Robin Berzin's Parental Guidance
“It hasn’t been a trade off, it’s been an expansion...I can do all of these things.”
Dr. Robin Berzin wants to change the way we care for our health. After receiving her medical degree from Columbia, Robin decided to open offices to help “generate health as opposed to disease.” And her innovative ideas are working. She is the founder and CEO of Parsley Health, which is rethinking primary care medicine in a way that combines modern medicine, technology, and a functional, holistic approach to taking care of patients. Because of this, Robin’s perspective on the transformation motherhood brings was particularly insightful and revealing.Robin speculates that the jump into motherhood can change your viewpoint, not only on wellness, but in all aspects of life. And she is well acquainted with making leaps, as Robin started her company not long before she became pregnant with her son, Dax, 2. “Parsley was already out in the world by a little bit,” she explained, when asked about her decision to have a child while also starting a business. “It’s definitely been interesting.” We think so too! Robin sat down with us to weigh in on being an entrepreneur while also navigating motherhood, and she shared her ideas for fitting in time for self-care, how we are now architecting our own lives, and her charming formula for motherhood.
OPEN LIFE, INSERT BABY
In the early days of life with her son, Robin and her husband had a mantra to help keep them going. “Open life, insert baby,” she explained, when telling us how she fit having a child into a busy lifestyle. For her, there wasn’t a need to rearrange her world. Robin knew that her baby would come, and her world, instead, would expand to fit him.
For Robin, since she had already begun building Parsley Health, she didn’t see any reason to pause her career when she got pregnant. Instead, she decided that continuing her business was the most-fitting plan for her family. “I always felt like I would be the best mom to him doing what I love to do and following my passions,” she told us. “We expand our lives to include our child versus ending one thing and starting something new.”
Thinking about your new normals as a parent in this way is particularly refreshing – plenty of us think a lot about loss – because let’s be real, you do lose a part of yourself when you become a mom. But you also gain and change in ways that are equal parts awesome, scary, and even unexpected.
REPLACING GUILT WITH SELF CARE IS A NECESSITY
We’ve all been there. We’ve all had those guilty feelings that tend to pop up whenever we take a second to breathe let alone take care of ourselves with sleep, breaks, exercise – you know, all those things that may have gotten sidelined when we had our babies. But Robin emphasizes that we shouldn’t feel sorry. Instead, moms need to welcome those occasions that kind of feel extravagant when your time is no longer just your own. In fact, they shouldn’t be thought of as luxuries at all. “When I don’t do those things, I am not effective in those roles in the same way,” Robin says, about her positions as both a doctor and mother. “Downtime… getting a facial, getting a massage… these things that I would have seen as fluffy, luxury…is now mission critical for me to be the mother, and to be the CEO, that I want to be.”
And while we’re at it, let’s just forget about the notion that spending time on ourselves takes away from time with our children. It’s called balance, friends, and we all need it in our lives. “That hour that is just for me is the gas in my tank that allows me to fuel everything else I am doing. And If I don’t do it I’m running on empty, I’m running on fumes. And it is just not working,” Robin explains. “When I devote that time, it pays off in spades.” This is something Is This Normal hears a lot from our parent community. PS – read about this struggle here.
OUR GENERATION IS DIFFERENT
Robin’s own mother was a natural model for making working motherhood accessible. “Growing up in the 80s, my mom was a partner in a law firm, so I feel like I already had this example of a working mom that’s…just built into my DNA,” she says. “It was natural for me to see…two working parents, working hard, raising a family.” That example has stuck with her as she designs her own life, and that of her family.
Today, working moms have a different path to walk than the mothers of generations past. Some of us work part time, some of us try to manage working from home (and maybe end up working half the night), and some try to piece together an alternative arrangement. Robin feels that working mamas need to remember that we can try to construct our own paths, and those paths can be manipulated as your family and home life evolve. Moms can make their careers fit in with family time, and there isn’t just one way to do it. “There is just a new normal in terms of how we work,” she says. “My company is full on, 24/7, 365 days a year…but I can create flexibility where I need to, because it is something I started.”
BABY MADE ME SLOW DOWN
Robin was clear about how important a bedtime routine is for her family, and she has taken the opportunity to make the bed and bath system peaceful for everyone (even though it can kind of be a struggle-fest for many of us with those not-so-great sleepers). Robin instead turned this necessary part of the day into an important break, a way to step back from her work and focus on her family. “I joke that it used to be cocktail hour, and now it’s bath time hour,” she laughs, “but it is this wonderful reprieve.”
And taking care of the evening bath time has helped Robin in more than one way. She has developed the skills to go from always being “on” to being able to relax. “The biggest skill set that I have had to develop as an entrepreneur and a mother: the ability to turn it on and off, as opposed to always being on…I didn’t have that before and now I do.” Robin shares. “So I am really grateful for bath time.”
MOTHERHOOD IS AN EXPANSION, NOT A TRADE OFF
A major motif running through our conversation with Robin centered around the notion that motherhood isn’t something that will limit women- as long as we don’t let it. Before getting pregnant, Robin was aware of everything that would change: the body changes and the relationship changes, and the everything else changes. “I hesitated when I thought about getting pregnant,”Robin admitted. And we get it, change is unnerving. However, she decided to approach motherhood in a more intentional way. “I look back, and I was projecting all these things that were just fears, just self limitations…and underlying all those projections is the fear that I’m not good enough, I’m not going to be able handle the life I want and being a mother.”
Now, Robin knows, motherhood isn’t about giving anything up, but about gaining something instead. “I think that’s been the biggest surprise to me,” she says. “It hasn’t been a trade off, it’s been an expansion…I can do all of these things.”