I’m in awe of doctors. I hold them up on a pedestal and think what they do is so amazing. However, after meeting many on a personal level I soon realized that they are not wonder women and have many of the same struggles. They too can get overwhelmed, have sick kids and strive for balance. But, I do think they are in a special position to offer thoughtful advice.
I was so pleased when Montreal-based family doctor Dr. Elyssa Elman agreed to take part in this series. I couldn’t wait to hear how someone with kids similar to those my own age dealt with the everyday.
Read on for Elyssa’s story:
I’m a proud born and raised Montrealer, other than a brief stint in Toronto where I met my husband and imported him. I did my medical school and residency at McGill, and opened my own practice right after graduation.
What’s your current family setup?
I’ve been married for 6 years, and we have a 3.5-year-old son and a 6-month-old son.
What’s your work schedule?
It’s still in flux as I’ve only been back for 2 months, but generally speaking I work 4 days a week at my office, followed by many more hours of office management and charting after the kids are asleep.
How do you handle childcare?
My oldest just started in daycare, which is the greatest thing since grandparents, and my little guy stays home with our wonderful nanny.
When do you typically hang out with your children?
My husband and I trade off “morning duty” every day so when I’m on duty, that’s usually a good 2 hours of quality time with the kids. Life is a bit crazy when I get home from work but we still try to squeeze in some playtime then as well. Weekends are when we try to do something a little more special; I try to find an “adventure” for us to go on, whether it be riding the little train in the Old Port or going strawberry picking.
What do you find tricky about having two kids?
When we had just one child, we did everything together – dinner, bathtime for our son, playtime. Now that there are two, we have to divide and conquer more, but we always go out for breakfast as a family on the weekend. My son is a French toast connoisseur at this point! We especially like to head to Tiffany’s, Brasserie Bernard or Holder. It depends on the mood!
How do you and your husband fit marriage into the balance?
That’s a trickier one – it took us a while to find our rhythm once we had kids, but we try to have a date night once a week. Half the time, we are so tired and want to plop ourselves in front of the TV instead, but once we are out, it is always really nice to be able to reconnect.
Do you have any time for yourself?
I’ve realized that being able to exercise is really important to me, so I’ve arranged my schedule so that I can exercise in the mornings. That’s my “me” time. It may only be 30 minutes some days but it definitely helps to recharge my batteries. I exercise at home. I have an elliptical machine in the basement. It’s not the most exciting workout, but if I’m watching a good TV show, the time flies by. The best show to watch while exercising is America Ninja Warrior – it’s pretty motivating! I also recently fell in love with clay sculpting, so I try to make some time to have a creative outlet as well.
Do you ever wonder how other women manage and do you ever talk about it with your friends?
Those women that look like they have their act together would often intimidate me, but being a doctor, I am privileged to get a glimpse into the “behind the scenes” of people’s lives, and I’ve realized that things are not always as they appear. We all have our struggles, no matter how the exterior may appear.
Speaking with other women and moms is the key to survival! Sometimes, the thoughts that pop into your mind as a mom can be very strange, and you’re certain that no one could possibly comprehend them, but there is nothing better than when you start talking about it with a friend, and realize that she has the same thoughts, and you end up laughing hysterically at the fact that you’re both equally weird! Talking with others is what normalizes the insanity that is life as a mom.
What role does your partner play in achieving balance?
I am extremely fortunate to have a very supportive husband. He does whatever he can to help make life a little less chaotic. We used to split drop offs in the morning, but then I found I had no time to exercise and he knows how much that helps to keep me sane, so he took over doing all the drop offs. It might not seem like much but to me, it was a huge help.
Is work-life balance possible?
I think it’s possible, but it changes with the family. When I had one child, I felt that I had it all figured out and really had the best of both worlds. Now that the family has grown, the balance seems a little more elusive. I’m confident that I’ll be able to find it, hopefully before my kids are in college!
Thank-you Elyssa for all of your thoughtful answers!
More from this series: