13.1.16

a day in HER life - Emily Teo

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Hello! I am Emily, founder of Urban Departures, an online business and blog dedicated to helping families better manage their money. I have two little ones: three-year old Lucas and seven month old Maddy. I am currently on a year-long maternity leave from my consulting career. It is nice to take a break from the long hours of consulting; not only do I have time with the kids, it is an opportunity to work on my passion project: The Mama Collective, where I am fundraising $10K to improve maternal health in Nigeria.

So that is a little about me and here is a glimpse of a day in my life.

I wake up at around 4AM to the cries of a hungry baby. Not wanting her big brother to also awake from slumber, I run into the kids shared room as swiftly as my tired body will allow and swoop Maddy up from her crib. Lucas stirs, rolls over and continues to sleep (phew!). I go and nurse Maddy. If I am really tired, those middle-of-the-night nursing sessions occur in my bed, which has been happening frequently as of late. Maddy ends up sleeping with me.

Early morning, my son crawls into bed with the rest of the family. There is a rule that mommy and daddy stay in bed until 7:30; so Lucas talks and sings to himself until the alarm sounds. Then he drags my husband out to play. I am SO not a morning person and stay in bed a little longer, drifting in and out of sleep until Maddy wakes up for her morning feed.

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My husband has Lucas duty in the morning. They complete a small educational activity together while I nurse the baby in bed. When she's full, we join the boys in the kitchen where they are making my coffee. I need my coffee. Breakfast always comprises of eggs, toast and yogurt; nothing special but it is easy and nutritious.

The scramble to get out the door begins after breakfast. No matter how much we prepare the previous night, chaos always ensues. Maddy spits up and because we haven't put away laundry in a couple of weeks, it is extremely difficult to find her teeny tiny baby leggings (breathe, just put her back in her sleeper). Lucas, who adamantly insisted he did not need to use the washroom, desperately needs to pee (breathe, tell Daniel to take him while you finish dressing Maddy). My husband can't find his keys because Lucas was playing with them earlier (breathe, make it a game to encourage Lucas to remember where he last left them). Maddy starts wailing and everyone else is about to lose it when the keys show up. In my boots.

Somehow everyone manages to get out the door on time-ish.

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Lucas attends pre-school three days a week. On those days, I work on The Mama Collective. As soon I return home from dropping Lucas off at school, I put Maddy down for a nap. While she sleeps, I work. Before sitting down in front of the computer, I do two things: make another cup of coffee and spend 10-15 minutes in prayer. The moment of quiet prepares my mind for the day. The coffee, though I barely touch it, is a habit from days in the office, the warmth of the cup signalling the start of a work day.

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Maddy naps for two hours in the mornings which is ample time to cross off items on the to-do list. Emails are written, meetings are scheduled, blog and social media comments are addressed, photos are posted on Instagram. Working at home with a child is so different from conventional work arrangements; my schedule is dictated by the baby and can shift at any moment. Some days Maddy wakes up from her nap early and I continue to work with her on my lap, competing for the keyboard she very much likes to bang on.

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Today she sleeps the full two hours. At the sound of her babbling, the computer is turned off for a much welcome break. We have lunch together.

Depending on the day, I schedule a play date or a business-related meeting in the afternoon. Lately, it has been more meetings than play as The Mama Collective has a few upcoming creative collaborations. I meet up with a partner today to hash out details for a fundraising event. Maddy always accompanies me; she is good and will play by herself on my lap.

After the meeting, I pick up Lucas from school. Because it is cold today, his friends and their parents scurry off. My son, on the other hand, wants to remain outside; the 5 minute walk home from school takes half hour, splashing in every puddle we come across. Lucas and I are freezing by time we arrive home, but lucky Maddy is toasty warm, snuggled up against my chest as she naps in the carrier.

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The rest of the afternoon is low-key. Hot chocolate is served as the kids play. I join them in their room, put on some music and attempt to put away laundry. We remain there until my husband returns home.

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As soon as he removes his shoes, I pass the baby to him and head into the kitchen to prepare dinner. I meal plan religiously and make a giant pot of something-or-other once a week, lasting 4-5 meals. Personally, I hate eating the same dish over and over again, but it does make dinner prep quick and easy. Tonight we had budae-jijae, a spicy Korean stew perfect for a blistery cold winter's night. The broth was made over the weekend and all the ingredients just need to be brought to a boil. Dinner is served half hour later.

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At the dinner table, each member of the family recounts their day, with the exception of Maddy who happily stuffs food into her face and hair. She loves to eat. Lucas, on the other hand, just won't eat lately. Daniel and I try to bribe Lucas twice to finish his dinner but eventually give up. It is getting late and we want to play.

When the dinner table is cleared, the adults lay on the floor while the kids surround us with their toys and books. Play time isn't long and by 7PM, it's time for the kids' bedtime routine in a divide and conquer manner: daddy takes Lucas, mommy nurses Maddy. We re-group to read and pray. The kids' bedtimes are slightly staggered; Maddy goes to bed first and Lucas is allowed to play a little longer. Usually, both kids are down before 8PM.

Daniel and I quickly conduct a flash tidy of our home before collapsing in bed to catch up and discuss our plans for the evening. We look through my phone at the gazillion photos I took of the children and share stories of when they are cute. I grow drowsy and wish to fall asleep, but I muster all energy to get out of bed. It takes a lot effort to work in the evening, but we do; and once we get started, it's hard to stop. With a pot of tea, we work together at the kitchen table, producing content for our blog and responding to clients. Shortly after 11:30, my eyes glaze over.

By the time we are ready for bed, it is PAST midnight. I put on a podcast currently, Serial or The Art of Simple) which we listen to until we fall asleep... five minutes later.

It is a busy season here. Everyday, I wish for more time: an hour to read, forty minutes to put away laundry, twenty minutes to finish a podcast; but I am grateful that the minutes of my day are spent with people I love and working on projects that excite and challenge. There are six more months of maternity leave left; I look forward to what is to come.

Thank you so much Emily!
Instagrams - @emilypteo, @urbandepartures
Websites - The Mama Collective, Urban Departures



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