Dr Victoria Khromova, founder of Emerging Parent.
Victoria started Emerging Parent alongside working as a child and adolescent psychiatrist after realising just how much of the knowledge that she had gained through her training she was using to parent her own daughter. Knowledge that was available through specialist clinical courses and books, but difficult to piece together for parents who are not child mental health professionals.
Victoria had trained as a doctor and then chose to specialise in child and adolescent psychiatry, a field she had always been a passion about and has since been training and working with children and families for nearly 10 years. While training, Victoria also delved into teaching other professionals about child mental health and completed her Masters in Clinical Education, so making complex neurological and developmental information easy to understand and actually useable in every day life is what she likes doing best. And recently she has put all of this together into the “4 key essentials of balanced parenting” a concept that focusses on the 4 things she has found make the biggest difference when it comes to raising fulfilled and emotionally well-adjusted children.
Victoria continues to work as a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist in an inpatient unit for adolescents with mental health difficulties in Sheffield for half of her week. The other half is divided between being a Mum and creating resources for Emerging Parent at www.emergingparent.com, so that parents can bring the 4 key essentials into their family life and get accessible ideas about how to support the mental development and wellbeing of their children. These include free videos, online courses and also a soon-to-open membership to help support parents every step of the way.
How did you balance being a mother and professional?
For me it goes even further than that as I balance clinical work, running my business and parenting! And 3 things really help me here:
1. Planning my time. I have to use the time that my daughter is at school or in clubs efficiently to do the things that I have to do without her. And when she is around, always having at least half an hour together every day doing something we enjoy – eating dinner together, reading, watching YouTube videos, playing games.
2. Delegate things I don’t have to do. A team around me isn’t just for clinical work and business. A team around me in the house also helps. Yes, I have a cleaner who irons and a gardener. These are not things I want to spend my time on. I’d rather spend that time on being with my daughter, the business or doing something I actually enjoy.
2. Encouraging my daughter to grow up in a way that means she doesn’t always need adults around her for entertainment. Helping her develop her own longer-term projects and find her own internal drive, so she can create not for someone, but for the pleasure of it.
I’m a big fan of balanced parenting, and there will be times when planning time or supporting my daughter to be independent just don’t work – being sensitive is key here, that’s why I think it’s one of the key essentials for balanced parenting (to be honest – sensitivity is basically a parent’s superpower!). There will be times when my daughter needs me more and I need to be able to notice that and be flexible enough to allow that. But there are also times when she needs me less – I use those to get extra things done. Sometimes I also ‘pre-load’ – if I know I have a really busy week coming up I schedule a lot of fun times together in the run up and let her know that she’ll have less of my time in the week.
What have you sacrificed (both personally and professionally) at each stage of your career?
In the early stages of my medical career I more or less sacrificed everything as having a life as a junior doctor was pretty tough. I gave up hobbies and outside interests to pass exams and get through the training. When I had my daughter, I became part-time and initially it felt like sacrificing time with her in order to go to work.
When I moved to setting up Emerging Parent – then time disappeared altogether, but it felt very different because working on something you’re passionate about is so much easier to fuel. It took me a long time to return to a more balanced state where I had time for her, for work, for hobbies and for running Emerging Parent and it’s still something that see-saws a lot, especially now when I am also balancing all of this with home schooling.
Who inspired you and why?
My wonderful friend Claire – we’re on a perpetual self-development journey together and always getting each other to the next level. The amazing Caroline – an adult psychiatrist and Founder of Joyful Doctor who was my coach at the beginning of my business journey who is always very open about her mental health struggles and works tirelessly to support doctors in need. And, of course, my Dad – who always broke the mould and made it okay for me to do it too.
What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?
You do not need to reach the point of burnout to get where you want to go. Design a journey for yourself that allows you to have time to do things that add nothing to your career, but add to your joy. Always have the courage to protect that time – it is your time; it gives you energy and motivation and if anyone wants to take it away have the courage to say ‘no’. No-one else will fight for your time and time is the most precious resource.
Do you think women feel intimidated in business?
It’s something people talk about but not something I have personally experienced. I have been lucky to be part of very supportive communities of female entrepreneurs. There is a lot to know about business, and for me I am more intimidated by my lack of experience and knowledge, but that has very little to do with me being a woman and more to do with the fact that medical school really doesn’t prepare you for running a business!
Where will we find you on a Saturday morning at 10 a.m.?
Chatting to my mum friends while my daughter is in dance class. But during these lockdown times – probably trying to sneak some Emerging Parent work in while my daughter has time to do her own things.
What do you love about your job?
In terms of my clinical work – I absolutely love the feeling of discharging a teenager who was extremely unwell when they came to hospital but are now well enough to be going home. That transformation of seeing a young person enjoying their life again, doing normal teen things – I love knowing that I have been a part of their trajectory shifting.
In terms of Emerging Parent – love the satisfaction of helping a parent think through something that they’re worried about and hearing about how it’s reassured them or getting feedback that they have tried a suggestion and it worked. Small changes in what we do as parents can make a huge difference to our children’s lives and our family lives, being able to pass that onto others and seeing the positive impact makes me very happy indeed.
What’s the best career decision you’ve ever made?
To ask to do 2 and a half days in a clinical post instead of the advertised 5 days. I know people struggle to ask for what they want at work, but I knew if I was serious about my business and being a Mum, I couldn’t work clinically full-time.
What’s the worst career decision you’ve ever made?
Initially trying to please people by doing lots of extra tasks when I first became a consultant child and psychiatrist. I was still in the people-pleasing and portfolio-enhancing mode of being a trainee, where we always got told that we had to work hard to ‘look good’ for our job interviews. I ended up with lots of extra work and no time to do it!
How do you organise your time?
With a paper diary – everything goes in there! My clinical days are fixed and I tend to work on Emerging Parent on the days I am not at work and my daughter is at school and also in the evenings and sometimes bits of weekends. I have lots of routines to make sure that I get to do the things that keep me okay most days – this means getting up early for exercise and meditation and playing the cello at least every other day, when it’s not my turn to do bedtime. I also try and delegate everything that I can. I’m a great believer in routines and automating things that can be automated so that I don’t have to think about every little thing that I have to do every day and so I don’t miss out on the stuff that matters.
What do you think is your greatest strength?
Knowing myself. I have worked out what I need to be okay – and I am committed to making sure that I do those things. When I’m okay I can deal with most things and I am not scared to shift my life to accommodate the things that are important to me.
What do you think is your greatest weakness?
Impatience – I always have lots of tabs open in my brain and I want to get all my projects finished right this second.
How do you make decisions?
I always know. I tend to know what decision I should make. And if I don’t, I seek information. And as I get information, I don’t so much weigh it up in any formal way – it’s more that I start to ‘know’ what the right answer is.
What do you read?
I’m completely addicted to audible – it’s hard for me to have time to sit down and read, but I am forever listening to books while I’m driving, doing household stuff, putting my make-up on… I usually have a couple of books on the go – something about business/marketing/finance and something more spiritual looking at our place in the world or mindset. It’s been a long time since I have read fiction books – I miss them, I was an avid reader of fiction all through my life until I had my daughter.
What do you think are the secrets behind getting to where you’ve got to?
Curiosity – you must work hard to get through medical school and becoming a specialist, there is so much reading you have to do, so much stuff to learn – but I tend to like knowing. I’m always curious to understand things more in-depth or find different ways of seeing things or thinking about things. Curiosity makes it so much easier to learn and to go deeper.
Experimentation – Okay – I am definitely an experiential learner especially when it comes to business. And plenty of times I have implemented things without having got the full grasp of it, and, yes, for a few days I do feel immensely stupid when it all falls flat. But… it gives me experience. I have to see it for myself, theory isn’t enough and some theory doesn’t make sense at all until you have had the experiences.
Drive – I like to be busy. That’s just me. I like to be busy and I like to be busy with different things. I don’t know why but being busy suits my personality and when I am not busy enough, I start to feel a bit restless and crave a project. Knowing how to channel that drive into something a bit more coherent (rather than on a million projects that never quite get finished) is pretty important. I’m still working on it…
Victoria Khromova founder of Emerging Parent www.emergingparent.com/
Link to memberships https://www.emergingparent.com/memberships
Link to free parenting resources: https://www.emergingparent.com/free-resources