Moms Make it Work: Sarah | Full Time Pediatric Endocrinologist

Today on the Moms Make it Work series we have Sarah, who was nominated to post by a reader of mine. Sarah blogs at The SHU box and she wrote this post shortly after she returned to work following maternity leave with her youngest babe. Sarah definitely juggles it all and I love that she is a fellow planner and is really happy with her current set up with work and home life. I hope you enjoy reading along!

What is your background story? What was your career/schooling before you became a mom? And where are you now?

Professionally, I am a full time pediatric endocrinologist, caring for children with growth issues, diabetes, and all kinds of hormonal conditions.  I took a fairly traditional route, going to medical school straight out of college.  I began med school at Duke in 2002, where I met my now-husband (we went on our first date on Labor Day of that first year!).  I ended up staying at Duke for 11 years total -- for residency in general pediatrics and then for subspecialty training (fellowship) in pediatric endocrinology. 

During my fellowship, I overcame some fairly frustrating fertility issues and gave birth to Annabel in April of 2012, so she's now 2 and 1/3!  In July of last year, we moved to Miami Beach and I began my first 'real' job at the age of 33.  In a surprising but wonderful turn of events, I was pregnant by the time we arrived in FL.  Cameron -- our baby boy -- was born this past February!

What are the best parts of your situations? What are the challenges?

I'll start with the latter part of this question:  the biggest challenge is definitely balancing a fairly intense job with young children, especially since my husband's hours are longer than mine are (he's now a practicing vascular surgeon).  During fellowship, he was often working insane hours (think 5am - 10pm some days) and I often felt alone as a parent, which was hard.  I don't have much free time on weekdays and have to watch the clock at the end of each clinic afternoon to make sure I am home by 6pm.  I hate feeling time pressure at work, and currently I'm pumping breast milk for our younger one which adds to this a great deal.  Also, one of us is on call nearly 6 out of every 10 weekends, which is not great but it does help me to appreciate the other 4!

The best part, however, is that I really like my job AND feel it helps me to really appreciate the moments I get to spend with my two healthy, vibrant beautiful children.  The balance feels right for me, and I truly enjoy both parts of my day -- the work day bookended by precious kid time.  I am also thankful that our situation allows us to afford a wonderful nanny that we love who also makes our home life a million times easier so that I am not spending much of that 'kid time' on cleaning and chores.


Is this how you expected it to be pre-kids?

In many ways -- yes!  In fact, if you could have showed me 10 years ago that this was what my life was going to look like, I would have been pretty overjoyed.  

Is this your ideal situation? If not, what is?

I think it's pretty close.  I do think that perhaps someday I might consider trying for a shortened work week (4 days?), but now is not the right time.  I'd also love a bit less call for both myself and my husband!  And if my 4 month old wanted to start waking up fewer than 3 times at night to eat, that would be great too :)

Do you see yourself making a career change (whatever that means) in the next 5-10 years? Or is this current set up staying put for the long haul?

I am definitely in for the long haul.  My role could potentially shift slightly (adding some administrative work?) but I want to continue doing primarily clinical practice, and I love the place where I am currently working.  I also have lofty plans to do things like write a book someday (!) but who knows if that will ever come into fruition. 


Tips on how you make your situation work for you:

1) Find a job that you love (or at least really like!), because otherwise leaving children at home to go to work is going to be really really hard!

2) Don't be afraid to outsource.  Since my husband and I both work (more than) full time, our nanny helps with cooking, shopping and laundry, and we have someone clean weekly as well.  I don't even feel the slightest bit guilty about any of that, since it allows me to spend the time I do have off doing the important stuff, like rolling around the floor with Annabel and Cameron.  

3) Plan plan PLAN!  I am crazy when it comes to my planner.  I schedule everything in advance, from play dates to workouts to meal plans to babysitters.  I really sit down and think about how I want to use my time, whether it's time at work or on the weekends.  This definitely pays off.

How do you handle mommy guilt?

I wish I could say I don't get mommy guilt, because I hate the concept.  But sometimes I still do, especially when I hear about the large swathes of relaxed time that SAHMs get to spend with their children.  I just remind myself that I am doing important things at work and that I am a positive role model for A&C, and I am HAPPY with the current mix (and probably wouldn't be as happy staying home full time!).  

I also sometimes feel guilty for taking time for myself at times -- for example, going for a run on the weekends sans kids.  However, I know that maintaining the right balance helps me to be a happier person and subsequently a happier, more engaged parent.  Therefore, it's necessary and worth it.

Advice for new moms struggling with returning to work outside of the home? Or struggling to decide if staying at home is the right choice?

I would say to envision your ideal week and take guilt completely out of the equation.  I truly believe that children in a loving environment will thrive whether or not parents are home all day, and so it's up to you what feels right both emotionally and logistically.  

I also advise new moms to store up as much milk as possible in the freezer during maternity leave, because pumping is definitely easier at home than during a stressful work day :)

How do meals work in your family? Meal planning? How often do you grocery shop? Who is in charge of this task in your family??

After years of doing all of the cooking/shopping, since being at my current job I have had our nanny help with these things. We are really lucky in that she really likes cooking and is GREAT at it!  I still do meal planning for dinners every week, write a grocery list, and she goes shopping on Mondays.  She cooks about 3x/week while Annabel is in school for the morning (or camp, right now!).  The other nights we eat leftovers or takeout.  

How do you keep your house clean? Power cleaning after bedtime? Staying out of the house as much as possible? Cleaning while kids are awake? Purging often? Cleaning schedule?

I pretty much do none of the 'real' cleaning.  Obviously there's still basic maintenance to do (picking up toys, etc) but it's pretty minimal because of the help we have during the day.  It took me a while to get used to this, but I would much rather give up material goods for the time saved we get back by outsourcing these tasks. 

{Thank you, Sarah! Find the rest of the MMIW series here}

1 comment:

  1. Loved this and wanted to keep saying throughout - you go, girl! You should have zero guilt for outsourcing whatever you can so that your time with your kids doesn't have to be filled with those things. We have a nanny and used to outsource our cleaning - and as we make more money, heck, I plan to outsource as much as we can, too. Life's too short! And I agree with you that kids will thrive as long as they are well cared for, whether it's mom or some other caring adult! Your kids are adorable and it sounds like you make it work quite well despite two demanding jobs. Good for you and thanks for sharing!


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