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

Mr. Dr. Prof. Patrick

The Inner Machinations of my mind are an enigma
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Feb 21, 2018
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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!
 
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Mr. Dr. Prof. Patrick

Mr. Dr. Prof. Patrick

The Inner Machinations of my mind are an enigma
Removed
Feb 21, 2018
9,639
14,121
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
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.
 
Aug 27, 2018
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Pre-Medical
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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Mr. Dr. Prof. Patrick

Mr. Dr. Prof. Patrick

The Inner Machinations of my mind are an enigma
Removed
Feb 21, 2018
9,639
14,121
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
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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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...
 
Jan 31, 2018
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Medical Student
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!
 
Oct 13, 2019
34
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Status
Non-Student
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.
 
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