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Meghan Ward

I'm a freelance writer and book editor represented by Andy Ross of the Andy Ross Literary Agency. You can read an excerpt of my memoir, Paris On Less Than $10,000 A Day, and visit my website for more info about me.

A Day in the Life

During my author interview with Alicia Dunams, I asked her to describe her typical day. I found it so fascinating to get a glimpse into a fellow writer’s personal life that I decided to share mine, too, and I encourage everyone else to do the same (in comments or on your own blog).

Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, I wake up when one of the kids starts crying or calling me (my son is 2 and my daughter is 6 mos) around 7 a.m. Soon they’re both up and I change them and start breakfast. Breakfast takes forever because I have to breast feed my baby, then make cereal with fruit, or eggs and fruit and toast, for my son (who then wants some yoghurt, then more yoghurt, then no, not more yoghurt, more cereal, no not THAT cereal, the other one, and then some milk, no not milk, WATER, and on and on). By the time both kids are changed, dressed, and fed, and I’ve eaten breakfast myself, it’s time for my daughter to take her first nap. I do dishes, maybe start laundry, check e-mail, get the mail, or half a dozen other things while she sleeps if we don’t have plans. Other days we have plans to meet friends at a play museum or the zoo or a park, so we head out straight after breakfast. “Heading out” takes about an hour (not including my shower, which I try to take while my daughter is napping and my son is “playing toys.”) Leaving the house means packing the diaper bag: diapers, wipes, and extra clothes for two kids, snacks, water bottles, wallet, phone, etc. Then the double stroller, then jackets and hats and blankets and toys—everything into the car. Then the kids into the car, then me. Then wait, I forgot my … hat/phone/glasses/umbrella/camera/water bottle, you name it, so back into the house at least once and then we’re off. No we’re not. I also forgot my … hat/phone/glasses/umbrella/camera/water bottle. And now we’re off.

We come back around 12:30 or 1 for lunch, then my son goes down for a nap. My daughter always falls asleep in the car, so just as my son goes down for a nap, she wakes up starving and screaming. I change her and breast feed her, and now she’s eating solids. So I make her cereal and her fruit, all the while she is screaming because she’s hungry, then feed her, which means 1/3 goes in her mouth, 1/3 on her face, and the other third on her bib and chair. That’s if she doesn’t sneeze. Because she has a cold. The one my son passed on to her. When she sneezes, she sprays cereal and prunes all over the floor, the table, the wall, in my son’s hair if he happens to be standing nearby. I finally eat my own lunch around 2 or 3, just before I pass out from exhaustion and starvation, then try to sit for 10 minutes and check e-mail. Then change the laundry, do more dishes, and put my daughter down for her second nap, just as my son is waking up. I get him up, change him, and we’re off for the afternoon. Repeat above (restock diaper bag, etc.) Or we stay in and “play toys,” read books, etc. If I’m really exhausted and desperate to get something done, like pay bills, I let my son watch Thomas the Train for half an hour.

Soon, dinner. Either I cook or I call my husband and ask him to pick up groceries. Then baths, then I feed my daughter (repeat above) and put her to bed before he gets home. Then he comes home and cooks (often) while I put my son to bed (feed him, change him, put his PJs on, read stories, brush teeth, arrange dogs and bear and water bottle just so in crib, etc.) By the time they’re both in bed and we’re sitting down to eat, it’s 8:30. By the time we finish eating and do the dishes, it’s 9:30, and all I can think about is bed. Some nights I go to sleep early. Some nights I read. Some nights I work on my book. Tuesday night I watch Lost. Most nights I do I don’t know what (laundry, return e-mails, balance accounts, talk to husband) and it’s midnight before I know it and I need to pump (breast milk) and go to bed.

Mondays and Wednesdays, we have a babysitter. I get up, feed and change the kids, eat breakfast and put my running clothes on. My husband and I run from about 9 to 10, then he goes to work and I take a shower and pack to leave for the city, where I write. I get there much later than I’d like to, around noon, buying my lunch on the way. Once I get there, I unpack, pump, eat my lunch, and get to work around 1. I work until 5, breaking to pump once more around 3, and then head home to arrive at 6 (I also work on the train for about 25 mins each way). I “play toys” or give my son a bath and read stories, figure out a plan for dinner, and repeat above.

Weekends: Saturday morning we take the kids to swimming class, go out to brunch, and then I do a longer run (8-10 miles) while my husband watches the kids. We figure out something to do for the afternoon/evening (an outing, a family dinner, a birthday party, etc.), and I usually fall asleep early because I’m exhausted from the run. Sunday we do another outing, or I get my husband to watch the kids for a few hours while I write.

Nights that I have insomnia (like tonight, I think I ate too much dark chocolate after dinner), I stay up and read or blog, knowing that I’m going to be exhausted the next day. Other nights I go to bed early, wishing I’d gotten more done.

And that’s my life. What about you? What is your “day in the life” like?

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6 comments to A Day in the Life

  • One of the things I have often thought about you is: I don't know where you get the energy. Because it seems to me I'd be doing FAR LESS than you manage to do, like NO running, NO outings, and NO activities. So give yourself a huge pat on the back for juggling it all.

    My day in the life….I'll have to blog about this….but essentially it comes down to writing for 2 hours after my son goes to sleep at 8 pm. I ignore everything else in a slightly unhealthy way. It seems like you have a good handle on balance, even it's extremely BUSY balance.

  • Holy geez! I'm exhausted just reading about your life! You're amazing. o_O

    A day in my life is like this…

    Mon-Thurs: Get up, take care of dog, go to work. Work/write/read/make internet rounds until 4:30. Go home, take care of dog. Eat dinner. Watch TV/hang with dog and boyfriend/write/read. (Every other night take care of dog.) Get ready for bed. Read/write.

    Fri: Get up, take care of dog, go to Panera or someplace to write/read/make internet rounds. Maybe eat lunch there, maybe go back home for lunch. Maybe run some errands or do some laundry/cleaning. At 4, take care of dog. Write until boyfriend gets home. Eat dinner. Watch TV/hang with dog and boyfriend/write/read. (Every other night take care of dog.) Get ready for bed. Read/write.

    Sat/Sun: Get up, take care of dog, do who knows what (depends on sports, friends, weather, etc.)/write/read/make internet rounds. Eat dinner. Watch TV/hang with dog and boyfriend/write/read. (Every other night take care of dog.) Get ready for bed. Read/write.

    Yeah, my life is pretty repetitive, and there's a lot of (FRAGMENTED) time for reading and writing. But I sort of designed it that way on purpose. (I.e., I quit a more traditional job in order to have this reading/writing time.)

  • UM. YOU MAKE ME NOT WANT TO HAVE KIDS! I'M EXHAUSTED JUST READING YOUR POST!

    All I can say is that I have way more spare time than you do, and I still do not manage to get much done.

  • Sierra – without the outings we would go insane trying to entertain two kids. The outings give them something to do. They are exhausting but much better than listening to Shea whine like he does when stuck inside on rainy days.

    Kristan – I'm jealous of all your reading/writing time. Sounds like you work four days. What kind of job do you have? The problem with working by the hour (freelance editing and tutoring) is that I don't get paid for the hours I blog, etc. I was talking to a friend about how many hours people actually work at full-time jobs. I guessed 5 out of 8 (from my past experience). She said 3. There are advantages to full-time jobs!

    Jade – I'm not a good advertisement for having two kids this close together! It's very tiring. But one isn't as bad, and two spread out more isn't bad because the older one can be in preschool by then. HOWEVER, I've heard that later having two will pay off because they'll entertain each other (when they're not fighting :)

  • I feel like I never have time to write, but I really do; reading about your day made me realize this.

    I wake up at 8 a.m., Monday-Friday and go to my job as a copy editor till 5p.m., some days I'm here till 7 or 8 p.m. While at work I work or blog or make notes on my notepad and maybe fit in some writing on my lunch. I go home and make dinner and watch some TV and then I write 1,000 words or more. It all depends on how easy the 1,000 came out, and I don't leave my chair until I have those 1,000 words. If I feel like I can do more, I do. Then I get into bed and read until I fall asleep.

    Weekends I wake up late and watch movies and cook and read and avoid my laptop but I always sit back down and do my 1,000 words, sometimes around 1 or 2 a.m., when things seem to come easiest.

  • Jessica, it sounds like you do write a lot! 1000 words a day is a lot! I've been slacking this week since I have an awful stomach flu, but now I'm mostly better and just slacking with no excuse. It's so hard to get back into the rhythm once you've gotten out of it.

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