Amy Kalar, AIA, senior associate for HGA Architects and Engineers in Minneapolis, founded the blog ArchiMom (archimom.com) in January 2015 to raise important issues that working parents face in the profession.

“I believe that when we share our stories we create a really powerful network, and we let each other know we’re not alone,” Kalar says.

Actively involved in her local AIA Minneapolis chapter, Kalar is also a visiting instructor at St. Catherine University, training for a marathon in Iceland, leads a recurring discussion series at HGA amongst her colleagues, and is the founder of an online discussion group on LinkedIn, Women in Architecture and Design.

To an outsider, Kalar appears to be an average American mother trying to make it all work, but to an insider she is far and away above average. In one day, Kalar essentially does the work of four full-time jobs: mom, architect, college instructor, and blogger.

“The idea of work-life balance to me is literally laughable,” Kalar says. “There’s never a time when my life is perfectly balanced. It’s like a yo-yo.”

Here’s a look inside a typical day with Amy.

A Day in the Life of an ArchiMom
Photography: Caitlin Reagan

Clockwise, from left to right:
6:45 a.m. “I wake up before the kids and always hit the coffee pot. I try to have a quiet moment of coffee just for myself before I make the kids breakfast.”

7:05 a.m. “I used to make their waffles from scratch, but that’s just not logical anymore. So we eat a lot of Eggo waffles in our house,” she says, laughing.

7:45 a.m. “I leave for work earlier than my husband, so he sits with the kids while I get ready and drops them off at school and daycare.”

9:50 a.m. “I created these networks [of women] because I needed them myself. I need these women and I need them to remain in the profession. I needed them a long time ago, and because of them I’ve stayed in the profession.”

A Day in the Life of an ArchiMom
Photography: Caitlin Reagan

Clockwise, from left to right:
11:05 a.m. “Women should get together—it’s really important that they talk and support each other—but as women, we aren’t the majority. Men need to get involved and address these changes, to help to better integrate women into the profession. It’s about retention. Men are the key in this.”

12:55 p.m. “If I don’t have a lunch date, I’ll bring a frozen lunch. I teach part-time and I am not super-prepared today, so I’m going to look over my materials at lunch before I start teaching at 1:30. Thankfully, I know Revit so well that it’s easy for me to teach.”

3:40 p.m. “The most challenging part of teaching is the time outside of the classroom. It’s developing the curriculum, the coursework, finding the best way to present the information, grading, writing rubrics. It just takes a lot of time. I’m in the classroom about seven and a half hours a week.”

6:10 p.m. “I feel like I’m always rushing everywhere I go, especially on Wednesdays. My firm is really flexible. I can come in when it works for me and leave when I need to. If I need to leave during the day for my child’s doctor appointment or a holiday concert, it usually isn’t an issue.”

A Day in the Life of an ArchiMom
Photography: Caitlin Reagan

Clockwise, from left to right:
6:20 p.m. “If dinner can’t be made incredibly fast, the kids get grumpy. As a result, they eat things like hot dogs, peanut butter and jelly, grilled cheese, quesadillas, and chicken nuggets. Tonight it’s tacos with broccoli.”

6:30 p.m. “The culture of long hours in architecture is pervasive. We all want to do a good job, but when you are a parent you want to back off a little and spend more time with your families. This also seems to happen right when women and men tend to be rising into roles with more responsibility.”

7:05 p.m. “Either I or my husband clean up the dinner table and do the dishes. The other hangs out with the kids—playing, reading, doing homework, etc. We don’t watch TV in our house—except for our Friday-night movie night!”

8:55 p.m. “Work for me at this time isn’t so much the billable stuff. It’s catching up on email, working on the blog, or reviewing upcoming meetings. I’m a late-night person, so I get more done during this time period than I do during the day.”