My mother told me I couldn't be a "superwoman", the somewhat pejorative term used for early generations of working women who were also moms and more. Fortunately, I lived in a different era than my mother and my options for lifestyle choices were greater. Those of you entering the workforce 20+ years later have even greater options.
Achieving balance requires:
- Constant re-assessment
- A little bit of luck
What are some of the greatest challenges/questions to those who wish to enter a career such as neurosurgery?
- If I become a neurosurgeon, who will take care of my children? You have many options:you, your spouse, friends, nanny, au pair, or day care. I chose to place my children in day care though when I completed residency and moved to NY, I found I needed to supplement that with a caregiver who collected the kids from daycare and started their dinner. Of course, they soon became much more independent and soon needed more taxidriver than babysitter!
- If I am a neurosurgeon and have a family, how can I exercise and live healthy? This can be a challenge but certainly eating healthy (packing your lunch, for example) takes no more time than the alternative and actually saves money. Consider just walking 15-20 minutes a day until family life stabilizes and permits more. We started walking with our children at a young age so the fitness of hiking became an important family activity!
- If I am a neurosurgeon and my spouse also works, can we find jobs together? Sure, this is a challenge and you may have limits on your choices but employers like stability and if two of you are connected to a job (or region/city) that is a big plus. These days, many jobs (though not neurosurgery) allow work from home for all or part of the week. There are many options.
- You can't have it all-TRUE! Even in an ice cream shop one must make choices!
- There is never a good time to have children-TRUE! But we try to choose better times and know that for generations, we have survived this challenge, too.
- Few go to their grave wishing they worked more/earned more money-TRUE. I do know many who have regretted missing that school play, the birthday party, or sitting by the bedside of a loved one who will soon die.
- There is one right way for...marriage/parenting/career development-FALSE. There are as many options and paths as there are stars in the sky!
- Working longer hours increasing productivity-FALSE. Many studies show that those that structure their day and leave the office at a reasonably scheduled time outperform colleagues whose days stretch on for many additional hours.