All busy moms have the same number of hours in a week (168), but some moms just seem to have it all figured out while many of us are constantly running late, with mismatched clothes, half-done makeup and a lukewarm coffee in hand.
How do they make it all work?
Understanding how others make it work offers us all insights into ways that we may be able to tackle our own to-do list, improve our time management, and ensure our days are mixed with fulfilling work and quality time with our kids. Is that too much to ask?
Currently as a working mom to a young toddler and a three-month-old, I am still navigating our “normal” schedule, and so I turned to Karla Sayles, mom to two young boys (two and four years old), a Public Affairs Manager for Warner Bros. and a volunteer leader of the Junior League of Los Angeles, to show me how she does it. To say she is a “busy mom” is an understatement.
This woman is a powerhouse who loves her job, her family and is dedicated to her community. Karla attributes her success to her husband being a true partner and to building her own village that she trusts completely. Her ability to divide and conquer, identify and ask for help from her village is something I know I can learn to do better!
Karla's Working Mom Schedule
On a typical Tuesday morning, Karla’s day starts around 6:45 with her kids waking up shortly after her. While Karla jumps into her morning shower and getting-ready routine, her husband ensures the kids are getting themselves ready while he makes school lunches.
They spend a little time together in the morning over breakfast and are out the door by 8:20 a.m. Karla drops off both of her sons at pre-school – which will be changing once her older son starts a new school, but for now she is enjoying just one drop off location! Both Karla and her older son spend five to 10 minutes playing in the classroom with her younger son to ensure he is comfortable and happy when she makes her exit for work. After the drop off routine is done, Karla manages 30-minute commute, which is relatively short for LA standards, and is in the office by 9:15 a.m.
Karla’s day in the office is full of meetings with government officials and studio execs. She often takes a few breaks throughout her day to focus on her role as president-elect of the Junior League of Los Angeles, answering some critical emails and occasionally taking a quick call.
With a full day of meetings, she typically works through lunch. She doesn’t mind, though, as the love for her team and responsibilities is a critical component of her happiness as a working mom.
By 5:45 p.m., she wraps up her day at work and is out the door. Tuesday night means that she is headed to the headquarters of the Junior League of Los Angeles for board or management meetings.
Back at home, Karla’s village helps care for her boys. She is supported by her own mother, mother-in-law, nanny and husband. Each afternoon, one of the grandmas is responsible for school pick-up and taking the boys home to be with their nanny. Their nanny helps get the boys dinner and starts their evening bedtime routine until Dad is home to take over, run bath time, and read books before bedtime by 8:00 pm.
While Karla typically has evening commitments two to three nights a week and her husband, a freelance photographer, has a schedule that also often requires evening work, it was extremely important to both of them that they find a person they could rely on until late and varying times.
While Karla has often been asked if she misses being home for bedtime, she is quick to point out that she is home more nights of the week than not. What’s more, quality of time can be just as important as quantity of time. She makes a concerted effort to leave her phone aside and truly disconnect from work to be engaged with the boys. (And I must interject that as working moms we feel the need to point out that we do love our kids; by contrast, men are very rarely asked about the amount of time they spend with their kids and wouldn’t think they need to raise this point!)
On a Tuesday night when she is volunteering with The Junior League of Los Angeles until late, she doesn’t typically get home until close to 10:00 p.m. For about an hour or so, she spends time with her husband and catches up with him on his own busy day. The goal is to be in bed and asleep around 11:00 p.m. On a non-Junior League or late work nights, Karla is home by 6:30 p.m. and enjoys quality time getting the boys through dinner, baths, books and bedtime. Those nights, her husbands often cooks dinner while she takes any necessary late meetings via phone.
Things don’t always run so smoothly though! Karla once needed her brother to pick up the kids from school on short notice. He was more than willing to help but had no way to get the kids’ car seats from her and make it to the boys’ school in time! Karla quickly sent her brother car seats through Amazon Now to ensure everyone was picked up and safe!
As for cooking, cleaning, and errands, Karla is all about making things as easy and systematic as possible. The dry cleaning gets dropped off at the house, her nanny pitches in with light cleaning and cooking and she is a huge fan of Amazon Prime services!
|6:45 am||Wake up/wake up the kids/have breakfast and family time|
|8:20 am||Drop the kids off at school and head to work|
|9:15 am||Arrive at work|
|5:45 pm||Leave work|
|6:30 pm||Arrive at home/dinner/baths, books, and bedtime|
Tuesday nights only
|5:45-10:00 pm||Volunteer with the Junior League|
|10:00 pm||Arrive at home|
|11:00 pm||Go to bed|
How Karla Makes It All Work
While Karla’s schedule is definitely busy, she always grateful that she loves her job, enjoys the work she is doing in the Los Angeles community through Junior League and above all her kids are loved and well taken care of by everyone in her village. Looking into the future, Karla is excited for her leadership role in the Junior League to become less of a time commitment and give her some time to refocus on other goals (like fitting in more exercise!), but for now she has a predictable schedule and a team of family and help in her corner!
Resources for Working Moms
Need a last-minute babysitter? This app enables you to find help—and not just any help. These caregivers are top-notch and vetted.
This community of working moms offers plenty of resources to women who are all in the same boat. Read articles, subscribe to the newsletter, and find recommendations for books, blogs, podcasts, and more.
Hosted by Dr. Tracey Marks, this podcast offers advice to working mothers on maintaining a work-life balance. Dr. Marks also tackles issues like health, wellness, and relationships.
Working Mother is "mentor, role model, and advocate" to working moms around the country. The organization features articles, events, research, and other opportunities to connect.
And, of course, don't forget about FGB! While not exclusively for working mothers, we offer reviews on companies by women for women, discussion boards, and plenty of career advice.
Do you have an organized working mom schedule, a to-do list or planner that you swear by in life? How do you handle your daily schedule of tasks while maintaining a healthy work-life balance?
Mary Beth Ferrante is the owner and founder of Live.Work.Lead., an organization dedicated to working with companies to retain top female talent by supporting women navigate their first critical year of becoming a new parent. Live.Work.Lead. works with new and expecting moms through 1:1 and through group programs. They also provide training to managers on the maternal wall and how to better support their employees planning for and returning from parental leave. Prior to founding Live.Work.Lead., Mary Beth was an SVP of Business Strategy for a Fortune 100 company. In addition, Live.Work.Lead.offers Virtual "Mommy and Me" Classes designed for Working Professionals.