Day in the Life – 1st Birthday Week

Hi friends!

It’s been a minute since I’ve popped in with a Day in the Life post (despite all my intentions and promises to do them more frequently — they’re surprisingly time-consuming and also time is like, this insane, ridiculously fast, totally cruel thing right now and somehow it’s already been 6 months since my last one of these?!??!?

A-hem, anyway…

6:30 AM: I hear Penny start to stir via the baby monitor, but she’s just happily chattering and playing in her crib when I check the video feed, so I promptly throw a pillow over my head and try to go back to sleep. “Try” is the operative word, since I’ve been having a very difficult time falling and staying asleep lately, so while I don’t end up going back to sleep, I do lay there cursing and contemplating my existence for a while, lol.

7:10 AM: Penny, on the other hand, does fall back asleep because I leave her in there too long, HA! I finally drag my butt out of bed, brush my teeth, wash my face (I use LATHER’s Ultra Mild Face Wash in the AM), throw on some moisturizer, and get dressed.

I got a new sports bra and leggings set from Torrid’s Harry Potter line, and I. AM. OBSESSED. They have the Marauder’s Map print all over them, but are dark, and they’re really flattering. Score!

I also take my daily vitamins and pack up a bag with my laptop, planner, and water bottle, and then settle down to do a quick morning meditation on the Calm app.

7:30 AM: I finally go downstairs to get Penny, and she wakes back up when I enter the room. She’s so happy to see me! I give her a bottle, change her diaper, and get her dressed. I also let the dogs out and give them breakfast.

8:00 AM: Off to daycare! Penny goes to daycare twice a week, and I try to get her there by 8:30 because that’s when they serve breakfast. Attendance is a lot lighter during the summer (though I’m sure that will change starting very soon, since it’s back to school week in VA!) so there are only four other babies in there right now — three of whom are named Charlotte, I kid you not.

8:30 AM: I stop at Starbucks to grab a bite & some caffeine and get a little bit of work done. Usually I head straight to the gym after dropping her off (or I bring her with me if it’s a non-daycare day), but I have a few work things that I’d like to get out of the way first thing. Plus, you know, coffee. And food.

 

I grab a Turkey Bacon Breakfast Sandwich and an Iced Vanilla Bean Coconut Latte, as well as a protein box to snack on later. I tackle my inbox, respond to messages on Yelp, schedule some calls, work some behind-the-scenes magic, submit my weekly newsletter, and check the reviews from the event I hosted last week.

I also pick up a gift card for one of Penny’s daycare teachers, since it’s her birthday tomorrow! We normally don’t attend on Wednesdays, but I asked if we could switch days so that I can keep her with me on her actual birthday this week.

10:30 AM: Gym time! I was supposed to have a session with a personal trainer yesterday, but he had to cancel at the last-minute. I’ve been trying to connect with him to reschedule, but we haven’t been successful in finding a new time, so I stop by the personal training desk to see if I can get scheduled. They slate me in for next week with a new trainer, so I’m still on my own for a little while!

 

I do a little under 20 minutes on the lateral elliptical (which I only discovered yesterday but is, like, weirdly fun?!) to warm up, then it’s over to the weights area. I do the following set 3 times:

– 20 seconds high-resistance rope pulls
– 8 front-side-back lunges
– 10 ventral & lateral raises (with calf raises)
– 12 side dips
– 12 tricep dips
– 8 donkey kicks on each side
– a 2-minute knee-plank

 

It doesn’t actually seem like that much when it’s written down, but I am basically just a puddle by the time I’m halfway through my second set. WHEW.

 

11:30 AM: I head home, snacking on some of the protein box I got at Starbucks earlier on the way. As soon as I get home, I let the dogs out, and then jump in the shower to rinse off.

 

I also take the opportunity to refresh my hair color by adding some dye to my conditioner. It’s a tricky balance, because I want my color to look fresh for the party on Saturday, but the fresher it is, the more it bleeds when it gets wet. And since the chances of me not being at least a little bit sweaty during the party are basically zil (I’m a really sweaty person, lol), I need to make sure I have a few buffer days / showers beforehand.

12:00 PM: I settle in to do some more work, and also start drafting up this blog post (it’s much easier if I jot things down as I go through my day, rather than try to remember everything later.)

When I check my phone, I see that daycare has sent me some photos! They use an app to keep me apprised of all her diapers, food, and naps (rare and fleeting though they are), and can also send me photos! Depending on how busy they are, sometimes I get one photo, sometimes I get a whole bunch.

Luckily, today looks like the latter — I get a little photo recap of the fun outdoor adventure they went on this morning! I guess it tired her out, because according to the app she’s also currently napping — miracle! (Although, it ends up only being a 30 minute nap… so not really so miraculous. But I’ll take it because sometimes she doesn’t nap at daycare AT ALL.)

2:00 PM: Lunchtime! I really should have eaten something before now, but I got totally caught up in work. I’m starrrrving! I’m trying to clear out our fridge to make space for the birthday party food I’m going to have to pick up before Saturday, so it’s a big ol’ hodgepodge lunch of leftovers: braised pork, spaghetti squash carbonara, steamed broccoli, noodles with spaghetti sauce, and a keto cheesecake cup that my MIL made.

I also unload clean dishes from the dishwasher while everything’s heating up. Bonus: my Fitbit lets me know that I’ve hit my step goal! Whoop!

2:30 PM: I sit back down at my desk and eat while doing more work / semi-watching The Office for the 1923487th time. I also take a quick break from eating for a phone call with a restaurant I’m working with for an upcoming event.

3:00 PM: The dog groomer arrives (we use a mobile groomer that comes to our house), and thank Heaven, because these shaggy pups really need a shave! Old man Harry is up first!

  

4:00 PM: While the groomer is still busy with Harry, I quickly run out to pick Penny up from daycare. (I let the groomer know.) In an attempt to try and keep her from falling asleep on the 5 minute drive home, I chat with her super animatedly and look suuuuper crazy (windows are also down, ha!). She’s soooooo exhausted!

I put her down in her crib as soon as we get back, and she passes out immediately.

4:20 PM: And right on cue, Harry is done, looking dapper as all get-out, and it’s Daxter’s turn!

While Penny (and Harry, heh) are napping, I wrap up the rest of my work to-do list for today, then decide to tackle a few of my birthday party projects! First up, her party guestbook. I made a big photo mosaic out of all of Penny’s Outfit of the Day photos and got it printed as a poster that I’m hoping folks will sign! I also got a second poster printed with her monthly photos in case we need extra room. I use double-sided tape to mount them both on some foam board to keep them sturdy and flat. I also finish a task I started yesterday: punching out the donuts from some free printables that I found online for table scatter.

 

I also try (for the fourteenth thousandth time) to organize my thoughts enough to write my “Dear Penny” birthday blog post, but I get too emotional (again) and don’t make a ton of progress. I’m not emotionally stable enough for this! Only two more days…

5:30 PM: Sean’s home! It’s so nice to have some in-person adult conversation finally — since I didn’t have any meetings today, it’s actually been a bit of an isolating day. One downside of working from home, I guess! (And a very small downside in the grand scheme — I love working from home.) We hang out for a bit and we go through the whole “How was your day, honey?” married-people thing, hehe.

6:05 PM: Penny is STILL asleep! I finally have to go wake her up, and she makes it VERY clear that she was not done sleeping, lol.

 

We spend some time cuddling and she cheers up pretty quickly though. 🙂

 

6:15 PM: Dinnertime! For Penny, at any rate, and it’s BRINNER! Lately, I’ve been seeing everyone and their mom feasting on Kodiak Cakes — a high-protein pancake mix — so I picked some up when I was at Target yesterday. Penny goes BANANAS for the pancakes, and also for the actual bananas we give her alongside them. She can now say the word “Nana!”

6:20 PM: Daxter is finally done. Whew! This shaggy pup took a really long time. But hey, it’s like we got a brand new dog! I feed the dogs — my mom made them some special mix-ins (with chicken and carrots and stuff) that they go craaaazy for, so unlike their breakfast kibble which sat untouched for most of the morning, they gobble their dinner up.

  

6:30 PM: It’s playtime! I know she’s been playing all day at daycare, but finally I can get in on some of the action! She is so much fun these days — really into playing with toys, really interactive, and really smart! She figures out how to put a smaller cup into a larger cup, proving that she is basically a genius. (I get entirely too excited when I realize she’s learned this new skill — hence her expression in the third photo above ahahahaha.)

  

7:20 PM: Alas, all good things must come to an end, and eventually it’s time for bed! Since she napped so late, we push bedtime a bit later (it’s usually at 7), and honestly I would be fine with keeping her up even later, but she’s already showing signs of being tired! Girl’s got a strong internal bedtime clock, what can I say?

 

I change her into her jammies, give her a bottle, and we read a book.

Then Sean brings her down to her room, turns on her sound machine, zips up her sleep sack, and puts her to bed! She quietly plays with her stuffies for about half an hour (she loves stroking her stuffed unicorn’s mane, it’s the cutest thing ever), and then is down for the count.

7:45 PM: After she goes down, Sean and I get to eat some dinner ourselves at last! I just heat up the rest of the pasta & broccoli leftovers — it’s not a very exciting day, eats-wise, but at least it’s productive. Now we actually have some space in the fridge! Sean makes some udon noodle soup.

We tend to operate pretty autonomously at home, so I have dinner while working on this blog post (and watching more Netflix, naturally), and he plays some computer games.

10:20 PM: Whew, I’m beat! Man, I used to be able to stay up so late… but with my Penny alarm clock, those days are definitely behind me. I start the dishwasher, let the dogs out one last time, schedule this post to run in the morning, and go through my nighttime routine: skincare (lately I’m using BeautyCounter’s Countermatch cleansing milk and am really loving it! I’ve also been experimenting with various essential oils), brush my teeth, pop on my pjs, and hit the sack.

10:40 PM: Well, I try to hit the sack. As I mentioned above, sleep has been a bit elusive for me lately, so I put on a guided sleep meditation session through the Calm app with the hopes that it’ll help quell the tossing & turning. And that’s a wrap on today! Goodnight!

Time Management, or the Complete Lack Thereof

As I sit here on my bed in my Harry Potter leggings with two sleepy schnauzers curled up around me, I fully admit that I’ve got quite the cherry gig going. I’m sure you’re all super tired of hearing me drone on and on about how much I love my new job, but I promise that bringing it back up is simply a way of introducing the main crux of this here post. Because yes, I now work for Yelp and being that Yelp’s HQ is located roughly 2,500 miles away in San Francisco, this means I have all the comforts AND challenges associated with being a remote employee.

Now, I realize I’ve already dedicated an entire post to the pros and cons of working from home, but I figure that it’s a useful enough topic (not to mention pretty crucially relevant to my life and stuff) that it warrants a little more focus. Particularly pertaining to how this epic change to my lifestyle is affecting my health and weight loss efforts. Because, lest we forget, the first time we played this game I had a standard (read: boring) eight-to-four-style government contracting job, which kept me on a very regular work schedule with a LOT of free time both at and after work.

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And now? Well, I’ve already mentioned how time-consuming this job is. In a good way, kind of, considering the fact that I love what I’m doing. But the fact of the matter is that it is just SO easy to spend all of my time these days, well, working! You already know that my job involves planning and participating in lots of nighttime and weekend events, in addition to the many calls and meetings that I have with local businesses throughout the week.

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And since Northern Virginia as a region is actually quite large, it isn’t unheard of for me to end up driving out to meet with someone in Centreville and then head into Arlington and then back out to Fairfax in a single day.

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So between all of that, plus the fact that the rest of my job resides primarily in the online realm and thus I can literally be doing work ALL THE TIME, even when I’m just on my phone, means it’s really, really hard to break away. And so here, in a nutshell, is simultaneously the best AND worst part about working from home:

You set your own schedule.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. And yes, it’s absolutely rad that while I sometimes may spend an entire day running all over Northern VA, popping in and out of meetings, I also can schedule massage appointments for 2 PM in the afternoon or can spend half a day getting purple-ified at the hair salon on a random Tuesday. But having that much freedom also makes it pretty difficult for me, someone with admittedly weak self-discipline in the first place, to prioritize things like going to the gym or eating at regular intervals.

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Because of the aforementioned HQ being on the West Coast thing, many of my colleagues and coworkers don’t get cracking until it’s noon over here. Which means it’s not uncommon for me to receive emails and notices as late as 9 or 10 PM. Which you wouldn’t inherently think is a bad thing, since I’ve never really been much of a morning person anyway and I do love being able to operate without an alarm clock, but it really does screw with my schedule, since the other people I work with here — my Yelpers, business owners, PR companies, media folks and whatnot — are obviously operating on Eastern Standard Time.

So by the time I roll out of bed around 9:30 AM or so (don’t hate me!), let the dogs out, feed them, brush my teeth, etc, there may already be a pile of work issues that need attention. So I immediately open my laptop and set to work on there, only to realize a few hours later (when my stomach finally starts to rumble) that I should probably eat something. Urk. Not so great, especially for someone who is a steadfast believer that eating breakfast is a key tenant of successful weight management.

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And I know what you’re thinking. Just get up earlier, dummy! If I got up earlier, I’d be able to take care of all that morning stuff AND eat breakfast before getting slammed with emails and having to dig into my calls for the day, right? Weeeeell, kind of. As mentioned, I’m gonna have stuff to deal with until fairly late into the night anyway, so getting up earlier really just ends up extending my workday even further. So, therein lies the REAL solution: I need to learn how to STOP WORKING. To close my laptop at a certain time, to stop checking my email, to realize that there is like a 0.1% chance that something is going to come up at 9:30 PM that needs IMMEDIATE resolution and can’t wait until morning. Because if I mastered the art of not working, it would probably be pretty easy to get myself back on a regular home office schedule, the kind where I start and stop work at normal times. (At least on non-event days, which would be better than nothing!)

Unfortunately, that’s much easier said than done, especially when you not only like what you do but really, truly want to be amazing at doing it. I mean, I’ve been trying for 10 months at this point to figure out the secret to shutting my mind off, flipping the “work” switch, and being able to find that delicious work/life balance, and so far… nada.

Alas, I’m just awful at self-regulating my work hours, and that is why I end up doing things like working on Sundays and obsessively checking my email before I go to bed. And just like I obviously stay on track with my weight loss best when I have the accountability of this blog and calorie counters like My Fitness Pal and a fitness tracker like my new Fitbit, I know that I need something to provide accountability for ensuring I don’t work myself into the ground. Maybe I should just set like 10 different silent alarms on my Fitbit so that it buzzes and scares the crap out of me (it does!) every time I should be doing something other than working, like eating breakfast or getting up from my desk to walk around.

I’ll be the first one to tell you that my lack of time management skills is one of the main reasons that blogging fell off the radar last year. And it’s definitely the reason that I still haven’t finished my second book (sorry guys…). And it is one of my go-to excuse for days I don’t make it to the gym or end up making some not so great food choices. “I’m too busy! I don’t have the time!”

I mean, even I know that’s BS. I just don’t know how to make the time. But I am working on it, promise. Maybe in another 10 months I’ll have made some progress, hahaha.

The Pros and Cons of Working From Home

So, as you guys know, my new job has altered my life quite a bit. Not in any kind of bad way, kind of the opposite — for once in my life, I absolutely LOVE my job! (Though I don’t scream it from the rooftop toooooo much, since I don’t want a mob of angry government contractors chasing after me with pitchforks for being immodest, haha.)

But even though I seriously love it, it has come with a LOT of changes to my lifestyle. For one thing, I’m busier now than I have EVER been. Which means, as you already know, blogging has had to take a backseat, and progress on my sequel to Terra has been much, much slower than I anticipated. Probably the biggest way that things have changed, however, is that I’m now working from home, which is simultaneously the best and worst thing to have happened.

I’m sure that those of you who have never worked from home probably think I’m crazy for even thinking the word “worst” right now, but just hear me out. There are a lot of pros to not having to go into an office every day, absolutely. But there are quite a few cons as well. Let me ‘splain:

Pro: No alarm clock.

Well, no alarm clock other than the fluffy white schnauzer who wakes me up around 9:30 every morning, that is. But still, it is REALLY nice not having to schedule my morning around how long it’s going to take me to battle DC traffic into the city.

Con: No bedtime.

Of course, the other side of this is that I also don’t have any reason to force myself into bed at night. Which means oftentimes, I’m working late and staying up even later. A 2 AM or later bedtime is not uncommon ’round these parts nowadays.

Pro: I set my own schedule.

Need to go the grocery store? Have a doctor’s appointment? Want to go meet some friends for happy hour? Want to take the schnauzies to the dog park? I can do ALL of that! Which is honestly probably the best part of this whole kit ‘n’ caboodle. I don’t have to schedule PTO if I need to run an errand or take care of something, I can just go do it. I set my own schedule, and as long as I’m getting crap done on a weekly basis, it’s all good in the hood. Now, if only I could actually force myself to make working out part of this schedule o’ mine. I really have NO excuse anymore, other than that this new job hasn’t made me magically hate exercising any less, hahahaha. But hey, at least I’m walking the dogs a lot more!

Con: I am working pretty much non-stop.

So here’s the thing: When I’m not running errands or going to get my car’s safety inspection done or taking the dogs for a walk, I am probably working. I still have NOT figured out a way to shut my brain off from working, even when I really should be “done” for the day. I see a work email notification ping up on my iPhone and I simply MUST CHECK IT.

Nights? Weekends? Fageddaboutit. I have constant, unfettered access to my work email at all times, and I have events and festivals to either attend or work most a lot of the time. Ergo, it really does seem like I am ALWAYS working. It is not uncommon for me to pull my laptop onto my lap first thing in the morning, while still in bed, and not really close it until late at night. I check my phone to make sure there aren’t any new emails right before I go to bed a lot of the time. And it’s not that I do these things because I have to, I know logically that the email will still be there in the morning, that people will be okay if I don’t take care of something OMGRIGHTNOW. But I just can’t help it. It’s a bit of a sickness, really.

One of the tips I got when I was in San Francisco last week for training is to initiate a “laptops down” rule, which I think I definitely need to do. I know this is something I actively need to work on, especially since there are other things happening in my life that I want — and NEED — to devote time to… sigh.

Pro: No more dress code!

Okay, let’s end this on a high note, since I really don’t want anyone to think that this isn’t an awesome situation for me. As mentioned, I sincerely love this job, it’s perfect for me, and I am also still new to working from home, so I’m sure that I’ll get a better handle on things the longer I do it. Plus, there’s still at least one more pretty awesome pro left for me to discuss!

While this is also sort of a con, since my dress code is now pretty much just “pajamas,” I won’t lie, I really, really like not having to think about what I’m going to wear from a business or business casual perspective. Plus, I can do stuff like this now:

And really, having purple and pink hair is a pro that kinda outweighs everything else. 😉

Do you work from home? What are your tips/tricks for establishing a regular schedule and not working ALL THE TIME?