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A Day in the Life of Ashley McDowell

Ashley McDowell has been an attorney with KoonsFuller, P.C., since January 2009. She lives in Dallas with her husband Darren and their two children: Maura, 9, and Mason, 4.

5:30AM I don’t need an alarm clock, because our 4-year-old, Mason, will sneak in bed with us to “nuggle,” as he still likes to say. I think it’s too cute to correct him just yet, so we’re going to stick with “nuggle.”

6:15AM I check my phone for late-night emails or early-morning emails from clients and check my calendar for the day. (It charges next to my bed. I know, not the best idea. But I tend to have some sleepless nights and skim Pinterest, Facebook or Houzz until I can fall asleep again.) It really is amazing what you can do without ever leaving the bed in the morning. I turn on the television for Mason. Off to wake up our 9-year-old, Maura, before I start getting ready for work. Waking up a 9-year-old isn’t always the easiest thing.

7AM I throw something together for the kids for breakfast. I’m still not sure how my mom did it: Three daughters, a full-time job, and I still had a warm breakfast most days.

7:15AM I’m lucky this week because my husband Darren is in town, so he can help take the kids to school. He and Maura are out the door to head to 3rd grade at Lakehill Preparatory School (and a quick stop for some doughnuts and hot chocolate – a special treat for her).

8:15AM Mason and I head out to run a few quick errands, grab some coffee and drop him off at preschool.

8:55AM Walk Mason into school and give him a kiss and a hug before leaving him there. He likes school, so most days I get off easy – like today.

9AM Time to head into the office. I use this time to catch up with my sisters, my mom and my dad. Phone time in the car is big for me. It gives me an opportunity to stay connected.

9:15AM Finish any billing from the previous day and start conquering today’s to-do list.

9:30AM Quick break from work for a phone call with Mason’s speech pathologist to schedule our next appointment.   

10AM Today, I have a phone conference with a forensic accountant regarding upcoming testimony in a divorce trial. We discuss his review of the client’s bank records and credit card records and his opinion on whether there has been any wasteful spending or mismanagement of the parties’ assets. Some of my cases are pretty complex, so I’m required to think through things and find resolution where most people can’t. This is when lack of sleep or sleeping well can either hurt or help me.

10:30AM Begin preparing for a court hearing. I’m working on the questions that I’ll be asking my client in court and the exhibits we’ll need to use for our presentation to the judge.

11:30AM Strategy conference with one of the firm’s partners to discuss the status of a case and pending trial deadlines.

12PM Lunch in the office kitchen and some time to enjoy grown-up chitchat with co-workers. Working in family law can be tough at times, so it’s nice to talk with others about things other than our work … sort of a brain break for me.

1PM Telephone conference with client to discuss response to a settlement proposal and preparing for an upcoming mediation.

2PM Review emails and letters on various cases received from other lawyers or clients. This can take a large chunk of my day. Today wasn’t so bad. Things like this can be time-consuming for an attorney.

3:30PM Meet with my paralegal to discuss status of cases and upcoming hearings or trials. This is something else that can take a lot of time. We go over details in cases and make sure we are always on the same page.

5:30PM Time to head home to catch up with the kids and start our evening. I am greeted by the happy screams of my kids when I walk in the door. Both kids are pretty active: Maura has swim team, gymnastics team and dance class. Mason is taking karate, swim lessons and getting ready to start his first soccer team.

7:30PM By now we’re all home and eating dinner as a family – sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t – but we at least make the effort. Evenings can be busy, but in a good way; I review Maura’s homework before she gets home from her activities so we can tackle what’s left and try to teach her how to prioritize the rest of her work and getting organized for the next day. The earlier you start teaching them simple things like prioritizing and organizing, the better. We’re lucky because Mason is still in preschool, so we’re off the hook for homework. We can spend some time with him playing games and just watching a show together.

8:30PM Try to get the kids settled down for the evening.  I’ve learned that each of my kids needs a little something different from us before bed each night. For Maura, it’s getting her favorite pillows situated and lying on her bed to talk about her day for a minute – sort of our girl time. For Mason, he needs a bedtime snack before I snuggle him into his blankets and sing his three lullabies.

9PM Time for me to wind down. I hit play on one of my recorded shows and catch up with my husband. Of course, I try to find time with him any chance we get. He travels, so the time we have can vary from week to week.

10PM Time for bed! Hopefully I’m relaxed enough to fall right asleep. Today? I am … 

Diaries are penned by moms (and dads) in the Dallas area. The authors volunteer to share a day of their choosing and are not paid or endorsed by DallasChild. Send your diary to editorial@dfwchild.comAll submissions are subject to editing and may be cut for space.

Published August 2013