As a clinician academic, father of two young children (ages 4 and 7), and with a wife who is also a professional, life is very busy. If it isn’t coordinating pick-ups and drop offs for school, sports or social events, it’s getting meals prepped, laundry done, house maintained, and leaving time for spontaneity, such as hockey in the basement with my son or dancing with my daughter to her favourite song. I believe there is a serious challenge for parent-academics (regardless of gender) in finding time to do all family, work and leisure, and a challenge to balance them well.
I think context is important. I believe clinician academics with a “young family” will be different from those with older kids (e.g., young adults). [Although, knowing my culture (Italian), kids never really leave home and remain closely connected to their parents and family!] I believe that in raising young children (the first 6 years of life) there is a bigger time commitment to be with them, to teach and to love within this time of life that is often emphasized as being foundational for them. I am a clinician academic in paediatrics, and I preach interdependence within families, and live it as well – and I find these early years especially difficult as a clinician academic.
Further about context, in my culture every generation is connected and we are close – always together. This way of life also adds to the time challenge. Needless to say, many of the work hours occur after the children are asleep, or after family events.
I am also “early career”, and I think this may also play into this challenge in finding a balance between work and the wider life. As an early career clinician academic, I am expected to start a program of research, be an all-star educator, publish, bring in grant money and join committees within and outside of academia. The challenge is that it takes a lot of time to generate momentum on the different foci of work, and there is pressure to not say “no” to potential opportunities. I find that, as a result, more time has to be dedicated to work – posing a further challenge to the “balance.”
A further aspect of my context is that my partner is also a busy professional. We both juggle our schedule to ensure that we keep up with our jobs and not “penalize” our children’s upbringing because of our career choices. The family is so interconnected that there is little room for error and sometimes getting sick is not even an option – all hands need to be on deck!
To wrap up… On the balance between work, family and leisure…. Work and family pretty much dictate most of my hours in the week. This pretty much leaves “leisure” time with zero hours or at least it doubles as “family time”. For now, my work-family balance will have to get me by and I wouldn’t have it any other way!