Five steps to work-life balance for married female resident doctors.
Ada had just come in by 5 pm after a hectic call, only to find the door to her living room slightly ajar. On getting closer to her door, she heard her 8-month-old baby screaming her lungs out.
How wicked could her nanny, Linda, get she muttered under her breath. She quickly carried her baby and nursed her also to relieve the heaviness in her milk-laden breasts. After feeding and calming her baby, she looked around the house for her help and couldn’t find her. As she opened the guest room, she was shocked to her bone marrow, Ufuoma’s clothes and travelling bag were no longer in her wardrobe. Slowly, it dawned on her that her nanny had left, just like that.
She crumbled to the floor and wept heart-wrenching tears. Her mind, body and emotions were bone-tired.
She was yet to even put the finishing touches to her PowerPoint slides for her presentation in 2 days.
Once again, she contemplated leaving the residency program and focusing on her family. It crossed her mind to call her husband and lament, but she quickly extinguished the thought as her husband had on an occasion accused her of choosing her career over him and the kids.
The thing is, she felt guilty as charged as residency was proving to be a jealous boyfriend that didn’t allow her time for other things. She was morally injured. She had been among the top 10 best graduating students. She was used to being looked up to, but these days at work, she was struggling. She scarcely found the time to read. And in the home front, she knew if she were to be graded, her scores would be low.
Some of her colleagues seemed to get this work-life balance thing, but she had had it up to ‘here’.
She made up her mind to humble herself and ask Dr Salome, the youngest consultant in her unit, how she was able to combine family, life and residency. She was tired of trying to figure things out on her own.
Here is what she gleaned:
1. Superwoman syndrome:
She would stop trying to impress her husband, children, colleagues and seniors. This life ‘problem no dey finish’. Even though she was used to setting high standards for herself, she had to become more realistic. She would do her best but stop trying to be the best. She was removing the superwoman garb she had struggled to keep on her back and stop craving the highs of accolades to preserve her sanity.
She would ask her sister-in-law to move in. Even though she wasn’t the nicest of persons, she would learn to tolerate her and even give her an allowance. At least, it would mean that on the days she couldn’t go for the prize giving day and such, the kids would have a family member present.
3. Me time:
She would every day do something nice for herself. Buy a nutritious meal, pray to renew her strength, keep a journal or read a novel. Then once a month, she would hang out, without the kids, with family or friends to let her hair down or maybe go swimming. Making sure to silence the demons of guilt.
4. Invest in her other passions:
She had always liked to sew. On those weekends, when she wasn’t on call, she would continue to brush up her skills. Pursuing her other passions would also help her not feel like residency was her lord and master
5. Value-driven time management:
She would no longer wait for time to find her. She looked at her rota for the month and blocked out time for bulk shopping, bulk cooking, studying, playing, hanging out with her hubby and the kids. Shamelessly, she would say no to any other important thing that begged for her time but didn’t add to her in the grand scheme of things.
Do you have any other recommendations for her?
Written by Dr Erhirhie E. A, a 2-time resident doctor.