Today is our fourth entry in our series interviewing moms who have successfully achieved their goals while being present moms. In the first article, I interviewed two single moms who were able to make full-time income freelancing and were therefore able to stay home with their kiddos. You can check out their stories here.
Then we met a mom who found a balance between working a full-time job and raising her daughter. She loved her job and loved being a mom so she found a way to make it work. You can find her interview here.
Last time we heard from two mamas who created their own businesses after becoming parents. Both of these amazing ladies had a passion to help other people with their knowledge and skills and were able to find a way to do it even while being busy moms.
Today we hear from Dr. Sarah Reck, anesthesiologist and mom of 4. She talks about how she was able to create a resource for other women and moms in medicine even while working as a doctor and being there for her family.
So, without further adieu, meet Sarah!
Tell us a little about yourself and your family.
I am an Anesthesiologist who enjoys running, exercising, cooking, and spending time with my family when I am not working. I have 4 children-all boys!-ages 8, 6, almost 4, and 21 months. They are full of energy and keep me on my toes. As a family, we love sports, playing games, and spending time on our boat.
What is one major goal you were able to achieve, personal or professional, as a mom?
Normally I'd say that a goal I accomplished was finishing medical school and residency, but I didn't have kids until after I finished training, so I wasn't yet a mom when I accomplished those lifelong goals!
The most recent goal I have accomplished has been launching my website, www.themovingpieces.com, which is a website that discusses being a mother in medicine. I have had this dream of launching this website for about 2 years but with work and young kids, something always seemed to get in the way. In addition, the fear of failure also kept holding me back.
Finally, in March of 2019 I sat down and decided that I really wanted to forge ahead with this goal. I utilized a lot of downtime at work as well as early mornings and later nights to piece the website together. In the end, it definitely wasn't (and still isn't) perfect but just actually making the site live made the goal a reality and stoked the fire to keep working on it and make it better.
What was the why behind your goal?
The idea for the website came from my own struggles to reconcile how to best juggle life as a mother in medicine. Although female medical students now make up slightly >50% of all medical students, women still are not treated the same as their male counterparts. The medical field (as many professional fields) still very much practices in the era of the working male breadwinner.
Thus, it can be very difficult for women in medicine to try and juggle their professional goals/life with being a mother. This is especially true because studies now show that working women still take on most of the child-rearing and household responsibilities compared to their working male counterparts.
With the website, I wanted to create a resource for female medical students, residents, and even attendings to see how others juggle their careers and their family lives. Additionally, I wanted to highlight and create a library of sorts of stories and advice from women in all fields of medicine.
The idea is that women early in their career can go to the site and read more about why women chose the field of medicine they are in, how they reconcile medicine and motherhood and medicine within that field, and advice different women have for others coming behind them.
When creating this website, I kept thinking about what I wish I had known as a student trying to decide on a specialty and later as a mother trying to figure out how to balance working with motherhood.
What kind of planning and time management tactics did you use to allow you to achieve your goal?
Basically, I just decided to use my down time more constructively. I don't have a lot of free time, but there are days when I am on call (especially on the weekends) where I may have to be at the hospital for 24 hours and only do a few cases.
I decided to use those hours to work on my website since there wasn't a whole lot else I could do. I also am a morning person and am always up between 5 and 5:30 am. I exercise in the morning, but I started getting up 20 min earlier every day to get a little bit of work done.
I just chipped away at it until it all came together. I am also a list maker. In the beginning I'd get overwhelmed thinking about all the things that I wanted to do on the website and when this happens, I resort to making a list with due dates so I can concentrate on making each due date. Actually checking things off a list makes me feel like I accomplished something at the end of the day.
Ultimately, I think we all say, "but I just don't have time" when we really have a lot of small moments here and there that in the end add up to an hour or more over the course of a day.
Did you get help from others, family members or friends?
My husband helped me a little bit with some of the technical aspects of launching the site (he works in computer consulting). He has also been a huge supporter of my project.
My sister inadvertently became my proofreader as she was my first subscriber and is almost always the first one to read my posts. She usually finds some little typo that I missed, which is really helpful.
Lastly, I found a huge support from a few facebook groups I belong to; they are all mothers in medicine and being able to bounce ideas off these women or just get the occasional pat on the back is really nice.
Is there anything else that you found essential to achieving your goal?
The biggest thing letting go of perfectonism.
I am a type-A, perfectionist which is exactly what I need to be when at work. But too much of this is a bad thing. I kept putting off starting the website because I didn't know everything I needed to do and then once I started it, I put off launching it because it wasn't perfect. I finally realized that this whole thing is a continued learning process and I just needed to start and learn along the way.
I also realized that the site was never going to be perfect but I had the ability to change things after it was launched, and I have done exactly that. If I had waited for perfect, I'd still be waiting. By learning a little bit every day and making tweaks to the site, I am getting a little closer to perfect and that's closer than never having started in the first place.
Tell us a little about your blog and where we can find you.
My website is www.themovingpieces.com and I would LOVE new followers.
My main feature is called "I Look Like A Doctor" and it highlights the stories and advice of women in medicine. It is aimed to help medical students understand from the point of view of many people what different career options are out there for them, how they can personalize a field to fit their needs, and how various women balance motherhood and medicine.
I also think these stories are helpful for women in general as many of the topics covered are challenges for all women. Infertility, surrogacy, athletic accomplishments, and so forth. Additionally, these are just good human interest stories for all to enjoy.
Other things I discuss on the site are topics related to medicine, specialty choice, views of medicine from a physicians perspective, topics related to my field of Anesthesiology, and last, but not least, parenting in general. Anyone who is a mother knows that parenting is hard and I we all turn to the internet for "advice".
I add my parenting advice with the twist of how to be a professional, working mother and succeed (and sometimes feel like you failed) at both of them.