Sarah Larkin lives in Frisco with her two children, Margaret, almost 4, and John, 2, and husband Jim, a financial advisor for Ameriprise. She is an account executive for Collective Media, a luxury ad network based in New York. She recently left a four-year stint at Google to pursue a career that afforded her the flexibility to be home more.
6:25am Hear the early morning sounds of a small boy awake upstairs. My son, John, tends to make his presence known around this time every morning. I turn down the monitor so I can’t hear him. I am the worst. Mommy. Ever. Sweet boy has gotten used to it. Roll over and go back to sleep.
7:15am Feel the bed shift slightly as Margaret climbs into bed and tries not to wake me up. She nudges me with her arm so that there’s enough room for her. I oblige because I just want to keep my eyes closed for 10 more minutes.
7:30am My husband makes the first move to actually get out of bed. Margaret has decided she is going to read in bed, while I pretend to still be asleep. OK, never mind. I let myself glance at the monitor: red dots all the way to the right. I need to get my son.
7:32am Shrieks of “Mommy!” followed by the biggest hug and “I waked up.” We snuggle for a few minutes, and then I suggest a new diaper and getting dressed. The diaper he is OK with, the getting dressed, not such a huge fan. My morning has officially begun.
7:40am Send Margaret in her room to find her uniform, as I tussle with John to put on his pants and find his shoes.
7:44am Margaret comes back with a purple shirt and “sparkle” jeans. Unless she has secretly joined the circus, this is NOT the uniform. We argue, she cries, I (try not to) shout, she pouts her way back into her room.
8:10am Margaret in her uniform; John in his clothes. We put on cartoons in the bedroom while my husband and I finish getting ready (swore I would never do that … push that thought to the back of my mind and get in the shower).
8:25am I’m dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt and have another moment of “I’d never” – I’d never be the mom who didn’t get dressed every morning just because she didn’t have an office to go to. Ugh. Oh well, hair in a ponytail, children dressed and we are ready to head to school.
8:32am Children have their Pop-Tarts and watered down orange juice (to make up for all the sugar in the Pop-Tarts) and are sitting in the backseat of my minivan. Off we go.
8:50am Arrive at school. Get my son to music class (just in time!) and my daughter to her room. Disentangle myself from her clingy arms and head back to the car. Phew! The first challenge of the day done.
8:55am Drive through McDonalds for a large Diet Coke.
9:15am Back at home. Set up the computer at the kitchen island to start responding to e-mails, making calls and getting my day in order before my meetings in the afternoon.
11:45am Head out the door to run a “quick” errand before my lunch meeting.
12:15pm Leave Target with three large bags that contain not only the sticky notes and paperclips I needed, but also two toys (one for each kid), a new CD that I’ve been wanting and a novel that looked good on the end cap.
12:45pm Meet my client for lunch.
2pm Head back up the Tollway from Highland Park to finish my day. I tick off my to-do list in my head as I drive (organize my closet, finish my target call list for my 3:30 call with my boss, etc.)
2:40pm Finally back at home (now I remember why I didn’t take a job downtown). Re-read e-mails that I glanced through during my drive (BlackBerries really are dangerous devices while driving 70 mph).
3:30pm Call with boss. Is that EVER fun?
4:15pm Respond to the last few e-mails, check my voice-mail and finish desk organization that I start every morning in an attempt to get myself psyched for the day.
5:15pm Husband’s home, and we head to school to pick up the kids. This is generally also social hour for me, as I tend to see all my kids’ friends parents and we catch up on all the latest gossip, chase our kids around the perimeter of the inside of school, argue with them over the fact that they can’t have a playdate EVERY night and then spend a good 10 minutes with the director of the school (who’s always gracious enough to allow them to overtake his office and play with the Mr. Potato Head and draw on all his Post-it notes before we leave).
5:40pm Home for the night. Make the kids a dinner of veggie chicken nuggets, oranges and green beans. Make sure both children slather “magic soap” on their hands to wash away any germs they’ve picked up during the day and sit them at the kitchen island (where all my work stuff got shoved off to one side).
6:10pm Playtime! Margaret draws us pictures, and John busies himself with Elmo, whose voice is irritating after 10 straight minutes … but the boy is happy so who am I to argue?)
6:50pm Bathtime! We head upstairs to take a “quick” bath, and hopefully get everyone in bed at a decent hour tonight.
6:55pm Both children in the bath, bath water all over the floor. We use the TV to bribe our children to get clean quickly. Twice in one day. Make an oath to myself that we will find other ways of entertaining them more interactively tomorrow. Yeah, right.
7:05pm Both children clean and yummy smelling on the couch in their pj’s. We have the TV on, and they are sitting together in the big leather chair with their arms around each other. My husband and I have a few minutes to chat about our day, and then the kids switch and start climbing on us.
7:20pm My daughter is doing cartwheels off the ottoman, and my son and husband are having a tickling match on the floor.
7:40pm John’s bedtime. He opens his door, turns on his music and climbs in bed. We say prayers, he sticks his binkie in (I know, I know…we’ll tackle that when he’s 2 and a HALF) and says good night. I give him goodnight kisses and close the door. Marvel again at how easy he is to put down.
8pm Start the “Margaret” bedtime routine. We tell her it’s time to calm down (read: stop doing cartwheels off the ottoman), and she can watch TV for a few minutes before we go to bed. She starts negotiating immediately; she wants to sleep in her pullout bed in our room. We say no. She says yes. Tears start. We cringe.
8:20pm First attempt to take Margaret upstairs. I read her The Lorax (the current favorite – my guess, because it’s so long), turn on her white noise, kiss her goodnight and leave her with a stack of books to read herself.
8:22pm Jim and I make ourselves salads for dinner. Relish in the few moments of peace that we know are fleeting before we see our darling daughter again.
8:30pm Take the first bite of salad and hear the door open upstairs. Groan. See a face appear through the railing upstairs. “Mommy, my tummy says I’m so thirsty, and my blanket isn’t cold.” Pry myself off the couch, take a (small) cup of water upstairs and shake her silky blanket until it’s appropriately cold. Kiss goodnight. Shut door.
8:33pm Back in front of television to eat salad and watch “Mommy and Daddy TV” (anything OTHER than Playhouse Disney).
9pm Hear upstairs bedroom door open again. Just. Go. To. Sleep! Doesn’t she realize how precious it is? Head back up the stairs to give another kiss goodnight. Say prayers again. Close door. Fingers crossed that it’s the last time.
9:10pm Finished with dinner. Isn’t it written somewhere you aren’t supposed to eat after 6? I guess I know where the extra 10 pounds come from.
9:15pm Sink into a bath to read a few pages of the book I bought earlier. Instead flip through the catalogs that have stacked up next to the tub. Decide I’m too tired to take a bath.
9:40pm Get on the computer to check last-minute e-mails, go through my personal e-mails, read a few blogs that I keep up with (feel guilty that I haven’t kept mine up). Chat for a few minutes with a girlfriend and decide that it’s time to think about going to bed.
10:15pm In bed. Ahhh. Read a few more pages in my book as my eyelids droop.
10:35pm Turn off the light. Mind racing. To-do list ticking away in my head (I didn’t get all the stuff done on TODAY’s list). Get out of bed because I forgot to send one last e-mail to my boss about the meeting today.
10:50pm Back in bed. Watch for red lights on monitor. Don’t see any. Phew! Kiss husband good night and try to turn off my brain. Not working. Start counting sheep (yep, seriously).