#MakingTime: A Day in the Life of a Professional Tough Mama (Literally) In L.A.

Debbie Saroufim

Photo courtesy of Debbie Saroufim


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: Debbie Saroufim
What: Head of Wellness Content and Business Development for Tough Mamas, personal trainer
Where: Greater L.A. area
5:45 a.m.
Alarm goes off. I’m immediately awake. I look over at my husband, Joe, who doesn’t seem to hear anything and I get annoyed briefly that I can’t spend the morning with my family. When my daughter Hildy was first born, my early morning schedule got me home early enough to spend the majority of the day with her. Three and a half years later, I miss getting her off to school. When we can afford it, I’ll cut back on my early morning clients. 
5:52 a.m.
I get dressed, and text a last minute message to my au pair who will start helping Joe with the kids about 30 minutes after I leave.
6:08 a.m.
I grab my pre-prepped breakfast and a snack bar, put on my shoes and sneak out the door. Yes, I prep my breakfasts in advance. Pretty much all of my meals!
I have my morning routine broken down to the minute. I hop in the car and head to my first personal training client, listening to talk radio as I drive. Five minutes before I arrive to my client I call home and say good morning to my husband and kids, who are finally awake. I arrive two minutes early and take the time to post a pre-prepped Instagram post for the Tough Mamas page. I quickly answer some direct messages on Instagram and look for anything new on our Facebook page.
Training a client is my comfort zone. I’m with each client for an hour. I work them out hard and talk to them as we go. I use these interactions as inspiration for my on-demand videos later in the day, especially because many of my clients are pregnant or newly postpartum. This is why we started Tough Mamas in the first place - new moms just seem to want someone to tell them what to do, so we created our platform to replicate the experience of my training at home.
I hop in the car, drive to the next one. This morning I had three clients back-to-back. In the car, between clients, I call my business partner and go over any and all Tough Mamas tasks for the day. (It's not even 8 am yet!)
9:45 a.m.
I finish with the third client and drive down the street to my favorite dance studio. There I dance it out for an hour - dancing is my cardio and makes me smile. Then back in the car for one more client before I head home. On the drive home, I make a call to the Human Resources wellness lead from one of the companies interested in using Tough Mamas for their business. We met recently at the SHRM conference that I attended where we launched our family wellness benefit. I park in my driveway and finish the call in the car so it’s not interrupted by my son, Harold.
12:27 p.m.
Walk in the front door of my house. Harold is in his high chair having lunch with my au pair. I throw my breakfast tupperware in the sink and pull my previously prepped salad out of the fridge for lunch. We both finish our lunch at the same time. 
12:51 p.m. 
Harold goes down for a nap. (I really hope he doesn’t drop his naps anytime soon.) I head to my bedroom to make some Tough Mamas videos. I’ll emerge in an hour and a half, sweaty, tired and triumphant. I upload them to Dropbox for my business partner to load into our system later.
2:30 p.m.
I shower and head into the kitchen to start prepping dinner. Then I respond to Tough Mamas emails and prep some additional Instagram posts for the week.
3:00 p.m.
Harold wakes up. I go in to give him some cuddles and read a book. Then it’s back to the kitchen for his snack. Snap some photos of him eating avocado. (It’s a superfood, surely I can use this as an Instagram post later?)
4:00 p.m. 
My au pair comes out of her room and to get Harold. I grab some snacks and throw them in my purse, kiss Harold goodbye, and get in the car to go pick up Hildy.
4:23 p.m.
I arrive at the school, walk in - her shoes are off and she’s in the sandbox. She yells at me - the way only a threenager could - to go get her suitcase (code word for her lunchbox). I am instructed not to touch her water bottle. Then I am to hold still and close my eyes. 
I negotiate with her to wash her hands so she can have a snack in the car. After lots of back-and-forth, we finally walk out of the school, get in the car, and begin to drive home. It’s now almost 5.
I tell Hildy that when we get home she needs to take a bath, to which she responds, “I already know that, Mom! You don’t have to tell me!” Then she asks me to put on Moana songs. I sigh and concede.
Moana, make way.
5:17 p.m.
Arrive home - later than I planned. Harold has already been bathed and greets us at the door in his PJs. Hildy runs into the house and into her room where she immediately starts playing. I yell that she needs to get undressed, put her clothes in her hamper, and it’s bath time. She comes out of her room crying and says she wants to watch an Elmo. I tell her if there’s time she can watch something, but she needs to take a bath first. Then she runs from me as I attempt to get her undressed.
5:45 p.m. 
We are out of the bath and in pajamas. Hildy asks if she can watch Elmo now, but I explain it’s dinner time so she immediately bursts into tears. Joe texts to say he’s stuck in a meeting and isn’t sure he’ll make it home before bedtime. Seriously?! Sigh.
I calm Hildy down, put Harold in his highchair, and serve them dinner. Harold gobbles it up. Hildy looks at her plate and tells me she doesn’t like the food (I made her the same dish last week and it was a crowd pleaser). I know Harold is done eating because he starts throwing his food on the floor. I clean up, put on the coveted Elmo for Hildy, and brush Harold’s teeth.
7:07 p.m.
I’m in Harold’s rocking chair singing him the “Lotion Time Song,” written by yours truly. Then two rounds of Twinkle Twinkle and then a kiss from every family member. He points to his bed and I put him in it. After Elmo ends, Hildy gets into her bed where she squeezes my thumb three times so she’ll dream about me (it's our thing). Then I sit outside her door and wait for her to fall asleep (it’s also our thing). 
8:15 p.m. 
Joe arrives home and takes my spot in the chair so I can call my Tough Mamas business partner again and go over the call I had with the HR leader earlier in the day. I take a few minutes to log everything in Salesforce.
8:52 p.m.
Hildy is asleep. I’m on the phone for 10 more minutes. Then a brief chat with my husband over an ice cream cookie sandwich. 
9:30 p.m.
I’m exhausted. Head in the bathroom to wash up.
9:45 p.m. 
Call Joe in to kiss me goodnight and I’m in bed. Ready to do it all again tomorrow.
Interested in contributing to Fairygodboss' #MakingTime series? Email [email protected] with "#MakingTime" in the subject line.

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