#MakingTime: A Day in the Life of a Full-Time Working Mom With a Side Hustle

Sponsored by Hilton

Kirsten Cooley

Photo courtesy of Kirsten Cooley

April 13, 2024 at 9:20AM UTC

Fitting everything that needs to be done on a given day into 24 hours can often feel like an uphill challenge at best. Slap on the commute and traffic time that comes with living in a major metro area, and your schedule just got that much trickier to navigate. 

Thankfully for those who work at Hilton’s headquarters near Washington, D.C., they have the support of a family-friendly employer to make the weekday juggle that much simpler. Women rave about the flexibility they’ve found at Hilton; in fact, one FGB’er wrote in her review that “as a corporate employee, the flexibility I have in my job is the best I’ve ever experienced,” and another said she believes “there is no better place than Hilton to be a working mom.”

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For Kirsten Cooley, a Senior Manager of Engagement at Hilton, she’s found the hype to hold true. As a commuting, working mom of two with a side hustle that nurtures her creativity, there’s a lot that Cooley wants to eke out of her days, and she says that Hilton absolutely helps her do that. Recently, she gave Fairygodboss a day-in-the-life peek into what her prioritizing process looks like. 


Who: Kirsten Cooley

What: Senior Manager, Engagement, Hilton

Where: Washington D.C. metro area


5:50 a.m.

I am not a morning person, so when my alarm goes off there are a few things I do to ease into my day! I make a mental gratitude list, meditate for 5-7 minutes and read for 10 minutes; and mind you, this all happens without even having to leave my bed! I try to get fully ready before my husband, two kids and dog wake up, but most of the time at least one of our kids sneaks in while I’m putting on my makeup. 

7:00 a.m. 

I get dressed, which is arguably the easiest part of my morning thanks to Hilton’s Dress for Your Day policy, which allows us to decide our dress code depending on our schedule for the day. I spend the rest of the morning refereeing sibling arguments while trying to simultaneously get them ready for the day. Our house is almost constantly filled with noise! I can attest that I thrive when there is quiet, but when there is no quiet to be found I also try to enjoy it too. 

7:35 a.m.

We finally make it out the door to begin our busy days! My husband walks our five year old son to his Elementary school and I drive our three year old daughter to daycare. We live in the D.C. Metro area about 30 miles outside of Washington, D.C., and I commute to our Hilton HQ office in McLean, Virginia. I spend my commute listening to a go-to podcast (favorite right now: “How I Built This” with Guy Raz) or an audiobook (currently listening to: “Capital Gaines” by Chip Gaines). On this particular day, I had my weekly chat with a mentor which helped break up the hour-long drive!

8:45 a.m. 

As soon as I get to my desk I turn on my laptop, chat with my direct report, grab oatmeal and tackle any mail deliveries. Today I opened a box of collateral for a new Marketing campaign. I am on Hilton’s Engagement Team, which amongst other roles and responsibilities, provides support to stakeholders throughout the company to help them showcase important initiatives and campaigns to our corporate team members around the globe. Until recently, I was a team of one, but we expanded to include a new team member, who interned for me four years ago. She is a breath of fresh air and is very passionate about our projects, which makes my job even more rewarding!

9:30 a.m. 

I open my inbox and respond to any urgent emails that may have come in since I left work the night before. Next, I check in with our Facilities team; they got in at 6:00 a.m. to test videos for a screening event that we are hosting for our team members later today. 

10:00 a.m. 

Now begins a slew of meetings — no day looks alike for me, which definitely keeps my job interesting. My team meets with our in-house catering team, facilities and an outside vendor to discuss an upcoming dinner and panel discussion that will be held in our amazing dining hall, The Social. This is followed by a great call with the VP of our wider team (Talent, Learning and Engagement) during a scheduled skip-level meeting. I really appreciate our leaders’ efforts to stay in touch with all of us. They truly care about us and the work we do every day!

12:00 p.m. 

It’s time for lunch! I normally multitask and eat a salad at my desk — which my husband kindly prepares for me while he packs the kids’ lunches — but today we have a working lunch with the Catering and Events Director at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner hotel and an outside vendor to discuss our company holiday party. Our team has the privilege of planning annual events like this and others that give our team members (and on some occasions their families) a chance to take a moment to reflect and celebrate their hard work, socialize with colleagues, and enjoy some of the most delicious food ever! We are a hospitality company of course!

2:00 p.m.

Our team can become so busy working with teams outside of our department that we often schedule dedicated meetings for just the two of us to catch up, plan and discuss our Engagement events. Of course, five minutes before we were scheduled to meet we got a last minute request to send an email to our office staff to remind them of the screening event taking place at 4:00 p.m. This communication wasn’t planned, but we are always ready for last minute requests like this! 

3:15 p.m. 

We started our meeting later than planned, but we were able to make significant progress on an event we are planning the week of Thanksgiving. As we were wrapping up, I glanced at my phone to discover an urgent text from our Facilities team about the screening event that was supposed to start in 45 minutes. Apparently, half of the screen went completely black. Thankfully he had already called an offsite technician that was on his way to scramble to fix it.

3:50 p.m. 

Our team gets to support stakeholders within our organization to celebrate all the great things our company is doing, and today was no exception. Hilton’s Marketing team hosted a screening and networking event to reveal a new marketing campaign with exciting celebrity talent! Our team members often get sneak peeks like this before it is announced to the public. And thankfully, the technician was able to get the screen fixed just minutes before the 250+ attendees arrived! I try to keep a positive attitude in times of uncertainty and believe that things will always work out as they should. 

4:45 p.m. 

This area has some of the worst traffic in the U.S., and my commute to our son’s after school program was made even slower than normal because of a rainstorm. I spent my time listening to a podcast and catching up with my sister who lives across the country.

6:45 p.m. 

Each weeknight looks different in our house. My husband is a football coach which means he normally works late, but since practice was cut short due to weather, he was home early for a divide-and-conquer type of night. He made dinner, I cleaned up. He bathed the kids while I showered. And now (its 8:00 p.m.), for the first time since I walked in the door, I am sitting on the couch while he gets our son and daughter settled in for the night. Our kids always request to listen to a guided meditation before bed — sounds so serene, right? I hear the meditation, but with frequent interruptions of squeals and rough housing! 

8:35 p.m. 

It’s time for stories with our daughter, and tonight she picked “Lewis the Duck Cleans the World,” which is a book that just so happens to feature one of our hotel brands: Homewood Suites by Hilton. I kiss our kids good night and head downstairs to chat with my husband while he watches Thursday night football. 

9:15 p.m. 

I love staying up late to spend time on my personal hobbies. I have a side hustle making custom wooden signs which you can find me working on most nights of the week, but tonight I pull out my laptop because not only do I plan events all day but I’m planning my own event: my son’s 6th birthday party! There may be a spreadsheet involved!

10:30 p.m.

Even though I am a night owl, I have been making an attempt to go to bed earlier to survive these busy days of mine. I have been extra sleepy because I am five months pregnant with our third baby! I am not sure if the exhaustion is due to the pregnancy, my full schedule, or both. Either way I am pretty happy when my head hits the pillow. Good night! 


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