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Work Life Balance

With only 24 hours in each day, every working adult is looking for work/life balance. Chances are, some areas of our lives run smoother than others do, so rather than looking at such a balance as an achievable constant, perhaps we could view it more as a long-term goal.

One busy family.

Drs. Michael and Merih O’Donoghue are both health care professionals with demanding careers who are also raising four children together. Here are a few suggestions the couple has to offer to keep stress at bay and things moving along day-to-day.

On the road.

Merih O’Donoghue, M.D., is a member of the team at Meritus Primary Care. She recommends parents try to divide and conquer to share the demands of child rearing.

“It’s easier if for instance, one person picks up the kids and the other parent handles drop-off,” she says. “Arrange your schedules so it’s not one parent doing everything if possible. Balance these tasks based on availability.”

Michael O’Donoghue, M.D., who specializes in pathology at the hospital, suggests leveraging the help of others to spread responsibilities even further.

“Carpool when you can!” he suggests.

Mealtime.

Healthy eating can be a challenge for many of us, even without kids and careers. To make things easier, the O’Donoghue family tries to plan for meals whenever possible.

“We have it figured out, what everyone will eat, so I have about five meals I know all of the family members like,” Merih says. “I will rotate between them each week.”

Cooking does not have to happen with every meal if you make a double batch of a dish and freeze half for later. This saves time in the end and offers easy, affordable and probably healthier dinner options than the fast-food drive thru menu.

Michael mentions that an air fryer and InstaPot have helped the O’Donoghue family be more efficient with their cooking time. They also pack lunches to save time and money.

A social life.

As a parent and professional, a social life tends to be among the first things sacrificed, but maintaining positive relationships is so important for both physical and mental health.

To make time for social activities, the O’Donoghues block their schedules for consistent social events, including monthly book club meetings and Monday night trivia with friends.

“The key is for the social appointments to be on the schedule, so the time is set aside and we know it’s coming,” says Merih. “There are always things to do to fill time.”

Self-care.

Other important self-care activities like exercise can also be scheduled ahead of time right on the calendar. Removing barriers that may keep you from working out, like selecting a gym that is just too far from home or waiting to exercise until late in the evening may make fitness goals more difficult to achieve.

“Never give up trying to stay healthy!” says Michael.

Merih agrees saying, “There is no way any of us are going to be able to do everything exactly when we want to, so being flexible is key. Perhaps some things can wait until another time on that family calendar.”

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