Best of Both Worlds Podcast: Josh!

Best of Both World podcast with Laura Vanderkam

We have a treat for listeners this week. After 19 months of featuring amazing and wonderful women, Best of Both Worlds presents our first ever male guest.

Josh Unger is a Florida-based vascular surgeon, runner, guitarist, and father of three. He also happens to be Sarah’s husband — and a very, very good sport.

He talked through his career journey. He started out in tech and then realized, after a while, that he wanted to do something different. He’d seen from his own family of physicians the difference they can make in people’s lives. So he decided to switch careers and go to medical school. While there, he met Sarah. I always love hearing spouses tell, together, how they met!

Josh talked about his schedule, and what he spends time on outside of work and family (not too much — but he is an incredibly talented runner, having managed to log 6-ish minute miles in races without training!)

Readers of Sarah’s blog have heard about her various solo weekends with the kids when Josh is on call. Since Josh doesn’t have a blog, readers don’t hear about what he does with the kids all weekend while she’s on call. So I asked! Turns out, there’s a lot of pool time spent trying to tire the kids out. He uses the time block method: morning swim, nap/screen time, then going to a museum in late afternoon. I appreciate this technique.

I also asked if there’d ever been any repercussions for him from Sarah keeping the blog. One of the thing that draws me and many readers to The SHU Box is Sarah’s authenticity. He said not really, though he did feel a little strange when commenters have posted negative things about him. But in the grand scheme of things, that’s been a blip.

He’s also really good with mug-creating. I had tried to create a mug on Shutterfly with the Best of Both Worlds logo and failed miserably. But he pulled it off! So please give this episode a listen and let us know what you think (reviews and ratings definitely appreciated!)

In other news: Thanks to everyone who checked out the Before Breakfast podcast yesterday! It hit #4 for business podcasts on iTunes, which was awesome.

I’m also working on an article on time management tips for parents going back to work after parental leave. That first year is tough; are there tips that you wish you’d known going in? As always, you can email me (lvanderkam at yahoo dot com) or respond here. Thanks!

I was also thrilled to learn there are a few Doylestown-based readers. I’ll see you at the Doylestown Bookshop tonight!

11 thoughts on “Best of Both Worlds Podcast: Josh!

  1. Tips for going back to work: Cook and freeze meals ahead. Make sure you have all details worked out with your daycare provider, preferably in writing so there’s no confusion. Prep as much as you can the night before – clothes for you and the baby, your lunch, anything needed for daycare.

    Most of all, cut yourself some slack. This is a big adjustment for all, and your plans are bound to change/morph. Be patient with yourself and others.

  2. My most important tip for going back to work is to only pump if it really works for you. You can still give your baby all the benefits of breast milk while nursing morning, evening and night. If your baby is older you can also replace a lot of day time feedings with solid food.
    I have friends who pumped at work with no issue. For me, it was a nightmare. My body did not respond to the pump so the whole thing was a massive time suck coupled with awful feeling of guilt and inadequacy.

  3. This is fresh in my mind–I just came back from maternity leave at the end of November.

    1. If you can afford it, start the baby at daycare the week before you go back, even for just a few days. It can take so much longer to get out the door than you think, even if you regularly go out with the baby, and it’s more stressful when you are also trying to get to work on time. There are little things that are hard to account for, such as checking in with the teachers and chatting with other parents. It will also give you a sense of the traffic/travel time at the time you will actually be making the drive. As a bonus, it will give you some free time to get things in order yourself (possibly cooking some food as Connie suggests).

    2. I also second Sophie’s point about pumping. Give it a whirl if you’d like, but it was a bit crazy-making for me in various ways. I had a very supportive boss and workplace, and it was still very tough.

    3. Especially at the beginning, have checklists for things to bring to daycare and things to bring to work. It frees up mental bandwidth and your partner can help pack up for daycare as well when there is a list to work from.

    4. Along the lines of Connie’s suggestion to prep as much as possible the night before–I read somewhere (I think it was The Minimalist Mom by Rachel Jonat) to not sit down at night until you’re prepped for the next day. Of course there is an endless list of things to be done, but for me this means just prepping things you need to head out the door the next day–for me that’s making sure the diaper bag is packed and prepping my lunch for the next day. When I was pumping it meant making sure I had clean pump parts as well. It really only takes 10-20 minutes at night but makes the mornings so much smoother.

    5. A couple weeks before you are scheduled to go back, try on some work clothes to make sure you have things that fit. If not, order some online or go shopping. I consider this a time management issue because it saves time if you don’t have to try on multiple outfits every morning to find something that fits.

    6. Keep the bar very low. Takeout for dinner is fine, a messy house is fine, doing nothing on weeknights but feeding yourselves and the baby is fine. Food and sleep for everyone should be the main priorities. It won’t last forever.

  4. Agree with all the great suggestions above.

    One other item (if you are using child care outside the home) is to expect some sick days as your kiddos adjusts to exposure of new ‘germs.’ I was surprised by how quickly and frequently our little one got sick in his first year. It does get better but at first that was hard.

    1. Continuing on that, you and your partner will also get sick. I’ve never gotten sick as much as I did that first winter in daycare. Make sure you have sick days saved up and backup child care, since kids can’t go back until they are 24 hours fever free.

      1. @Amanda- Oh yes, I got sick all the time that first winter. Definitely a rough part of the transition to parenthood!

  5. I would love to read about that, too. One topic I’ve noticed is that co-working mothers morph into mommies even at the office and lose credibility and authority. How do you balance your parenthood and professionalism? (I mean, you don’t want to hide having kids.)
    Also, childcare is expensive. What do you do if you don’t have the money?

  6. I loved having Josh on the podcast! I found Sarah’s blog during a period when my husband was also working a lot and really enjoyed hearing about how the Unger family managed things! I think it’s so great for families who have one parent who works longer or unpredictable hours to have stretches when that parent is in charge (like when Sarah is on call). It’s so important for kids to see that either parent is perfectly capable of caring for them on their own!

    1. @Irene – glad you enjoyed it! And yes, I agree that it’s good for kids to see that both parents can care for them.

  7. My #1 tip for transitioning back to work is: don’t expect to do everything yourself!! Just because you were doing more baby care and household tasks while you were on maternity leave does not mean you have to keep doing all the same tasks when you go back to work. Likewise the new responsibilities that will be added like doing drop off/pickup, washing pump parts, taking days off when baby is sick etc etc. Prior to going back to work, discuss all this with your partner and divide up the responsibilities.

    1. @Alicia. That is so true, if you’re a two parent household and both working then sharing responsibilities is essential. Another thing that helped me was deciding how important work was to me at that time. I was offered a new role on return to work and took it but, I made a decision that although I’d do a good job I wasn’t going to say yes to every extra opportunity or project that came my way. It just wasn’t where I was at professionally or personally. You could make whatever decision suits you on this continuum from just coasting along to going all out but thinking ahead about what you might say yes or no to can help you feel more confident to do so.

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