The following post was contributed by Lauren Golding, MD, a private practice radiologist in the Winston-Salem, NC, area.
There is no work-life balance. It’s all just life.
As the mother of three daughters (ages 8, 5 and 3) working full-time in a busy private practice, married to a physician, my life is—on my best days—controlled chaos. It is delightful. And exhausting. For most of us, work is more than just work. It’s passion. It’s purpose. It’s an integral part of who we are. Being fully committed to your profession and your family may not be possible on a minute-by-minute basis, but it can be done. I’m no expert, but here are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way.
Accept feeling guilty. Then let it go. Every minute of the day offers opportunity to feel guilt. The work-family dichotomy is necessarily a trade-off; you’ll never feel like you’re devoting enough time to either. Remember that your children don’t have to spend every waking moment with you to know they are loved and a priority in your life. I don’t want to feel guilty for working full time. Nor do I want to feel guilty for traveling to national meetings or serving on committees I am passionate about or staying late to help out with a burgeoning work list. Similarly, I shouldn’t feel guilty for leaving on time the day of preschool graduation, or taking vacation, or deciding not to check email until after the kids are in bed. Set your priorities and stick to them.
Familiarize yourself with the mute button for conference calls attempted in the presence of toddlers.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. You may have to lower any standards you loftily set for your pre-kids, pre-professional self. You should accept that clutter happens. Sleep doesn’t. Boogers get eaten. Vegetables sometimes don’t. Matching clothes are optional. You might find yourself parking your kids in front of a Doc McStuffins episode to buy 30 minutes to review your group’s PQRS submission (or, ahem, write this blog post). They’ll survive. If you are constantly aspiring to the shiny Facebook-ready version of “having it all,” you’re destined for disappointment and burnout.
When signing up for items to bring to class parties, always choose celery. The kids will forgive you if you forget celery. The same is not true for cupcakes.
Have a sense of humor. Life is messy. You can let the absurdity stress you out or you can laugh about it and build an arsenal of toast-worthy stories for your children’s rehearsal dinners. When your three-year-old is sent to time-out at daycare for calling a friend a “Poopy Esophagus,” you offer apologies to the offended and review anatomy with the offender. And when your kids find and “decorate” your ACR certificate, you frame it and display as a reminder of the fact that you really do have it all. (If you would like to read more from Dr. Golding, you may follow her on Twitter.)
As a radiologist, how have you created work-life balance in your life?
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