I was so happy to see how much the first ‘Diary of a Working Mom’ Q&A resonated with people. I feel like I’m on to something! Of course, I have my own stories and experiences as a working mom, but I think what’s even more powerful is giving other working mamas a voice and an opportunity to share their ups, downs, and everything in between.
With that, please allow me to welcome Jamila Zainulbhai! Jamila and I are connected both through my sister and one of my coworkers and Jamila’s best friend. We first ‘met’ when she contacted me during the start of her pregnancy. We bonded over all things mamahood and continue to do so. As you’ll read, Jamila is a new mama, a terrific wife, and a pediatric resident.
1. Tell me a little more about your family – number of kids, names, ages.
I have one son named Aziz, and he’s five months old.
2. Tell me more about your line of work, role, responsibilities, etc.
I am a 2nd year pediatric resident based in Chicago. I finished four years of medical school and now have one year left before I am a general pediatrician. I help take care of sick kids daily in the hospital and see healthy and sick kids in our outpatient general pediatric clinic. As a resident, I spend long hours away from home (weekends included!) and work several night shifts throughout the year. It’s brutal some days, but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t change a thing. I can’t wait to finish my training and be a general pediatrician.
3. Walk me through a day in your life.
My day varies month to month depending on what rotation I am on. On my busiest month, where I take care of sick kids admitted to the hospital, I am at the hospital from 6:30 AM until 7 PM. Right now, I am on a lighter month, so I’ll walk you through that kind of a day.
5 AM- Aziz starts to stir. I wake up as well to feed him. I get ready, eat breakfast, and play with him until literally the last second before I have to leave for work.
7 AM – 5 PM – My current work hours.
5:30 PM – Get home and give Aziz a BIG hug! I give him a warm bath, a long massage, and read to him before bed.
6:30 PM – Put down Aziz for bed.
7 PM- Tameem (my husband!) and I prep and make dinner. We eat usually around 7:30 PM. In between meal prep, I am tidying up the apartment, washing lunch dishes, and getting ready for the following day of work (packing our lunches, etc).
8 PM- Tameem and I like to spend time together after dinner watching TV or just talking. Currently, we are planning a trip to Greece so we’re trying to figure out logistics for that. If one of us (or both of us) have work to do, we do it together on the couch.
9 PM- My attempted bed time. I’m usually winding down at this point and will read a little in bed before actually going to sleep.
4. How has becoming a mom influenced your role at work?
As a pediatrician, I meet tired and frustrated moms daily. Becoming a mom has helped me really understand the frustrations of being a sleep deprived and exhausted parent who has to juggle feeding themselves AND their kid, working a full-time job, being a wife, and keeping a tidy home. The empathy I have developed is really amazing.
5. What is your favorite tip on how to integrate work and life?
Get a good planner and write everything down! Make sure to schedule date night, evenings with friends, story time with your kids, etc. Also, make a to do list of things that need to get done. Even though I’m a mom now, my career goal of becoming a pediatrician hasn’t changed. I try to stay as organized as possible and am trying not to lose sight of my goals in life. I’m still not great at juggling both work and life but hopefully with time and more experience, I will get better at it!
6. How do you handle mom guilt?
Luckily, I haven’t experienced too much mom guilt. I think this is because when I come home, I make sure to spend as much time as possible with Aziz. In fact, I probably push more important things aside so I can spend time with him. Giving him a bath and massage is one of my favorite parts of the day and allows us to spend some quality time together. Also, I have a great nanny who I know is doing everything I would be doing with him if I were at home.
7. What is the most surprising part of being a working mom? And the most rewarding?
The most surprising part of being a working mom is the amount of respect I have gained for myself. Even though sometimes I feel like a hot freaking mess, I’m still getting up every day, kicking butt at work, and raising a happy and healthy son. Of course, I’m not doing all this by myself (my husband is truly a gem of a person who makes my life so much easier), but I feel like I really do a lot and am handling it semi-decently. The most rewarding part of being a working mom is coming home and getting snuggles and smooches from my little one!
8. How do you carve out ‘me’ time? What does ‘me’ time look like for you? On that same note, what’s your guilty pleasure?
I struggle with ‘me time,’ to be honest. With my residency schedule, I feel like there are always important things I should be getting done. When I have down time, I’m usually organizing, cleaning, or doing something I didn’t have time for because I’ve been too busy with work (i.e. exercise). I love going for long runs and that used to be my ‘me’ time. With the weather getting better (finally!), I have plans to start doing that again.
My guilty pleasure is definitely online shopping. I spend way too much time on my phone or computer online shopping.
9. What’s the best piece of advice you received when returning back to work after having your baby?
In the beginning, your baby doesn’t remember the days you weren’t at home. Don’t feel guilty right now because you have to be away from your little one.
10. What advice would you give to mamas-to-be about returning back to work?
If you’re pumping at work, don’t be afraid to ask for time and a space to do so. Legally, it is your right and people will respect you for being a super strong working mama and feeding your baby the good stuff!
Thank you, Jamila, for sharing all about your life as a new mama. Aziz is one lucky guy to have an inspirational mom who’s doing so much good!