7 AM to 7PM: How Dr. Shereene Idriss Juggles 2 Kids, Social Media & Being a Derm

Shereene Idriss Interview

Verywell / Photo Illustration by Christian Alzate / Shereene Idriss

Parents don’t work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.—we work 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., from the moment our kids wake up until they go to sleep. This is an unfiltered look at a day in the life of Board-Certified Dermatologist and #PillowtalkDerm creator, Dr. Shereene Idriss.

Shereene Idriss, M.D., is not just a board-certified Dermatologist who just opened her own practice, Idriss Dermatology, in New York City. She’s also a full-fledged social media superstar with nearly 400,000 followers on Instagram (at press date), including celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Ashley Graham, and Emily Ratajkowski. Fans tune in to hear the mom of two in her #PillowtalkDerm series, in which she offers skincare and medical aesthetics advice while lounging in bed.

She also brings in 250,000 subscribers on YouTube, where she posts skincare videos every Saturday morning. Her videos range from teaching how to use retinol, to explaining the correct way to layer products, and even revealing her own nighttime routine.

“It's funny because people often think I became successful because of social media,” Dr. Idriss says. “I ended up growing my business prior to social media, but social media was a way for me to really discover my voice and find myself. It’s allowed me to be really comfortable with who I am publicly. Once that happened, the doors opened up much more than I could ever have imagined. I’m forever grateful for that.”

Her social media presence actually came to fruition out of a place of frustration. It was back in 2018 when she started complaining to her nurse about the absurd rumors that patients were seeing and hearing on Instagram. “She was sick of hearing me complain,” Dr. Idriss says, “So she was like, why don’t you just go online and vent and clear up the myths? You'll feel better.”

People often think I became successful because of social media. I ended up growing my business prior to social media, but social media was a way for me to really discover my voice and find myself. It’s allowed me to be really comfortable with who I am publicly.

Dr. Idriss explains that she has a fear of public speaking and doesn’t like the way she sounds on camera. Nevertheless, she made a video for her “four followers,” at the time, and the rest is history. “Literally that night I did my first Insta story. It’s actually saved on my highlights. It snowballed, and I started getting questions in my DMs,” Dr. Idriss recalls.

Once an Allure article mentioned her #PillowtalkDerm sessions, her page really blew up. But it wasn’t an overnight success for Dr. Idriss.

Her family is originally from Lebanon, and she was born and raised in Washington, D.C. Dr. Idriss followed the “traditional route” of her culture, going to college and then medical school. She worked at three practices since moving to New York City after her residency. In the fall of 2021, she finally opened her own practice.

In the midst of growing her career, she hit an unexpected roadblock while trying to get pregnant. “I got married when I was 27," she recalls. "I thought, okay, I have like a bigger chest, I’m curvy, and my periods are always on time. I’m probably going to get pregnant fast, right?” It didn’t work that way for Dr. Idriss and her husband, Amr.

“I somehow finally got pregnant on my own, like five years into our marriage,” explains Dr. Idriss. “I go to the doctor for our six-week check-up, super excited with my husband. They had already confirmed the pregnancy. They do the ultrasound and they say, your uterus is the size of a second-trimester patient.” During the ultrasound, they told the couple that Dr. Idriss had massive fibroids all over her uterus, and there was no fetal heartbeat detected. They had a miscarriage. “It was obviously gut-wrenching,” says Dr. Idriss.

While getting surgery to remove the fibroids, doctors also diagnosed her with endometriosis. In addition, the Zika virus was spreading through the U.S. and the world, another trigger for the already-stressed-out couple. After trying unsuccessfully for nine months post-surgery, the couple turned to IVF in 2016. Three rounds of IVF later, they welcomed a daughter, Mila, in December 2017.

“You try to pick the embryos but the baby's going to choose you," she says. "I firmly believe that because we tried to go for the best-looking embryos with the highest grade. Ultimately, she was the one that looked the craziest under the microscope, and she was the one that survived.”

My son was actually easier. I think it has to do with being in a better place mentally. When your mind is in a better place, your body can function better.

Her pregnancy got her through a hard time professionally, in the midst of a job transition. “She was my saving grace,” Dr. Idriss says. “I was not allowed to feel pity for myself. I just had to keep on going, no matter what. She really saved me on many levels.”

Two years later, in August 2019, she welcomed a son Laith, after one round of IVF. “My son was actually easier,” Dr. Idriss says. “I think it has to do with being in a better place mentally. When your mind is in a better place, your body can function better. My son is sort of proof of that.”

Discover how Dr. Idriss juggles one husband, two kids, four jobs, and seeing patients in her new practice, five days a week, below.

Shereene Idriss and her family

Verywell / Photo Illustration by Christian Alzate / Shereene Idriss


Tuesday

7 a.m. I genuinely think I wake up before I open my eyes to be very honest with you. I start thinking about random stuff before I fully wake up. And then I truly wake up to one of my kids punching me in the face because they came into my bed in the middle of the night. I've been kicked several times by my toddlers. I have a two-year-old and a four-year-old who are very active and know how to climb out of their cribs and beds. I can't control them anymore.

I probably have my eyes open around 6:30 a.m. I check my email around 6:45 a.m. while I'm still in bed. It’s a very bad habit, but I just run through them very fast to see if there are any red flags that came in overnight. Knock on wood, there's usually not much.

Between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. is a black hole of time. I don't know how we somehow manage to get dressed, look presentable, shower, brush our teeth, put our sunscreen on—I make sure to put it on the kids, as well—cook breakfast, and feed them, while one of them is having a tantrum about something, probably.

I dress myself first because it's like a plane crash. You get yourself ready before you help your passenger, you know?

Honestly, I'm always in shock at how I'm able to do that within two hours when I'm half-asleep. My husband also works full-time, and both kids go to school.

I dress myself first because it's like a plane crash. You get yourself ready before you help your passenger, you know? I try to have the kids' clothes ready the night before to minimize any drama in the morning. Hopefully, my husband is not too far behind although he usually is. I try to ignore him so I don't get stressed.

I run to the kitchen and we alternate. I'll cook scrambled eggs. He'll make oatmeal. I try to make it easier for him because he doesn't know how to cook. We basically alternate and we somehow manage to feed the two kids at the same time, which is always a little bit of a miracle. I am always very grateful for that.

Then I slather sunscreen on everyone.

8:20 a.m. This is the most stressful part of my day. I'm praying to God the nanny is going to show up.

God bless our nanny. God bless her a thousand times over. She is my saving grace for allowing me to do a lot of what I do, but I'm always scared: Is the train going to be late? Is she going to be sick? Is there going to be a message that pops up? Because then it kind of derails the morning and the rest of the day. So, those are like my most stressful ten minutes, and when she shows up, it's like, I can breathe. My savior has arrived!

8:30 a.m. Both kids need to be ready to leave the house by 8:30 a.m. I'm so grateful for our nanny. She helps me a lot because now both kids go to school, and they go to separate schools. She's figured out a way to help me take them both to school.

I mean, it's a real zoo, and a clusterfu*k of a day! I think that’s a normal morning for most people.  

Those are like my most stressful ten minutes, and when she [my nanny] shows up, it's like, I can breathe. My savior has arrived!

8:45 a.m. For the past few months, I've had construction happening in the office, and I have to be here before patient care to deal with the contractors and the construction workers.

I either jump in a taxi or walk to work if I have five or 10 more minutes. I don't live too far from my office. Between 8:45 a.m. and 9:15 a.m., I have a recap meeting and it usually alternates between one of the four jobs that I have.

One job that I have—is obviously a mom and a wife. The second job I have is now having a practice and being a physician. The third job is the whole social media world that has been created on that night in 2018. In the beginning, I didn't realize it was a full-time job.

And then the fourth job that I have is that I'm working on a skincare line, so that's exciting. But I'm trying to figure out how to juggle it all.

So until 9:15 a.m., it alternates. It's usually about the practice, social media, or the skincare line. What YouTube videos do I want to record this week? I have half an hour to think about it, write it, and gather the products that I have in my office.

I also have a newsletter that goes out to the #PillowtalkDerm community. I am working on that. I work on press requests.

On another day, I may sit with my practice manager, and we talk about the office. What do we need to order? How are people doing? How do we make this a better work environment? How do we make it better for the patients?

The third one is skin care. Where are we in product development? Where are we in the clinical studies? Where are we in ordering the pieces for the product line? The branding of the product—what is the messaging? How do I want to look? Literally, there's always something that comes up.

9:15 a.m. I'm out of the meeting and patient care starts. Because I just opened my office, I'm seeing patients five days a week. I know it’s not sustainable in the long run. Right now, I see patients five days a week between 9:15 a.m. and probably 4:30 p.m. And when I tell you—it's another black hole; I don't fully remember my days. I have to forget what just happened to keep going because it's a lot of patients back-to-back. I try to make sure that my energy is kept intact.

It's a very, very busy day. I told my medical assistant that she's the captain of my ship. She's the one who pulls me out of the room, and puts me into the next room. I don't think about where I need to go next. I just think when I’m with patients.

11 a.m. I’ll have a protein bar. Sometimes I order my lunch ahead of time on Seamless on a timer, but I’ve realized it's better for me to order little small bites of things to pick throughout the day. I don't actually have a lunch break.

If I have a big lunch break, I get tired. I get food comatose and then basically, I don't want to work.

1:30 p.m. There's a Lebanese place called Naya Express, and they have these little beef dumplings. I'll have three beef dumplings around 1:30 p.m. or 2:00 p.m. between patients.

4 p.m. I have a small little salad. Small meals throughout the day and water—that's all I really consume.

Shereene Idriss and her daughter

Verywell / Photo Illustration by Christian Alzate / Shereene Idriss

4:30 p.m. We start winding down. I always try to a 15- or 20-minute session with the office manager at the end of the day. What went wrong? What went right? Any fires that we need to extinguish? Basically, we just do like a little wrap-up for the office.

5:30 p.m. I try to get home by 5:30 p.m. Depending on how late I am, I either walk home to get some exercise or if I'm going to be too late for the kids, I'll just take a taxi so I can get there a bit faster.

From 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. is a sacred time when nobody bugs me. I'm with my kids. It's literally just as much quality time as I can give them, but at the same time, I'm completely wiped out.

Our nanny usually does bath time, and I play with them after. I have more fun playing than trying to wiggle them in the shower.

We have a family rule that Monday through Friday, I'm only allowed two work events. I have to have dinner with the family more than I'm at work events.

Then we eat dinner together. I try to cook dinner for the week during the weekend. Two nights of the week, because the kids are at school, the nanny cooks as well. She helps us put food together—and we make it a family affair.

We set the table. I ask, how was your day? They are at the age where they say, I did nothing. What did you learn? Nothing. Who did you play with? No one. They go to a French school, so I try to speak to them in French. (I speak four languages.) I try to play French nursery songs, we try to read one or two French books. There's always something that we do.

We always try to avoid a meltdown or a crisis during that time, because it's the witching hour. It still exists. We always have dinner as a family unless I have a work event. We have a family rule that Monday through Friday, I'm only allowed two work events. I have to have dinner with the family more than I'm at work events. So three out of the five weeknights I have to be with the family, which we've been really sticking to.

7 p.m. After dinner, I don't know why, but my husband always thinks it's a good idea for them to start playing with a ball in the apartment. I get annoyed but he starts playing with a ball with my son, and my daughter starts running around. He makes them hyper, and I have to come in and be the buzzkill and calm them all down.

Then we go into their room—the kids share a room—and we read two more books. I make up stories. My daughter likes it when I make up a story, even though my storytelling [isn't great], and then they go in their cribs.

By 7:30 p.m., they're sort of tucked away in the room and they might fall asleep at 8 p.m. or 8:15 p.m. because they talk to each other. It's very cute—they're not loud or being unruly or fighting. They're just sort of like talking and laughing and doing whatever they're doing in their room.

I used to be much better at coming home, taking my makeup off, and doing my skin care. But ever since the kids became actual humans and not babies, like real little humans with personalities, it's much harder to do.

I'm looking at balance in a weekly view rather than each day, because if it's each day, it gets to be too much pressure.

Now, I'm sort of wiped. I still want to film a YouTube video for the week. I want to sit down my husband just to chill for like half an hour, you know, hear about his day. I try to get a mix between my work and giving attention to my husband.

Usually, between 8 p.m. and 9:45 p.m, I’m calling my parents or my sisters and doing a #PillowtalkDerm [session]. I do my emails. There are no hard rules. It varies depending on what I need to do.

At 9:45 p.m, I take my makeup off and do my skin care, which I should be doing earlier. And then I'm in bed by 10 p.m. My husband and I either watch something, just talk, or we pass out. We’re both so exhausted.

Working out has taken a back seat because I'm trying to figure out the juggle of owning an office, having kids, and being a wife. I have a Peloton but I have not used it, and I need to figure out how to re-incorporate that into my routine.

It’s a constant struggle trying to find a balance. I don't think a balance exists because there are days when I'm a much better mom and there are days that I'm much better at being a great wife. There are days when I'm a really good job colleague at work, but I lag behind when it comes to my kids. I'm looking at balance in a weekly view rather than each day, because if it's each day, it gets to be too much pressure.

I want my kids to always feel like they're number one, but I also think it's good that they see that mommy is also trying to do other things. They can also learn they won’t always get what they want when they want it. I'm hoping it's going to teach them some form of patience and understanding.

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