life Parenting Reading

Low Points + A Victory

October 6, 2022


After flying high on excitement about my new hybrid / part-time job setup, I hit a bit of a low yesterday, panicking a bit about finances and time and basically everything.

But I realized I need to take a deep breath and be patient. I think it will take a few weeks (or months) to really settle into my new rhythms, and I need to let them evolve somewhat organically, not by brute force.

The kids were off from school yesterday for Yom Kippur so this week is a terrible model of what life will be like, as is next week because I’m on call (though only during the day, which is the best kind of call!). I actually feel like I probably won’t really ‘feel’ my new new schedule for quite some time. And that’s ok.


Blah, I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump recently! The summer was great, bookwise. Then things sort of fell apart. There are SOOOO many things I want to read, and I can’t figure out exactly what I’m doing instead (other than Handmaid’s Tale, which is 100% worth it).

I did just start Rivals (below) on my Kindle and it’s good and light and absorbing so maybe this will launch me back into Reading Mode.

American Royals III: Rivals by Katharine McGree

AND AND AND speaking of reading, I watched this YouTube video last night and am VERY tempted to add the Little Inklings Always Fully Booked combo to my lineup for 2023!! Love how it has space to record other media as well.


I do have one major victory to report: I FINISHED AND ORDERED OUR 2020 PHOTOBOOK and have even started on 2021!!! My process:

  • Select photos (fairly quickly) from Google Photos by searching by month (ie, “December 2020”) and pulling each month’s pix at a time. This takes less than 10 minutes per month the way I do it (imperfectly!). I often do 2 months at a time because after that my brain starts getting annoyed at scanning the tiny images.
  • Dump each month’s photos for given year into one album labeled “Photobook 2020”
  • Import Photobook 2020 into Shutterfly (thankfully pretty easy)
  • Choose option for auto layout
  • Tweak minimally
  • ORDER!

Does it result in the most artful photobook in the world? Definitely not.

Does it result IN A PHOTOBOOK filled with MANY memories? In a reasonable amount of time? YES IT DOES!

I always build up this task to be harder than it is, and I’m always so happy to be finished. I always order when they offer the “unlimited pages” code, as this brought the cost to something like $60 down from >$200.

Also, I have decided not to be precious about my digital photo organization whatsoever, and once I have completed a given photobook I consider my photo processing done. We do pay Google to store our photos and videos and have always been able to search for anything.

Shutterfly DOES save old books in their database so I could always order additional copies in the future. I HOPE if this ever changes I hope they would let customers know because I would 100% order an extra copy of every single book I’ve created since 2012 to have on hand as backup.

overall what the process looks like + our 2020 cover


  • Reply Amanda October 6, 2022 at 6:48 am

    I assume yes but are you still keeping full time nanny?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger October 6, 2022 at 8:35 am

      yes! Hoping to grow the podcast, do more writing, launch some exciting things and I know I cannot do those things without childcare!

      • Reply Rachel October 6, 2022 at 10:10 am

        Curious how your nanny hours are since the kids are in school all day? Does she pickup at 3 pm or drive to activities? Does she do housework or cooking when the kids are at school? Genuinely just curious how others make it work! Thank you!

        • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger October 6, 2022 at 10:17 am

          We continue to pay full time hours but some days just do not need her for as long and her days start later (sometimes end later, but not usually more than 6-7 hrs). She has always done a lot of cooking/laundry/etc in part because I usually start my kids in some kind school by 18 months (because I like them to have that experience). And pickup/driving has been a constant as well though we have mostly taken over morning drop-off b/c it’s easy for me to do on way to work.

      • Reply AW October 6, 2022 at 10:57 am

        So glad you’re keeping her. I know not everyone can afford that but 1) Why be miserable when you don’t have to and 2) Your non-doctor projects are important too!

  • Reply Gwinne October 6, 2022 at 7:24 am

    Sarah thank you for outlining your photo process. I have very few albums. I have very few albums currently in hard copy….and this makes doing another seem possible

    • Reply Laura October 7, 2022 at 9:04 am


  • Reply Sarah October 6, 2022 at 7:30 am

    I am terrible about making photo books, but the kids LOVE them. I do use Chat Books for my Instagram feed, but I need to make more yearly books, too.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger October 6, 2022 at 8:34 am

      For whatever reason I always build it up like it’s a 20 hour project or something and it doesn’t have to be! And I have never regretted any photobook 🙂 If I still used Insta I would totally do chatbooks too!

      • Reply Lauren October 7, 2022 at 7:14 am

        You can set up Chatbooks to feed in favorite pics from your phone! You don’t have to be on Insta! I ❤️ Chatbooks!!

  • Reply Rachel October 6, 2022 at 9:13 am

    Great work on the photo books! I also got better at doing mine when I waaay lowered my standards. I like to work on them monthly, about 30 minutes to an hour a month. I use Snapfish (love the discounts!) and every month I dump all the photos in a monthly album on Snapfish and then I have 3 books on the go, a family album and one for each kid. The kids books take about 15 minutes a month (because I usually just dump lots of photos in) and the family album takes a bit longer because I try to add a few words here and there.

    I find the hardest part is getting all the photos in the right place, once I’m working on the albums I really like it. The kids albums are for each of year of their lives so they get new ones after their birthday and the yearly one is on the calendar.

    I would love to get an album of fun adventures my husband and I did before kids, but I haven’t gotten around to figuring out where all those photos are stored these days. Too many flash drives and memory sticks from the pre-google/iphone era.

  • Reply Amanda October 6, 2022 at 9:51 am

    How exciting you’re officially in your first week of your new schedule, congrats! Our kids were off yesterday as well and we utilize day camps (coding, soccer, swim, art) offered in our area so we have childcare and can work on those days. I’m not sure if that is something offered in your area, but wanted to mention in case it is helpful for others.

    I’m with Rachel and also aim to update our family photo book monthly (sometimes it ends up being every few months) so it is not such a beast of an annual project. Shutterfly also lets you import directly from Google Photos, which it sounds like you’re doing.

  • Reply Grateful Kae October 6, 2022 at 11:50 am

    Ooh, very interesting on the photo books. I do not currently do these. I have old school albums from a couple baby years but that’s about it. Questions: 1) How much storage do you have in Google? I have been using amazon photos (since the photo storage part is unlimited w/ our prime membership, which my husband wants to have regardless, so, made sense.) But now I’ve been working on transferring ALL my digital photos over there (from hard drive) from pre-amazon photos (I think I got it in maybe 2017?). They do charge video storage though, so I’ve had to start paying… I think I will need to increase plans, too. I try not to take too many videos, but I really cherish the ones I have! And I do like taking them sometimes. I save them on an external hard drive also but am so paranoid. I also want them on a cloud service too, hence amazon photos. 2) How many photos do you select from each month for your book?? I take so. many. pictures. I have a problem. lol. I feel like I would never be able to narrow it down to a reasonable number, especially from vacation months! When I read this post I briefly entertained the question-hmm, should I try to go back and make photo books from 2008 until now?? HA. I know I’d love having them, but that sounds….painful to even consider at this point…

    • Reply Samme October 6, 2022 at 4:01 pm

      If you go on Amazon photos on desktop, there is an annual plan for the video storage that is discounted compared to the monthly rates. I pay 59.99 I think total annually for the video storage.

      • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger October 7, 2022 at 7:11 am

        I think I paid something like that!

  • Reply Rinna October 6, 2022 at 12:24 pm

    I debated even leaving this comment but then decided I thought the honesty would be well-received. I have to admit that I am weirdly sad about your move to part-time work. Not sad for you, obviously, because it sounds like what you and your family wanted and needed. But sad more on a macro level because I’m continuously forced to admit that my whole “Lean In” philosophy (thanks for nothing, Sheryl Sandberg!) is not really tenable. I see this in my own life, of course, but I still feel a somewhat irrational kick in the gut whenever another career mom ends up moving to part-time work. And I feel sad for the many working mothers for whom this is not even a financial option. Sarah, I hope you know that this comment is not meant to judge your decision in the least. It’s just my honest response to your refreshingly honest blog. Shana Tova!

    • Reply Danielle October 6, 2022 at 1:03 pm

      I think it’s important to note that a big piece of Sarah’s going part time is to grow her blog, podcasts, and whatever related endeavors she has in mind along with the unknown opportunities that will arise due to increased focus in these areas.

      I would say she’s still leaning in, but diversifying what tasks and projects make up the whole of her career.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger October 6, 2022 at 1:11 pm

      totally get it! but was going to say what Danielle said above. I’m not sure I would have made the choice without this blog, BLP etc – I honestly still plan to work full time overall, just in a different way!

      • Reply Rinna October 6, 2022 at 1:52 pm

        That’s a good point, with the caveat being (I assume) that you have ultimate control over the, let’s call it, side hustle aspect ,of your career and can lean in or out based on the seasons of your life. Which, again, totally see how that’s an attractive option for you. It’s probably still going to be very different than full time under your previous situation. In the interest of full disclosure, I too, have recently asked for (and received) a flexible work arrangement for a portion of the year (basically working around 80% in the second half of the year, which is a less busy time in my profession). I have a lot of mixed feelings about it, and I often wonder how much of it was a decision I actually made or one I was forced to make because of the way things still often work in households with children.

    • Reply Grateful Kae October 6, 2022 at 1:41 pm

      I totally get this comment too! I used to feel like this back when my husband and I both worked full time out of the house, neither in flexible employment (i.e. we couldn’t just leave early on a work day to drive kids to a 4 pm soccer practice).I remember seeing other families/ hearing about other moms who worked full time, and I always felt a little disappointed, in a weird way, when I would learn- Oh, the mom is a bigtime corporate exec, but the dad is a SAHD. Or, they both work, but one parent WFH and has SUPER flexible hours. Or, ok, they both work full time, but they have a live in nanny. Or the grandma lives next door. Or whatever. I remember feeling like, Is anyone else truly juggling this all the same way I am?! I basically came to the conclusion at the time that “something” always seemed to have to give. In my case, I eventually finally switched jobs so I now work from home. I guess if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Ha. Now “our” secret to life is precisely that I WFH full time and have pretty flexible hours. I have no great answers for my previous self, except lots of daycare and good babysitters. lol. (Also totally agree here though that SHU is really just swapping work work for her side job work.)

      • Reply Rinna October 6, 2022 at 1:55 pm

        Yes, I’ve recently also begun to move into the “if you can’t beat them, join them” camp, at least partially. (See my response to Sarah’s comment above.) And it’s been a bit of a relief but also been eating me up inside. Kind of like I’m betraying the sisterhood. Also, my career is very project-based, so part-time doesn’t work quite as well, so overall, I have some disgruntlement (a real word?) about the whole thing. Glad to hear you found something that worked for you!

        • Reply Kelly October 6, 2022 at 3:05 pm

          I am 100% in on adding disgruntlement to my vocabulary. 🙂
          I’ve had a lot of thoughts about my life as a working mom over the past 10 years. I’m a CPA, and chose to take a step back from my career when my first child was born. I stayed with my big firm for several years at 80% and it was a little hard to see men in my start class, whom I’d been promoted with, move past me on the partner track, because they have wives with “lesser” (or no) careers who can pick up the slack in busy season. Not that I wanted to stay on the partner track. I wanted to be more present at home with my kids. But I was somewhat resentful that it was an option for them in a way it wasn’t for me (without, that is, a serious shift in relationship dynamics, which is a whole other discussion).

          • Rinna October 6, 2022 at 6:54 pm

            I am also a CPA! However, I did stay on partner track and made partner at my (pretty) large firm. And I loved it! For a while. I did find I could kind of have my cake and eat it too when my kids were younger. (Admittedly, I had an amazing live-in nanny, and a pretty involved mom, who carried some of the slack. Also, I just really didn’t sleep enough.) I actually felt like things got way harder once the oldest became a teen and struggled in certain ways that weren’t easy to fix (like with ice cream and a cuddle). And then covid was just hell with all of us at home, and our province in Canada closed schools for AGES. (Don’t even get me started…) After all that, I hit a level of burnout, and my family hit a level of need where working full-time just wasn’t doable, even though my job is very flexible in certain respects. So, yah, if I look back on my career, would I change much – truth is, probably not. I got to a level of achievement – and income – where I could get a lot of help in the areas I didn’t feel were essential, and it is easier to make my own schedule as a partner. But do I think that if the tables were turned and my husband was the partner in a large firm (vs the in-house career that he has), he would ask me to take a step back to support his career/income and I would probably really consider it? Yah, I do.

      • Reply Marina October 6, 2022 at 1:57 pm

        I truly think that two people working full time, unflexible outside the home jobs without family/nanny nearby is just not workable long term. That’s not a criticism of the people or that women can’t “hack it,” it’s more of a criticism of the very ideal of a worker who is away from home all day and solely focused on work – that only worked in the 1950s when one parent worked. I don’t think it should be the model for everyone. It’s certainly not the ideal for me (or my husband). Us both mostly working from home and being flexible for kid/home things is much better. There’s no reason that work has to be so rigid as long as things are getting done, and hopefully Covid has forced employers to acknowledge that. It is a mindset shift of what we were raised to idolize though, especially in this country.

        • Reply Amy October 6, 2022 at 6:40 pm

          Totally agree with this.

        • Reply Gwinne October 6, 2022 at 8:09 pm

          Welll… I don’t mean to be persnickety as I agree with your critique of the ideal worker. But There are plenty of single parents, myself included, who make it work without a nanny or relatives who provide a lot of care.

          • Marina October 6, 2022 at 8:32 pm

            Definitely Gwinne. You’re right, I was more critiquing the “ideal worker” vision that we still have in this country. I think everyone, including single parents, would benefit from a move away from that and toward more flexibility.

  • Reply Tej October 6, 2022 at 12:55 pm

    Why panic, you can always go back full time if part time doesn’t workout as expected. Can’t u?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger October 6, 2022 at 1:10 pm

      yes 🙂 there are not many logical reasons to panic. and yet . . . sometimes it happens anyway!

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa’s Yarns October 6, 2022 at 1:19 pm

    Do you guys work with a financial advisor? If not I would recommend finding one! We met with one in 2020 – not for investment advice as we have that covered with both of us having our CFA and working in asset management. But their forecasting software is so useful. They can run Monte Carlo analyses that show the likelihood of having enough money if you live until xx years, etc. we used a conservative return expectation and he stressed that further, too. We met with this person since we have no diversification of income and work in a volatile industry that is shrinking. So it gave us peace of mind and told us how long we need to both work to comfortably have enough if we both live to like 95. We both plan to stay in our jobs but it was comforting to see how soon we could both be done working – or at least don’t need to earn what we do now. If one of us lost our job, it would be really hard to find something similar. But that is not a situation you face since jobs seem plentiful in health care. So our situation is unique. But having this analysis done at your new income level might help you panic less! We didn’t have to pay for the analysis as my firm has an advisory practice. But I would have paid for the analysis because it was so useful and comforting!!

    The market is down a lot so it’s a tough time to earn less but it won’t always be this bad and my firm expects a mild to moderate recession. And the good news is that fixed income is actually attractive for the first time in many years, and the older you get, the more fixed income exposure you should have. So it’s good in the long run to be in a higher interest rate environment. It’s just been a painful ride to higher rates.

    When my colleague’s wife retired a couple of years ago, she went through a bit of a panic and had trouble spending money for awhile as it was an adjustment to not get her paycheck – even though they knew they had more than enough saved. So I think it’s a challenge to adjust to a lower income.

    • Reply Alyce October 6, 2022 at 3:09 pm

      I 100% second this! As someone who has largely managed our finances myself, reaching out to financial planners at key inflection points (a comprehensive pre-baby review, a check-in post diagnosis considering Simone’s lifelong needs) has been tremendously helpful in providing peace of mind that we’re on track as goals change. And now we’re working with a new advisor who has a specific expertise in working with families with disabled dependents and is younger (as our previous advisor is within a couple of years of retirement). Paying for one off consultations is less expensive than you might expect – we’ve generally paid 1-2K each time when we’ve needed to discuss specific issues. We’ve been loose with money in the last three years when dealing with Simone’s diagnosis and treatment and more or less in crisis mode. I was too stressed dealing with that and my new job to be intentional about money in the way we had been pre-baby. It wasn’t the end of the world because we didn’t spend more money than we made, but we’ll need to be more disciplined as we undertake expensive home renovations in the next year or two. Meeting with architects and thinking about funding a renovation while knowing I haven’t been managing our money well enough to know whether we were over committing ourselves financially made me so stressed out that my mouth literally erupted with canker sores! So I totally get money stress, even when you know objectively that you have/make enough. Personally, I’m starting with the basics – finally going into YNAB and categorizing our spending for the year (I’m embarrassed to admit that I never realized my husband’s spending hadn’t been imported since February when his credit card was stolen and replaced), and putting together the documents our new financial advisor asked for back in July. I know that meeting and reviewing our plan will give me a lot of peace around what feels like a scary money decision. Ultimately, moving forward with the renovation will allow us to accomplish some of the big picture dreams we have for our family and home life.

  • Reply Marina October 6, 2022 at 2:00 pm

    I use shutterfly too and I’ve been ordering an extra copy of our yearly albums for each of our kids to pass on down the line and in the (hopefully unlikely) event that something happens to those stored photo albums!

  • Reply Katie October 6, 2022 at 9:23 pm

    Thanks for sharing your photo book approach! I think what you shared is all really good advice. I get so overwhelmed even thinking about starting this project that I have basically no physical pictures of my now 5 y/o (other than some framed ones on the wall). I also use Google photos, and although the process of actually putting together the photo book does intimidate me a little, the main struggle I’ve had is this. Do you and Josh both take pictures of the kids? How do you get them into the same place? Or do you look across 2 Google accounts when creating your photo books? My phone automatically backs up to Google photos and I periodically throw out the junk so I feel like I could at least start this project but I know there are tons of pictures on my husbands phone that I might like to include. Also I tried to make a baby’s first year book and spent like 2 full days on it and didn’t finish it and that was now 4 years ago and I don’t even remember which website it was saved on 🤦🏻‍♀️😢 so if you are obsessive like me it CAN be a 20 hour project, lol.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger October 7, 2022 at 7:10 am

      both of our phone’s pix auto upload to google photos!

  • Reply Katie October 7, 2022 at 9:19 pm

    Unrelated to the above conversations but I’ve been thinking about you and your medical expertise/(previous?) niche with the latest politicization of medicine. I’m a physician at Vanderbilt and have been sick to follow along. I hope your patients (and ours) continue to get the care they need.

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