Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Creating a Work Schedule: Finding Order in the Chaos

Carving out enough hours in the week to get my work done is essential to my sanity.  This type of work –  academic scholarship – has the potential to bleed into every aspect of my life.  So, it is important for me to create a work schedule that makes me feel productive while also allowing me to have hours when I am “off work”.  My work schedule has probably looked different each year based on the demands of that academic year, the flexibility of my partner’s work schedule, and availability of childcare.  Here are a few snapshots of my work schedule over the years:

Years 1 & 2: Heavy coursework (both years)/Teaching Assistantship (year 2), husband’s 9am to 5pm job, full time daycare (1st son born in September, two weeks after classes started)

  • I could work 9am to 5pm after my son started daycare at 10 weeks old.  Before that, I worked whenever I could.  Grandparents babysat while I went to class and my husband watched the baby in the evenings when necessary.  I also worked during naps and at night.  Even with full time daycare, I worked many evenings and weekends since some labs/classes/group meetings were at night. 

Year 3: Some coursework/ Teaching Assistantship/Preparing for Proposal Defense, husband starts graduate school, full time daycare, pregnant with second baby

  • I continued the 9am to 5pm schedule.  I worked some nights and weekends depending on various deadlines that arose.  Since my husband was in his first year of grad school, his schedule was more intense than mine with the evening and weekend commitments; so I was on kid/home duty more often this year. If I worked in the evenings, it was from 8pm-no later than midnight when necessary.

Year 4: Some coursework, husband in graduate school, 2 kids in full and part-time daycare

  •  The toddler remained in daycare full time.  However, we couldn’t afford to have both kids in daycare full time on the income of two graduate students. So the baby was in daycare 2 days per week.  For the remaining 3 days, I had him on Wednesdays and Fridays and my husband had him on Mondays. [Side note: I had a Wednesday class during a time when my husband didn’t have class, so we swapped him off during my class time.]
  • I worked 9am-5pm for 3 days per week and pieced together hours on other days/evenings/weekends.  I tried to make weekend work hours overlap with nap times or visits with grandparents to minimize the “mommy guilt”.  I also scheduled meetings on days when I had the baby (and took him with me) so that I could protect my “work days”.

Summer before the move: Papers/Projects/Preparation for trip, husband has graduated and is not working, 2 kids, no daycare

  • We pulled both kids out of daycare for the summer to save money for the move.
  • Now, I work for 5-6 hour chunks each day and my husband is with the kids while I’m working.  I have a morning or afternoon work schedule depending on family activities for the day.  For example, the local museum is free on Wednesday afternoons so I work in the morning on Wednesdays (9am-2pm) and join the family outing in the afternoon. 


  1. Salutes! This gives me hope.

  2. Just reading your schedule makes me exhausted! You truly are a super mom!

    1. It's a lot to manage, but I have a lot of support! Thanks for reading!

    2. Here's the post about my support system :-)