Wonder Woman? Women, Families, Work: Is there such a thing as work-life balance?

Wonder Woman? Women, Families, Work: Is there such a thing as work-life balance?

By: Rebecca Starck, MD • Posted on March 29, 2013

Is There Really A Wonder Woman?

Am I Wonder Woman? I don't know, but I do know it is a challenge for all of us to figure out work-life balance.

I am an Ob/Gyn specialist and I see patients and perform surgeries and deliveries a few days a week. The rest of my week fills up with administrative duties, including managing 80 ob/gyn professionals throughout Northeast Ohio . In addition to 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. meetings during full workdays Monday through Friday, I also take my turn as a hands on OB-GYN taking call after hours and on weekends.

When I get home, there are six faces happy to see me — my husband and five children, ages 4 to 11. We all gather for family dinners a couple of times a week, working around the children’s’ activities. My kids are all avid downhill skiers, regularly heading to the slopes in western New York.

Faith, family, work and self are the most important elements in anyone’s life. Its hard to make all elements top priority at any one time. Hence some weeks my top priorities fluctuate and can even fluctuate day to day and even minute to minute. When my patient is ready to deliver her baby that becomes the immediate priority!

So, can women really have it all? Yes and No. Just not all at the same time. Here are some of my tips to balance a busy work life and a full family and personal life:

Want more energy? Exercise

I am a lifelong runner and a firm believer that physical exercise turns into mental and emotional well-being. I go for a three- to five-mile run every day between 5 and 5:30 a.m. I just go on autopilot. My life requires so much multitasking and energy that I need to exercise every day. If I don’t, I drag. Exercise charges me.

Keep your eye on your own ball

I have spent my entire career working with women — and I know how often they compare themselves to others. I tell them: Keep your eye on your own ball.

For stay-at-home moms, that may mean maintaining their own identity apart from a career. I remind the women I work with that no one does their job 24/7. Moms have a right to get help so they can get away from home responsibilities now and then, and get refreshed.

For moms challenged with work-life balance, I recommend focusing on what works for them and their family — and NOT how they stack up to their coworkers or other families.

For women who do not have children, I reinforce that having or not having children does not define them. Being defined by their thoughts, passions, career, and community service are all part of a full life.

Know that you can’t do it all. Ask for help

The the most common mistake women make is not asking for help.

There are some things I just can’t keep up with. My house is not perfectly clean. I can not and do not make every meal.

My husband is a great teammate. I do most of the cooking and grocery shopping, and he does the laundry. I queue up the kids’ backpacks and lunches, and he feeds the children breakfast and gets them to school.

Someone comes after school to help with the kids and some household duties. Part of success is knowing that you can’t do it all and it is also knowing when to ask for help, how to say "NO" and how to be sure to nurture yourself first.

Be Strong. Be Healthy. Be in Charge!

- Rebecca Starck, MD

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