Sometimes I see myself going crazy.
People ask me, “How do you do this Joy? How do you balance three kids, residency, being a Chief Resident and PARA?”
No, I am not crazy; I learned to cope by loving what I do and using my support systems. I have three wonderful and active kids (a teenager, a fourth grader and a kindergartener), who I almost have to tie around myself every time we go out since they love to play and keep me on my toes. My husband is a big help, but my kids are multiple handfuls.
Having children is rewarding, fulfilling and busy, but it’s definitely worth it. I have to find time for the kids, celebrate, encourage and get involved in their activities. I also have to find time for my hubby amidst it all. I work long hours and attend many of Residency’s commitments, but coming home to hugs, laughter and kisses from my family keeps me happy, fulfilled and sane.
My little son once asked an innocent question during one of my busiest R1 rotations: “Are you a doctor or a mommy? Choose one.” This brought me close to tears and I knew I needed to set some rules for myself to get things balanced.
Coping has been by the following rules for me:
1. Time management:
I take time off solely dedicated to my family, where I volunteer for their school and sporting activities. I also attend one week of vacation bible school at my local church which brings me closer to my family. I always find time to get away with my hubby.
2. Using support systems:
I have friends and grandparents who I call for help when things get really crazy. I have co-chiefs and fellow residents who are happy to lend me a hand. There is also local programming for families through my church, as well as through the city. I set play dates and reading dates for my kids so I have time to catch up on residency activities. Many programs now have family support systems, especially if you have an awesome program director and assistant.
3. Getting the kids involved:
We all cook together, we seldom eat take out and cooking time is fun – they google new meal ideas and we come together to make it happen. Study time is every evening for everyone – NO EXCEPTIONS!!! (tiger mom)
4. It’s okay to say no:
I know it’s tempting to want to give a good impression in residency, but I learned so late as a junior resident, that I cannot do everything. It’s okay to sometimes say no when additional requests outside of your residency workload are presented. It’s better to say no than be late on your research, papers, etc.
5. Hang your bad day in the hospital:
This isn’t easy, but it’s what I tend to do. It can be difficult sometimes, but I make sure to not let my mood ruin the fun for my family.
6. Love yourself, get good sleep, exercise and eat healthy.