Since I don’t have early meetings and husband’s office and my hospital are next to one another, we drive in to work together. I wake up early to shower, drink coffee alone while I check my favorite blogs, and get ready. We wake daughter around 7:15 a.m. and split the breakfast/diapering/dressing responsibilities. Around 8 we’re in the car. We drop daughter at daycare and head in to work. Since I am on a research month right now, my daytime schedule is flexible and I spend the day doing desk-based research work and meeting my collaborators and mentors. My husband and I leave work around 5:30, pick the daughter up at daycare, and immediately dive into the dinner and bedtime routine. During the work week, she eats dinner right after we get home and one of us sits with her, then we have around a half-hour of playtime (her play kitchen and sticker books are the favorites for now) before bed. Bedtime routine is bath, teeth-brushing, and reading some books before lights-out at 7:30 p.m. We usually prep and eat our own dinner after she goes to sleep, which we eat on the couch while watching TV.
When we asked Christa about the challenges of being a working mom, she said:
The biggest challenge … so far, without a doubt, was the transition back to work as a pumping mom with an infant who didn’t sleep. The first 6-9 months were SO HARD that I thought I would never want a second child. I felt so much less efficient, I didn’t know how to balance my urgent physical needs with my equally urgent work, and I was experiencing sleep deprivation that was on a whole different playing field from what I was used to even with the frequent overnight shifts that my work required. We lived far away from our extended family at the time, which just added to that sense of living-on-the-edge desperation. I also didn’t love infant parenting. I’m happy to report that it got better, and continues to get better — I love being mom to a toddler!
Another night on call in the hospital tonight, but I have a lot of meetings and teaching responsibilities during the day. We get up together and do the breakfast routine, but drive in separately. I do daycare drop-off and then head in to work by 8:30 a.m. I spend the day in meetings and teaching medical students until my overnight clinical shift starts at 4:30 p.m. I am in the hospital overnight taking care of patients and (when I can) sleeping in my on-call room. Husband does daycare pick-up, dinner, and bedtime alone. He and daughter call me before bed to say goodnight.
I sign out to the daytime clinical team around 8:00 a.m. and head home. I’m lucky that I got sleep last night so that I can frantically clean the house in anticipation of a visit from my parents. They arrive from my hometown which is around two hours away. Mom is on childcare duty while my dad, husband, and I put together the new backyard playset. It takes most of the day. We get Publix subs for lunch and eat on the back porch together. After my parents leave, we spend the evening relaxing, cook dinner, and eat together as a family which is our preference on weekends. Tomorrow we plan to have an unstructured day, so when we wake up we may decide to go to the zoo, the museum, or the botanical garden. Or we may just stay home in our pajamas all day.
Here’s what Christa said about her family weekends:
We are a family of introverts, so our weekends tend to involve a lot of unstructured downtime at home. My daughter and I work in our garden or make art, we play on the backyard playset, we have an unhurried breakfast on the back porch. We try to do an outing for her sake at least once a day — our favorites are the park, the library, the science museum, or the botanical gardens. Around once a month, we spend the weekend with my parents who live two hours away in my hometown — all of her cousins live there, and they are great at wearing her out. My secret to a happy life with a toddler is low expectations for weekend activities!
Thanks so much to Christa for sharing a bit of her life as a working mom! Readers, what’s your biggest takeaway from Christa’s week as a doctor and her work/life balance?
Picture credit: Pixabay