Last fall, ALX Community was lucky enough to launch a special giveaway for a private, four-person office at the Atrium. We were simply looking to open our doors to a business or organization that shared a social mission likes ours—giving back to the local community while empowering others to do the same—and was in need of a “boost” in order to continue to grow.
Which is why were were blown away by the entry from Amanda Parker Hazelwood. Amanda is the Founder and Executive Director of The Spitfire Club, an after-school book club for girls (the “spitfires”) aimed at building an inclusive community around diverse, girl-positive books, thus leading to enhanced literacy and social-emotional skills. Since its founding in 2017, The Spitfire Club has grown to serve more than 322 girls in the DC-metro area, with just a small team behind it.
In order to continue growing and serving more communities within Alexandria, Amanda knew it was necessary to move out of her home office and into a formal space. When she found out she had won the office giveaway, she was having dinner with her family and yelled, “No [bleeping] way!” (use your imagination). Now, you can find her in office 307 at the Atrium, typically on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays until lunchtime.
As a mother of two young sons, it’s crucial to maintain a semblance of balance throughout the week, which means taking only one meeting each morning and holding one day a week for creativity and refueling her tank. Here’s what a typical day in her life looks like.
5:30am: Wake up. I’m an early riser most days, so usually between 5:30 and 6. I actually wake up without an alarm … it’s weird.
Very shortly after 5:30am: Actually get out of bed. As soon as I remember that there’s a pot of Swing’s Coffee waiting for me in my kitchen. I have two young kids, so the key to my morning routine is to be as quiet as humanly possible so that I can enjoy an hour or so of peace before the madness. That means slipping on thick socks to muffle my footsteps, tiptoeing down the stairs, and carefully avoiding those two creaky spots. Once I’ve cleared the sleeping kid landmine, I savor the first blissful sips of a hot cup of coffee. Half of the time, I immediately jump into work—I do my best writing first thing in the morning.
On a really good day, though, I light a candle, roll out my yoga mat, and sort of bumble my way through a self-guided yoga practice. The kids usually wake up in the middle of my Savasana and then it’s off to the races. My husband and I take turns slinging Eggo waffles, wrangling kids out of pajamas (“can today be pajama day again, please??!”), brushing teeth, and driving them to their respective schools (hopefully both kids have somewhere to go that day—it’s been dicey lately!).
7:40am: First school drop-off.
8:00am: Breakfast. A Stomping Ground extra hot latte that either my husband or I pick up on our way home dropping off the first kiddo.
8:50am: Second school drop-off.
9:00am: Leave for work. My commute to ALX is super short, since my youngest son’s preschool is halfway between our house in Del Ray and the Atrium. I love buzzing down Commonwealth Ave to Prince Street. The gardens and the light on the trees and old houses are both really lovely.
My days are really strange—I run an after-school girls’ empowerment program/book club [The Spitfire Club], so mornings are my only time for desk-work and meetings. Most days I have a meeting in the morning plus a few management tasks (bookkeeping, writing a grant proposal, posting to social media, responding to emails, etc.).
12:00pm: What’s for lunch? Whatever delicious bean salad is in the cooler at Mae’s!
I drink a LOT of coffee. I might actually drink a full pot of coffee a day. But I have to cut myself off at noon. I don’t like water, so I switch to decaf green tea. Pro-tip: Allegro’s decaf green tea is the best. decaf. tea. ever.
By 12 or so, I really need to have made the transition into prep for my Spitfire Clubs that afternoon (although I am almost always running behind at this point). Prep usually involves some sort of material-gathering for an activity, printing off blank reading logs and restocking the prize bin (our girls read a LOT and they get rewards for it), and restocking my home library book collection for our girls to browse.
2:00pm: Head to first site visit at Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology. I work with 73 girls each week across Alexandria through partnerships with after-school programs. Each day of the week, I show up to a different partner site with my overflowing electrician’s wheely bag (it’s the only thing sturdy enough to transport heavy books). I get to read, play, create, and have a lot of fun with around 12 elementary school girls until about 4 or 4:30 most days.
4:15pm: First dismissal. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, I dismiss the girls at Cora Kelly and sprint to the other side of Chirilagua [a Latino neighborhood in Alexandria] to work with a second group at Community Lodgings. I really love all four groups I see on those days, but truthfully, I’m pretty spent by the end of the day on Thursday.
5:30pm: Day wrap-up.
6:00pm: Evening commute / kiddo pick-up from aftercare. I wish I could say that I walk everywhere or bike, but I don’t. I drive an old SUV basically 100% of the time. On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays, I pick up my kids from their respective childcare. It’s the best when I pick up my eldest, who’s in first grade, on Mondays—that’s the day he goes to the library at school. He’ll immediately pull out his library book and read aloud to me as I drive to pick up his brother. My day job is inspiring a love of reading in girls, so I love watching him fall in love with reading, too.
6:15pm: Arrive home. Take off my shoes and put on my favorite ridiculous teal fuzzy slippers from the teen section at Target.
6:30: Dinner. I chair a commission for the City that keeps me pretty busy several evenings a week, so I’m often throwing together dinner for my kids, grabbing a banana and a cup of tea, and running up to my home office to log into Zoom or sprinting back to Old Town. When I don’t have an evening meeting, I’m quickly running through the dinner and bedtime routine with my kids so that we have enough time to read together before lights out.
8:00pm: Lights out.
Bedtime routine: After the kids have gone to bed, I try to do things that make me happy and restore me for the next day. I usually spend some of that time tidying up from whatever tornado scattered Legos everywhere earlier in the day. Sometimes my husband and I have a glass of wine on the porch and catch up on the day. Sometimes I retreat to the bathroom for a 16-step facial routine (I exaggerate) and a soak in the clawfoot tub. Sometimes I binge-watch Ted Lasso or Mandalorian. And… sometimes I crash in bed immediately after I finish reading to my kids (without even washing my face … ew).
10:00pm: Bedtime. I need a solid seven hours of sleep each night so 10 is the latest I’m usually up. Some nights, it’s more like 9 or 9:30.
A Few of Amanda’s Favorite ALX Community Things
Favorite part about being an ALX member? The pups, the coffee, the vibe, and being able to have watercooler talk with someone other than my husband.
Favorite conference room: The huge one in Above ALX [George Washington]—so gorgeous and you can’t beat those views.
Favorite Member programming: I’m a newbie. I always put Community Cocktails on my calendar, but I regret that I haven’t made it to one yet.
Favorite spot to sit at the Atrium besides your office: I really love the little lounge in the hallway outside my office door. Two Cindy Wallace paintings are on display behind gorgeous mid-century furniture. It’s a super calm, inviting space. I love bringing folks to our office to take meetings there.
Music you’d like to hear in the Town Hall: Motown, for sure. Though there was a Brandi Carlile/Emmylou Harris duet one day that made me really happy.
Best spot to take calls: My neighbors may not love this, but I haven’t tested out the cute phone booth stations for calls, yet. I typically just take calls from my office.
Favorite ALX dog: Either River or Bella. River doesn’t like everyone but she does like me. Bella does like everyone and she also likes me. I think I just like any dog that likes me.
Best ALX memory: So far, winning the free office giveaway is my favorite memory! It’s a hard one to beat!
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