This Attorney Mom Has the Perfect Trick for Fitting Exercise Into a Busy Schedule | Working Mother

This Attorney Mom Has the Perfect Trick for Fitting Exercise Into a Busy Schedule

She shares all of her hacks for work-life balance.

Kristen Riemenschneider

Kristen Riemenschneider

Courtesy

Kristen Riemenschneider

LOCATION Fairfax, VA
CHILDREN Keira, 9, Katelyn, 8, and Benjamin, 5
This mom of three and attorney at the Washington, D.C., office of Working Mother 100 Best Company Arnold & Porter doesn’t consider herself an expert on the subject of working motherhood. “Every day is like a constant triage,” she confesses. She’s been known to wake up at 5 a.m. on Christmas Eve to help wrap up a case, but the long hours she logs as a life sciences transactions lawyer—helping make lifesaving medications available across the globe—are all worth it. “Even though I’m not the scientist in the lab developing the new medication, my role is invaluable in bringing these drugs to market successfully,” she says. “It’s incredibly rewarding work.” And after nearly a decade of balancing both her career and family duties, she’s definitely learned a few sanity-saving strategies along the way. The biggest ones: She frequently works from home and gets a big assist from her husband, Bob. Here are more of her go-to hacks:

1. “This family does not function without everyone shouldering some of the load.”

Son taking out the trash

Five-year-old Ben helps bring in the recycling.

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“I make the girls do everything themselves. In the mornings, they are responsible for eating breakfast, packing their lunches and making sure their homework is in their backpacks. I say: ‘School is your job. It’s your responsibility.’ I don’t have the brain capacity to remember everyone’s details anymore, so it’s on them. They also do their own laundry, empty the dishwasher, set the table and help make dinner. Even the 5-year-old is training!”

2. “The kids know if I have my headset on, they have to pass me notes!”

Kristen's note

Kristen's kids passed her this note when she was working.

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“At 3 p.m., I walk to my girls’ school, pick them up, and walk home. Then we get in the car to get my son from daycare, and come home. I usually get back to my computer and work until I have to take them to soccer practice or Girl Scouts. I just shove them outside and tell them, ‘Don’t come back until 6 because Mommy is working.’”

3. “I’ve become a big believer in outsourcing.”

Instacart

Instacart has been a key time-saver for Kristen.

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“We have a house cleaner who comes in every Tuesday. We have Amazon Prime because elementary school requires a lot of stuff; now I just have everything shipped. And the greatest investment I made this year is a subscription to Instacart. It’s $149 per year for unlimited food deliveries from one of several grocery stores, and I use it every other day; I don’t have time to go to the supermarket.”

4. "Whatever it is that will enable you to survive, you have to do it.”

Kristen running

Kristen running the last mile of the Richmond Half Marathon.

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“I have clinical anxiety, and it was diagnosed years ago when I was in law school. My doctor said: ‘Your job is really stressful. You have to take care of yourself. You have to run or exercise.’ A couple of years ago, a client suggested blocking off time in my calendar to exercise. I have a daily appointment at noon to work out for an hour. If a client says, ‘I need to talk to you,’ that’s fine, I’ll shift it, but the point is there is a daily appointment on my calendar that gets moved around but never deleted. I am actually training right now for the Pikes Peak Ascent, which is a half-marathon up the side of Pikes Peak in Colorado."

5. “I couldn’t do all of the stuff I do without my husband being incredibly supportive all the way around.”

Kristen's husband cooking dinner

Waffles is the go-to dinner when one parent is traveling.

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“He comes home early on Mondays and Wednesdays so we can deal with soccer practice together, and he takes Benny to school every day. He makes dinner in the Instant Pot. He goes on field trips. And I travel a lot, so he has to handle everything regularly. Our kids are seeing a more balanced household, and I want them to keep seeing that all of these things are accessible to both genders, or at least should be.”

6. “When you’re a week out from trial and the kids have a snow day, you bring them to work.”

Kristen's daughter

Katelyn camps out under her mom's desk with a book.

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“I want to show my girls you can be a badass at work and do amazing things, but you can also be a really good mom at the same time, and you can have fun in life.”

7. “There are some things I have totally let go of, and some things I just can’t.”

Fairy cake

Kristen's woodland fairy cake for her daughter's birthday.

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“My house is always kind of a wreck. I can’t get a handle on it and can’t bring myself to care. But I go all out for birthdays and holidays. It’s totally because of my own personal guilt for not being a stay-at-home mom. Every year, I make these ridiculous cakes for the kids. This one was for Keira’s woodland fairy-themed 8th birthday. I’ve also made a Chewbacca cake for a Star Wars party and a hedgehog for Katelyn.”

8. "I schedule the kids’ pickup times on my work calendar.”

Kristen's calendar

Kristen's calendar with time blocked off to pick up her kids.

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“It’s private—I don’t think anyone can see it—but it shows that I am unavailable. I could be in another meeting or on an airplane, so my co-workers won’t schedule a meeting with me. It’s important to me because my kids should be as important as any client meeting.”

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