My 8784 hours, day by day

FullSizeRender-8Having children causes many lifestyle changes, but I think one of the toughest for people is that it becomes harder to make up sleep on the weekends. We all like to stay up a little later on weekends because hey, we don’t have to be up for anything in the morning! And yet little kids are still likely to be up early because they just are. You can trade off with your partner, or you can build in naps to the schedule — and you should — but both require planning and coordination.

The good news is that the weekend schedule does eventually open up somewhat. When I analyzed time logs for I Know How She Does It, which featured women with kids of all ages, I found that people averaged 7.3-7.5 hours of sleep on various weekdays, and then 8.1 hours on Saturdays and 8.6 on Sundays.

I am still in the baby/toddler stage myself, and it shows on my time logs from the past year. There was a much tighter range:


Monday: 7.35

Tuesday: 7.54

Wednesday: 7.17

Thursday: 7.42

Friday: 7:15

Saturday: 7:57

Sunday: 7.61

In other words, while I am right with the IKHSDI average on weekdays, I am a reasonable bit under on weekends, including a whole hour under on Sundays. I have a line in some of my speeches about why we should think in terms of 168 hours, not 24: “What’s a normal day for you, is it Tuesday or is it Saturday? They both occur just as often, and they both have the same number of hours, but if I looked at you on those days, I’d get a very different picture of your life.” Except that in my life, when it comes to sleep, Tuesdays and Saturdays are basically identical. I am getting the amount of sleep I need, but partly because I am quite regimental about it. I would like to go to bed later on weekends, but I can’t do so without consequences.

(Unless I am in a hotel room by myself. Then all bets are off!)

Work is a slightly different beast. My days did not look identical there, but even so, I can see that the work days are shorter than I might ultimately like (especially Fridays — I had no childcare for a big chunk of the year’s Fridays), and hence Saturday and Sunday are seldom zeroes.


Monday: 7.74

Tuesday: 7.30

Wednesday: 7.45

Thursday: 7.15

Friday: 4.46

Saturday: 1.44

Sunday: 1.77

There were only 43 days during the year that I did not work. Kid events during the weekdays shorten these days and make me spread out the work onto weekends and holidays to average 40 hours/week (during non-vacation weeks — it was 37.40 overall). There is a lot of work-life integration in my life. It is how I make the pieces all fit.

When it comes to sleep, are you an even-every-day sort, or a weekender? As for work, do you mostly keep it Monday-Friday, or do you use weekends too?

In other news: Please excuse another request for sources! I’m still hoping to interview someone, age 50+, who’s participated in the on-demand economy (eLance, Fiverr, Uber, even renting your place out on AirBnB). As always you can email me at lvanderkam at yahoo dot com. I really appreciate the help!

4 thoughts on “My 8784 hours, day by day

  1. I just read your article in the NYT’s – The Busy Person’s Lies loved it. I then stumbled upon your blog. I’m fascinated by your writing…knowing that even I, mother of 5 – 4 years old and under (yes you read that correctly, I have a 4yr, 3yr, 2yr, and 10 month old twins) have more time than I think on any given day. So to answer your question above – I’m not sure I’m an even-every-day sort…it all depends on the twins and their night. And as for work – I work part-time – all hours day and night. Nap time I work. Sometimes when the kids are all up playing – I sneak in and do some work (I’m an artist and have a studio in my house). I feel like I’m all over the place with both sleep and work – but maybe if I documented my time I would see things differently. And that’s something I just might do. (p.s. My husband (and sister-in-law and several friends) went to Princeton class of 2002!

    1. @Jana- thanks for your comment, and welcome! I hope you’ll stick around and read some of the archives. It sounds like you have a very full life, but I do believe there is time. Maybe not a lot at your particular season, but some. And yes, tracking time is great for seeing that. Let me know if you do decide to keep a time log. I would love to see the time log of someone with five kids under the age of 5!

  2. I enjoyed the article about your year of tracking that you featured in your newsletter. I’m curious about the roughly 10 hours/week that you spend on housekeeping. What does that include? How many hours per week of household work have you outsourced? Since you make such a conscious effort to minimize and ignore, I figure the sum should give a good idea of the lower bound on how much work is really involved in taking care of a household.

    1. @Tonya- thanks for your note! My housework and errand total includes time spent making meals, cleaning up, any errands such as grocery shopping, clothes shopping, etc. I would say this was a number that was skewed by a few high weeks when I was entertaining. The median was lower. Also, housework is highly fluid. I did a lot more on weeks I was home more. So did it actually have to happen? I don’t know. We have about 8 hours of housekeeping help per week, but my husband would do some of this (and my 10 hours don’t include his) so it doesn’t work to just add the numbers to get a total for taking care of a household. Also, some chunk of the 8 are about making the house cleaner than it would be – not about what has to be done to function.

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