We have talked about several aspects of starting a counseling practice as a mom. I wanted to cover one final aspect. The schedule. How did I keep it all straight as a mom of a little one? I wanted to go over a typical week with you when I went to “full-time” private practice.
Keep in mind that some of this is a bit of a blur. I’m not going to lie and tell you that everything was easy peasy. I learned a LOT by trial and error! But, this is what I landed on that felt really good to me!
A full day of clients on Monday
While I loved the “idea” of a flexible schedule where I could work a few hours each day- the truth is I am NOT good at just working a few hours. I have an “overdeveloped” work ethic and am a bit ADD. So once I drop into work I can easily hyperfocus and get a LOT done! However, on the other side- if there is a lot going on- I can get a bit distracted and end up getting NOTHING done! So, I found I preferred to “stack” my clients.
On Monday mornings my husband would take my son to preschool or elementary school (when we got there) and I would go into work by about 7:30am. I like working early in the day, so if I had clients that wanted a 7am or 7:30am (or sometimes even a 6am) I could easily accommodate that. On the other hand, I found that late appointments tended to exhaust me, lead to overeating, and missed session notes.
Keeping a routine
I kept to 50 minute sessions and between sessions would take 10 minutes to write progress notes, go to the bathroom, refill my water, and sometimes grab a protein shake. Drinking water during sessions kept me on track with my timing, and kept me healthier and happier. I would see 4-5 clients before lunch. Have a 30-60 minute lunch, and then have my afternoon clients 4-5. 5pm was the latest I would schedule a client- and it was usually for returning clients.
Taking a Day Off
I found I liked seeing full days of clients Mondays and Wednesdays. On the weeks with Holidays where I saw Monday clients on Tuesday I could really “feel” how much energy it took for me to be “on” two days in a row. I also really liked having the ability to have 4 day weekends every single week.
Returning phone calls
I also found that having days off during the week made it a bit easier for returning phone calls. I could easily spend 30 minutes returning phone calls from home while my son was napping. If there was a crisis situation, I felt more ready to resolve it than I did when I saw clients every day of the week.
This also created a natural balance for my husband and I in regards to parenting responsibilities. If our son was sick on Mondays or Wednesdays he took off work, if he was sick Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday- I took off work. This isn’t the way it is for every mom. If you are single, or have a partner who is out of town or who doesn’t have sick time- this can get a bit hairy. Kids get sick.
There is something amazing about being able to clean my house during the week and not having a huge “chore” list on the weekends. I found fun ways to hang out with my kid and clean the house. And, when my son went to school if there was an emergency and a client needed a session- I would do those over the phone. It would allow me to keep my office boundaries, and I could stay in comfy clothes all day. Oddly enough, I found sweeping during phone sessions very helpful. In session I tend to write to keep myself focused and my mind from drifting. Sweeping was the right amount of stimulation to keep me on track.
So this is what I found was my perfect week. I know many other therapists who would MUCH prefer just working every morning, or just in the afternoons. As a mom with varied responsibilities- figure out what works best for you and YOUR family! The truth is, the better your life and your family life flow- the more attentive and present you can be as a therapist!