How Can Pharmacist Moms Juggle Responsibilities at Home and Work?
Follow these tips to manage a demanding career, and also carve out precious family time.
How do pharmacist moms do it all? In other words, how do we manage to merge the ups and downs of parenting with the challenges of a demanding career? How do we tackle long days and busy schedules, work evenings and holidays, and still find time to stay available for our children, organizing and keeping up with their activities and schoolwork? How do we juggle the never-ending adventure called “child care”—day care, nanny, in-laws, parents, etc? How do we keep up with school and other activities, considering our own work schedules? How do we care for the house, shuttle the kids to activities and doctor’s appointments, and make sure we show up at the 10,000 school events during the year? And who is the default parent on sick days?
On the good days, I usually arrive at work around 8:30 am. I wake up around 5 am, get into my workout clothes, and try to squeeze in a 30-minute run on the treadmill while watching an episode of Fuller House on Netflix. I then prepare dinner and lunch for my kids, get ready for work, and wake up the kids to get them dressed and off to school.
Considering the requirements of our careers plus the demands of pregnancy, childbirth, and raising young children, we do not have it easy. Many moms who work outside the home fall into the trap of being the default parent for everything. Part of us wants to do it, and part of us realizes that being a full-time parent and a full-time professional pharmacist leaves very few hours in the day.
As the founder of the Pharmacist Moms Group, I have witnessed some of the ways we “do it all” and how we manage. Here is what it takes:
- Letting go. We do it all by letting go of perfection. We do not have to bake every birthday cake—we can buy one. As long as there is a cake at the celebration, everyone is happy. Yes, an occasional or even a frequent frozen meal is OK and will not “ruin” children. Our children do not need 6 different activities. Let them excel at 1 or 2 that fit into the family schedule.
- Outsourcing and meal planning. Who is cleaning the house? Outsourcing housecleaning can save time and energy and maybe even money—picking up an extra job might bring in more than money than a cleaning service is paid. Outsourcing might open up time to read at night with our kids. Who is doing the cooking? Meal planning can save time and money.
- Determination, courage, and drive. The same skills that helped us succeed in pharmacy school help us succeed as pharmacist moms. We can continue to parent and excel in our careers.
- A village. We are fortunate to live in an amazing era. We can grocery shop on Amazon and have food delivered within 2 hours. We can coordinate calendars, which makes everything easier. Of course, it is not all perfect and every day is a challenge, but we forge ahead, hoping and believing in a better tomorrow, hoping that it will all be worth it in the end. It takes a village, and we do it all by tapping into our support group. What a blessing to have a partner who helps and friends who can drive the kids to basketball or swimming when we are running late. How about family, friends, and neighbors who step in for short-notice babysitting? Relying on our village allows us to do it all.
- Realization that no one can do it all. This is the most important point: No one can actually do it all. We can pick and choose what is most important at specific times, and those choices guide us to the correct path. I have learned that I am OK with not attending every social event.
In the end, kids do best when they have a happy mom, not one who is struggling or trying to meet unrealistic expectations.
Suzanne Soliman, PharmD, BCMAS, is the chief academic officer at the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs and the founder of Pharmacist Moms Group, the largest group of women pharmacists in the United States, with more than 31,000 members.