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Balance: is it possible to achieve?

7 years 11 months ago #82177 by clee03m
I am an anesthesiologist practicing in an non-academic center. Full time is about 65+ hours a week, but now I am taking about 10 hours off per week, so I am working 55+. I have a husband with a very flexible schedule who is willing to pretty much do everything domestic. We hire help to ease the burden off my husband. My mother in law takes care of the baby while we work. She had never wanted to be paid because she said she is not hired help. We gift her monthly just because we felt like we needed to show her our appreciation somehow, but the amount is meager. I am a rock climber. I would say next to medicine, that is my second passion. I have a wonderful 18 month boy and expecting another one in March. I have achieved financial security.

The question is, why do I feel like my life is still not balanced???!!!

Before I had the baby, I said there is no way that something as little as having children would affect my career. Right. Having my son changed my life. And my career. I stopped taking on more responsibilities of running the group. I declined to be in any more leadership postions. It is clear to everyone that becoming a leader in our physician group is no longer a priority for me. While my other male collegues with small children take on more responsibilities and step up to take over as leaders, I am shrinking away from additional responsibilities. In fact, I just couldn't handle not spending enough time with my baby and have decided to start taking one day off per week. I may even consider taking more time off if we figure out that it is financially possible.

Even with one day off per week, I still feel like I simply don't have enough time for myself, my husband, or my son. With my son, I feel like taking one day off per week is just scratching at the surface of what I need with him.

I have not really spent alone time with my husband since my son was born. We go to the opera and that is it. I have decided to spend at least 2 hours a week alone with my husband. But even just 2 hours a week feels like time I should be spending with my son. My husband and I have talked about spending a weekend a quarter alone, but I am just not sure if I am ready.

I take 30 minutes each day at night to get on the exercise bike. I try to go to the rock gym and hang out with my friends once a week, but many times I can't tear myself away from my baby. I am slowly losing my friends (who are all climbers) because I am not really available to climb much). I have gone climbing with my baby and had a great time, but that is so much work, and finding partners who will be happy with a baby is pretty hard. When I spend time away from my son, I feel guilty and regret what I am missing out with my son. So I end up with work, baby, work, baby, work, baby until I feel totally burnt out where I don't spend quality time with my son because I am not all there. I think finding mom friends would be helpful, but so far, I have a hard time relating to other moms and people who are not very outdoorsy or active. And I don't even have time to spend with established friends and feel like seeking new ones out is really not that realistic.

I feel like I have a pretty great situation. Why do I feel like I am not balance at all? I feel like I am short changing my career, my son, my husband, and myself. Is this how parents who work many hours feel? What more can I do?

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7 years 11 months ago #82180 by lyn2006
Although my situation is not exactly the same, I struggle with the same feelings! I was hoping they'd go away once I finished residency. I am in my first year of anesthesia training with a 20 month old son at home and just recently I have really started feeling like I am missing so much. During his first year of life or so I actually didn't feel like I was missing as much - maybe because he wasn't so fun? Now I love taking him places and he is just learning so much so far that our weekends are packed with fun activities and he is just so darn cute. When I went to work this morning I had this feeling of "ugh, I should just stay home and be a mom!" which I've never really had before. At least not during anesthesia - I will admit that during some of my really crappy intern year rotations (ie trauma surg) I did think that.

Anyways, more thoughts later. Off to do on call things! maybe this is why I felt this way this morning!

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7 years 11 months ago - 7 years 11 months ago #82184 by sahmd
I think it was the book "Sequencing" that said that mothers who worked 20 hours per week were the happiest. Or was it 12 hours per week? I can't remember. I definitely feel best when I am working part time. Anyway, moms typically have a lot of other things they need/want to do outside of work and there just aren't enough hours in the day if you are working full time (or more than full time). Even working your reduced schedule of 55+ hours per week is really a lot of time spent working and of course you will have less time to spend on the other things that are important to you. But it is a step in the right direction -- definitely better than 65+ hours per week! Hopefully it is possible for you to reduce your hours further without jeopardizing your job or your finances. If not, I guess it comes down to prioritizing what you do with your free time, as you have been doing.
Last Edit: 7 years 11 months ago by .

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7 years 11 months ago #82196 by Emily2651
I think you still work a lot!

One of the nice things about having kids during training is that you get to try out a variety of schedules and see what feels good. 80 hours a week obviously feels bad, no surprise there. But the last two weeks I've worked about 30-35 h/w and you know what? That's too few (for me). I feel happiest when I'm working 40-45. Leaves plenty of time for all the other things I like to do, but not so much time that I'm spinning my wheels needlessly, ruminating about stuff that doesn't really matter.

Maybe you can continue to scale back slowly until you find the magic number? Of course, that's all going to change when you have two kids under two, anyway, I would guess.

The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea. -- Isak Dinesen

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7 years 11 months ago #82203 by tr_
I figure this is a phase. Small children are a huge time investment (a fun and totally-worth-it one of course!). It won't always be this way.

Right now I am OK with focusing on my family and just working enough to keep my pieces in the game. My work is super flexible right now and I'm really happy with this arrangement. Hobbies are on the total back burner for now; I'd love to get back to dancing and painting but OK with the idea that it may be a while.

Honestly I was not and would not be happy as a mother working more than 40 out-of-house hours/week. clee I think things would be better for you if you carried less of the income burden. Is there any way for you to reduce expenses so you can cut back more on your hours? I would also keep having the discussion with your husband about how important it is for you to have time with your son. He may not really get the difference between knowing he is well cared for vs nurturing your relationship with your child.

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7 years 11 months ago #82245 by mommd2b

Small children are a huge time investment, but teenagers are an even bigger investment. It doesn't get easier when they turn 12 ... their needs become more complex and complicated. My 5 and 7 year olds require much less work and effort than my 15 and 17 year olds...and I have good kids who aren't into any bad things.

To the OP ...

Motherhood really does change everything. There is nothing wrong with reducing your hours. You get one chance to be a mother to your little boy and these years can't be repeated. Do what makes you feel comfortable. As long as you continue working on your career (even if it part-time) it will be there when your children are older and things are settled ... and maybe then you can think about working into leadership positions if it is still something that you want. I know that sounds like an over-simplification. The actual process of jumping back in and rising to the top is a lot more work when you've been a part-timer, but it isn't unheard of.


In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.

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