Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Day in the Life of the Billable Mom

When I worked in a law firm, I became accustomed to thinking about my day in tenths of an hour, which any lawyer will tell you are the smallest units of billable time. To be a productive member of the firm, every six minutes must account for some activity that can be legitimately charged to a client. Everyone knows that to bill eight honest hours in a workday, one must be prepared to spend upwards of ten or eleven hours in the office... since you can't actually bill for time eating lunch, checking email, or talking to your secretary about last night's "American Idol" elimination.

You also learn that in order to be paid, you need to make your time sound important. Clients don't want to pay for 0.3 hours to "Meet with (Senior Partner) John Smith" because they secretly wonder if you and John Smith are actually just comparing standings in the firm's Fantasy Football league. So you'd better write something like "Analyze summary judgment arguments and discuss litigation strategy with lead counsel" if you want your three tenths of an hour to count.

Now that I've left the law firm culture for life among my boys, I am no longer bound to the requirement of billable time. But I started thinking one day that if I could bill for my time spent at home, what would my timesheet look like? So I came up with a bill for my average day at home... I'll be sending this off to my husband tonight with the expectation that every last tenth of an hour will be paid.
8:00 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.
Conduct strategic a.m. potty training meeting w/3-year old client re: wearing underpants.

9:00 a.m. - 9:10 a.m.
Teleconference w/opposing counsel (i.e. husband) to discuss underpants issue; consider opposing argument ("Just let him go commando if that's what he wants. What's the big deal? Now stop bothering me at the office.").

9:15 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
Attend breakfast meeting w/3-year old client; engage in negotiations on finishing scrambled eggs.

10:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
Review client trust accounts (i.e. Halloween candy) to determine occurrence of unauthorized withdrawals; investigate possible commingling of assets between 3- and 7-year old clients who both share a penchant for peanut M&Ms. 

11:15 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.
Conduct followup potty training meeting with demonstrative exhibits (namely, Tickle Me Elmo and pull-up diaper).

12:00 p.m. - 12:45 p.m.
Attend lunch meeting with 3-year old client; engage in negotiations on finishing broccoli.

3:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Debrief 5- and 7-year old clients re: school day during car ride home; discuss playground ethics. 

3:40 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Review citation from kindergarten teacher; advise 5-year old client on the propriety of borrowing female classmate's show and tell princess wand and using it as a baseball bat at recess; analyze whether said conduct may be considered harassment. 

4:10 p.m. - 4:45 p.m.
Perform mediation between 5- and 7-year old clients re: who drove remote control helicopter into the fish tank.

4:50 p.m. - 5:10 p.m.
Conduct discovery re: helicopter and fish tank incident; interview 3-year old eyewitness who claims both older brothers were holding remote control when said helicopter crashed.

5:15 p.m. - 5:40 p.m.
Adjudicate guilt of alleged helicopter operators, and sentence guilty parties to cleaning fish tank.

5:45 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Prepare 3-year old to enter witness protection program.
Finally, the rest of my day is spent on non-billable activities like sleeping, trying to sleep, reading personal e-mails, forwarding funny e-mails, snacking, feeling guilty about snacking, and talking to my husband about what to eat for dinner. So it's not unlike a typical day at the firm.

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