Tuesday, June 28, 2011

American moms, what's your day like?

I want to hear from American moms what your typical day is like during the school year. I want to hear from SAHMs and working moms, and I want to know how you manage your very busy days!

I haven't lived in the US since I've been a parent, but based on conversations with family and friends this is what I think the typical school day is like for a working American mother:

You get up very early in the morning to get the kids ready to get on the bus by 7am (or even earlier for some. My friend's son gets on the bus at 6:30 am).

Once the kids are on the bus to school, you finish getting yourself ready and out the door to work. Your driving commute time is an average of 24 minutes each way (according to Google).  Some commute for much longer, over an hour.

You work all day. After school the kids go directly to after school activities and/ or after-school care.

You rush to get out of work and pick up the kids before after-school care closes at 6:30.

You get home after 7pm, make dinner, everyone eats. Clean-up time while the kids do their homework, practice music, etc.

You try to have "family time" for at least a few minutes, but everyone is so wiped out from their long day they really just want to veg in front of the TV.

You get the kids to bed, probably not early enough for them to really get a good night's sleep before they have to wake up at 6am tomorrow.

Once the kids are in bed you finally have some time to catch up on emails, do more work, clean up the house a little, and oh yeah maybe have some facetime with your spouse/ partner.

You collapse into bed after 11pm, to get up in the morning and do it all again.

Am I pretty close?

To be completely honest, I don't think people in other places in the world realize just how busy American mothers are, and especially how early your day starts. In other places, school starts later in the morning which allows for a less frantic pace in the mornings and for kids to get more sleep. As a result of the school day starting so early (which is done that way so commuting parents can get to work on time) everyone is chronically sleep-deprived.

What I want to know, of course, is how do you manage your own busy schedule and your family's?  I'm guessing you use Outlook or similar at work to manage meetings and workloads.   At home do you mainly rely on a wall calendar, or a paper planner, or both? Do you use electronic for some things and paper for others?

I'd love to hear what planner systems you are using to manage your busy days!  Please post a comment, and tell us what your typical day is like during the busy school year.


  1. what time do schools tend to start in america?

  2. Usually 8am or before. Ours was 7:45-2:45.

  3. Was that because of the hot climate? UK as you know is normally about 9:00-3:30 (from memory!)

  4. School was 8:15 to 3:15 for me.

    And the fabled 24 minute American commute will always find a way to stretch into 30 to 45 minutes depending on weather, traffic lights that hate you, and whatever horrible things are happening in town to prevent you from getting to work even without having any children. ;)

  5. Right now, my days are relatively dull with school out. Once school starts and my job picks up again (I work at a university as a liaison between the university and local public schools) things will get busier! During the school year, the day starts for me around 7 so I can get my daughter to day school by 8:30.

  6. Steve, for most of the school year the US is much colder than the US, so it's not the heat. Most places start to cool off by the end of September or October, and by November winter is well on its way. And even though last winter in the UK was harsh for the location, it was nothing compared to what we had every winter in Indiana! We got much colder temps and much more snow on a regular basis but had the equipment to clear the roads. I remember well standing outside waiting for the bus at 7 am in the dark (because it didn't get light until almost 8am), snow and freezing temps. I know that's how it is for many kids in the US. And your memory is correct, my daughter's school in Scotland was 9am to 3:30, which was so nice not to rush in the morning but I always wondered how working mothers coped! I think the kids had before-school care as well as after.

    I know the summer vacation in the US is very long because traditionally the kids were needed to help out on their family's farm during that time. Now that the family farms have all but disappeared, the long summer remains because it's what people are used to. School is out in the US in late May or early June and the kids usually go back mid August, as opposed to only 6 weeks off in the UK.

  7. I get the kids up at 7. I have everything ready to get my kids dressed and out the door by 7:30-7:45. Breakfast happens at school. When they are dressed about 7:15-7:20 or so I start getting dressed too. I'm lucky that my husband drives the kids to daycare and they get there about 8 am. I have to be to work around 8 am, as well.

    I have to stay at work until at least 5:00 when I have to head home. My husband picks up the kids from daycare around 5:30-5:45 pm. Anytime after 6 pm and the daycare charges by the minute. So I hope to get home through 5 pm traffic before 6 pm and start dinner. The kids get home about 6ish and then we have time to hang out before we all eat dinner at 7 pm. Around 7:30-8 pm, everyone has a bath. Bathtime is over around 8:30/8:45 pm and then it is bedtime. Next day, we get to do it all over again.

  8. I meant bedtime is at 8:30/8:45 for the kids. Then I have to get everything ready for the next day. Lunches need to be made, clothes picked out, house cleaned, dishes cleaned, clothes washed. We try really hard to make it to bed by 11 pm but we almost never make it. A lot of chores get shifted to the weekends so that we can get everything done.

  9. Wow! Interesting post. We have to hit the road for vacation today but I'm definitely going to come back and post a reply to this one. The synopsis is not too far off from our school year life!

  10. Our US school day is similar but with the early start to school - 7:30am - the kids are out at 2:30pm. Luckily, I don't work so I'm home when the kids come from the bus. We also have afterschool sports, but pick-up time is normally 4pm'ish. I don't know how the working moms handle this schedule!

    I use my FC binder as my guide for pick-up times, activity times and all other scheduling. It's summer now and we're vacationing but I still have my FC binder with me!

  11. Thank you for your replies everyone! I'm always amazed at how busy everyone is.

    Amy, I'd love to hear more about how you use your FC! Do you use daily or weekly calendar inserts?