Happy Friday and welcome to another ‘Diary of a Working Mom’ Q&A post!
Today’s interview is with my good friend Khusbu. Khusbu and I have known each other for a very long time, as we met as freshman at the University of Georgia almost 16 years ago (wow!). Over the years, we kept in touch semi-regularly and through the powers of social media, but it wasn’t until I moved to Fort Lauderdale (where Khusbu lives) when we really reconnected. To take it a step further, we bonded even more when we were pregnant at the same time…lots of keeping it real moments were shared! And now, we’re in touch as ‘new’ mamas, and I definitely consider Khusbu a member of my mama tribe.
The thing I love most about Khusbu is how she keeps it real no matter what because she believes in the power of authenticity and sharing your real self. In fact, when I messaged her to say that her Q&A would be going live this Friday, she said, “I hope it helps at least one person.”
That’s enough rambling from me. Here’s Khusbu…
1. Tell me a little more about your family – number of kids, names, ages.
On 9/13/17, my husband Adam and I became parents to our beautiful baby girl Reya who is now almost 10 month old! Life as we knew it before her has completely changed!
2. Tell me more about your line of work, role, responsibilities, etc.
I’m currently the Assistant Director of Pharmacy Services and the Residency Program Director for our PGY-1 Pharmacy Practice Residency at the Cleveland Clinic Florida. Both are very demanding roles! Some of my responsibilities include: operations, pharmacy informatics, finance, scheduling, staff development, protocol development and implementation, pharmacy & therapeutics committee, Cleveland Clinic enterprise clinical integration and operations committees, residency and preceptor development, etc. There’s a lot of oversight and responsibility included in the two roles.
3. Walk me through a day in your life.
First, a little background. Reya goes to daycare three days a week. I’m fortunate to have a flexible schedule where I can work from home one day a week. Adam also has a great schedule where he’s able to spend one day a week with Reya because he was adamant about weekly daddy-daughter days (I know right?! LOVE!). On days where I’m conference call heavy is when I’m home with Reya.
So as far as days when I’m home with Reya, this is what our day typically looks like. We wake up between 6-7 am, and I nurse her and get her up for the day. I start my conference call around 8 am (or whenever my first call is scheduled). During the call, a lot of times, I’m actively listening and providing input and sometimes I have to actively participate. This varies based on what the call is about. You can imagine how difficult that is with a baby, BUT to my surprise, because Reya’s so great, she lets me do my thing, most days that is. The days when she’s not feeling it and needs me around her at all times are the most challenging. So during the calls, I make sure to keep her on her feeding/nap schedule. If she’s fussy or irritated and I need to unmute the call, I occupy her with something and/or honestly let her cry! Then I step into the other room until I’m done. She’s crawling now so this is much tougher. To the point where I may not be able to sustain working at home with Reya. We shall see! Other than that, I do my thing: take calls, answer emails, feed Reya, feed myself (sometimes I forget), play with/read to Reya (during my breaks), etc. During her naps (if I’m lucky there are usually 2 and they last about an hour each at this stage but honestly luck is slowly running out), I save the work that requires more careful review, whether that’s protocols, excel spreadsheets, finance and productivity documents, etc. Once I’m officially “done” with work, Reya’s schedule continues: feed her, bathe her, read to her and put her to bed. Typically Adam picks up dinner (since he gets home late) or I throw together something quick and simple I may have prepped throughout my day at home. Once Adam gets home, we eat, chill, workout together (most days), and watch TV/read and go to bed by 10:30 pm at the latest.
Now for the days when Reya’s at daycare, our schedule looks like this. I usually have to be at work between 8-9 am depending on when my first meeting is. Timing is extremely crucial on days I drop Reya off at daycare. Adam usually preps everything the night before (puts together her bottles and solids). In the morning, Adam usually has breakfast ready for me (protein shake and fruit), so I don’t have to worry about that. But I wake up around 6:30 am (before Reya but sometimes sooner depending on if she wakes up before 7 am), nurse her, put her bag together for daycare, pump and eat while she plays, get my stuff ready, get myself ready while Reya is strapped in her chair near me, and head out the door between 7:45-8:15 am. I’m on the go as soon as my feet hit the ground! There’s no time for anything else but I do like to throw on a podcast while all of this is happening. I try to leave work and pick her up by 4:45 pm. She usually takes a power nap on our way home. I begin my nightly routine which consists of feeding her, giving her a bath, reading to her, and nursing her. She is usually asleep by 7-7:30 pm. At that point, I clean up her bottles and daycare stuff, try and get dinner ready (or Adam brings something home and we eat), chill, workout together (most days), and watch TV/read and go to bed by 10:30 pm.
Our weekdays typically follow this pattern. They don’t change. There are obviously days when things may be off with Reya, but I’m strict about her schedule, especially her bedtime because that’s when Adam and I get to spend time together. The schedule of course fluctuates based on her age and needs at the time.
4. How has becoming a mom influenced your role at work?
I think it’s influenced me tremendously! I think I’m more patient, more understanding, more nurturing, etc. My residents tell me I’m their work mom and that Reya’s not my only child. Really, it seems like all of my employees are like my children! I have to praise and discipline them, etc. In a lot of ways, my responsibilities at work influenced me as a mom well before Reya was even born. In a different way, of course, because I can’t fire/suspend Reya!
5. What is your favorite tip on how to integrate work and life?
My favorite tip focuses on the concept of trial and error. It’s the best way to go! It took Adam and I a lot of coordinating and foresight to ‘perfect’ the schedule we have now with work/life integration. It was a bumpy road and not perfect by any means, but we switched up what we could if something wasn’t working or if one of us was getting overwhelmed. Bottom line – keep at it and do what works for you!
6. How do you handle mom guilt?
In the beginning and occasionally still, I struggle with wanting “me time,’ wanting alone time with Adam, grappling with the realities of daycare, etc. All of these thoughts made me feel guilty about wanting these things, and on top of that, feeling like I was “abandoning” her at daycare. But I started to realize that it’s ok! For my own sanity, I need alone time, I need husband time, etc. And sending her to daycare meant she was interacting and learning in a safe environment. In fact, I now see how much she loves it! Also, I didn’t go to school for so long and work hard to be in the position I’m in to give up anytime soon. Essentially, a lot of positive self-talk helps me cope with mom guilt.
7. What is the most surprising part of being a working mom? And the most rewarding?
No offense whatsoever to stay at home moms because I feel like their job is even tougher in certain ways, but the most surprising part of being a working mom is how accomplished I feel in my day-to-day life. Like man, I can really do this! And lately I’ve had more days of “I can do this” then not, so I’ll take that as a win! The most rewarding part is my daughter seeing and experiencing how a woman can have a career AND raise a family. Call it what you want, but it gives her a sense of empowerment. I like to think I’m a strong role model for her and she can totally be a #BOSSBABY!
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?
One of my biggest challenges is carving out “me” time. To be honest, this is always going to be a work in progress. Recently though, Reya’s sleep pattern is getting better, so I’m less tired. When she naps, I can do what I need if Adam’s at work. And in the evenings, once she is asleep, Adam and I use that as “us” time.
“Me” time usually consists of reading, meditating, and sometimes watching TV while browsing social media (a habit I’m trying to get away from). Lately though, I’ve been getting back to reading and loving it!
Right now my guilty pleasure is watching Bravo! Adam is pretty adamant on me “not watching this crap around my daughter” Haha! I still sometimes watch it when he isn’t home and when Reya is asleep. But I do get his point!
9. What’s the best piece of advice you received when returning back to work after having your baby?
I’ve received countless pieces of advice from those who have done it before me. But my sister-in-law, Harshal, gave me advice on the logistics of pumping at work – washing pump parts and ways to ensure my supply kept up since your body knows you are away from your baby! Mainly she just helped eliminate some of my fears about this whole process. I would say, find a mommy mentor (or two) who you trust and admire and use them as your sounding board as you transition back to work.
10. What advice would you give to mamas-to-be about returning back to work?
My advice would be to try and go with the flow a little bit so you don’t drive yourself, your husband, and even your baby crazy! BUT also try to maintain a schedule and stick to it! Routine is key for babies. They need it, and it helps us mama’s stay sane and gives us some structure during a chaotic time. But to keep it real, there are days where it is going to suck and you’re going to be exhausted and everyone is going to get on your last damn nerve. Try to think about it this way though – no matter how crazy life gets or what’s going on at work, when that baby looks up at you and smiles…nothing else really matters! Take in all the moments, even the bad ones!
Thanks for all of your insight, Khusbu. I think you’ll accomplish your goal of helping at least one person by sharing your story and very likely many more! And with you as her role model, Reya is definitely going to be a #BOSSBABY!