practice management

Pediatrics and Parenthood: How to Balance Babies and Business

When you’re a pediatrician at an independent practice, putting daily work into the success of a small business, it’s easy to consider it your “baby”. For some, though, parenting can get difficult, especially when you’re trying to balance a business and parenting your own children. While work/life balance is never easy, there are ways to negotiate a schedule that works for everyone -- including the busy “pedia-parent”.

Setting Business Priorities

Setting priorities means you may not always complete your to-do list; Dr. Alicia Hartung of Kids Plus Pediatrics shares her experience of prioritizing quality time with her kids, even if she can’t make it to all of their events and activities or meet them when they come home from school.

Of course you are and will be a crucial part of your child’s life and your business’s success. But if you’re too burdened to rest, recharge, and enjoy your own personal hobbies and pleasures, pausing to reorient your priorities does more than allow you 15 minutes to enjoy your coffee or go for a run, if these are important activities to you. It will also let everyone in your network know that your boundaries are important, and your personal time is to be respected. This is also a great opportunity to lead by example.

Quality Childcare

Quality childcare leaves you with peace of mind and gives your children exposure to positive social situations, playtime with other kids, and a sense of independence from the family. These qualities can make everyone’s day more productive, happy, and relaxed.

Whether you have a generous family member, a helpful neighbor, or a quality daycare in mind for supervising children when you can’t be at home, the AAP’s has tips for selecting a quality caregiver or daycare.

Take a Break from Guilt

As a pediatrician, you’re trained in analysis and by trade you’ve experienced many examples of parenting styles, so it can be easy to feel guilty. While guilt is a normal emotional experience in raising kids and pediatricians are often called to be parental counselors too, pedia-parents should take special care in leaving parental guilt at the door.

If you’re feeling guilt and frustration or even a lack of enjoyment in parenting and medicine, you could be experiencing physician burnout. Here’s some advice from 4 pediatricians who spoke to The Independent Pediatrician on how they battle burnout and ultimately lead happier lives.

Take a Break, Period

Have you taken a vacation this year? According to the U.S. Travel Association, 55% of Americans had unused vacation days in 2018. They also reported that families with younger kids take less time off. Whether you’re a new parent, a new pediatrician, or an old hand at both endeavors, it’s best for everyone’s sake to take dedicated time away from life’s daily responsibilities. That includes work emails!

Benefits of vacation include not only rest and stress reduction, but also quality time with family and family friends, the opportunity to travel, time for hobbies and play, and time to express creativity. In various studies, vacations were found to alleviate job stress, promote better sleep, and even prevent heart disease.

It can be difficult to leave thoughts of work at the practice, but one way to do this is to maintain a strict email and phone call boundary. Whether you’re okay with responding to email or answering calls, make sure your staff and family know and respect these boundaries. According to author and researcher Brené Brown, "Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.”

Call in Your A-Team

Delegation as a practice owner or partner allows you to do your crucial work as an independent physician -- making the long-term strategies and decisions that will help your practice thrive. It’s important as a parent too -- this humorous opinion piece from the U.K.'s The Guardian describes a survey of mothers doing things they could easily delegate to their kids -- from brushing teeth to feeding the hamster.

Parenting and business are sometimes wonderful solo endeavors, but they don’t have to be. Even if you enjoy taking the reins and consider organizing your child’s schedule, doing laundry, handling complex patients, arranging pickups, and handling HR at the practice all in a day’s work, support systems make everyone feel secure and confident in their roles.

Whether it’s giving chores to your teenager or hiring a quality office manager to handle your practice’s needs, delegation and collaboration are two essential skills of being a pedia-parent, and they go excellently together.

More than a Pediatrician

Data from the AAP states that while burnout does affect up to 30% of early-career physicians, parenting usually does not influence this occurrence. Does this number surprise you? If not, you may think that pediatricians are capable, resourceful people, which would then make them capable and resourceful parents. 

If this data does surprise you, consider: even when parenting and running an independent practice is at its most difficult, both are extremely rewarding. While resources to care and lack of colleague support are the most common reasons for pediatricians’ stress, these are factors you can control as an independent pediatrician, just as you adjust for support and resources at home with your kids.

PCC knows that your daily tasks cover many areas of your life, from getting kids out the door to school, leading your practice team, diagnosing young patients, and comforting parents like yourself. That’s why we design our EHR and services to help you practice smarter business, reduce after-hours charting, and resolve issues efficiently so you can get back to the little things only you can do for your business and your children -- which is what being a pedia-parent is all about. 

Work/life balance is all about managing your tasks efficiently to prevent burnout and stress. To manage your responsibilities at the office and at home, you need a practice team to help you accomplish your goals and fight the same battles. To learn how hiring strategies can build the culture and team you've always wanted, check out our webinar with Tim Rushford of PedsOne pediatric billing.

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Allie Squires

Allie Squires is PCC's Marketing Content Writer and editor of The Independent Pediatrician. She holds a master's in Professional Writing from NYU.