for a few minutes, and then crawl into bed with lights out by 11pm.
Is this a typical day? Absolutely. Am I ever bored? Never. Do I love every bit of it? Without a doubt. The “portfolio” approach to career – in my case, having both the legal and entrepreneurial components – works extremely well for me and for my family.
Interested in contributing to Fairygodboss' #MakingTime series? Email [email protected] with "#MakingTime" in the subject line.