Another Friday, another Diary of Working Mom post! I’m excited about today’s Q&A with Pinkey Patel because her responses are so so honest and real. Again, I wanted to cheer after reading through each answer.
Pinkey and I ‘met’ on Instagram (of all places!). When another IGer linked to Pinkey’s account, I clicked over, really enjoyed her pictures/captions, and decided to follow. She did the same, and the rest is history!
If you enjoy a little realness every now and then, this post is for you! Pinkey’s voice really shines through in her responses, and you feel like you’re sitting and chatting with a good girlfriend!
With that, here’s Pinkey…
1. Tell me a little more about your family – number of kids, names, ages.
I have one daughter who just turned 2. Her name is Karishma! She is definitely quite the light these days!
2. Tell me more about your line of work, role, responsibilities, etc.
I am a Clinical Pharmacist and have been with my enterprise for 5.5 years. The scope of my work is primarily focused in the Prior Authorization department. Although my role has evolved over the years, generally it includes the evaluation of utilization management programs (such as prior authorization, step therapy, limits) and quality assurance/compliance. We often work directly with the client to discuss client plan benefit design in addition to assessing the appropriateness of new medications. In addition, my department reviews prior authorization requests and makes clinical determinations for medications according to member benefits and coverage criteria. I’m fortunate to work from home! Previously, I worked in a retail setting. This opportunity certainly helps with a family and work/life integration, especially the time I save with a commute. I graduated and received my doctorate 7 years ago, sounds crazy to even say!
In addition, I am a certified NASM Personal Trainer and a Pre/Post Natal Corrective Exercise Specialist. I don’t currently train clients directly, as I work full time as an RPh, but I still teach occasional group fitness classes. When time allows, as a hobby, I help women thrive in their pregnancy and post partum period.
3. Walk me through a day in your life.
I generally aim to wake up between 4:00-5:00 am. Depending on how much I need to do outside of work, I’ll see how much I can snooze, ha! 🙂 You know, all the extracurricular stuff that needs to be done around the house, tying up loose ends, etc. I will then hit the gym for 45-60 minutes. Sometimes I will squeeze it in during a lunch break if I have other pertinent items in the AM or if I decide to sleep! I’m human and rest is part of the package. Once Karishma’s up, I will get her ready for school since she just started! We will pray after she is ready, and I will feed her really fast in the event she doesn’t eat at school, but she usually ends up eating there too. As a mom, it’s like you’re always trying to make sure their bellies are full! The worst feeling is knowing your babe is hungry. Forever paranoid over here!
It’s funny because so much has changed in this small time period. Having a kiddo is so dynamic in every way because my mornings didn’t always look like this. Just a month ago, she was not in school & we had a nanny who came to watch her while I worked during business hours. At that point, I was working from home but with another adult and Karishma. Forever, a changing dynamic! Let me tell you there were many tears the day she went for her first day!
Back to the daily routine – after she is ready, I start my work day and work until 4:00 pm (if I am not working overtime, which is also an expectation for several months of the year). I will then go pick her up if my husband hasn’t gotten her yet. Upon coming home, I will try to make dinner if I didn’t do it on a break or lunch! I am now committing her to various extracurricular activities so we will either go to one of those or I will spend time with her and read, write, etc. Then dinner and bath for her. She is usually out by 7:00-7:30 pm, which is when we eat and wind down! I don’t really watch TV since I would rather read or invest my time somewhere else. And depending on whatever regression or night terror or change we are having in our house, ha – we wake up whenever our nugget decides to have a party. I would love to say that we all sleep happily ever after, but let’s get real!
4. How has becoming a mom influenced your role at work?
My role at work hasn’t changed due to me becoming a mom. I’ve just learned to manage my time even more efficiently! It’s quite humorous when I look back to see what all I fit in before the baby!
5. What is your favorite tip on how to integrate work and life?
One of the most challenging things about parenthood is balance. I actually like to refer to it as creating a full circle.
Creating this full circle of harmony is NOT something you find or stumble upon, but instead something you create! It’s a constant work in progress. Work and life for me go hand in hand, and it’s just part of the process.
I think we should stop attempting to achieve “balance” within our professional and personal lives, since to me that implies a strict trade-off between the two. Instead of viewing work and life as a balancing act, it is more productive to view them as two integrated parts. The relationship between work life and personal life is reciprocal, and we should not compartmentalize them into two competing time constraints.
If I am happy with my life at home/family, I come into the office space with tremendous energy. If I am happy at work, I come home with tremendous energy. You never want to be that “co-worker,” and we all have a coworker who, as soon as they come into a meeting, he/she drains all of the energy out of the room. You want to come into the office and give everyone a kick in their step.
6. How do you handle mom guilt?
There is constantly wild mom guilt and those questions that pop in your head (ESPECIALLY in the beginning, when you’re scared if the baby is still alive at 5 days when he/she doesn’t eat for 6 hours). Am I doing too little? Am I giving my kids enough attention? Am I working too much?
The list is endless, ladies. But, I want to let you know that I hear you and I understand you, because we are all in the same boat. We all want the best for our kids and for ourselves. It’s human nature. It’s not selfish.
Prioritize. We all try to work better with nutrition, fitness, work deadlines, the list goes on. But the day you sacrifice your mental health or physical health, you’ll be the one that’s cared for. So you do YOU to attain that work-life-parenting harmony.
In terms of work guilt, never apologize for work. Don’t apologize if you have to go out of town or have to work later. By the very nature of apologizing, you’re saying you’ve done something wrong. I have one daughter, and I don’t want her to ever to feel guilty about working. I would never expect my husband to apologize if he had leave town for a meeting.
Other guilt: I believe if your cup isn’t full, you can’t fill other cups. Sure, it may seem selfish to others to go on scheduled date nights, get that massage or facial, or go to the gym 4-5 days a week. To me, those are part of the package if I’m able to squeeze it in. Prioritizing your marriage and your self care can reap long-term benefits for your entire family.
I say all these things now but please know I’ve learned to cope better with guilt over these past two years. I used to have an IMMENSE amount of guilt. From when I stopping breast feeding and transitioned to exclusively pumping, to the time I cried my eyes out on the way to the airport when we took our first trip alone without her at four months (with my medela pump charging in the car). Now the guilt is just different. I’m accepting that the moment you give birth, you will always have some form of guilt. You know, like until you no longer exist, lol. It really boils down to how you learn to cope with it and your perception.
Take home point – you are doing awesome. Motherhood is a wild beast and we all need to empower one another and lean on each other. It’s a wild ride of emotions and challenges but man is it the most rewarding and fulfilling job you will ever have!
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 our ability to cram in ALL THAT WE DO! I am mind blown by the capacity of women. We not only come back to work like zombies (because let’s be honest, no one has slept 8 hours since you were a little butterball and pregnant), but some of us even lug our pump and tubes in with us, only to clean them after we go home at night (exhausted)…after the baby is asleep. Then you wake up 4 times again before you’re even out the door again the next morning. Am I right or am I right? 🙂 Women are so dynamic, and their ability to adapt in such a demanding environment we call life is extremely jaw dropping.
The most rewarding aspect is how you can honestly look back and know you are absolutely killing it. It is fulfilling to know that those little eyes and bodies may not be able to speak and comprehend all that they see, but they absorb every ounce of our grind and will take that with them as they grow up. Working mom or not, I think EVERY mom has their set of challenges and struggles and this should in no way discredit stay at home moms. Because let me tell you, the time I did have off at home – I was honestly asking myself what I did all day and where the time went, sort of like a hamster in a wheel. “Working” or not, those little eyes watch your output and the opportunity to mold our babes is pretty rewarding.
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?
Me time or ‘necessary self-care’ as I view it is penciling in my workout or meditation time. I have always been intentional with all my time. It wasn’t always the priority or possible when she was a super small babe, but even then, I needed 10-15 minutes of something to myself (especially since that is the time our hormones are ever changing and we are low key freaking out about 100 things). This is daily self care to set the tone for my day. I always find that I am 1000% more productive when I take the initiative to invest in myself. Another part of ‘me’ time means scheduled date nights/trips with my husband. If we don’t plan it, it doesn’t happen. So if there is family support available, and we can sneak away for a few days, it will happen.
My guilty pleasure? Absolutely a few glasses of champagne and something sweet. I have a HUGE sweet tooth!
9. What’s the best piece of advice you received when returning back to work after having your baby?
Honestly, I wish I would’ve received more advice upon returning to work, but what I did receive during that hard time was this: “They sleep more, eat less and cry less.” That at least got me through something! The fact that I did not receive as much advice goes to show that our community needs to open up about all issues beyond just surface level conversations that go along the lines of – “Hi! How are you and the baby? She is so cute!” and the standard reply of “Thanks! Good!” Instead, why not be honest and dive into a deeper conversation rather than avoiding vulnerable dialogue? The world would be a better place if we would all sometimes share our struggles, because only then we learn from each other and subsequently uplift/empower one another.
10. What advice would you give to mamas-to-be about returning back to work?
When moms return to work after a baby, they are generally still deprived of sleep, adjusting at home with a new human, still possibly breastfeeding or pumping, etc. Walking away from ‘this new life’ for 8-10 hours a day brings automatic guilt. It’s like this cloud that literally hovers over you. CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK. You are seriously amazing and have not only grown a baby inside of you, but you nurtured it. Also, I remember thinking I would get 8 hours of sleep again in the year 2039. Rest assured! They eat less, sleep MORE (god bless), have less diapers and cry less..as they age! I wish people reassured me of this then because I literally thought I was never going to survive, not even joking. This makes working bearable again, since you won’t be a zombie forever. Again, never apologize for work. By the very nature of apologizing, you initiate the idea you’ve done something wrong. When you say goodbye to your babe, take the apology out of it. Instead, tell them you hope they have a great day at school. Let them know you are going to do your job and then when we all get home, we can high-five it out. 🙂
Thank you, Pinkey, for your amazing responses and vulnerability! You are a true champion for mamas everywhere. And seriously, could Karishma be any cuter?!