The Juggle Series: Elizabeth Chabner, Physician/ CEO Best Friends for LifeCarmen Ordonez
In today’s The Juggle Series (where fabulous moms share just how they manage to juggle it all), I interviewed Elizabeth Chabner, physician and CEO of Best Friends for Life. She graduated from Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1993 and also obtained a Masters Degree in Public Health from Harvard. Elizabeth worked as a radiation oncologist while raising her four children. With the support of her husband, she continued to pursue her love of sports (marathon running, open water swimming, tennis and golf) while balancing her career and family.
Here’s how she manages work/life/marriage and her four children, who range in age from 9 to 15.
What is your typical day like from start to finish/describe your work schedule 1 of 11
I usually wake up between 4-5 am, when my husband gets up for work. I return emails and sometimes exercise. If our eldest daughter has morning swim practice I drive her back and forth-- I usually try to run then, so no time wasted. Once the kids get off to school, I go to work. This means going into NYC for meetings or the hospital for patient care. I try to answer emails in big chunks or else I get too far behind. By 10 or 11 am, I check in with my staff at the warehouse, so we can set an agenda for the day. I try to get home by 3, so that I see the children when they come home from school. I have help with driving the kids to their afternoon activities. Sometimes it takes myself, a driver and my husband to get everyone around. Dinner can be very informal during the week. Between 8-10 the kids do their homework and I answer emails. I try to get to sleep by 10.
How do you juggle marriage/work/motherhood? 2 of 11
My children and my husband and extended family are my priorities. Work has to wait. My kids make fun of me all the time because I never sit down. My computer is on a high counter in the kitchen and I am usually directly behind it. I have no formula for juggling-- I just try to do my best, remember to be patient and to focus as problems, situations arise. My husband and I both respect each other and work exceptionally hard. He appreciates my drive and desire to "accomplish" things. We try to have a "date" once a week, whether it be lunch in the city, dinner in the suburbs, an event or a movie.
photo: Dave Cowley/flickr
What do you love about being a mom? 3 of 11
It's really hard for me to get through the day without a few hugs. My children inspire me and respect me as a doctor and a businesswoman. I feel so fortunate to have 4 healthy, happy children.
photo: David Goehring/flickr
What advice would you give other women trying to juggle it all? 4 of 11
Take things day by day and don't be afraid to step back when you are overwhelmed. Except for emergency medical care, there are few things that can wait until I have a clear head. Sleep is just about the most important necessity for the entire family. If there's one thing I can't go without, it's sleep.â€¨â€¨â€¨
How do you manage childcare? 5 of 11
My staff really does a little of everything. My children are all in school for most of the year. During the summer, it's pure chaos because none of them goes to sleep-away camp.
How do you make time for your husband and your marriage? 6 of 11
Our marriage was built upon mutual respect and humor. We have known each other since college, although we did not date in college. We have our ups and downs but our values are the same and we put child rearing at the forefront of our priorities. My husband has a great sense of humor and pokes fun at me all the time. It helps straighten me out when I am off course and makes me laugh.
photo: James Cridland/Flickr
How do you manage household chores/cooking? 7 of 11
Ugh. I love to cook and make a mess. We have help 6 days a week in the house. I can't do it all, but I try to pitch in when the laundry piles up.
photo: Maegan Tintari/Flickr
Does your work require you to travel? If so, how do you handle? 8 of 11
I hate to travel, but it's necessary for my work. Just yesterday, I took the train back and forth from Boston. That was after a TV appearance in NYC in the morning. The meeting in Boston was critical, so I did it, all in one day. As long as I can sleep, I can travel. The kids are not happy when I am away for too many nights.
photo: Steve Parker/Flickr
Do you think women can âï¿½ï¿½have it allâï¿½ï¿½? 9 of 11
To me, having it all is being a mother, wife and good daughter, and a good friend. I have good days and bad days like everyone else. Life is far from glamorous, but so long as I am productive and happy in addition to those things listed above, I have it all.
What has been your biggest challenge juggling marriage/motherhood and a high-profile career? 10 of 11
When my children call me on the phone, I answer it no matter what. I get distracted at times. I could probably accomplish a lot more some days, but I think that the totality of life experiences is critical in accomplishing my goals. I learn from my colleagues, patients, family and friends. I am far from perfect in anything that I do. I need to accept that and also realize when I need to take a break and reassess.
Any tips for managing time/priorities? 11 of 11
I make a lot of lists and I try to anticipate problems ahead of time. We have a grid/schedule everyday that tells everyone where they need to be and who is driving them. Otherwise, nothing works and I get a million desperate phone calls. Don't try to do too much. Sometimes it's ok to postpone meetings or cancel. Usually it's first come, first serve.
Read more of Carmen’s writing on her blog, Viva Fashion.