Allison is a long-time pal of mine, and probably a friend to you, too. If you follow her anywhere on social media, you’ve probably felt her support. I always seem to think of her as the one who gets it all done. With a smile on her face, even.
So I asked her if we could walk beside her on just an average day in her life, and of course she said yes. And then finished the interview and photography within a day or two. See what I mean? She gets it all done.
Hello! I’m Allison Czarnecki, a 30-something mother of two kids, a 16-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son. I’m the founder and CEO of a lifestyle blog called Petit Elefant, which means my day is all over the place, so let’s jump in.
My husband wakes up at 4:00 am to go to work every day, so we don’t have a cozy morning together as a family, but I dream of it happening one day. I set my alarm for 7:15 and hop straight out of bed to start the day. The first thing I do, before anything else, is to make my bed. I got in the habit a couple of years ago and I swear it makes the whole day better. It just makes things feel calm and clean before I even head downstairs for breakfast.
My daughter Sofie gets up earlier than I do, gets herself ready for the day, fixes her own breakfast, and packs up her backpack and lunch. While she does that I wake up my son and head downstairs to make him breakfast. As soon as his breakfast is ready, I hop in the car and take Sofie to the high school before the bell rings at 7:55.
We live in Utah in a small little town, and the scenery is gorgeous. The mountains are almost unreal as the sun rises over them from the East, right as I’m driving kids to school. We really love it here.
Once Sofie is dropped off, I come home to make sure my son Feliks gets launched. He eats breakfast while I’m taking Sofie to school, and then once I get home we have about a ten-minute window to hang out and talk about the day while he waits for a friend to pick him up to ride bikes to school.
At this point it’s about 8:15 and I start my own breakfast; today it was oatmeal and a cup of cinnamon tea. I like to keep it simple but need enough energy to make it to lunchtime, so I eat pretty healthy for breakfast. While I eat, I sort of meditate and listen to my scriptures — listening instead of reading makes it easier somehow — and think about what I need to do for the day.
Once breakfast is done, I start making dinner. I’ve been working really conscientiously to have family dinner together every night, and it requires a fair amount of planning and meal prep, so once the kids are out the door, I start dinner prep. Usually I put frozen chicken breasts in the sink to defrost all day, or start something in the crock pot so that dinner is mostly done by the time I actually have to get it on the table every night.
Then I jump straight into blogging at the kitchen table. For several hours I answer emails, write blog posts, and style and take photographs for blog posts I’m working on. Today my big project is to finish a blog post I’m working on for Joss & Main — we worked together to redesign the study in my house, and it’s finally finished and ready to be blogged.
Around noon, almost every day, my day turns into errands.
My daughter Sofie has been sick for a couple of years, and we don’t have a complete picture of what’s wrong with her, but we’re working really hard to figure it out. Which means a lot of doctor’s appointments. Today Sofie had a doctor’s appointment so I picked her up from school in the middle of the day, went to the appointment with her, and dropped her back off at school so she could finish her afternoon. The whole thing took a couple of hours.
My car becomes command central while I’m shuttling everyone from activity to activity. It’s totally loaded with snacks and drinks, gear for band and orchestra, swim, and blogging and is almost always a complete mess. I hate it, but it’s part of the deal.
My son Feliks also had a doctor’s appointment today, so I headed to the elementary school to check him out early straight from dropping Sofie off at the high school. We ran home so he could pack up his swim bag for practice straight after the doctor’s appointment, and got back into the car to head to the doctor. Between all of us, our family has about five doctor’s appointments a week — I have a crummy disease called Lupus which requires a lot of care — so I’m constantly shuttling people around town in-between school and extracurricular activities. It’s kind of a lot.
I dropped Feliks off at his doctor’s appointment and stayed in the car so I could get a little bit of work done. I ate snacks/lunch in the car while I was waiting, which means fruit and sparkling water and a protein bar. I’m the worst at lunch! But I always carry water with me — everywhere. I drink a ton of water, and always have snacks on me, in my car, in my purse, everywhere. My son starts eating the minute he wakes up in the morning until the actual minute he falls asleep at night (it would be so nice to have his metabolism!) so I keep snacks on me at all times.
Once Feliks was dropped off, I parked in a shady spot in the doctor’s office parking lot to edit photos for the post on the study redesign project while he was inside. I take every possible opportunity I can to work during the day because my days are all so jam-packed with activities, I never know when I’ll get a minute alone.
Once Feliks was finished he got in the car and ate his pre-swim practice snacks: a protein shake, some fruit, and some crackers. We headed straight from the appointment to swim practice. Both my kids are competitive swimmers; my daughter swims for the high school swim team during the school year, and my son swims on a club swim team year-round. Our lives are filled to bursting with swim practice and swim meets.
Every single day I set up a remote office at the swimming pool while my son swims with his team for two hours. The rec center where the swim team practices has free WiFi, thank heaven, and it’s actually a really nice little block of uninterrupted time when I get a lot of work done. I usually edit the photos I took in the morning and push out a blog post before Feliks finishes up with practice.
Once Feliks is finished up with practice and showered off, we head home. Even though we’re heading home to eat dinner, Feliks starts putting food in his mouth the minute he’s out of the water. Protein is really important after working out, and swimmers eat constantly. He packs a chocolate milk chug in his swim bag (the best post-swim food) and drinks that and eats more post-swim snacks while we drive home.
The minute I walk in the door, I set down my laptop and purse, and immediately start working to get dinner on the table. By now it’s 6:30 and everyone is hungry and tired, which is why it’s so important to have most of the meal ready before I get home from swim practice.
Tonight we had chicken enchiladas with chicken breasts that had been cooking in a crock pot all day. They were delicious and super simple to make! We sit down together at a properly set dinner table and start with a prayer before we eat. Dinner isn’t usually very fancy, but it’s really important to me. It’s the one time during the day where we’re all together, and I’ve found that it really strengthens our connection as a family when we make it more formal and scheduled. We talk about anything from politics, to what happened at school that day, to funny things on the internet. It doesn’t really matter as long as we’re together.
My rule is that since I make dinner, I don’t clean it up. One of the kids cleans off the table and the other washes dishes and puts away leftovers. It’s one of the best benefits of having older kids, and I feel really strongly about teaching my kids to contribute to the household, so it’s win-win.
On a good night, while the kids are putting dinner away, I go for a walk or a nice relaxing bike ride with my husband around our neighborhood. My husband works really long days, so the only alone time we have together is at night at dinner and before bed. A bike ride is the perfect time to talk about the day, decompress, and reconnect. I love it.
Once we’re home again, we plan out the next day with the kids, arrange schedules, make sure the dishwasher is loaded and running, and head into bedtime. We go to bed really early; usually by 9:00, sometimes earlier. I need a lot of sleep and my husband gets up super early in the morning, so the whole house is shut down by 9:00 pm. Once everyone is jammied and teeth are brushed, we all pile together on my bed where we snuggle and watch a couple of silly YouTube videos the kids want to show us before we have a family prayer, hugs and kisses, and everyone goes to their rooms.
When the kids are out of our room, my husband and I snuggle up in bed and watch an episode of something on Netflix. We’re usually both so tired we don’t make it more than half an hour, but it’s nice when we do. Then we both turn on our Kindles and each listen to our own audio books as we fall asleep. My last thought is usually, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to do this all again tomorrow!‘ but somehow I do, and it’s a good life.
Thank you, Allison! Your stories about your health issues and your daughter’s mystery ailment, and just the way you handle it all without complaint is inspiring to say the least. I loved having you here. Come back anytime!
Anyone else out there have kids immersed in an after-school activity? Two hours every day is a serious commitment for everyone involved! How do you manage your own schedules with your kids’ demanding ones? I’d love to hear your solutions on not burning out!