Physician Work-Life Balance and Spending More Quality Time with Family

June 4, 2013

This weekend I immersed myself in my family as much as I usually immerse myself in my work as a physician.

I think I may have achieved work life balance perfection. I was talking to a colleague on my first day back to work after a regular weekend. She asked if I had any interesting cases lately. I had to think a minute. I couldn’t remember. Oh, a few patients stuck in my memory if I thought hard enough about it, but I really couldn’t recollect most of it. This isn’t to say that I didn’t work hard last week, because I certainly did.  I even stayed late on Friday to tie up a bunch of loose ends.  What it does say to me is that I had a weekend that was beyond just passing time between two weeks at work and ended up being what a weekend should be - spending time with my family and doing what I enjoy.

I didn’t spend the weekend worrying about the mess on my desk or the pile of laundry. I did get a few plants in the ground but I decided not to worry about the weeds. I did fun stuff with my kids and laughed and played with them. When we go outside, I usually will sit and read while they play. This weekend was different. When they wanted to play tag, I played along. I was proud of myself that I made it all the way around the house before being “caught” by my 10 year old. My husband and I actually went out to ice cream after supper when the kids asked. 

Part of the reason I enjoyed my weekend so much was because I immersed myself in being at home and being with my family as much as I usually immerse myself in my work. That’s hard to write because I want it to be different. But, the fact is that I’m really good at working hard. I like to go to work and I enjoy the challenges that occur throughout a typical day. I can easily get lost in work and forget to leave on time or take care of an errand over lunch.

It’s rare that I do the same kind of thing at home. I often feel like I’m working at home, just with a different to-do list. Leisure and fun feel like guilty pleasures. I usually don’t feel bad that I got all the laundry done or finally finished some financial paperwork. I will feel bad if I take an afternoon off to watch a movie. Why is that?

Much of what I enjoy is the result of hard work and it is challenging to feel like I’m not working hard whether at home or at work. But, this weekend was so great that I am going to try to keep the change going and work hard at having fun and forgetting about my work when I’m at home.