Between your long hospital shifts, 2 year old throwing tantrums, dinner, cleaning house, 5 year old with another cold, phone calls, dishes, grocery shopping, bills, emails, studying for the boards, house repairs… when does the list ever end? There has to be a way to schedule in a little time for self. For me for the past six years of trying to keep up with work and my young kids - I’ve decided there is no personal time unless you make it happen.
Every mom needs a break from "the crazy" only children can create, but MD moms – they need sanity and personal time even more. Their sacrifice is unbelievable. They give their time and their heart and soul to their kids and all of their energy to work as well. At times they put in twice as much effort as their male counterparts in the medical field. But no one can be 100 percent, 100 percent of the time. Moms need time for themselves to be able to perform for the rest of the family and work.
1. To ever thing there is a time and a season – pace yourself
You might have a whole lot of dreams, having a family, traveling, being published, and working up the chain of command at the hospital, but you don’t have to do everything at once. Especially when the kids are young. Tone it down, split schedules with another mom doctor if it makes sense. The best dream to live is loving your little ones while they are still little. Keep pushing forward, but perhaps a bit more slowly in some of your other traveling aspirations or ambitious career goals. There will be plenty of time for that later.
2. Be creative, make friends and enjoy your kids
Think outside of the box as often as you can. Kids can be draining if they have to stare at a TV or their toys for too long. One idea is, take them to the park when you need some fresh air and down time. Pull out a bunch of color paper, crayons, glue and scissors kids can spend a lot of time creating. Make friends outside of your home- especially with other moms, they can give you energy and their children can help entertain your children, they can also trade babysitting with you.
3. Mind your swing shifts
When I say swing shifts I don’t mean the shifts you work well past the setting of the sun. I mean be your best when your kids need you most, and then put down the spatula and pick up a remote control or a good book when they have been fed and/or don’t need a ride somewhere. Take a break during the times you aren’t needed so you’ll have more energy for the times you are desperately needed.
4. Consider other childcare options
Typically, moms get their alone time after the kids go down to sleep. By the end of a 30-hour residency shift it doesn’t make any sense at all to stay up past the time the kids go down. Sleep is usually the first thing on the checklist after work. Bring in a sitter even when you don’t work, or consider using an Au Pair, who lives with you and becomes part of the family. The Au Pair has been touted as the most flexible childcare choice for healthcare professionals because they are great to help out during overnight shifts and evenings that many sitters and nannies just can’t cover.
5. Don’t try to live up to another mother’s expectations
Moms can be brutal on other moms, and it's usually because they are brutal with themselves. It’s not worth living up to another person’s ideals of what a perfect mom should look like. It’s easy to get caught up in other mom’s ideas on how to throw the perfect birthday party, or what extracurricular activities you should get your kid involved in. Be your best you by being true to you and your children. Other moms don’t know you or your situation and only you know what you can and cannot give. Don’t let anyone else define that for you.
The more deliberate you are in your parenting, the more you will enjoy the kids and they will be less likely to drain you. When you sneak off to hide in your room for some down time, if you have interacted with them during swing shifts, they will be less likely to knock on your door. As a mother you can’t run faster than you have strength. Take time to remember your worth. Find space and quiet so you re-energize and you can be stronger for the rest of the people who need you.