blank'/> A LITTLE BIT OF LACQUER: How to Juggle It All

January 16, 2015

How to Juggle It All

I think this is the number question I get from my readers now. How do you juggle it all? How do you balance being a wife, mother, medical student/almost doctor, and blogger, and still manage to be happy? The short answer? I don't!

Let's clear that up a bit - I am happy almost all of the time when I remember to be grateful, and thankfully I have lots of reminders of just how blessed I am. But juggle it all? That's a concept we need to get out of our heads and redefine for ourselves. 

Let's start with one piece of wisdom one of my mentors shared with me early on - "You can have all the hats you want, but you can only wear one hat at a time." These wise words have only become truer through motherhood. When I'm in "doctor mode" that's what I'm doing, when I'm in "mom mode" all of my attention is on Liv. It's something I always have to work on, but I'm getting there. You see, in college, when I was balancing a full-time courseload, working as a residency advisor, medical assistant, kitchen dishwasher, and extracurriculars like basic science research and being the president of a minority pre-med group (and being in a relationship), it was all relatively simple - make lists of everything that needed to be done for every role I was in, and plug in times throughout the week alotted for each of them. With some scheduling and time management, it all could be done. 

Fast forward a few years, and "simply" scheduling isn't as easy anymore. Working in the hospital, at least as a medical student and resident, you don't have a set in stone schedule. Sure, you may work roughly 7-5, or 7-7, but for most of us, especially when on inpatient months, you're rotating through a call schedule with days that are dependent on how many patients you admit, how complicated they are, and how efficiently work can get done. With motherhood, well you moms know, naptime is never guaranteed, moods can never be predicted, and you sort of just have to go with the flow! My days of perfectly scheduled blocks of time for each task on my large to-do list are over for now. 

With letting go of my sanity-saving scheduling ways came a new way to get things done. I still keep a constantly updated to-do list for tasks that need completing, but I keep it on my phone so I can easily update it whenever I get the chance, and utilize it whenever I have free time. I am currently in love with the app "Do It (Tomorrow)" It's a wonderfully simple to-do list app that is as beautiful as it is functional, and really just works for my new scheduling and acceptance of things that can't get done today. It allows me to keep my list, cross off things as they are completed, or move them to tomorrow's to-do list (and will do so automatically if it wasn't completed). This little app has been key to my sanity! It has the only features I really need - namely, the ability to rearrange the order of my list (all I need to know priority), can sync with your desktop (which I rarely use but is nice), and it's pretty enough that I want to check it multiple times a day. 

{a make believe to-do list I created to show you how pretty the app is! this is the desktop view, the phone view splits up the pages so you can either look at today or tomorrow.}

Thankfully I'm not alone, and hopefully you aren't either. Having N, our parents, our friends, daycare and a back-up babysitter, that's our village, and there is absolutely no way I'd be doing any of this without them! 

We need to be kind to ourselves. Despite having less time and control over my time than I had pre-Liv, I don't feel like I've lost much of my productivity. I have certainly become a bit more of a "pressure makes diamonds" kind of worker and worked on things at the absolute last possible minute, but you make it work. I think that's the real message I've learned from motherhood and I hope to share with you all - you just make it work. Had you told me first year of medical school that I was going to have a child third year I would have laughed in your face and maybe cried a little on the inside and told you it was impossible. But you make it work. We rise to whatever the situation demands, and through this we achieve greatness. It's nice to be in a comfort zone, but we only grow by leaving that comfort zone and taking on the next challenge (or blessing, all of our challenges are really blessings). 

I hope this post can help those of you who feel like you're trying to juggle it all. One last piece of advice I can offer is to stop the comparison game! Especially with social media, it's so easy to see another mother or woman's instagram feed and think she has a perfect life! Don't compare your life and all the ups and downs to the little squares that make up someone's highlight reel! I know personally I just don't like sharing negative things on social media, for me it's a space for all my happy memories, but trust Liv throws tantrums and N and I fight and I get horrible breakouts and life is not always peachy, but man, life is still so good. It's all about perspective. Just wanted to share that with you so as we all tend to sometimes get wrapped up in that! I hope you all have wonderful weekends!

**Update** - two more kids and a real job as a resident physician later and I'm "juggling" more than ever, and happier than ever! Read more in this post.


  1. I found your insta through my girlfriend Grace and I love it! As a lawyer mom of three--home with them now--turned mommy blogger and textile artisan, omg I totally identify with the list thing. Pre-kids I just worked harder and banged law review, lawyering, even wedding planning remotely while clerking in Vegas but marrying in my hometown in the Midwest. Nothing's more humbling than work + relationship + kids. Your wisdom rings true! Keep up the awesome work!

  2. New reader to your blog! I found you on Instagram through Grace (Camp Patton). Clicked to read about juggling because I'm a working mom with three kids and can relate. I'm enjoying reading lots of previous posts too :)

  3. You are such a beautiful and inspiring person! Liv is so lucky to have you as her mommy :)

    Xo erica

  4. love this. being in the moment and experiencing life is something being Z's mama has taught me and I am so grateful. And I always say, do what's right for you. Everyone is different, especially as we parent these little humans, we have to continue to remind ourselves that we are all different.


  5. Wonderful post and thank you for being so darn REAL. I found you thru IG a month ago or so and was thinking to myself "wow what the does she do it all?" Having family around to help is just priceless for us :) Thanks for the tip on the app! I will definitely download it and give it a try. Totally random, but I am the type of person who makes lists and puts things on there I've already done JUST to have the satisfaction of crossing them off. haha! Have a lovely weekend :)

  6. Great post. Love the advice about 'only wearing one hat at a time.' Although I'm not a mom, law school can still get pretty stressful and it is difficult trying to accomplish everything at once. Narrowing my focus at times is definitely something I will have to work toward in 2015 :)

    You seem to be doing a great job with everything!

  7. Love this post. So honest and relevant. Thank you :)

  8. Hi Laura,

    I found your IG via Cup of Jo and oh gosh, we have many things eerily in common! I'm an M2 at OSU with a 17 month old daughter who I had the first day of class (Aug. 12, 2013). I also paint my nails while I study haha. My husband and I are both from CA but when I got a full ride to OSU, we decided it was worth it :)

    Like you, I didn't think I would have a baby during medical school- until I did. You definitely rise up to the occasion. Strangely, it's all a lot easier if this is just your reality. I mean, that diaper is not going to change itself; those lectures aren't going to be heard by themselves either! So you just get up, and do it, frankly. But from an external prospective- yea it seems like a circus (which it is- haha)

    I totally agree about creating and maintaining your "village". I would be utter failure (more than I feel now ;)) without my mom, husband and MIL. My mom actually had me while she was defending her PhD dissertation and my grandfather took care of me for a while so she is def. paying it forward.

    One thing I'm still making amends with is focusing on one "hat" at a time. When I'm in "school mode", I think about my daughter. Did she eat? She better not be watching Daniel Tiger again... However, when I'm with Sakina I worry about that one table in First Aid I still need to memorize. It's hard to keep one hat on at one time. I have to remind myself that you only have one head for a reason ;)

    On the whole, motherhood is magical. I didn't know I was capable of loving so much! Marriage has nothing on this. And, in all honesty, it's the single best thing to happen to my medical career. Being a parent is like an instant connection with half of humanity (and their kids!). The experience of birthing and cultivating (I like that word more than just "raising") transcends race, age, religion, SES- any social strata you can imagine. It's this club; you get each other. I can talk about "work/life balance" with an attending the same way I can connect with a nervous mom when she brings her newborn into the ER (how terrifying!).

    I used to think I was an empathic and understanding person. But 17 months of motherhood was like a Miracle-gro for my "empathy flower". I totally get it now. You just care so much- you care so much it hurts! Now I see patients and it's painfully obvious that there are so many issues and complexities on people's minds but not necessarily on their tongues. Being a parent makes me a better physician, I think.

    Anywho, it's nice to "meet" other moms in medical school. It's nice to know I'm not the only one Googling, "How to get formaldehyde smell out of an Ergobaby" (I had left it in trunk juxtaposed with a particularly soaked and nasty Grants' Dissector- whoops!)

    Much love,

    PS I know interview season is over but if you're ever in Columbus, OH or LA/OC area, drop a line!!

  9. HAHAHA sorry to straight up drop a novella on you! <3

  10. So happy I found your blog it gave me inspiration . Thank you 🌹

  11. I think the most important part was to "stop the comparison game". Some women stress themselvesout in order to keep up with another woman/mom/blogger/celebrity/whatever. No ones life is perfect and we all do the best that we can until we know or have the resources to do better. In the end, we are all here to help and uplift each other. Especially as women and mothers.

    Thanks for sharing your positive story.

  12. Nice advise from your mentor. We can only do so much at the same time so it's best to do just one thing at a time, focusing greatly on it.

  13. I was so happy when I came across your blog, you have such an amazing family not to mention amazing goals. glad to follow someone who's could actually be someone to look up to & relate to :)

  14. I found you on IG today and I am so happy I did! Thank you! :)

  15. New reader and first year med student!
    This advice is very applicable for adjusting to the demands of medical school, while making time for myself.
    Thank you

  16. I'm so happy that I found you on IG and now that I've read your blog I'm ecstatic! I'm a M2 at OSU and expecting my first child in less than 2 weeks (eek!). Juggling being a student and wife has its challenges and adding mommy to the mix has been a source of concern. It's so awesome to see that a fellow female medical professional is enjoying life in the midst of the craziness we call work. I've also been playing with the idea of restarting my blog to help me feel a little more like me and now I'm inspired to do so. Please keep sharing your happy moments and I look forward to reading more :-)

  17. You'are such an inspiration, a true girl boss that I admire.

    Thanks for sharing.

  18. How do you find time to write, organize and post to your blog with your schedule? You have very interesting and lengthy posts. What is your secret?

  19. This is great advice. I think that as ambitious women, we have so many things that we want to do and can often fall short when comparing ourselves to the unrealistic goal of doing everything. My family & friends are also a huge help with supporting and helping me. Even though times may get very busy I always remember that I have gotten through every tough day to date! Also, I love writing things down by hand when I have time, but I am definitely going to try out this app for my To Do lists!

  20. Hi! Is there any way you could do a blog post on how you chose your children's names? They're perfect!


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