Today is super special for me because I get to share my cousin with you all! Kerry is the oldest of 15 cousins on my dad’s side (he is one of seven – and their mom, my grandma, was also a working mom), so she’s always kind-of been a rockstar to me. BUT, these days, even more so as she is a pediatrician, mom to FOUR, and a jack of lots of other trades. 🙂 Here’s how she described herself:
I am a pediatrician, mom, wife. I work 75% time at the office and 150% time at home. My life is crazy busy, but as a mentor of mine once said, “I guess we’ll sleep when we’re dead!” I live in suburban Chicago.
I have 2 daughters: Clare age 7, Erin age 5.5 (very important when you are in kindergarten to remind people of your “halfs”). And 2 sons: Michael age 3 and Emmett 5 months. My husband, Terry, is the best friend and partner I could ever imagine.
In my free time I enjoy hanging out with my friends and big extended family – my children have 10 first cousins almost all of whom are local. I also volunteer at the kids’ school. I’m great at being the art and PE class helper!! And volunteer at our church – Terry and I chair the marriage preparation program so we routinely meet with engaged couples to help them on their journey. I also love to cook, attend my monthly book club, and exercise.
(See what I mean?!?) And here are her interview answers:
1. What is your typical day like?
I work 75% time which looks like three weekdays in the office, 1 split between the hospitals to see all of our new babies and sick patients and then late “after work” office hours until 7:00 and two more traditional 9 – 5 days plus two out of every five weekends at the office/hospitals/on call for our patients. The other two weekdays I’m home with my gang.
Regardless if it is a work or home day, I get up at 6. Reading these posts over the past month, I have come to realize a lot of moms get up way too early!! I believe it’s cruel and unusual punishment to be vertical before 6AM. I, of course, pay for this philosophy from 6:05 – 8:30 as I run around like a crazy woman form the moment I jump out of bed until the big kids are at school. But, hey, I need my beauty sleep!
My husband and I often remark that the two busiest hours in our house are from 7-8AM and 7-8PM. So, at 6 I jump out of bed and, hopefully, sneak in a quick shower before nursing the baby. I used to hit the gym from 6 – 6:39, but now with the baby’s unpredictable wake up and the huge chest that wouldn’t fit into a sports bra very well after not feeding him all night, I’ve rarely been making it there!
Breakfast prep starts for the rest of the gang after the baby nurses. Thankfully, my husband has a flexible schedule so he gets up wickedly early, words two hours in the home office, then takes a “break” from 7 – 8 to help with breakfast, lunches, spelling words, etc. as it can be difficult to nurse the baby and cut up strawberries or spread peanut butter at the same time!
The big kids wear uniforms to school (alleluia!), and they all go to the same local Catholic school which is a five minute walk from home. Terry leaves for the commuter train about 30 minutes before they need to be at school. So, if it’s a work day, my nanny arrives at 8:30, just in time to stay with the baby so I can get the others to school, or I’m home I throw the baby in the Bjorn and we parade down!
Once I’m at work its non-stop action. We have a very busy pediatric practice. I see patients in two different offices, driving between them on my lunch hour. I review labs, talk with the hospital nurses about any new babies born, field calls from moms, specialists, school nurses, etc. Since I breastfeed the baby, I pump three times over the course of the day, so that’s an added demand on my time. About 50% of the time, I have a medical students working with me so they require some teaching and feedback throughout the day too.
I return home by six, unless it’s Monday – my late night, and get dinner started. This has to be quick since we have dance classes, sports practices, homework, etc. So, it’s pretty predictable – on my late night, the nanny feeds the kids anything they want, and Terry and I have a salad at about 9:00 after everyone is in bed. The other two days are one night crockpot, one night pasta. Then it’s on to activities and homework and maybe baths, maybe. Then bedtime starts at 7:30 for the big kids. Usually I’ve fed the baby and gotten him tucked away by 7:15. Teeth, stories, lullabies, and lights out by 8:15!
The adult portion of our night begins at about 8:30. Terry does the dishes, and I straighten up the house, or at least clear a path to the couch (or “beaver lodge” as my family room couch and chairs have become as of late), we watch a little TV, talk, fold laundry, sync calendars, or read before hitting the sack around 10:30.
2. Why do you work?
I work because I love my job. I truly believe it is my vocation to be a pediatrician. Supporting new moms, helping children grow to their healthiest potential, and counseling teenagers about staying kids and not diving headlong into “adult activities” are all really rewarding. There is also always something new for my mind to figure out and I love that aspect of my job, too. I also have a few too many thousands of dollars of medical school debt to not have a paycheck, and the medical world moves at a lightening pace, so I would be woefully out of date if I took off any extended period of time to stay at home full time. I’ve been “rusty” when returning from a two month maternity leave!
3. What’s the best thing about being a working mom? What’s the worst or hardest thing?
Probably the best and worst thing about being a working mom is my part-time schedule. There are always too many journals to read, too many patients to squeeze in and too many department meetings to attend when I am only in the office three days a week. I am stretched pretty thin. At home I love being around two days a week, but there too I try to fit a week’s worth of fun, special outings, volunteering, laundry, home cooking, etc. etc. into only two days!
4. What items or tips do you recommend to help “make it work”?
As far as “making it work,” organization is key. I told my husband the other day, “having four kids really isn’t all that hard, as long as I never stop moving!” If I slow down for a nanosecond though, the wheels fall off, and I feel like I am the substitute teacher without a lesson plan, just trying to keep everyone alive and reasonably safe until reinforcement shows up.
I try to run errands at lunch since I have to drive between offices anyway.
I would also recommend using your technology efficiently. I dictate grocery lists to Siri on my car rides between hospitals. I have reminder alerts set on my phone’s calendar for just about everything except when to use the bathroom! I know my Amazon Prime delivery driver by his first name. I grocery shop once a week with a plan for all the nights’ meals. My kids have to participate a little too. They all have simple chores to do — even the three year old. They frequently hear me say, “There is only one mommy, but there are six people in this family. Families help each other.”
5. What encouragement, scripture, etc. has been important in your life and might be meaningful to another working mom?
Find some good mom friends and be honest with them. I find it really encouraging to be able to admit to someone that my kids sometimes eat cookies at breakfast or watch too much TV and have them admit the same thing happens at their house. Also, try to enjoy your time at home – I have a sign in our family room that Terry gave me for Christmas last year. It says, “Please excuse the mess… Our children are making memories.” Having a family room that is currently set up as a massive fort aka “The Beaver Lodge” makes me happy even if it means we are not exactly “company ready” at all times. They are only little for a little while. When I am overwhelmed balancing it all, I try to remember how good God is! I am so blessed to have the “problems” of too many children who want to share every minute of their day with me, too many patients that trust me with their lives, too many family gatherings to attend, too many warm cozy rooms to clean, too much food to buy, too many friends to catch up with, etc. etc.
Kerry, SO fun to have you today! Thanks for sharing a glimpse into your life and how you “make it work.” 🙂
Only a few more days girls…