Work-Life Balance: How this doctor mom is doing it all
I get this question a lot. And I get it, people see my credentials and highlight reel on Instagram and it seems like I have it all together.
Spoiler alert: I do not do it all! And I certainly do not have it all together.
I do quite a bit. I am a full-time doctor, wife and mother to two toddlers.
My trick? It is all about making decisions ahead of time so you aren't wasting precious time in your day to make last minute decisions that may not serve you well.
Time management. I know, nothing new here. But let me break it down to you. This was all by trial and error.
This is one of my biggest tips for efficiency as a mom. Our weekday mornings look the exact same. I wake up, brush teeth, put a little make up on, change a diaper, brush teeth and off we go. My kids take baths every night and put on clean clothes that they well wear the next morning. They don't wear pajamas! Their clothes are comfy so they can sleep in them. I don't have time or energy for a wardrobe change in the morning.
Because they go to daycare and kids can be gross, all their outfits are washed after one wear. So they always sleep in fresh clean clothes. I have been doing this since they were born! Keep at it and thank me later.
I grab my coffee to go and the kids eat breakfast at daycare. When they start going to school, we will do a quick breakfast that I will prepare the night or week prior.
Speaking of daycare, my kids have been going to a daycare center since 3 months of age. I love it and so do they. I love getting updates through the daycare app of what they ate, what they did, and my favorite, pictures! Bonus: daycare provides their meals while they are there (well, technically I pay for it, but it counts!). The daycare is a part of our village.
We picked a daycare center because of reliability. They have great hours for this dual-physician household, they have a curriculum, activities and meals, and they are always open (except for national holidays). They don't call in sick, close on a snow day or have last minute emergencies that will leave my children without school. There are advantages and disadvantages for each method of childcare, but this works the best for us.
Even as a minimalist, I have lots of stuff (mostly my kids do). We try to tidy up daily. Kind of. I had a cleaning service who cleaned my house once a week. Since moving and quarantine, we have been (barely) managing on our own but I don't know how long this will last. If you can outsource, this, I highly recommend it, even if it is once a month. It is money well spent.
I hate last minute decisions, especially when it comes to meals. I usually meal prep for our family dinners on Sundays. I have a big list of our favorite meals, but my go-to meals that I can make in big batches are on rotation pretty frequently. All of my homemade meals are vegetarian, healthy, and filling. When we run out of food around Wednesday or Thursday, I cook again a big meal or put together some pasta that will take us to the weekend.
I also usually prepare lunch for myself to take to work.
Let me know if you would like to know more about my meal hacks below!
I love shopping for groceries. Since the pandemic, it has been a bit challenging because I do it alone, but I still enjoy it. Make a list and stick to it. Do not be afraid to use all your resources, like grocery curbside pickup or delivery. I use the Google Keep app for this.
Weekends are for family time. We usually play it by ear, but if there is something planned, like a trip to a museum or the library, I will put that into our shared Google calendar. I try not to plan anything for Sunday afternoon to decompress and get ourselves ready for the week ahead.
Every night is date night with my husband. We make chamomile tea, snuggle and watch a show. Even before COVID-19, our date nights looked like this. Having 2 babies is hard and going out takes effort. So if this is all you are doing these days, I want to remind you that it is ok. More than ok. You don't need to have a fabulous life to have a great life.
My husband and I both take calls. Our calls are quite different but they are mostly not in the hospital unless there is an emergency, where we get called in. For this reason, we use Google calendar and we each input our work schedules so our calls do not overlap. It requires some maneuvering but it works.
Use downtime wisely
Whenever I have downtime, like between patients, I like to do something useful. I generally always prep my patient charts ahead of time. I usually have a general idea of why the patient is referred and I pre-write the note ahead of time. After I see the patient, I modify my notes and sign. It not only saves me time, but also allows me to take the best care of my patients. Ways to use downtime: online grocery shopping, compile a to-do list, work on things on the go like social media posts, etc. But let's face it, a lot of downtime these days is spent mindlessly scrolling on social media.
I am all about those checklists. I know lots of people who love physical checklists because there is something therapeutic about crossing things off, but I swear by digital checklists. I love to use Google Keep for this as well.
The trick is to prioritize. Do not try to do it all at once, because you are setting yourself up for stress or failure. Choose one task, or a couple little ones, and block time in your schedule to do them.
For time sensitive tasks, I add them in my calendar and set a reminder. This is for things like daily to-do list (I don't have one everyday), returning library books, car service.
Schedule time for yourself. Whether it is to exercise, meditate, scroll through social media, or Netflix and chill. I personally need this daily. For me, this is usually at the end of the day after my kids go to bed, but for you it could be the morning, or over lunch.
I am very rigid about bedtime. My kids go to bed earlier than most (used to be 6.30, now 7 pm) but they also wake up earlier than most (#doctorparents). For the kids, we have been doing bedtime routine since birth. Bath, breastfeeding, sleep, then it became bath, reading books, sleep. I try to get in bed by 10 pm, earlier if I plan to wake up extra early or I just feed tired. I function so much better on lots of sleep. I am learning to be less rigid as the girls grow up and their bodies reject such an early bedtime.
Be gentle with yourself
Our freezer currently has over 10 frozen pizzas. I lose my cool regularly. I cant figure out a regular exercise schedule. And it is ok. We are all doing the best we can. My best is different from your best, and is different from my best 5 years ago or 5 years from now. For instance, my kids do not do any extracurricular activities. I don't have the time or energy for it. Do I feel guilty that their friends have been taking swim and gymnastics lessons for years? Absolutely. Do I give myself grace? I try.
Despite doing your best to stay on top of your plan, one day, your kid will decide she wants to sleep in this.
C'est la vie!
What is your biggest secret to balance/harmony? Let me know below!
Please comment, like and share if you found this helpful. Your feedback is what helps me curate my content to what you like!