Working Mom

I have it made… I really do! I get to have my cake and eat it too. Not many people have it as good as I do when it comes to their jobs. When I told my boss that I was pregnant, he literally did a TomCruiseOprahCouchJump! His reaction stands out as the most memorable one from my pregnancy announcement. Around my third semester, he started encouraging me to work from home and outfitted me with the same set-up as I have at work- two monitors and all! He’s been so amazingly supportive of this transition that working from home has quickly become the new normal for our whole family.

Now, when I tell people about my sweet arrangement the reaction I get is almost always one of envy. I get it. Working in pajamas sounds incredibly indulgent. But, as a new mom, nothing compares to being close to my baby. I have help during business hours, but it’s just nice to be around my son every day. I get to be present in his life every day. I get to wake up with him, steal sweet kisses during lunch time and extra cuddles throughout the day and put him to bed at night. I feel so accomplished at the end of the day! I also get to save on precious commute time, all of which translates into a better work-life blend.

Those amazing perks aside, working from home comes with its own set of challenges. For starters, there is absolutely no separation between work-life and personal-life. Most days I’m loading the dishwasher in between calls and emails, or washing bottles while on a conference call. I’m constantly forgetting to eat lunch and my to do lists seems never ending both at home and work. While technology affords me the ability to stay productive from wherever, it does not provide the social interaction I crave as a human being. When I’m in the office I find myself talking a lot to everyone and sometimes, at home it gets pretty lonely.  Finally, there is a lot to be said about staying relevant in your job and being remote can hinder your prospects.

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So, here are three things I’ve implemented to help me maintain my sanity while managing the challenges mentioned above. 

  1. Pick up the phone: In the age of email and texting, picking up the phone might seem somewhat archaic, but this is precisely what’s helping me combat my isolation. I make it a point to have at least 5 phone calls a day to various people, including my coworkers. While nothing can make up for face-time, having a chat with my favorite broker about an account keeps me energized. Forcing myself to call my counterparts allows me to stay plugged into the office. I can plan trips to the office on those days when my absence will be noticed.
  2. Blend your life: Let me go ahead and say that work-life balance is a hoax. The sooner you feel empowered to blend the two the happier you’ll be. My home office is in a dedicated corner of my bedroom. While some may think this is unwise, it’s helped me achieve the blend. When my son sleeps, I work. I’m just a few steps away from him in case he wakes up. Most morning, I roll out of bed and on to my work desk to get a quick pulse on my inbox. Whenever I’m on a conference call I’m multi-tasking on mundane chores like throwing in a load of laundry or putting away the baby’s things. It has helped me stay organized.
  3. Unschedule yourself: Every article I read on tips for working from home says to keep dedicated hours for work and life. While this sounds good in theory, it’s absolutely impractical. I make every effort to be present during office hours, but I don’t beat myself up over missing a phone call or email. I do, however, have a policy of returning calls within 1 hour or respond to emails within 24 hours. This gives me so much more control of my LIFE. I don’t feel guilty if I have to take my son to the doctor or run to the store for a quick errand during work hours. I also don’t feel bad if I have to stay up late to catch up. Most nights, I’m up working until midnight anyway. It’s all part of the new normal.

Seven years ago, when I first moved to New York, a friend suggested that I write down the type of career I want. I was unemployed at the time and was at my lowest point. He urged me to be specific, asking me to describe every last detail of the kind of work environment I envisioned. Recently, I came across that document and specifically, I had written… “to be able to work from home would be ideal for a happy family life.” How incredibly blessed I am to be able to live my dream!

What are some tips you have for working from home?

Baby Lelan -4 Months Old! 

Dear Lelan,

How is it already 4 months since I gave birth to you? It feels like yesterday that I was getting ready to welcome you and here you are rolling over and sitting up like a big boy. You are a dream come true, darling! Every morning, you wake up with a big smile, happy to see me and ready to face the world. It’s so infectious! You are still a creature of habit and we’re more than happy to keep up your schedule. Most days are the same with your eating and sleeping patterns and the only time we notice a shift is when you’re going through a developmental milestone. We’re going through the 4 month sleep regression right now… You only fight us during daytime naps and at night you are asleep by 8pm and sleep through the night until 5 or 6am the next morning!

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At the end of 3 months a glorious thing happened… You discovered your voice! You started vocalizing non stop and the more you heard your voice, the more you loved it. Your dad and I were beyond excited to hear you ‘sing’. You still do it selectively here and there, when it’s just the three of us. When I play you the classics, like Ella or Etta you intently listen. You absolutely love watching, listening to Tamil song videos on YouTube. You are a talker. After a walk with grandma you love to tell me all about it. If you’re displeased with something, you definitely let me know. Sometimes it sounds like you’re yelling, but I know that’s just your way of communicating and I’m always here to listen and lighten your load.

You’ve started teething already! You drool everywhere and chew on everything. Your aunt Rakhi bought an amber teething necklace for you that you wear almost every day. I think it’s helping… Grandma bought you a couple of teethers and you love chewing on them as well. But, you still prefer your fingers to everything else. I have to constantly remind you to ‘take your fingers out of your mouth’, to which you totally oblige. But, within seconds they are back in your mouth again.. Haha! You’ve stopped sucking on the pacifier except for when you’re tired. It’s a sure sign that your ready for a nap, so it’s a permanent fixture in your crib next to Mr. Whale and Mr. Mouse who are both your sleeping  buddies. You also like Mr. Monkey who likes to travel with you in the car and the stroller. You LOVE books. Grandma has been reading to you almost every day and you watch her with great animation.

You are still very easy going and adjusting to your environment. This month brought a lot of changes. You met Gina, your new babysitter and so far you seem to be taken with her. Grandma still comes over to watch you a couple of afternoons and you just light up for her. You spent your first night away from home at grandma’s house like a big boy. You’re turning out to be such a well adjusted, confidant boy and so much fun to be around! A couple of weeks ago, you rolled over for the first time. At first you were unsure about this new trick, but now you’ve mastered it. I think it’s just a matter of time before you start crawling… We better start baby proofing our home. You also met a new pediatrician this week and handled your 4 month shots like a champ. You only cried for about a minute and once I gave you the sugar water paci, you calmed down instantly.

I’m beyond excited to see what the next month brings. Every day, you’re show me something new and it’s all so fascinating. I’m so lucky to have a front row seat to all your antics. Always remember that I’m just a shout away… Watching you thrive in difficult situations gives me immense pride because that’s all I ever want for you… to be a capable, trusting human being who always finds his joy.

Love,
Your Mom

Honey, I fired the pediatrician!

20160829_111843.jpgHere is a piece of mommy wisdom that I will carry with me forever…

You can tell a lot about a person by the care they take when changing a baby’s diaper!

In the beginning, babies are tiny and fragile-looking things, their arms and legs feeling like jello, that it is nearly impossible to change their nappy without fearing for their safety. But, by the time they are 3 or 4 months old, they morph into squishy, squiggly little creatures who can’t stay still long enough to be changed. Diaper changes turn into acrobatic balancing acts that require focus and care. Diapers themselves have a come a long way… There is technology built into each diaper to indicate how wet, full or long they can last. They have an inner and outer layer, designed to keep your baby dry and velcro like tabs that keep the nasty nasty in its place. Putting a diaper on a baby is truly a skill that needs to be mastered and believe me, your baby is paying attention and keeping score. And, when you rush through the job, you not only lose out on the precious opportunity to connect with your little one, but they make you pay for it almost immediately!

That should have been my first clue about my pediatrician. The first time she examined my son and put his diaper back on, I didn’t think much of it. Maybe she was in a hurry, I thought to myself. Doctors are notorious for being overbooked and I have empathy for them. Her bedside manners seemed pleasant enough that I didn’t mind a crooked diaper with a whole butt cheek hanging out. But, during subsequent visits I started noticing that her skills were rather lacking… When I say my 6 yr old niece could’ve done a better job, I’m not exaggerating!

If you’re silently thinking that maybe I’m overreacting, let me assure you that there were other signs that led me down the difficult path of firing my pediatrician. Parting ways with a doctor is never easy, no matter how long you’ve known them. There is a feeling of awkwardness when you make such a decision. Then there is the hassle of finding a new doctor, transferring records and starting all over again with someone new, who may or may not live up to your expectations. It’s all a gamble, still there are times when it’s better to go than to stay!

Here are a five reasons why I fired my pediatrician!

    1. Thou shall multitask! Every time I asked my pediatrician a question when she was in checking out my son, she shushed me. It’s as if she couldn’t look into his ears and listen to me at the same time. When she was finally ready for me, she rushed me so much so that I always walked out feeling like I had missed something.
    2. Thou shall give sound advice! There were many things our pediatrician said that made me raise an eyebrow, like giving water to a 2 month old and telling me to increase my son’s food intake during one visit and chiding me for the same during the next. But, it was when she instructed me to start my son on solids at 4 months old that I really put my foot down.
    3. Thou shall not make us wait! Time is money. While I was able to get appointments regularly, the wait during these appointments, in spite of an empty waiting room, was bothersome.
    4. Thou shall not overcharge! After my initial visit I received a bill for charges for the services rendered. When I questioned about insurance payments, I was reassured that there was a billing error. Three months later, I received another bill for 3 times the amount of the original bill. Again, I’ve been reassured that this is a billing error. While the office manager is never around to take my calls, he still hasn’t returned my voicemail a week later!
    5. Thou shall embrace technology! Doctors are not techies, I get it. But, at the very least you must be able to log into your EMR system without having to call a “younger person’ to assist. During my last visit, the pediatrician was unable to pull up my son’s immunization schedule to validate a shot he was about to get. This made me very nervous, since I was previously told that he wasn’t getting a shot during this visit. After several minutes of fumbling around, she summoned her receptionist who rolled her eyes so hard that I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable just being there.

There are times when you just have to go with your mama gut. I walked out of her office a week ago and vowed never to go back. Once you’ve lost confidence in your doctor, there’s no use pretending otherwise. Luckily my mother in law came to the rescue with a recommendation from one of her friends and this guy seems like a good one, at least on paper. We meet him next week and you better believe I will be taking notes on his diapering skills. Fingers crossed!