Applicants/Students/Residents married and/or Kids - Support and Advice thread

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So, it has been a while since I have made a support thread. I noticed that there is a very large number of applicants here on SDN that are either married, have kids, or both but there is not a central location for us to gather information on what it is like to be a premed, med student or resident with a family. I figured I could start that and hope that others are able to contribute (Any medical students, residents, or attendings that have been through this.....come one come all, help us help ourselves and our families!) If it as simple as asking "How are the public schools in Brookline" or giving an entire speech about how to make it through, please talk about your kids and this process.

I would like to start the thread off with a short about my daughter that happened earlier this week just to lighten the mood:

So my daughter drinks almond milk, so she knows that there is "Almond milk" and "regular milk." Well, we were walking to her school and telling her that she was moving up from preschool to prekindergarten. She looks at me and asks "Is preschool me regular school?" "Yes, it is your regular school." "So...is kindergarten my almond school?" This little genius made the connection that 'almond' is the opposite of 'regular.' I mean, she is completely wrong! But seeing those kinds of logical conclusions and thought processes are what makes going through all of this with a family worthwhile - seeing how she can think and learn inspires me to think and learn. As she is going through kindergarten during my *hopefully fingers crossed* M1 year, I know she will be having 10 times the difficulty that I will be. I just have to learn how to be a doctor, she has to learn how to be a person.


And with that story, I hope I have set a positive tone for the rest of the thread and hope to see a lot of contribution from our silent but ever-present group!
 
9

907914

Oh! Also, don't want to forget this gem from one of my threads the other day. Thank you @clinicallabguy!


I'm sure your journey will be different than mine. So I went through something very similar to what you're about to do, but don't want to be presumptuous that I know everything you're going to encounter. But some things that might help:

1. Your spouse and you being on the same page will be a huge strength. Since I didn't know exactly what I was getting into, it was safe to say my wife didn't exactly know either. But we both understood that it was going to be difficult. Our life was going to be different than almost everybody. We would have to keep our relationship strong, because not many other people would empathize. Single medical students would bemoan how lean they had to live (and I'm not refuting that), but we had to take it to another level. We had to feed our kids with the same amount. I had other non-medical friends with families who were buying their first home (now some who have upgraded). But we knew that we had to learn to live on next to nothing, and we both had to be okay with that. I am fortunate that my wife has not resented that I dragged her through. But to be honest, I think stretching as thin as we have has affected our relationship some and we have to work on getting closer now that residency is over. But without her understanding and support, there is no way that we could have done this.

2. Budgeting. The first day of every month (or close to it), I enter spending data into a spreadsheet from our expenses data from our bank and then we decide together how much money we spend on each category. We have waxed and waned with how attentive we are to it, but we have kept our lifestyle lean. She has made meal plans to decrease our food budget. She reads blogs about how best to do it, and uses coupons and researches sales. We get clothes second hand or mend them. We buy furniture or other stuff second hand from Craigslist. We did our best to maintain an emergency fund for unexpected expenses. My wife didn't work full time, but she did free lance in various ways to make extra money.

3. Schedules and child care. This is unique to every situation. My wife stays at home for now which simplified this considerably. In my opinion, you can let yourself off the hook for your kids not being in every activity, sport or in private schools. You don't have to spend a lot on kids to educate them and give them uplifting experiences. My wife has researched free and cheap things to give our kids good experiences (free days at the zoo, museums, cool parks to see, etc). They have been on cheap sports teams occasionally (swimming and softball), but not every year. They go to public school. Probably the best thing for you will be to create a village. For us it has been our church with families similar to our life stage. We swap school pick ups. We exchange babysitting. If you can find families in your life stage where you are and help each other out, that can be invaluable.

4. Know your goal, and don't get pressured into the hype of academic perfection. Since you are now on track to becoming a professional, you don't have to be a "yes" person to every project or every honors. If you're going into a noncompetitive speciality and are open to living in various places, then learn what you have to. But don't sacrifice your sanity or family to pursue honors (if your school has honors), if you don't need it. If you do want to go into a competitive specialty, then make sure your spouse understands and agrees with you how the sacrifice of your studying more and doing more research contributes to her future happiness and your goals as a family.
 

StarSpangled

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Aug 27, 2018
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I’m up for this! I didn’t originally think it would be a big deal to be a mom & medical student but reactions from others have made me realize that it is pretty unusual. For example, I had an interviewer tell me I’d be the only mom (but not parent) she knew of in a school of 1,000 students.

My concerns though are: how will my kids handle going from seeing me all day to much, much less? How will my husband handle being the primary parent? Will I have difficulty relating to my classmates without feeling like a (comparative) dinosaur?
 
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I’m up for this! I didn’t originally think it would be a big deal to be a mom & medical student but reactions from others have made me realize that it is pretty unusual. For example, I had an interviewer tell me I’d be the only mom (but not parent) she knew of in a school of 1,000 students.

My concerns though are: how will my kids handle going from seeing me all day to much, much less? How will my husband handle being the primary parent? Will I have difficulty relating to my classmates without feeling like a (comparative) dinosaur?
1570146716195.png

Only like 3% of matriculating students have kids! And I can only assume they are clustered around certain schools/geographic regions. It really is more shocking than anticipated...
 
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deleted903608

Not a parent or married (yet, in a relationship of 4 years so far with the person I intend to marry and with whom I co-parent a rescue feline) but I just wanted to drop by and say I have so much respect for you guys and all you do. I struggle to take care of just myself (and aforementioned SO and cat) while in med school sometimes and then I see all of my classmates who are married with kids and/or pregnant and I really wonder how in the hell they manage it. I remember being in a small group session M1 year and one of my classmates had to step out for a few minutes to pump milk and it really hit me how much of a sacrifice y'all are making. My school has a fairly large number of married students/students with families compared to some schools (probably 15-20 married, about half of whom have kids, and a few more engaged out of a class of <200) and I have so much respect for all of them and how hard they work to balance it all out.

Best of luck to all of you!
 
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deleted1013752

My concerns though are: how will my kids handle going from seeing me all day to much, much less? How will my husband handle being the primary parent? Will I have difficulty relating to my classmates without feeling like a (comparative) dinosaur?

My wife is an MS4 and it has been quite a ride. I started a job with extensive travel in her first month. We didn't have any family nearby but the pay allowed us to afford part time school/daycare and a nanny. The in-home nanny was convenient since my wife did most of her studying at home and took breaks to see the kids. I won't lie and say that was easy for her and for some it just wouldn't work at all, but she did it.

Around the end of her second year I started working remotely with only occasional travel. We let the nanny go and the kids extended to full day childcare (9-3). Apparently we found that too easy so we had another kid. Of course no one can say how your husband will handle it, but I'm pretty domestic so I love the drop off, pick up, groceries, cooking, packing lunches, and taking care of this baby who is currently in my lap chewing on my phone. That said, I'm often on the computer catching up on work late at night and am very fortunate to have such a flexible arrangement. Now as an MS4, sometimes she is gone for 14 hours and doesn't see the kids all day, other times she gets a cake rotation and works just a few hours.

She hasn't expressed much difficulty connecting with her classmates. She gets along with everyone but is closer to those with similar circumstances. She rarely spends time with other students socially and we mostly consider the parents at the school the kids attend to be our friends/peers.
 

hallowmann

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I’m up for this! I didn’t originally think it would be a big deal to be a mom & medical student but reactions from others have made me realize that it is pretty unusual. For example, I had an interviewer tell me I’d be the only mom (but not parent) she knew of in a school of 1,000 students.

My concerns though are: how will my kids handle going from seeing me all day to much, much less? How will my husband handle being the primary parent? Will I have difficulty relating to my classmates without feeling like a (comparative) dinosaur?

I wouldn't worry too much about relating to classmates. Its going to be different. You're going to have priorities and life experiences that they simply don't have. That said, you can still find ways to relate to people where its important. You'll be able to hang out, complain about work, and study together easily, because its what you have to do most of the time. You may not go out with them a ton, but honestly, I didn't miss that. You have people you care about and can hang out with at home. Most people get that, and if they don't, they will when they have a family.

Its going to be tough with the kids. Your role in their life is going to shift, and there are going to be times when it sucks. I'm going to say its probably going to be harder for you than them, because they will adapt and if both of you are committed to their development and provide them some stability, it should be fine. But it'll hurt when you miss some of those milestones or miss tucking them in, reading a story, etc.

Its going to be hard on your husband. There are periods of time when my wife is more like a single parent. It sucks. The way around that is creating silos for your work. Try your best to minimize bringing it home. Try to get as much done as efficiently as possible so that you can prioritize your family, including your husband. There are going to be breaking points and you need to recognize those moments, take a step back, and give him some time. Most importantly though, communication throughout this is going to be essential. Your schedule is not always predictable, but communicating as much as possible will help a lot. Also recommend having like a point of time set aside for a date/quality time every week or two.

I also want to echo clinicallabguy's sentiment in that you should know what you want and recognize how much you need to prioritize your school vs. your family. Certain things are always going to win, like Step 1, and in the beginning you should be prepared to go all out with the studying, but there will be times when you'll really have to question whether Honors is necessary or if you'll be OK with a High pass and a few more hours with your kids or husband.
 

sandstone

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Nov 29, 2011
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Hey everybody, this thread is a great idea. There's a lot of excellent posts on here already which I completely agree with.

I am a fourth year DO ortho resident, married with an 8 and 5 year old. Residency has been hard but overall a good experience. Orthopedics is amazing and I love what I do. It has been rocky at times with my family, takes a sustained effort on all of our parts to get through it. We are all adapting and managing and overall doing well, life is mostly good.

I am currently interviewing for trauma fellowships, which is exciting. It's a bummer that it's another year of training (I'm SUPER sick of training), but I love trauma and want to get really good at managing difficult orthopedic injuries like pelvis/acetabular fractures, mangled extemities/limb salvage, etc. Also it's important for marketability, these days to live in any desirable location as an ortho surgeon you must have a fellowship. Alot of fellowships have a great lifestyle and the culture of a lot of the programs is that you not only train hard, but also have time to enjoy your life and family. The programs that dont have this mentality I will not be ranking.

It's awesome to be getting closer to the light at the end of then tunnel, lifestyle as an ortho attending these days can be excellent.

I started a thread awhile ago which sums up a lot of my residency experience:






Here is a link to a post I made which sorta compiles a lot of my posts and advice about med school with kids.





Sorry for the links and redundancy, I just don't have a lot of time these days to retype this stuff!

Good luck everyone and I'm happy to answer more questions that haven't been addressed in my previous posts.
 
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Dec 30, 2019
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I’m up for this! I didn’t originally think it would be a big deal to be a mom & medical student but reactions from others have made me realize that it is pretty unusual. For example, I had an interviewer tell me I’d be the only mom (but not parent) she knew of in a school of 1,000 students.

My concerns though are: how will my kids handle going from seeing me all day to much, much less? How will my husband handle being the primary parent? Will I have difficulty relating to my classmates without feeling like a (comparative) dinosaur?
You are not alone but yes we represent a minority!
I am a mom of 2 kids and I am about to start PT school in a month. To be precise, I am a single mom which makes the situation even more interesting! It is a challenge for sure, however, moms are survivors. Motherhood taught me how to be tough and resilient.
As for relating with my future classmates, I am already putting into account that I won't have the possibility to hang out on a regular basis. However, I hope I could connect with them on other levels. Dinosaurs are interesting creatures!!! good luck!
 

Vet_Squared80

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My concerns though are: how will my kids handle going from seeing me all day to much, much less? How will my husband handle being the primary parent? Will I have difficulty relating to my classmates without feeling like a (comparative) dinosaur?

I'm a 3rd year Veterinary Student at Michigan State (dual DVM/MPH candidate). I am one of two moms in my class. Each class has on average, one parent. Mostly moms, but there is at least one dad that just graduated from my school.

First, it is hard! I don't know how old your kids are, but mine are teenagers, and it was definitely an adjustment. Have serious conversations with them and your spouse on what it means for you to be in medical school and how your life will change BEFORE you actually start. Seems silly, but its one thing to say it and its another to live it. My kids and husband are my biggest cheerleaders and every time I've felt defeated about an exam, a class, or just being so consumed with school, they are the ones that push me to keep going.

Second, mom guilt is a real feeling. You will feel guilty for all the time you spend away from them studying. Don't let that sway you. Acknowledge it and move on. It's not actually guilt you're feeling as guilt is grounded in moral responsibility, however, it doesn't make the feelings of being torn between normal mom duties and school duties any less.

Your husband will have to step up and more importantly, you're going to have to trust him to do things you used to do. This one was very hard for me. I'm a very type A controller personality. To let go and be ok with how he does things was hard. But remember, he's not doing it wrong, he's doing it different and that's ok. Once you let go and let him take over a bulk of what you do, you'll be in a better head space to focus on school.

Make time for you and your kids and you and your husband. One thing your classmates will never understand is how time demanding being a mom and being a medical student is. This isn't to dis on them, they just haven't hit that point in life yet. Even letting go of some of what you do, you'll still have way more time demands on you than your average classmate. Learn what your bottom line is for your family's needs and never go below that. It's easy to get consumed in coursework and shut off from family. Don't. The point is to survive together. Sometimes this means not pulling an all nighter for an exam. I've actually only ever done this once because I can't function on no sleep.

The bare minimum applies to your health too. For me, going to bed at the same time as my spouse is a must. So, regardless of what needs to be done, once its bedtime, its bedtime. It's ok to not study as much as your peers or follow the same schedules they do. You're different and you have to find what works for you and your family. It won't make you any less of a physician, trust me!

You'll find some classmates that you fit in with, regardless of age. I have a great group of friends. Some are my age, some are younger and closer to my oldest daughter's age than mine. We all have things in common in one way or another, which is why we're friends. The most important part of our friendship is that we support each other. None of my vet school friends have kids, but that doesn't matter because when mom stuff has come up, they've been there to help carry me along. They've become a second family and every single one acknowledges that I'm working my bum off just like they are.

Congrats on your journey! Feel free to reach out if you have parenting while in med school questions. It takes a village and I'm happy to share my journey :)
 

StarSpangled

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Aug 27, 2018
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I'm a 3rd year Veterinary Student at Michigan State (dual DVM/MPH candidate). I am one of two moms in my class. Each class has on average, one parent. Mostly moms, but there is at least one dad that just graduated from my school.

First, it is hard! I don't know how old your kids are, but mine are teenagers, and it was definitely an adjustment. Have serious conversations with them and your spouse on what it means for you to be in medical school and how your life will change BEFORE you actually start. Seems silly, but its one thing to say it and its another to live it. My kids and husband are my biggest cheerleaders and every time I've felt defeated about an exam, a class, or just being so consumed with school, they are the ones that push me to keep going.

Second, mom guilt is a real feeling. You will feel guilty for all the time you spend away from them studying. Don't let that sway you. Acknowledge it and move on. It's not actually guilt you're feeling as guilt is grounded in moral responsibility, however, it doesn't make the feelings of being torn between normal mom duties and school duties any less.

Your husband will have to step up and more importantly, you're going to have to trust him to do things you used to do. This one was very hard for me. I'm a very type A controller personality. To let go and be ok with how he does things was hard. But remember, he's not doing it wrong, he's doing it different and that's ok. Once you let go and let him take over a bulk of what you do, you'll be in a better head space to focus on school.

Make time for you and your kids and you and your husband. One thing your classmates will never understand is how time demanding being a mom and being a medical student is. This isn't to dis on them, they just haven't hit that point in life yet. Even letting go of some of what you do, you'll still have way more time demands on you than your average classmate. Learn what your bottom line is for your family's needs and never go below that. It's easy to get consumed in coursework and shut off from family. Don't. The point is to survive together. Sometimes this means not pulling an all nighter for an exam. I've actually only ever done this once because I can't function on no sleep.

The bare minimum applies to your health too. For me, going to bed at the same time as my spouse is a must. So, regardless of what needs to be done, once its bedtime, its bedtime. It's ok to not study as much as your peers or follow the same schedules they do. You're different and you have to find what works for you and your family. It won't make you any less of a physician, trust me!

You'll find some classmates that you fit in with, regardless of age. I have a great group of friends. Some are my age, some are younger and closer to my oldest daughter's age than mine. We all have things in common in one way or another, which is why we're friends. The most important part of our friendship is that we support each other. None of my vet school friends have kids, but that doesn't matter because when mom stuff has come up, they've been there to help carry me along. They've become a second family and every single one acknowledges that I'm working my bum off just like they are.

Congrats on your journey! Feel free to reach out if you have parenting while in med school questions. It takes a village and I'm happy to share my journey :)


Thank you so much for such a thoughtful reply. I am sure it will help more than just me. You made a ton of great points. The one about relinquishing control really spoke to me, I know that will be an adjustment but I will work hard to not ruin a good thing by thinking my mom way was the right way haha. Also great point about guilt; I feel it just in anticipation of starting school but you’re so right. Thank you for your thoughts and experiences!
 
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Laradd

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Sep 5, 2018
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You are not alone but yes we represent a minority!
I am a mom of 2 kids and I am about to start PT school in a month. To be precise, I am a single mom which makes the situation even more interesting! It is a challenge for sure, however, moms are survivors. Motherhood taught me how to be tough and resilient.
As for relating with my future classmates, I am already putting into account that I won't have the possibility to hang out on a regular basis. However, I hope I could connect with them on other levels. Dinosaurs are interesting creatures!!! good luck!
I love how you deal with things! I know you can do it!! :)
 

Operaponies

2+ Year Member
Jun 1, 2018
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I'm so glad I just found this. I'm starting in August and will have an 8 week old - I'm pretty sure I'm the only one in my class with kids, let alone an infant. Finding childcare, especially now with COVID, has been my biggest worry. My husband is looking for a job since we'll be moving states (I just got off the WL), and who knows what his salary will be so we're trying to keep all costs as low as possible. It'll be a huge shock to him if he has to start a new job working from home and be responsible for the baby during the day, but that might be the best way for us to budget.
Any other moms who started with infants/had them in school? It also seems most of the people who have kids during school are dads which, while not a bad thing, is a completely different experience.
 
Feb 20, 2020
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So excited, yet so nervous! I am wrapping up my post-bacc... I will be applying in the next cycle and will be starting with a 7, 5, and 3 year old (mentally and physically disabled) and a 17 year old step daughter who will be starting college. I have my school list, but am interested in seeing if there are any family friendly schools I haven't considered. Good thing I like planning and organizing!
 

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