“How do you do it all?” Short answer—I don’t do it all. Not by a long shot.
“How do you stay balanced?” The truth is, my life is not balanced. Not at all. And, I think that is OK. When I picture work-life balance, I picture the words “work” and “life” on two sides of a scale, both with equal weight so that the scale is perfectly in balance. It’s a beautiful concept in theory, but do I really want my work life to equally balance with my family life? The truth is, I want to always prioritize my family and my personal life, while realizing that the demands of my career will require that I sometimes am away from home and have to prioritize work.
I like to think of this as “strategic juggling”. Picture me, in my white coat, throwing several balls into the air. However, I am a terrible juggler, and there are too many balls. Rather than allowing all the balls to fall, I decide to place 2-3 of them down at a time so that I can better manage the others. Once I get a handle on those, I pick them back up, and put others down.
Because I believe that my career of being a pediatrician that serves the underserved is my calling, I am willing to strategically (and temporarily) place the family ball lower than my career on a given day to reach a specific career-related goal; but I always pick it back up.
As an example, I give many talks, workshops, and trainings on cultural competence, specifically, implicit bias. I have also done research in this area and published in journals. As a result, I was asked to be the first author of a textbook chapter that centers on cultural competence with some physicians from Harvard Medical School. What a huge honor! However, as the deadlines approached this past year, that required many long and sleepless nights as I wrote, edited, re-edited, re-edited AGAIN—a very long process. However, I have great joy in knowing that I am contributing positively to my profession, and that my work may help the next generation of physicians take care of patients from diverse backgrounds in a culturally competent manner. So, on those weeks, I missed family dinners. I came home one night at 3:00 a.m., and was out again by 7:00 a.m. It was ROUGH. I placed the family ball down TEMPORARILY so that I could meet a deadline that would position my career for growth.
There was another week that my baby girl, Selah, was ill. I was called to pick her up from school early, but they told me that I should come around 2:00 since she was already down for her nap. Forgoing my work plans, I left work right away (and I am grateful that I have that flexibility when I am not on service!). I made it home by 11, cleaned the house, cooked a meal, picked up Selah, took her to the doctor, picked up her medications, brought her home, cuddled with her, gave her a bath, picked up my son, Israel, fed them dinner, and got them ready for bed. I did NO work that day. I made the decision to place the work ball down so that I could care for my family.
It might sound like I am super confident and sure of myself when I place the home and family balls down temporarily. Nope. The mommy guilt is real, y’all!!! I constantly doubt myself. There are often tears, both from me and my kids. I often wonder if I am doing right by them. However, when my son tells his friends that his mommy is a doctor and is helping to write a book I realize that he is proud of his parents and the work we do. Because I prioritize my family, I also try to make sure that the ball is only down for a very short period of time.
Will the guilt ever get better? I don’t know. But, I’d like to think that my children are loved, healthy, well-rounded, and amazingly bright and beautiful little people. So, I am not completely ruining, I suppose!
You may be wondering how my kids get fed and dressed, and picked up from school when my “home” ball is down? Dr. Daddy, aka Adrian, aka The Best Dad Ever. He is the biggest supporter of me and my career, and I truly couldn’t do it without him. We do not have a nanny or any other childcare help, except for the occasional babysitter, so we are a two-person show, here. Thanks for all that you do, Adrian! ❤
Do you believe in work-life balance, or do you juggle? How do you deal with the ever-present mommy guilt? Leave a comment below. Let’s chat about it and support each other!
Peace and Love,
Well here we go…first blog post!!! This is Kimmy, the “wife” at HusbandWifeDoctorLife.com. I figured I would write about something that is fresh in my mind—travel packing for a toddler! My family and I recently traveled to Rochester, NY for a church convention. I was extremely nervous about this trip. Our daughter, Selah, has been traveling since she was 5 months old. However, it is MUCH easier to travel with a baby than it is a toddler. When she was a baby and got fussy, I would simply whip out a boob and breastfeed her, which would calm her down instantly. In fact, I could just keep her on if need be. But now…my daughter is 21 months going on 21 years old! She is what we would call “own way” in Jamaican Patois; it means exactly what it sounds like. She is feisty, fierce, and wants to do everything her own way. I think that I will love this trait about her when she is a young woman, but right now she is…a handful.
So I went to my trusted source for all things, aka YOUTUBE! I searched for “travel with a toddler” and got lost in the rabbit hole of YouTube videos. Y’all know you can find everything and anything on YouTube, right? (Perhaps I will do a separate blog post all about my YouTube escapades…:). You really can find everything, y’all).
After watching a million and one videos, I have complied a list of essentials when traveling with a toddler. Just a quick note: This post relates to being on the plane itself. I will do a separate post about all of your travel necessities, so stay tuned for that.
In this post you will learn my handy dandy 1.5 Rule. This is not a hard and fast rule, or something that I learned in medical school. It is just something I have developed over many years of traveling with babies and toddlers. Please let me know if this works for you! I would appreciate the feedback.
- Diaper bag BACKPACK
- Yes, the all caps and bold font on the word BACKPACK is NECESSARY. Mommy or Daddy, you need a backpack. There is nothing worse than wrangling an almost-two-year old than trying to wrangle her and everything falls out of your cute shoulder diaper bag that is inevitably left open. Ain’t. Nobody. Got. Time. For. That. Make sure you have a super sturdy backpack diaper bag with lots of pockets and compartments to hold all of the items I am about to tell you you need. I recommend the Land diaper bag. It is seriously the best diaper bag out there, and this is coming from a reformed Jujube and Fawn Design lover. Why spend over a hundred dollars on a bag that is subpar, when you can spend around $40 and get a bag that stores more, is lightweight, has pockets that are deep and actually hold items, has an entire zippered front that is INSULATED? (Y’ALL) Need I say more? Pick up your Land bag here.
- Extra diapers and wipes
- Self-explanatory. Don’t get caught slipping without the necessities. Here is the 1.5 rule: I recommend 1.5 diapers for every hour of travel. (I know what you’re thinking: “That’s crazy. YOU CAN’T HAVE HALF OF A DIAPER!” Hear me out.) Let’s say your plane ride is 2 hours. Let’s factor in 2 hours at the airport before the trip, 2 hours when you arrive (I am being generous, here)–> That is a total of 6 hours of travel. Multiply 6 by 1.5, and you will see that you should bring AT LEAST 9 diapers on this trip. If you happen to end up with a 0.5 number, such as 7.5 diapers, round up. By golly, please round up: Poop happens.
- Snacks, snacks, and more snacks
- I cannot stress enough the importance of being well stocked with a wide variety of snacks! We all know that airplanes are not like they used to be (…back in my day…lol). Toddlers also do not do well with the standard airplane fare—they should not be eating peanuts and pretzels because they are choking hazards. For our trip, which involved 2 plane rides and a transfer, I packed crackers, tangerines, chips, apples, yogurt, applesauce pouches, water, and juice. THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO BE OVERLY CONCERNED ABOUT YOUR CHILD’S HEALTHY EATING HABITS. This is the time to make sure your child does not scream incessantly for 2 hours straight. You can go back to your all-natural hand-picked berries once you get off the plane. PACK ALL OF THE SNACKS, including the hand-picked berries. The 1.5 rule applies here also: Whatever your child likes, bring at least 1.5 for every hour of your plane ride. For a 6-hour plane ride, you need AT LEAST 9 snacks. I am stressing the “at least” here. If you can, bring more. I did, in fact, have 6 yogurt tubes with us. I sure did. And you should, too.
- Books are great, as children love flipping the pages. I recommend this Animal Alphabet book, because you can flip the pages AND move the words back and forth. This is like toddler book heaven, y’all. Get yours here.
- Your airplane toys should meet 2 major criteria: FUN and QUIET. No one minds (too much) a toddler squealing with joy. What they do not enjoy is a toddler crying and/or screaming and/or a noisy toy that is disruptive to their beauty rest. Here are some contenders: Pick and choose as you please.
- Electric (if it is quiet) or regular fan would work. Heck, you could make a fan out of paper and have a toddler engaged for minutes (which is a long time in toddler world). There is something about an object that is able to make their face cold that fascinates them.
- Doll of some sort
- Safe jewelry
- Whatever—you can really make almost anything into a toy for a toddler. The main point is, have OPTIONS.
- You guys are pros at the 1.5 rule now-bring 1.5 toys for every hour of travel. They don’t have to be big toys (your paper fan counts!). This helps stress the importance of a large sturdy diaper bag backpack.
- Extra outfits
- My 1.5 rule applies here also, but in a different form. Plan on dividing the number of hours by 1.5 to determine the number of extra outfits to bring. To use the example above, for a 6 hour trip you would divide 6 by 1.5, which equals 4. Thus, you should have AT LEAST 4 extra outfits, including socks. The time to be a minimalist packer is when you are solo backpacking through Europe. This. Ain’t. The. Time. Pack the clothes.
- Bring at least one extra pair of shoes.
- If you get a half number, round DOWN (if you get that you should bring 4.5 outfits based on your length of travel, you can round that down to 4).
- Diaper rash cream
- Aquaphor is everything. Do you hear me? EVERYTHING. Aquaphor covers a multitude of sins. Never leave home without it. Capeesh? Bring a large tube. Heck, bring a tub, if you can fit it in your diaper bag backpack.
And there you have it! If you remember the 1.5 Rule, and you pack your patience along with your gazillion yogurt tubes, you will be all set for your next trip with your toddler!
Do you have any helpful toddler travel tips? If so, leave them below! We would love to hear from you.