Keyona joins the podcast to discuss how she balances a demanding full-time career, a busy side business and single motherhood.
Jen: Hi, this is Jen from Grace for Single Parents where your parenting and God’s grace collide.
Today on the podcast I have Keyona. She’s a full-time nurse anesthetist, owner of the blog professionalmomma.com and a single mother to an adorable toddler girl.
I always find it helpful to learn how other single moms handle multiple responsibilities. So I asked Keyona to come on today to talk about how she balances a crazy work schedule while being a single parent and building a side business.
She also talks about how she keeps her daughter in daycare on her days off without guilt. It’s a conversation you won’t want to miss!
Keyona: I’m Keyona and I’m a single working mom by day. I work as a nurse anesthetist helping put patients to sleep before surgical procedures. And I also have a blog where I help other working moms simplify their mom-life through automation, systems, and routines.
Jen: You have a daughter, is that right?
Keyona: I do have a daughter. She’s two and a half years old going on 35
Jen: So she’s sassy.
Keyona: She is, but I think I know where she gets it from.
Jen: So I just wanted to have you on today because I admire what you do. I see you just as a very successful single mom and successful outside of work and with your child and also a successful job that you have.
And then on top of that, you’re also creating an online business. And I think that’s really inspiring to be able to do all of that as a single parent.
And I wanted to talk a little bit about how you manage all of that because you have a crazy work schedule, right?
Jen: Can you talk a little bit about your home life with your daughter and how you balance.
Keyona: So before I had my daughter as I said, I’m working in the hospital. I am an anesthesia provider. And as you know, patients come at any time of day or night and they have to have someone available to take care of them.
So before I had my daughter, I was a part of our open heart team and I took a lot of overnight call. I took a call shift every week, one night a week. And every sixth weekend I was on call from 7:00 AM on Friday to 7:00 AM on Monday. And when I realized that I was going to have a baby, it became apparent to me that that wasn’t going to be possible. I mean it could be possible, but I didn’t want to be missing overnight from a newborn baby and I didn’t want to have to trust someone else to keep my child overnight.
So I gave that up and that was a lucrative part of my job. So I took a pay cut in order to have a more stable schedule, even though my schedule is still kinda sporadic.
So now I work Monday through Friday, seven to three and the issues that come up with that is that most daycares don’t open until six o’clock I mean not six o’clock seven o’clock and you’re lucky if you find one that opens at six 30 so the, here’s the thing, my schedule says I work from seven to three but at seven o’clock is when I’m supposed to have the first patient in the operating room for their surgery.
So in our reality, I need to be at work by six 30 and so I had to find childcare that was going to open early enough to be able to accommodate my job.
And there’s like only one and it happens to be the hospital daycare, which is right by my job. So that worked out, but it sucked because I didn’t have the opportunity to really pick a childcare center that I want it.
I happen to like this one, but you know, if I had my choice, I would’ve picked something that had a little more options for her and opportunities for growth. But I feel so limited because I had to go with what’s going to be open for her. And I also take calls still.
So instead of doing it once a week, my new call requirement was to do it twice in a six week period. And it was typically during the workday or the workweek, but now they’ve changed it to where I take calls on the weekends, it normally falls like I have like one 24 hour call shift in a six week period.
Jen: So you have to be available all 24 hours. So what do you do during that time with your daughter? Or do you keep her during those 24 hours?
Keyona: I try to have it where my mom or dad will come up and visit us that weekend so that, you know, some days I don’t get caught at all, you know, and that’s a great thing. Or some days I may get called several times.
So one time my parents came to visit and it was like 11 o’clock at night and you know, I was talking to my mom and she’s like to go to sleep my phone wrong and how to go to work.
She was like, “you have to go to work?”
And I was like, “did you forget why you’re here?”
So we do have instances like that that come up or her dad will come and stay with her or whatever.
Jen: So on your blog, you talk a lot about balancing the two and also being honest about your situation at work, but at the same time not necessarily looking for a handout and having your employer help you work with through that.
And I sometimes think that’s like a hard line to walk. You know, you want people to be able to help you, but you also don’t want people to feel sorry for you.
Keyona: And people to be like, Oh, you’re the single mom and get that label at work and you’ll get resentment from the other people who aren’t mothers and who think that like, Oh, so she, she had a child by choice, you know, like, why should I get punished or have to do these things?
And she doesn’t have to do them because she has a baby. Like, you know, whose fault is that?
My boss is really good about being flexible and she understands like, and I understand too, like there are things that she needs just like there are things that I need.
I spoke earlier about how some of our patients have to be in the room by seven o’clock we also have early cases and for our early cases those patients are in the room as early as five 45 and before I had my daughter, I could do some of those cases. I would come in early and do those cases.
And also when I got off early, well I already told you about my daycare dilemma. I am no longer able to do that and she knows that.
And so what happens is like sometimes, especially like right now being like December and people have met their deductible for the year for the most part, they’re now scheduling surgeries like crazy. So we’re going over the time that we would normally be finished with surgery. And so we kind of need people to stay late to help finish cases and things of that nature. So they care isn’t close to seven.
And I don’t want to leave my daughter in daycare for 12 hours, but I do have some flexibility in saying, Hey, I can finish the case that I’m doing or I can stay an extra hour or I can stay an extra two hours to kind of, you know, make up for the fact that I can’t help out in the mornings.
And she appreciates that.
And we also have like a 24-hour work shift. And when those people go on vacation or they call out sick or for whatever reason, they can’t fulfill their shifts, then someone has to fill in for them.
And because, you know, I’m limited in what I can do, but if my daughter’s father is able to watch her like on a Saturday or a Sunday for me, or even a Friday or my parents for that matter, then I can go ahead and fill in and do one of those 24-hour shifts. And there are not many people that are willing to do that.
That’s kinda like my trade-off. Like, I can’t do these other things, but I can do this.
I can contribute to what’s going on with the team. And what I’ve seen happen is that people who may not be familiar with what it is to be a working mom.
Once they find themselves in that position, they kind of like, you know, change a little bit, even if they’re not a single mom, they kind of understand the demands of being a mom.
And breastfeeding was another one of those challenges that I had to face because my daughter had a dairy allergy and I was just not going to put her on formula. So I adjusted my own, but I ate to compensate for her allergy, but she’s depending on me to eat and I need to pump regularly so that I can feed my daughter appropriately.
Again, you know, people have this misconception that you know, everyone can pump in 20 minutes or everyone can pump into 10 minutes and that’s just not true, you know, and everyone has like a different capacity for how much milk they can hold and how frequent they need to go. And so they were very understanding of that as well. And I appreciated that.
Jen: That’s good advice. So you may not be able to do this, but let me tell you what I can do to offer.
So today you’re off work.
Keyona: I am
Jen: And spending time talking to me and working on your blog and I don’t know if you’re doing other things that you consider self-care.
But that brings me to the point that you said this morning that you were taking your daughter to daycare. And when you did that, I thought about, so I always struggled with dropping my kids off at daycare when I wasn’t working.
I always felt like, you know, my kids are either at daycare when I’m working or if I’m at home, they need to be with me because they might also be at their father’s. And that’s either less time for them to be with me. So often when my children were young, they’re teenagers now, so I get a lot more time to myself. But when they were younger, I never took any time for myself.
I mean there was no way I could do what you’re doing right now. You know, creating a side business or anything because all my extra time was spent on the kids.
So how do you, reconcile that, putting yourself first sometimes to take care of yourself? I think that’s something that like all moms definitely, but especially single moms, I think we have a hard time with that.
Keyona: So, in the beginning, I did struggle with it because, I would take her to daycare, go to work, should I take her to daycare extra early.
She’s like the first kid there for the most part. And then I would pick her up. And when we started daycare is like in September. So pretty soon, you know, we went into daylight savings and it was getting dark earlier. So I was like, we came home, I might’ve had her for like an hour or so.
Then it was time for her to go to sleep and that was, that was it. That was all the interaction that we got and we start that all over again.
I struggled with it more when she was younger. Now I don’t struggle with it at all. And one of the reasons is one time I caught myself going to daycare early to pick her up because I was done with work early and I didn’t go in, I could sneak in, they have like a glass door to the classroom and I was looking at her and she was playing and having a great time.
She was having so much fun and that made me feel so much better knowing that she is actually enjoying her time at daycare. And that gave me the freedom to enjoy my time too.
So I will say that unless, I have something to do on my days off, Most of the time we will sleep in before I take her to daycare. I do get give her that and you know, we’ll have like a sit down breakfast before I take her and then she’ll go.
But I know she’s having fun. I know she’s enjoying herself.
She talks about our friends at daycare, she talks about her teachers.
And I also had to reconcile that I am a much better mother and a much more present mother when I have taken care of my own needs. Because when I’m like exhausted and just burned out because I’ve been going nonstop at this thing, I’m not good for her or for myself.
It’s just not a good experience. So self-care for you as a working mom and especially as a single mom and you don’t get that much time by yourself. Take advantage of it and don’t look at it as you’re stealing away time from your kids. You’re actually going to be giving them more focused on cause you’re not distracted.
Jen: I think it’s so great that you are discovering that when your child is so young. I really do because I think that we have this idea in our heads that we’re rescuing them. We only, we can provide the very best care for our child, you know? And like if we get them from daycare then early because yeah, every time I got off work I went and got my kids. As if that was better for me to come home exhausted with them for the next, you know, maybe seven, eight hours going home and you know, refilling my cup and then going to get them.
I think that’s really great advice and it’s great that you’re doing it when your daughter’s so young because I don’t know if I ever learned that lesson.
Keyona: It’s made a big difference. And another thing is that, you know, I try to give her dedicated time. Like I do have a lot going on. Work is busy and trying to have a side business is also extremely busy. So the times that she’s awake, once we get home, I do try to interact with her as much as I can and knowing that when she goes down for the night then it’s all, it’s like, that’s my time.
Jen: That’s great. So is there anything else you wanted to add?
Keyona: Well, I’ll just say this, that being a single mom, initially for me, I never in a million years imagine that I would be a single mom. Okay. You know, I was okay being a single woman but you know, you know, society puts these different pressures on you and has these different images out there of what motherhood looks like in what parenting and families look like.
And you know, that’s the theory that I also followed. And so I never thought I would be here. And in the beginning, you know a lot of people become single moms from divorce or the death of a spouse or you know, something like that. But that’s not my situation at all. I was dating my daughter’s father and I thought that it was going to be a relationship that went the distance, but it didn’t and that’s how I became a single mom.
And at first, I couldn’t really enjoy my pregnancy or anything because I felt like I had done something wrong because here I was a single woman that was now having this baby and I did not do it the right way at all, according to society. And I just want to say to the single moms out there that there is nothing wrong with you because you’re a single mom.
Motherhood by itself is extremely taxing and yes, there are married women out there who feel like they’re functioning as a single mom, but they still do have some help that we as single mothers do not get.
So don’t ever underestimate yourself. Don’t down yourself like you aren’t amazing. You are a strong person and you are doing something that many couldn’t do. So now I wear it as a badge of honor. That isn’t a feeling to be embarrassed by it.
Jen: Check out the free dream discovery roadmap Keona created on her blog over at professionalmomma.com/dream-discovery. She helps you rediscover your dreams and get back to you. You can find the link for that and for her blog over in the show notes. Thanks so much for listening.