Emily Kalanithi is actually my sister-in-law! (Her husband is my sister's husband's brother.) She is hilarious and awesome. An attorney for the State of California, Emily lives in San Francisco with her husband Jeevan and their one-year-old daughter Eve. Here's how she tries to juggle it all...
1. What's your work schedule?
I work in the office full-time, Monday through Friday. My actual hours in the office are pretty reasonable—9-6ish. But I frequently check in on email at night and on weekends during naps and after bedtime.
2. How do you handle childcare?
We have an amazing nanny who comes to our house five days a week. When we were looking for a nanny, I hadn't realized how much they become a part of your family and how intimate the relationship is. We lucked out. Our family loves her, she loves our daughter, and her advice and example has definitely made me a better and more confident parent.
3. Did you ever feel jealous of your nanny?
The most threatened I felt was before our nanny started. I remember saying to my mom that I felt like I was the world's foremost expert on Eve and I didn't want to give up that role. My mom reassured me that I would always be the expert and would be the first one to discover whenever Eve was sick. But once our nanny went from someone I didn't know very well to part of our family unit, I became happy to share the expert role.
4. When do you typically hang out with your daughter?
Mornings before work, after work for about an hour and a half, and on weekends. Occasionally I'll work from home for the day, although this has gotten a little trickier as my daughter has gotten older.
5. What do you like best about your current setup?
After my maternity leave ended, I was surprised to find how glad I was to be back at work. It gives me energy and fulfillment and gets me out of the house everyday. My current setup allows me to have a lot of things in my life—a rewarding marriage, solid chunks of time with my daughter and a challenging career. I don't have angst that there's a major aspect of life that I'm missing out on. But...
6. What do you find so-so/tricky/hilariously bad about your current set-up?
The downside of having a lot of things in my life is having lot of things on my mind. I regularly wake up at 4am, just thinking about all of the stuff that needs to happen. But then again, I think a lot of people have this—being an adult probably means juggling a lot of things, regardless of whether we have kids or jobs outside the house.
If I had a magic wand, all of the housework would be done. Housework does not give me energy and fulfillment, and I hate that women tend to bear more of that burden (and would welcome any and all advice on how we can change this!).
7. How do you handle dinner?
Oh, dinner. Our nanny feeds Eve at an astoundingly early hour (4:30 or 5). After I come home from work around 6, I play with Eve until she goes to bed at 7:30. Then, if Jeevan is home, I'll cook an easy dinner (maybe 3-4 nights a week). Or we'll order Chinese or Thai or Indian.
8. How do you and your husband fit marriage into the balance?
It's hard because my husband has a very busy job as well (he's the co-founder of a consumer electronics start-up). When we're too busy or tired for real date nights with a sitter, we have devised something called "internal date nights" where we put the baby to bed and have a date at home. Even if it's just ordering food and watching a movie, it at least means we've set aside the time to be together without email-checking and other distractions.
9. Do you have any time for yourself?
Just a couple of weeks ago, I met my friends in Scottsdale for a girls weekend. We caught a spring training game and hung out at a spa resort. Awesome!
The thing I can't quite fit into the schedule is working out. I try to go before work, but I hate that it takes away from the sweet (and relatively calm) morning times where my husband, daughter and I all hang out together.
10. What advice would you give to other moms about how to balance work and life?
Go easy on yourself. There is so much pressure to do everything and to do everything well (here's a recent blog post on this that I like). Once you realize that doing all of these things is not just a lot of pressure but also a physical impossibility, things get easier. Just decide which things are important to you, and try to leave expectations about the rest behind.
Thank you so much, Emily.
P.S. Last summer's first balance series about moms who work from home, and the rest of the second balance series about moms with office jobs.
(Family photo by Holly Dresher Photography)