This past week my husband was away in Singapore for work. Without him around to help steer, the family ship went a little off course– there were more mac and cheese dinners and late bedtimes than I care to admit. And dessert. And screen time. In fact, I think my son had the most consecutive screen time ever under my watch– 5 hours of straight up sedentary, eyes glazed over, uninterrupted movie viewing.
As a family, we are already pretty lean when it comes to child care. And, not to make excuses, with a full time work schedule and no other resources up my sleeve, I did resort to screen-as-babysitter on that Saturday, as I did my best to finish up notes, make calls, do reading, see patients, and keep an eye on my kid on the tablet. Thank goodness The Lego Movie is still awesome on third (and a half) viewing.
I wonder if I could have done this differently. Maybe I should have tried harder to find someone to cover clinic for me so I could spend time with my son. Or pushed myself to finish all my notes during the day, in between seeing patients. Or maybe I should have prepped for teaching while the kiddo was asleep, instead of watching old episodes of Flight of the Conchords over (and over) again. But would that be better? Would I be a happier person; a more present doctor; and a more loving mother? I am not sure about that.
For me, work-life balance is about understanding that I am making a choice about my family and work, and accepting the decisions that I make. It’s not about knocking myself down when things don’t go quite as planned, but allowing myself to feel good when things go right (I see lots of patients AND get my kid to school dressed in non-pajamas- yay). It’s knowing that quality time with my family can be little things- the sweet conversations in the car, laughs over dinner, a good book shared together. And realizing that self-care doesn’t have to be profound journal writing, massages or morning meditation- if it’s watching Jemaine Clement sing “Bret You’ve Got It Goin’ On” for the millionth time, so be it.
I’m becoming okay with the work-life balance that I’ve struck as a working mom, and I hope you are too.