October 16, 2013

a day in the life - amber

I was all proud of myself for scheduling this to publish, except then I never actually hit publish... FAIL.

Hello hump day.  Today is a 'no plans' day as Ryann likes to call them.  So hopefully we'll come up with something good to keep us entertained.  Or at least accomplish some of the errands on my to-do list...

Today I've got a familiar face for you.  Just reading Amber's day exhausts me.  But I hope you enjoy reading about it!  Oh, if some of the spacing looks weird, it isn't Amber's fault.  I have no idea what is going on, I fought with the post for a little while, but ultimately it looked better than where it started so I called it good :o).  Have a good one!


Hi everyone! My name is Amber and I’ve done a day in the life for Ashley before. To look back at that one, click here, life was pretty different then!

Back in June my family left our home of 9 years to be closer to my husband’s job and my upcoming Internship for graduate school. Together we have two kids, Riley is 8 and Aiden is 6.5. They’re in 2nd and 1st grade respectively and though it’s been a long time since I had babies underfoot like most of you, I can still remember life with two under two!

Life right now is SO busy. I am finishing my last semester as a graduate student in Marriage and Family Therapy, which takes up a lot of time. A few months ago I returned to work full time and I balance that with part-time volunteering as a Court Advocate for Foster kids. This basically means that for the next 18 months every single moment of my life is carefully regimented. 

4:50: The alarm goes off. On days when I make it to bed around 9:30 this isn’t so bad because I function pretty well on little sleep. I’m also an early riser and can’t sleep past 6AM even if I wanted to, so I jump right out of bed. I don’t want the alarm to wake the Husband and I usually sleep in my running shorts and tank (motivation people!). 

5:00: I head downstairs and hop on the treadmill. Back when I didn’t work I had time to go to the gym during the day. Those days are lonnngggg gone. Now I would have to be home by 6:15AM for the husband to go to work or my workout would have to wait until 9PM when I finally make it home. And HA! No. 


6:00:  After an hour and about 6.5 miles I’m ready to make my decaffeinated green tea (hello super food!) while I assemble lunches. We have the kids help make them at night so it’s just getting out all the containers, sliding in an ice pack and zipping them up!


I make myself a post-work out snack of peanut butter banana toast, take my vitamins and make coffee for the Hubs. Once he’s out the door I settle down with some grad school work. Today I only have about 45 minutes and it’ll have to do. 

7:00: I wake our kids, who thankfully can fend for themselves now.  My daughter is easy to rise, so I wake my son first and encourage him gently to get up. After I wake my daughter, I go back to him and give a firmer reminder before I hop in the shower. This might sound skeevy but with my thick hair I cannot wash my hair daily or it gets so oily. This morning I don’t and I opt for some dry shampoo instead after I’ve thrown on some make up and gotten dressed. 

7:30: I’m just about ready to go, except shoes and my bag. I work in Behavioral Health Rehabilitation Services. This program is basically school/home/community therapy for kids with behavioral issues. I work the same cases week to week so even though I’m always on the move it’s a set schedule and that helps me plan my day.

7:45: I walk the kiddos to the bus stop. School doesn't start for another hour but they have a 45-minute ride to school since we live in a rural area. Man they look big here - and no my son doesn't usually smile for pictures. Ha.


I kiss them goodbye and rush back to the house to get through some housework. I can usually get a surprising amount done in just ten minutes, so you Mama's out there that are struggling with little ones, I promise one day when they aren't underfoot you can achieve Superhuman feats in that quiet time. See below: 

First, I fold and switch the laundry, 

Then I run back upstairs to load and start the dishwasher.


I also set out dinner to slow cook, which for a household with two parents that work outside the home is a TIMESAVER.

8:10: I’m out the door and it’s a 30-minute drive to my first client. I keep track of the miles I drive since I’m an independent contractor, which is tax talk of saying I have to save everything and keep crazy good notes for tax write offs. Sometimes I think I live my life by notebooks. I have about ten of them. 

Here’s a few more I carry with me every day

(and there are more in this bag)

12:45: I am ready to leave my first case. Don't worry, I ate lunch. I just did it walking around a noisy cafeteria. I find my years at home with the kids prepared me well for keeping on the move. I don't even blink if I have to eat with one hand and reprimand/redirect with the other. Piece.of.cake.

I would love to write all the details of my day so I can look back on it years from now. But I can’t talk about most of what I do. I can say that I do it wearing Khakis. 

I love that I can dress casually because it means FLATS since I’m in a school setting with kids and I'm up and down off the ground, on the playground, wherever my clients are I need to be. I learned pretty quick I don't want to do that in fancy dress slacks and heels. I just mistyped heels as "hells" and YEP.

12:47: I'm back in the car and on my way to my next client. Today I need to make a call to set up a new allergist for our daughter. Moving means moving all the aspects of your life and after four months I've finally had a chance to do this. Thank goodness for Bluetooth that's all I've got to say.  I arrive at 1:20. 

3:30: I'm done with my second client of the day which is half the amount of time as the first but twice as much energy. I’m tirrreeeddd as I leave his school but thankfully this time I’ve got an hour break (and only a half hour drive) before my 4:30 client.  Because I’m still finishing up my last term of traditional coursework in graduate school this means I still have plenty I could be doing. Some days, I won’t lie, I just sit in the car, set an alarm and shut my eyes for a minute.

But today I cannot rest because I have to teleconference in to a monthly meeting for one of my CASA cases (I'm a volunteer child advocate). Thankfully this meeting doesn’t really require I do much more than listen and I can do this in the car. Thanks again, Bluetooth.

4:15 I drive by about six McDonalds in my treks during the day. I love McDonalds because I can get a super cheap salad, free WiFi and a bathroom all in one. Today I finish up my call using my earbuds (which I've just realized I didn't clean after my workout. Ew sweaty). I give in and grab some caffeine with my order. There are days where I ignore the pull of that mid-afternoon crash and there are days where I have a major paper due and need to work anyway. I also ate a salad (and forgot to take a picture of it) because I won't get a chance to eat until 9PM tonight and I'm too old now to be eating that late at night anymore. I don't even feel bad about the apple pie today because I ran 6 miles before the sun was up. 

4:25:  I outline my paper and make a mental note of what needs to be done later tonight. When I realize the time I quickly clean up, button up my grad school bag I’ve brought along with me and end my call. Thankfully the meeting was just finishing up anyway so there’s nothing much lost in my ducking out. I make the short drive to my third and last client of the day.

** I want to outline here what’s going on back at my house. Just so no one thinks I’m superhuman. **

3:30 – 5:30: We bring in a local woman to act as a part time nanny/housekeeper (and by part time I mean vverrrryyy part time, think 10 hours a week). She spends about thirty minutes cleaning the things that I just can’t get to like sweeping, vaccumming, wiping counters, watering plants. Then she has ninety minutes with the kids before my husband gets home. She usually keeps them occupied, helps them with homework and chores and makes sure they aren’t at each other throats at the end of the day. Occasionally she will start dinner but today since I’ve got the crockpot going that’s not necessary.

** Now back to me ** 

4:30 – 7:30: My third and final client is in a home setting and when I leave there it's dark.

I check my email to see I’ve missed something blowing up on the CASA end of things. This hardly ever happens, as I’ve been on my cases long enough that I can usually see things coming from awhile off and try to get ahead of them. But this was unexpected and I spend my entire 25 minute drive home talking to a foster parent.

Here's another thing I wouldn't make it without. Siri. I dictate my visit notes, text messages and emails. I tell Siri to look things up on the Internet, make appointments, play songs, all sorts of things. I no longer underestimate the power of HANDS free. Just before I make it home I have dictated notes from my conference call, added an appointment to my calendar and returned three texts.

8:00: I have about seven seconds to breathe before I’m parked in our parking spot in our community. It's time for my weekly supervision meeting and I breeze passed the kids and my husband with kisses before I sink into my desk chair to dial in. Thank goodness this is another mostly listening (until my turn to share anyway) and I can mute my end and continue my grad school outline. 

9:00  Unfortunately my kids are already in bed. The Husband is downstairs playing Call of Duty while I continue my work on my outline for my paper. At 9:15 I force myself to find a stopping place and write out Thursday’s To Do List. On it go all the things I didn’t have time to do today like return a call about my school schedule, catch up with a friend I’ve now rescheduled with twice or call my Mom to chat. I feel pretty bummed about that but the weekend is half way here! 

9:30: I could go to bed right now, with the kids down for the night and the house tidied up. My Hubs does a great job getting them dinner, cleaning up and doing anything with them that needs done in the evenings. Some nights we collapse on the couch together to watch a television show we have recorded. What would we do without Hulu? We wouldn’t watch at all. Because being home when the show is on? Staying up that late to watch? No thanks.

But tonight I just don’t have the energy, even to do something mindless. I also have a 8 miler on for tomorrow morning – boo. So I wash my face, brush my teeth, throw clothes together for the morning along with all the blank progress note sheets I’ll need for Thursday’s cases.

10:00ish? Then I dart under the blankets. I don’t even know what time it is when I do that because I try not to look at the clock. Believe it or not, it’s actually hard to fall asleep as my mind runs in circles. I practice meditation and this usually helps me relax.


1. How do I do all of this? I get asked that a lot. That's the main reason I signed up to track my day at all. I want to make it clear that you CAN be this productive. It's a matter of planning and focus. Trust me, there are enough hours in the day - you just have to prioritize.

There are days when I do my weekly supervision meeting on the drive home from my bi-monthly Tuesday CASA night (I do three hours worth of CASA visits in my one night off a week from work). Sometimes I do supervision or dictate notes or catch up on TV while I'm running on the treadmill. Sometimes I cheat and turn on the reader feature so the computer reads me my assigned readings for graduate school so I can fold laundry or do dishes while I listen (and learn). There are days when I eat breakfast while quizzing my kids on their spelling or answering emails for work/school/CASA.  Every day I pretty much squeeze every single ounce out of every moment.

2. But I want to be transparent about something. This is just a season. I don't want anyone to think that life is like this all the time. It totally isn't. I was a stay-at-home Mom for three years before I went back to college. I was a SAHM for six years before I started graduate school (which is totally no joke in the work department!). I added in a volunteer position only after six months of grad school when I was SURE I could handle it even if I chose one that is pretty intense. It was eight years before I went back to work and yes, I did it FT while doing all those other things. However, it was to get the most out of work I could before Internship starts in January.

Right now I work 65 hours a week between my job, CASA and grad school work. Our weekends are usually a mix of errands and family gatherings and I get to "sleep in" until 7.  Life will change again in 2014 (it will get worse). But then at the end of 2014 I will graduate, go down to a SINGLE job and leave higher education behind. This is just a season.

Whatever you're dealing with right now, no matter how exhausting and stressful and challenging - is just a season. I don't want to tell you about baby gear or Mom tips. I want to tell you to hang tough and hold on, because there is another side. You'll be standing there sooner than you think so appreciate the positives and embrace the negatives. I promise you years from now you will remember both and each will shape you in important ways. And no matter what, there will be another challenge and another blessing on the horizon.

Love each day.


Thanks for sharing your day again Amber.  And even if you aren't superhuman, you must be pretty darn close :o).


Aspen Ballard said...

This looks like my day haha
Makeover With Aspen

Crazycurls said...

Thanks for sharing! So inspirational!

Nessa Bixler said...

She is amazing!!

Anonymous said...

My favorite Day in the Life yet!