Not a Creature Was Stirring

Q: How do you fit everything in? Like, literally, how to you schedule your day?

A: My days are full, and they vary. Widely. Most weeks I have a day or two out of town, speaking, teaching, conference-ing, or doing project-based / consulting work. The "normal" days at home are broken down roughly into the following segments:
-- mama time (up, exercise - varies but often 545 or 6am - 7ish)
-- morning family time / kid prep time (7ish - 9ish) including breakfast together
-- work time, part 1 (930ish - noon-ish)
-- connection time (lunch or phone calls w friends or colleagues)
-- work time, part 2 (post-lunch until 330ish)
-- afternoon kid time (330-7pm)
-- grown-up time w my husband (7pm onward)...
...OR if he's out of town, which is the case frequently, then it's work time, part 3

Three things to note. First, I'm very lucky to have flexibility and autonomy in my work, and to often work from home. Second, I'm lucky that I can choose to work almost-but-not-quite FT right now. I'm grateful for both these things.

Third, I'll note something useful, hopefully. Since I've had kids, the most important thing I do in a day is set my alarm (vs. being woken up by kiddos). DUH, right? But seriously, when I reflect on why my most productive days are that way, I realize that the make-or-break piece for me, is, quite simply, getting up before my children do.* Why? Well, I have three little boys, ages 4, 4 (yup, twins) and 1. And as most parents will probably understand without my going into detail, when they wake up, my focus is on them, as it should be. Constantly. Kissing, dressing, feeding, wiping, making sure every tiny tooth gets brushed (well, the baby is still a toothless wonder but they're coming soon), etc. etc. etc. And if I haven't gotten up first, I also have to get myself ready / into a decent enough state to leave the house, and can only do this in the gasps of time in between doing all the things I need to do for my boys.

So I wake up first. It sounds so simple, but it makes a world of difference to me mentally and emotionally if I just make sure to set my alarm at whatever early hour I need to (this changes every few months or so, based on my kids' sleep patters) so that I have just a tiny sliver of time to be the only one awake in my house, and ideally to exercise a bit. Even if it's only 15 minutes, and even if on some days I don't make it to yoga or out for a jog and the only thing I've done is make a cup of tea for myself, being up first makes me feel like I'm on top of things. And weirdly, that feeling lasts not just for those 15 min but for the entire day. Like I'm out front, managing things in a proactive way, and not just like the day is happening to me. I begin in a proactive way, vs. a reactionary way, and it carries me through the day.

* Big caveat here. For most of the first year of my kids' lives, I can rarely achieve this. I give myself a free pass. I get ALL THE SLEEP I CAN POSSIBLY GET and happily lie in bed snoozing until the baby/babies start peeping (or yelling) to tell me they need mama. So, if you are new parent reading this thinking, there's no way, please know that I totally agree with you. Sleep > all else in that first year (or whatever time period you choose in those early days)!