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Physicians’ Daily Choices Raise Tough Work-Life Balance Questions


When my non-practicing physician husband said he was considering home schooling, work-life balance debates resurfaced.

It’s great that after 14 years of marriage, my husband can still shock me. Such was the case recently when he announced that he was considering home schooling.

Now, you have to understand that my husband is a liberal progressive atheist. As such, he is not the typical homeschooler. However, he listened to an NPR program extolling the benefits of home schooling. This was not enough to convince me but reading the accompanying blog was more convincing. 

The author (a mom and pediatrician) argued that home schooling allowed her and her husband to spend the best part of the day with their kids, reinforce their values all day long, and enjoy a less-structured schedule. My husband and I entertained fantasies of genius children, perfectly behaved, who are able to condense school into 16 hours per week.  We could enjoy long weekends as a family, take field trips to cool places, and turn everyday experiences into learning opportunities. 

Then I considered more of the practicalities - was my husband going to take all four kids on his usual weekday errands? How would he entertain a toddler while teaching three different grade levels?  Would our children end up socially stunted?  We also had to consider that all three of our kids are doing well in school and we are generally happy with the schools they attend, so why was this even necessary?

We are still undecided about how we will proceed next year - I will keep you posted. However, instead of imagining wonderful projects the kids and I will be able to work on together, I am trying to imagine the time when the shine wears off for all of us and we are arguing about completing a homework assignment and about completing chores. I am picturing my husband’s frustration with having zero time to himself and being unable to fit in a workout. I am picturing more stress in our home, not less. 

We all are in search of better work-life balance. We want to be great at our jobs, marriages, and parenting. Plus, we want to explore hobbies, stay physically fit, and be well-read. It’s understandable that we have a difficult time doing this in our current life circumstances, and it is reasonable that we look for both small and big ways to change those same circumstances to make it easier for us to achieve. Home schooling is one potential solution, but it will not be perfect.

I think looking for ways to improve is admirable. When something doesn’t feel comfortable -whether that’s the hours you’re working or the number of baseball games you miss each season, then it makes sense to look for ways to change that. Maybe you need a new schedule, a new job, or just to be easier on yourself, recognizing that it’s hard to work full time and watch every step your kids take. Whatever our solution ends up being, I know that we will be trading one set of circumstances for another. We can only hope that whatever we decide gives us the best shot at achieving the kind of harmonious work-life balance we all strive for.

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