Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ways that being a parent of two small children has impacted my work life

1) I am much more time-focused.  I need to leave work right around 5 pm (latest 5:15) to get home in time.  While our nanny would never mind staying later on the rare occasion there is an emergency, she already works long hours and I know that keeping her happy means coming home by 6pm.

This is a double-edged sword.  I definitely work with more focus.  I also make sure to be the first one IN the office most days (this is a necessity because I have a 30+ minute commute which can be unpredictable, especially if I leave on the later side).  But I am also often 'coming down to the wire' on my work to-do list, always racing to complete what I can on time.  Sometimes I resent 'interruptions' that would otherwise be welcome and fun (a coworker coming in to chat) because I know they do not feel the same time-pressure.

2) Despite my focus, I still have 'parent things' swirling around in my head.  Yesterday I made Annabel a dentist appointment and planned out the timing of C's next thyroid check.  I only have 2 little ones who are overall very healthy and somehow the amount of scheduling/planning still feels overwhelming at times.

I know that non-parents might still have personal to-dos that are just as difficult to coordinate, but for me it was definitely simpler when I was only managing . . .me.

3)  I have more empathy for parents.  Since I work in pediatrics, I find that having the maternal/parental perspective is valuable for me.  I often think, "What would I want if this were Annabel or Cameron?".  Sometimes, I've even thought about an issue as applied to them (how to encourage healthy eating, for example).  People who act what might be considered 'crazy' seem less crazy to me now because I get how it feels to want to advocate for your own child.  I also find more common ground to bond with parents of younger children in particular.  

I am not sure what the net effect is, to be honest.  Sometimes I do wish I could stay at work late and just finish EVERYTHING up -- I miss that clean-slate feeling.  I'd love to feel less rushed in general.  I wish I could take more time to read up on current topics (I am greatly looking forward to my next conference, which will be in the spring!).  Of note, I know someone will point out that just because I am the mother doesn't mean that I need to be the one who gets home on time every night.  But in our case, it is the way the arrangement works because I can do a good job at work (based on what I think and feedback I have gotten) and leave at 5pm, and the expectation for Josh is a longer day -- he's often still mid-surgery at that hour.  If he had a less intense job or one that required fewer hours, #1 and #2 might not apply.

Has being a parent changed the way you work? 

PS: I've been getting emails and comments asking for a paleo post!  Definitely coming.  Still loving it 12 days in :)