How Did/Do YouHandleParenthood While inMed School?

  1. How old were/are your children when you entered medical school?
    2. How involved were you able to be in your children’s lives during med school?
    3.What were some of the things you did to cope?
    4.What do you consider to be the ideal age of children with parents in medical school?
    5.Enough questions yet? blink.gif

Kids’ ages: Mine were old: 21, 18 and 14. One starting college, one starting high school, one in his last year of college.
Involvement: First two years of med school are no problem - you can definitely arrange your schedule to be involved with important stuff. My then 14-year-old was on a synchronized skating team that travelled to competitions throughout the year - I went on one of her trips. I went to Parents’ Day for my college freshman. I didn’t miss my oldest kid’s graduation! But even third year, you CAN do some adjusting to your schedule to try and hit key stuff. I was able to arrange my schedule around my oldest son’s wedding, and even had a break that coincided with another of my daughter’s team trips. I did definitely miss a lot more stuff third year.
Coping: Well, sometimes it got interesting. Obviously from my kids’ ages, you can see that I didn’t have the grinding need to be present that the mom of a younger kid would have. My daughter was the only one at home and she learned quickly to be pretty self-sufficient. With little kids, you need large quantities of quality time. With older kids, the challenge is to be around when the opportunity for quality time presents itself - that can be hard. Basically, during the first two years, I just tried to keep up with school so that if I ended up spending an evening doing family-related stuff, I wasn’t further behind. Last year I coped by feeling some degrees of guilt <!–emo&<_dry.gif This year I am a lot freer to be home from time to time so am getting over that guilt! Third year is the tough one in terms of family.
Ideal age of children with parents in med school: over 21, as long as they are out of the house and not planning a wedding. Seriously, you will manage with kids of whatever age. You just figure it out as you go along.
Enough questions: nah, you can ask lots more!

1. How old were/are your children when you entered medical school?
My boys were 2, 4 and 7.
2. How involved were you able to be in your children’s lives during med school?
During first year, quite involved. I found that, once I figured out a routine for myself, I was at least as available to them as if I’d been working at my old 9-5 job. And I had the entire summer with them - I chose not to do things like shadowing, etc. and instead spent all my time with my family. I don’t regret that decision one bit.
So far during second year, it hasn’t been as horrible as I’d anticipated. Again, most days I’m home before dinner and at their disposal until bedtime. I’m also more comfortable with the thought of missing a lecture or two, and will do that in order to be there for things like the first day of kindergarten, school concerts, etc.
3.What were some of the things you did to cope?
My wife has played a huge part in making it work. I leave the house at 6 AM (I have a one hour commute) so that I can get to school early and study for an hour and a half before lectures begin. So she does the work of getting the boys ready and out the door each morning before she heads off to work (she’s a teacher).
Beyond that, I study at lunch and then maybe for an hour after they go to bed. I really can’t stay awake much later than they can! Unless I have an exam coming up, I limit my studying on the weekend to the time that they’re at swimming lessons, etc. so that I’m available to them. In a typical week, this routine results in about 18-24 hours of study time outside of lectures. So far, it’s been working.
4.What do you consider to be the ideal age of children with parents in medical school?
That’s a tough one. I’m kinda partial to them at this age, but I can see how having older, slightly more independent kids could make things easier sometimes. But no matter what their ages, you’re going to wrestle with some guilt that you’re not there enough for them.
5.Enough questions yet?
biggrin.gif That’s what this place is for. Good luck!

1.My son is 2 and I am a first year med student.
2.Involvement:
My school has a five year program which I opted to take so my first and second years will be lighter than the traditional student. I started the four year program and felt like I was never getting to see my son (I did go from being a stay at home mom so I am sure some of that was relative) so I switched to the five-year program and it is working out great for us. My husband goes into work early and I get my son ready and drop him off around 8:00. I study for about an hour before my classes start. My lab partners and I have recently worked out a schedule that allows me to leave lab early and pick my son up at 3:30. It is working out great except that I feel more worn out by the end of the day from getting him early. I cook dinner and do house things and then try to study around 8:00. I also study on the weekends alot. All and all I feel very involved in my child’s life, especially now that I get him early smile.gif .
3.Coping: My husband and I tag team a lot and as a family we have less time together but this schedule has allowed us to limit the total daycare hours. We have family in the area which makes a huge huge difference. So we have backup when we need it. When we are having block exams, my husband takes over completly and I hardly come home. This happens about every 3 weeks so it isn’t too bad.
Also, good day care is essential. I really love the school my son is in and he does too. That makes it much easier to drop him off and feel ok.
4.Ideal age: I have no idea. So far, it seems like every stage has been an important one in my son’s life and I am sure it will continue to seem like that. There probably is no good age. As Mary said you will cope with it whatever their age.

My kids are 7 and 10.
How much involvment? So far I’ve been able to be there for just about everything. My kids do what most kids do, they play multiple sports, are in choir and orchestra, cub scouts, ect. I just try to make sure that I study at school whenever time presents itself, then I study once they go to bed. I also took the summer off between first and second year and did nothing but spend time with the kids, no regrets . biggrin.gif I have more time between exams during second year so, so far, it’s been even better than first year.
Like Bill, I have also skipped the occassional lecture to spend time with them (this past week, skipped one to have lunch with them at school).

Coping: I have my brother and his wife to help me when things start to get kind of crazy. Mostly, I just try to stay on top of my everything as much as possible (sometimes leaning pretty heavy on the weekends) so that when the occassional child-related emergency comes along (which you know always does) I don’t have the added stress of playing catch up in school. And I try to squeeze in a little guitar playing too, even if it’s only 5 minutes or so. (All A’s and B’s this last round of exams, so it’s still working so far, although I am still worried about 3rd year unsure.gif )
Ideal age for kids during school: Hmm… I’ll have to agree with Mary, over 21 would be the best tongue.gif . However old, you’ll find a routine that fits and will work well for you. Time management is key.
Enough questions: Heck no…
Good luck!

I’m sure this has been asked somewhere already, but is it possible to have kids during 1st or 2nd year? My husband and I are “aiming” for having one Christmas break of my second year (which is next year). Is this nuts? He works at home and could wake up in the middle of the night to feed the baby when I return to school in Jan. Would having a child then be too much to study for the boards? My program gives us a 2 month break to study for them (our 2nd year ends in April).
My mom thinks this is crazy – to return to school only a few weeks after giving birth. Anyone agree/disagree?

Donna, HAVING a baby is just the start of it… it’s just that once you’ve given birth, you’re stuck with the little bugger! j/k laugh.gif Looking ahead just a little bit, I would be really hesitant about having a growing baby/toddler during your very demanding third year. Babies get so darn CUTE from 6 months on and you would be too tired to enjoy him/her much. And I’d find it pretty stressful to have a newborn and be facing down Step One, too.
I have four classmates who’ve recently had babies at the beginning of fourth year. They managed to handle pregnancy through their third year rotations (I know one had to rearrange some stuff to stay away from anesthetic gases during her first trimester) and then the fourth year schedule is so flexible that they are all getting to spend lots of good quality time with their babies. Yeah, those kids will be just one at the start of intern year but they’ll have gotten some good time together before that starts.
(I also know people who had babies near the end of fourth year, and postponed starting residency for a year so they could be with baby.)
I know someone who had one baby at the end of first year, AND one at the conclusion of third year. blink.gif
Lots of this depends on individual arrangements, family support, etc., and people have made pretty much any timing work, I’m sure. But it wouldn’t be my first choice to have a baby in the months heading into third year.
Hope you’re not sorry you asked!

QUOTE (donnawu @ Oct 22 2003, 10:33 AM)
I'm sure this has been asked somewhere already, but is it possible to have kids during 1st or 2nd year? My husband and I are "aiming" for having one Christmas break of my second year (which is next year). Is this nuts? He works at home and could wake up in the middle of the night to feed the baby when I return to school in Jan. Would having a child then be too much to study for the boards? My program gives us a 2 month break to study for them (our 2nd year ends in April).
My mom thinks this is crazy -- to return to school only a few weeks after giving birth. Anyone agree/disagree?

One big problem I see is this: Babies don't read the books! They come when they want to, really early to uncomfortably late. After they come, they continue to force you to alter your best laid plans. Organization and scheduling just go out the window. Flexibility and survival are the name of the game. Some babies sleep all the time and you could study some. Other babies are demanding from the get go.
Ask yourself the hard questions. Better to face them now. Among them, what will you wish you did or be glad you did once you are old and reflecting on your life in a nursing home? Is your husband so flexible that he could be a stay at home dad if necessary? How do you two feel about daycare? What are the financial issues?
Another problem that people don't tell you about is that the mothering instinct really can kick in hard and it is a time when many women who work quit or wish they could with all their heart and soul so they could be home with their babies. It's just the way it works, the hormones, the biochemistry, they way we're created, the way most evolutionarily expedient. Don't underestimate the power of this instinct, it is surprisingly strong. Babies can make you not want to leave them for anything, school, work, money, debt... These things really do take a back seat in the grand scheme of life once you hold a miracle in your hands. In this way, your mother is right. You really want to plan to have as much time as possible, as much as you can plan that is! A friend of mine said something very poignant to me once: "Well, I didn't have babies so someone else could raise them."
The best case scenario is that you have your babies when you will be most available, husband home or not, your hormones and instincts will demand it of you. If your husband is home, then your guilt feelings will be minimal, but babies are very demanding. He may not be able to get as much work done.
But babies do grow up and leave home and you have to do something with the rest of your life. And, you don't want to wait until you are old to have them, cuz the biological clock does run out of time for such things.
That said, babies come at all sorts of inconvenient times, and do inconvenient things, always have always will, to all women, everywhere. To succeed, you just do what it takes, and you make it happen - whether they come during a break, boards or surgery rotation!
I have known women who take a leave of absence from school for a year for babies, but I have no idea how that works or how to make it happen or what the repercussions are.
You are brave and wise to open yourself up to these questions. Take it from someone who knows, it's the sign of a good parent.
Wmkayak, mother of 3

  1. My children are 7 and 11.
    2. I’ve been a SAHM for the last 5 years, attending taking courses the last 18 months. I will be full time PA school the first week of August. (No summers off.) The entire family is supportive of the decision and we have a few things working in our favor.
    My school is only 1.5 miles from home and my daughter’s school is only 3 blocks from the school, so this is very convenient. She will be in the afterschool program and I will pick her up after my classes are done. My son’s school is only a few blocks from my husband’s practice, so he can walk there after school – he has been active in helping at the clinic, and is looking forward to this plan for awhile. Plus, with the 7th grade activities after school, he will be occupied several afternoons a week.
    My husband’s vet practice is solo and we have always had a private room just for the kids w/ toys and such. If the kids get sick and I can’t stay home and he can’t get off work, they will go w/ him and stay in their “room” at the clinic… all the comforts of home. Both of them have grown up spending time there, know the staff and most of the clients…true family animal practice. Since hubby has been through med school, though many, many, many years ago, he knows what demands there are, and knows he will fill in the slack for me.
    Ian, my son, is very mature. Way too old for his age. During the past 18 months he coordinates our study schedules so we have time together studying .
    Kids are involved in one sports activity at a time. Both are in GT programs in school, so have lots of home work. We all try to study together, tho my daughter prefers to study on her own. (She is ADHD and really needs a quiet room to focus. OK, I need her to be in a quiet room, too. )
    While I would love more kids, hubby is very much disinclined, due to his age (55) and now that I’m focused on my new career… well, I can’t see adding more to the family at this point in time. And if I did, it would have to be through adoption. (daughter is from Nepal.)
    Ann

I’d like to add that I had my daughter during my second year of graduate school and while I did take that semester off due to medical reasons I NEVER felt the need to take more time off that that. In fact, I went back 1 week early because being at home with a baby all day was just not my cup of tea.
I’d also like to add that I feel that being career minded in no way “dilutes” the mothering instinct. I’ve never once wanted to quit my academic pursuits even though I became a single parent midway through the grad school. In regards to daycare, my daughter has been in daycare since she was 2( and I became separated) and I look at this in the same way I do now that shes in grade school. The teachers at her school are no more raising her than the attendants at her before/after school program.
I think the most important things to remember in balancing children with any academic endeavor is to do what YOU feel is right, do the best you can do, be flexible and not to allow others antiquated views of what “good parenting” is to negatively effect you!
Good Luck!

  1. How old were/are your children when you entered medical school?
    I’m a MSI and my kids are 4 and 18months. Actually, my youngest was conceived during the application cycle and I ended up deferring a year so I wouldn’t give birth during first semester.
    2. How involved were you able to be in your children’s lives during med school?
    It’s not much different that it was when I was working full-time. I just don’t study at home very much. We have half-day classes most days, which helps. I study in the afternoons and on the bus (1 hr commute each way). Around exam time, I disappear for a few days. I’ve been pulling pretty good grades, so it’s ok. Things will be harder when clinics start. Also, I don’t do much socially with my classmates.
    3.What were some of the things you did to cope?
    The biggest factor is my husband. He gets the kids up and takes them to daycare, and picks them up after work. The real problem has been when they are sick (which is a lot!) and one of us has to stay home. Usually it is him, and we are lucky that his work is fairly flexible that way.
    4.What do you consider to be the ideal age of children with parents in medical school?
    I don’t think there’s ever an ideal age. Have kids when you have them, and work around what you get! In my case, planning was not an option (b/c of infertility) and I’m just happy to have them at all.
    5.Enough questions yet? These are great questions!
  1. When I enter med school in January 2005, my kids will be 7, 13, and 21. The 21 year old will be on his own for the first time when we leave in January (my biggest stress!)
    2. can’t answer yet
    3. My husband won’t be able to work in the United Kingdom during my first two years of school, so he will be a total Mr. Mom. The downside is, he has ADHD and weekends while I do my long shifts (now) are usually pretty chaotic. We’ve been talking through it, with an eye on the future, but it’s another stress for me personally.
    4. If you have kids in medical school, I don’t know that there’s any good age, except adult. Even if they aren’t young ones, they need your attention (think pre-teen and teen, where one of mine is headed!)
    5. I love questions!
    Kathy