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It's 4:30 in the morning, do you know where your work/life balance is?
March 30, 2011 - 9:45pm

A dear colleague of mine and I were talking the other day about a couple of exciting things that have happened concerning recent developments with my research. She looked at me and very thoughtfully proclaimed, “There is no way you can do all that you are doing so well – you must be magic.” After I hugged her and told her that I had always known that I was a changeling, I felt nauseous. Wait a second, how am I doing all that I am doing? And maybe more importantly, should I be doing all of this? Let’s look at my life – a day in the life of a mom on the tenure track and see how it all happens.

The characters: M – devoted husband/father; D – 2.5 year-old son; me – Assistant Professor/mom/wife/daughter/sister/etc.

4:30 am – I am up, checking emails, etc. As we know, these crazy millennial students email at all hours of the day and night.

5:30 am – M’s alarm goes off. No interaction takes place as he is not a morning person and is best left alone at this time of day.

6:00-7:00 am – Some time in this hour my son D wakes up, typically yelling about how hungry he is.

6:30 am – M is out the door. There is a little more interaction than in the previous hour. Ah, romance and the married couple. (Another post for another time).

Between the time D wakes up and 7:15 am – Feeding and dressing D and coaxing him into trying to use the potty. Put D in front of the TV (don’t judge) so that I can get dressed, fed, and well, all of that other stuff that needs to happen to turn me from super-mom to super-professor.

7:30 am – Into the car and off to the daycare. Drop D off at daycare. Bittersweet but the best thing for everyone involved.

7:30-8:45 am – Back into the car and drive the commute from Hell.

8:45-9:20 am – Prep (?) for my first class - Gender and Politics.

9:30-10:50 am – Class (woohoo!). Thank god for teaching.

11:00-12:20 pm – Meeting or office hours and maybe if I am lucky, some food that I call lunch.

12:30-1:50 pm – Teaching class number 2 (woohoo!) – American Public Policy.

2:00-5:30 pm – Depends on the day – meetings, meetings, or maybe some meetings. I’m a member of Faculty Council, a NEASC co-chair, pre-law advisor for the institution, internship coordinator for both the department and a college-wide program, so I meet a lot.

6:00-7:00 pm– Back in the car – not so bad at this time of night. And I get to make hands free phone calls and catch up with and catch up with friends, family, and whomever I haven’t talked to in a while. Which might as well be everyone.

7:15 pm – Home to read D stories before bed. If I am lucky, food.

7:30-10 pm – D is in bed. I am back on the computer. Remember that research thing I mentioned before: this is when I do that.

10:15-10:30 pm – Talk to M. It is amazing how much quality conversation you can have in 15 minutes.

10:30 pm – Sleep, hopefully. More likely than not, rest with the occasional sleep thrown in.

Yes, this is a crazy life, but I love this life. I am a better mom because I work and a better academic because of my child and the time demands that he places on me. Since he has come around, my research has flourished, my teaching has been rewarded, and I can actually find files when I need them. I was honest with my chair about the time management crunch, therefore I get to work from home one day a week. This usually means I take care of D until he naps and then I do work. As far as weekends go, this time is usually weekend time – which is great! To be fair, this whole balance thing is a lot easier when someone balances it with you. On my husband’s schedule, the time between 3-7 includes making dinner and lunch for the next day and picking D up from daycare. He is truly a co-parent in this deal.

So what have I learned? Yes, I should be doing this. I have found not balance, but pretty close to what could be described as fulfillment in two very important parts of my life. To me, being fulfilled often means that there can be a bit extra at certain times, to fill in when you miss things, like a conference because you are pregnant — or material for a funny story when you are at a conference.

This is not a zero sum gain. It’s just my life.

From the archives - this post was originally published at on 2010. 03.17


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