Since going back to work post-baby, my time in the lab is much shorter in duration. On the one hand, I get to the lab about 2 hours earlier, but I leave by 4:00, 4:30 at the latest. This is due to the fact that my husband gets mini-xx ready in the morning (minus the feeding) while I pick her up in the afternoon. There is no more staying late because something didn't work the first time or because I got an unexpected result and I want to add another experiment to my day. Nope. It ends at 4:30 whether I like it or not. As a result, I must jam pack my day from start to finish. Every experiment and task is well thought out in advanced so that my day is organized and to some degree, choreographed, before I ever get to the bench. This is the only way I can optimize every minute. However, on Thursday, it's like old times. Thursdays are my day to work as late and as long as I want. I can stay until 2:00 a.m. if I desire.
The MXX free day came about after a rather embarrassing little melt down over my lack of productivity since arriving back at work. I was smack in the middle of a cloning hell which was eating up a lot of my time, I was editing papers for other people in the lab and to top it all off I still couldn't fit into my pre-pregnancy pants. So, I lost my shit and yelled at my husband about (1) how it seemed like everything was business as usual for him while my career was slowly making its way to the city sewer and (2) how unfair I felt it was that he still went to band practice and played out at clubs on a regular basis while I couldn't even contemplate extracurricular activities. I didn't even want extra-curricular activities, I just wanted to work more and damn it, that's not asking too much.
The current solution: I get one day a week where I can stay as late as I want. Not only can I add several hours to my work week, but I can also plan long experiments without rushing because they end 5 seconds before I walk out the door. So on Thursday, the hubby leaves work by 4:00 and my Mom keeps mini-xx until he can get home and I am free to toil away until the wee hours. (He gets home late on Tuesday b/c that is practice night.)
So far, it's working quite nicely. The only problem is that sometimes on Thursday I don't have enough work to do and don't need to stay late. If things don't go as planned at the beginning of the week, I won't be able to do the zillion experiments I planned for Thursday. To keep this to a minimum, I've learned that I must have a contingency plan for every Thursday so that I don't waste that time. I mean really, it's not like there is a shortage of shit I need to do.