New Year, New Hours – And Lessons in Work-Life Balance | Dr. Emily Watson

New Year, New Hours – And Lessons in Work-Life Balance

Happy New Year to all of my patients and families! It has been awhile since I’ve had a blog up, but I hope to be more consistent with this in 2023! 

As with all businesses, 2022 had its struggles, but it was also a great year of growth for many. Year over year though, my favorite part remains the same… the interactions I get to have with patients and their families. They are the very best part of my day, and I hope they feel the same when they come for their appointments. 

One struggle my staff and I have encountered throughout the years is finding a balance between work life and home life. Times have certainly changed, and today, almost all of my staff work full-time and have children at home. Some are single moms and are the sole income for their family. They want to get their kids on the bus and be home in time for dinner or to see their kids play sports.

Sometimes to bring better balance to work and home life, a change is needed, even if it’s a subtle one. And this is why, beginning in February, we will be making a slight tweak to our hours. Since this affects patients, I want you to understand why we are doing it and how it relates to the concept of work-life balance.

Let’s begin with our change in hours. Instead of seeing our first patients at 8 a.m., our appointments will start at 8:30 a.m. I know this decreases a few 8 a.m. appointments. However, to make up for this, we have added additional days to our schedule. 

So why make this change? Over the years, as we have conducted exit interviews, a common issue we have encountered is the difficulty in getting to Warsaw by 7:40 a.m. or Plymouth by 7:15 a.m. with young kids at home. 

Some staff members commute anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour each day to get to the office. They drive even farther on those days when we work from our Plymouth office instead of our main location in Warsaw. As you can imagine, getting a sleeping child up before 6:00 a.m. could be a struggle. And over time, this struggle can lead to losing great employees because they are struggling with this balance in life. Can you relate to this?

As a mom, I understand and empathize with our staff. I am blessed to have an amazing support system, and I know not everyone has this. I can imagine what it would feel like to start the day juggling your role as a parent and an employee from the moment your alarm goes off until you go to bed each night.

Practicing Gratitude

Still, none of us – you, my staff, or me –is likely to achieve perfect balance all the time. What then?

One solution that helps me: Practice gratitude. My staff and I often talk about the importance of practicing gratitude – appreciating what you have – and keeping things in perspective. I remind them to think about the importance of what they do for our patients each day and how wonderful it is to have a purpose in life that is so rewarding.

No matter how hard my job is on some days, it doesn’t compare to what my parents went through as they immigrated to the United States from a refugee camp, adjusted to their adopted country, raised a family, and operated a business, working seven days a week for all of the years I was going through school. I also know there are plenty of working mothers and fathers who are on second or third shifts, which adds an extra layer of stress to the work-life struggle. Some work weekends, perhaps missing out on their children’s extracurricular activities.

I would advise anyone struggling with work-life balance to similarly find ways to feel and show gratitude for what you have, even as you try to better your own situation and find your way in a complicated world.

Whatever you do, though, don’t give up on that balance.

Research has shown that people are more productive, healthier, and happier when they achieve a balance between their work lives and their personal lives. They are less likely to suffer from burnout, and more likely to be satisfied with their jobs.

In our case at Warsaw Orthodontics, that can mean even better care for you, our patients. I am hoping our slight adjustment in hours, along with our added patient days, will work for you as you seek your own balance in life.

As so many of you remind me when I talk about my two daughters, Grace (7) and Vivienne (5), “The years are long, but the days are short. Enjoy this time while you can.” 

Blessings to everyone in 2023!

– Dr. Emily Watson