March has been a strange month; it has felt long and chaotic for a number of reasons. Firstly, March brought the first anniversary of my dad’s death. Then, I had a mild hip injury which stopped me from running. The lack of regular exercises has definitely made a difference to my energy levels and general feeling of wellbeing. In addition, work has been busy, the ‘Beasts from the East’ wreaked havoc and I was genuinely surprised that all my patients turned up on those snowy cold days. I also had to submit a 4000 word essay for my Certificate in Health Professions Education which was a real challenge of my patience – I haven’t referenced an essay for over 10 years!
To recover from the mayhem of March, I have taken a week of annual leave leading up to Easter to spend some time with the kids and take a break from the normal routine. As the clocks have ‘sprung forward’ and the nights are noticeably lighter, I am feeling more positive. Things are looking up at work: I am hoping to take on more responsibility and progress within the organisation that I have loved working for over the past four years.
So what does spring mean for you all? It is certainly my favourite season of the year. We have more time outside and the kids are definitely happier in the warmer climes compared to being trapped indoors due to ice or rain. I love spring bulbs, the first glimpses of daffodils and tulips always bring a smile to my face. I get out running more, rarely getting to use the excuses: ‘it’s too dark’ or ‘it’s too cold’. This weekend I MUST parkrun and start April as I mean to go on so that I can increase my distance ahead of the Great North Run in September. Spring for me also signifies Easter which always involves family time. There is nothing better than sharing a roast with friends and family, catching up with all the news, and allowing someone else to zap their energy entertaining my kids! I hope we don’t end up with a house full of chocolate to tempt me – but every year we stockpile Mini Eggs and I do miss them when they’re gone.
Spring is also a time for reflection and change, looking ahead at what positive steps we can take to make the coming year a successful one. I need to continue to try and balance my work and home life. So how do I try and separate or control the different aspects of my life?
I put everything on my phone calendar, whether its children’s parties, my on call evenings or dentist appointments. I discuss the week ahead with husband, informing him (he requires regular reminders) if he needs to pick the children up or if I am working late.
- Time management
When at work, I try my best to run to time (not always manageable) and this means I can leave the building by 5.30pm in order to collect the children. On a Friday my mother in law sorts the kids so I don’t have to rush home. I arrive at the practice for 8am which gives me half an hour to check any urgent paperwork issues and of course sit down with a cuppa. I am an efficient person. Always have been. This helps a lot when spinning a lot of plates!
Having trustworthy, flexible, fantastic childcare has massively helped my return to work since my 2.5yr old son was born. Our childminder is my saviour!
I put my son in nursery and my daughter is at school. This is my day of being productive. Although I tend to feel guilty that this day of nursery isn’t ‘required’, I get so much done including: household errands, catching up with friends and coursework for the Certificate mentioned above. Tuesdays keep me sane.
I avoid going in to work on my days off. These days are important to me and I like to keep a clear separation between work days and home/childcare days. If I do work an extra session I will only do the hours between school drop off and pick up so I can keep the two days I get to be present at the school gates for my daughter as these are the moments I cherish.
Once a month I book a babysitter to allow me and hubby some time together. We can usually be found at the cinema or in the village pub.
- Me time
Whether this be a bath to myself, a run in the village or a weekend spent with my bestie, time for myself and not as a doctor or a mum is so precious to me.
- Having things to look forward to
I love holidays. I really do. I find it motivating have exciting things booked on the calendar. This can be days out, weekends or way or full blown holiday. After our big trip to Australia over Christmas we are trying to be sensible with summer holidays…I may, however, have booked our first family ski trip for February 2019!
- Doing a job I love
Both parenting and doctoring are both roles I really enjoy and this makes the effort of trying to do both well worth it. It is tiring dropping the kids off, going to work, doing a full day, picking the kids up, doing bedtime and then whatever else needs doing at home.
So here we are, it is spring and I am already feeling refreshed. In a week’s time I will be back at work dealing with the post bank holiday rush and hearing about how everyone has over indulged in eggs and chocolate yet starting to seek out their summer ‘bikini body’.
Going forward I know work will only get busier and it will test my current strategies for wellbeing and balance, but I think if you are aware of the challenges up ahead and prepare for them well then you are less likely to falter. Who knows, maybe partnership will suit me…more on that another time.