#11 – Balances Family and Career

Many of you who have chosen dentistry as a career also have a more important career already being a wife and perhaps mother. In 1955 only one mother in four worked outside the home. By 1990 two out of every three were working. Not only do women have a career, they also have on average these extra expectations.

1. 15 less hours of leisure per week than their husbands
2. Most of the daily chores (cooking, cleaning) while men’s chores can be done on weekends (repairs, yard work)
3. Plan what needs to be done for the home and family

Is a career worth it? Even though career women are more anxious, get sick more often and are more tired, they are also proud that they can earn their own way in the world.

If you’re going to be successful in developing your career, you’ll have to balance both our needs here in the office, you family’s needs at home, and your personal needs. There’s never a perfect balance, but it’s very important to avoid feeling guilty and torn all the time. All of us have these feelings occasionally. The idea is to avoid them as much as possible.

Most women who begin their career in dentistry believe their job is only an “add on” to their other careers of wife and mother. This is a terrible trap. It can only lead to disaster. It is true that a wife/mother has free time, but not enough to allow you to add 35 -m40 hours to it without being run ragged.

If you haven’t had a heart to heart with your spouse yet, do it today! Here are some suggestions to make you new life easier.

1. Cooking teenagers and husbands can be given equal time. If no one wants to cook, eat out more (expensive) or buy prepared grocery food (a little less expensive).
2. After dinner cleanup whoever didn’t cook.
3. Join one club or organization. Everyone needs some time away from spouse and kids.
4. Don’t expect to set all the standards and give all the orders on how the house runs. When others help, they should get some say on what goes on.
5. Laundry, ironing, and yard work everyone over 12
6. Grocery shopping a list on the refrigerator all drivers help
7. Avoid the morning rush lay out small kid’s clothes and make lunches the night before. You can also lay out your clothes and set the breakfast table.
8. Use before dinner time to wind down from the day. Try to have some unscheduled fun time with the family. A walk with your spouse. Reading or games with smaller children. Everybody pitch in for a “special” supper.
9. Don’t be a nitpicker. Allow the kids to do as they want with their room. Don’t demand constant organization. Be happy to just close the door. Dust doesn’t kill people.
10. Don’t continually remind the family you’re working and making money. Don’t threaten to quit if you don’t get your way. This builds resentment quickly.
11. Keep a large bulletin board in the kitchen. Attach a huge year calendar to this bulletin board. Keep all events on this calendar. Make everyone (including your spouse) understand that if it’s not on the calendar, it’s probably not going to happen.
12. Find some one on one time with each child. If you’re going to run an errand take one child along.
13. Get young children (4+) involved in responsibilities pick up toys, setting the table, food and water for pets.
14. Set aside one evening a week for you and your spouse to be alone. A movie, a play, a dinner out, or anything else you both enjoy. Have fun and laugh together a lot.
15. Each time you move up a level, reward yourself. You’ll be making more money. Do you want a housekeeper, work fewer hours, a longer vacation? Take clothes to a cleaner; hire a kid to do yard work.
16. Sick children can be a severe strain on both the family and the job. Try to find a friend, a church group, or relative that will help out in these emergencies.
17. Don’t try to keep us a wide group of friends and social commitments. It will only tire you out and leave you too little time for the family. This is one of the saddest parts of working. You’ll only have time for a few good friends.
18. When you have a conflict between two events, look at them closely. Does the one you chose not to do deserve to ever be done again, or would your life be simpler and your choices less complex by eliminating this activity completely?
19. Always be there when your spouse needs you. Not just when it’s convenient to your schedule. A good marriage demands this to have the highest priority. HealthPark will adjust to support you as best we can.
20. Make plans together. Vacations, long weekends, sports, whatever is important.
21. Home repairs can be shared by those who are handy with tools.
22. Use modern technology. Use a VCR to record TV shows. Get call waiting or an answering machine.
23. Everyone loves a surprise. Now that your life is so very organized, leave room for surprises a card, a dinner out, a toy, a special meal at home, a book.
24. Watch out for alcohol.
25. Occasionally a spouse won’t be able to accept an equal partner in a marriage. If you’ve always been just a housewife who’s been available to run errands and do whatever you spouse wants, you may have a problem. If your spouse can’t cope with an assertive, equal person in the marriage, don’t allow yourself to go back to being a servant. Get some professional counseling offer to pay for it yourself.
26. As you become a wage earner, your spouse will need to spend more time with the kids. This is a plus for everyone.
27. Expect to see changes in your children. They will become more responsible. Children tend to rise to the expectations of their parents. Now you won’t have time to do for them. If they don’t do it, it doesn’t get done. When their favorite clothes aren’t ironed that they wanted to wear to school, they’ll remember to iron next time.
28. Some studies show the husband’s occupation determines child-raising patterns.
a. Self employed: independence, self control, responsibility
b. Large organization: more permissive, stress social skills, and getting along with others.
29. Many studies show that working doesn’t lead to problems with children. In fact, school age children seem to do better with working parents, particularly girls. One study showed that daughters of working mothers often pick their mothers as the person they most admire. These daughters also tend to be higher achievers. Boys on the other hand are more vulnerable to family stress.
30. Don’t feel guilty about being employed. In fact, today, it’s the unemployed spouse who feels guilty. Smaller families, economic pressure, higher educational levels, and sexual equality have changed a woman’s expected role in our society.
31. Work can lead to an escape from the repetitive, low skill expectations of being a housewife.
32. Employed mothers describe daughters, but not sons in more positive terms. Non employed mothers felt the opposite.
33. Make concessions. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect as you define perfect.
34. Protect your time. Get used to saying no.
35. If you need something, say so. Don’t expect people to read your mind. Also don’t assume they don’t care or won’t help. Give people a chance.
36. Watch TV selectively. To begin with, cut out one hour of TV every day.
37. Make your work to home transition smoothly
a. At the end of your workday write down the special things you want to accomplish the next day. That will help you clear your mind. You won’t have to try to keep these ideas in mind until you come to work the next day.
b. Keep a tape player in the car and play your favorite music on the way home.
c. Immediately change into comfortable clothes.
d. Have your children help in preparing dinner.
38. How can HealthPark help? Ask us if you can balance your life better through part time, flex time, job sharing, or even parental leave. Don’t assume you have to do anything.
39. Set a weekly “date” with your husband, just for the two of you
40. Schedule a couple 3 day mini vacations
41. Share a hobby with your husband or older children

Wow! This sounds like a major event! Is it really worth the hassle? You bet it is! A job provides several important benefits:

1. Money second income never hurts
2. Self Esteem/Independence It’s important to know you can make it on you own in the world if you had to
3. Personal growth It’s important to have more to talk about with your spouse than the kids, TV, and local gossip. Chances are your spouse is around some other career-oriented women. It’s valuable to be as “with it” as the other women you’re being compared to (consciously or unconsciously).
4. Your children will view you with more respect.
5. Work responsibilities carry over to home responsibilities for kids.

Now take a deep breath and see what (if anything) you and your spouse would add to these life goals.

1. A happy marriage
2. A spouse who’s a best friend and partner
3. Healthy, happy, successful, independent children
4. A home you’re proud of
5. Financial Security
6. A few good friends

If you have children in school, it’s hard to keep up with what’s happening in the school. Here are some ideas:

1. Attend open houses
2. Join the Parent Teacher Associations and attend the meetings
3. Go to parent teacher conferences
4. Attend special school events
5. Read school newsletters
6. Talk with other parents
7. Above all ask you child and his/her friends, but ask in a people smart way:
a. What are some of the new things you’re studying this week?
b. Can you teach me something you learned today?
c. How can I help you with your schoolwork?

Have I tired you out just reading this? We’ve all been taught the golden rule to treat others as we’d like to be treated. I’ve found that people usually treat me as I treat them. You get what you give.

When you feel you’ve done the best you can, you’re helping others, you’re loyal to your friends, creative here in the practice, and loving to your family and haven’t received the respect and admiration from others that reflect how much you’ve accomplished, don’t worry about it. I believe that diligent, honest, caring people that just “take care of business” day after day will someday attain some outrageous unplanned rewards. It may not come from the person or group you expected, but it will come. Good people get great rewards.

Stress
Even at a beginners level in dentistry, you’ll be under constant job stress. There’s no way to avoid it. When you accept more responsibilities you increase your potential stress. I’ll discuss ways to reduce this stress in the office in later levels, but now I’d like to give you some ideas for reducing the stress at home now that you are working an “extra” 30 or more hours a week plus all the other jobs you had at home before you began working with us.

These ideas are for those of you who have children at home.
1. Make the morning rush less of a hassle.
a. Set the breakfast table the night before.
b. Make lunches the night before
c. Set out everything that the family wants to take to work or school the night before
d. Set out the clothes for everyone night before

2. Have the kids sleep in tomorrows underwear

3. Get the kids to bed early with a good routine
a. What’s going to happen tomorrow
b. Lay out tomorrows clothes
c. A story, prayer, kiss, hug
d. Tuck in well

4. Make sure you get 8 hours of sleep before work

5. Go to bed 10 minutes earlier and get up 10 minutes earlier so you won’t be so rushed.

6. Simplify your morning routine
a. Every 6 months throw away any make up you haven’t used at that time.
b. Use weekend time to do other once per week items.
c. Have a simple haircut that does not require lots of morning attention.

7. Give your kids a clock radio so you don’t have to wake them.

8. Serve easy breakfasts – but serve breakfast!

9. When your children come home and are alone
a. No friends should come over until you get home
b. Come home directly from school
c. Your children shouldn’t tell anyone they are alone
d. Keep the doors locked
e. Post emergency numbers on the telephone
f. Tell your child not to enter your home if anything looks suspicious