We had my daughter midway during a two-year research hiatus from my residency. Our daughter is now five and just started kindergarten.
Because my husband and I both had flexible schedules for her first year of life, the two of us split our time with her for that first year. We then put her in a Montessori school when she was one year. We have been fortunate with this because she thrived and continues to thrive in that environment.
My husband gets most of the credit. He is the one who continues to take our daughter to school/camp/activity most mornings while I am already at work at some early hour. He is also there when I am on call or have an emergency in the hospital.
The other important thing that has made our lives easier has been his income, which even while I was in training made it so that we could afford her childcare. In addition to school expenses, we have also needed to have someone pick her up at the end of the school day (typically 4:30 pm) and care for her until one of us gets home (typically 6pm). We have achieved (in our minds) “equilibrium” with our daughter.
Fast-forward to now. I am at home on maternity leave with our 4-week old son. We are thrilled to have him – as we waited until I finished surgical residency training and fellowship and started practicing last year.
But as we have known for some time and now experiencing personally these past few months – the childcare process, particularly with infants, can be overwhelming. So far, our solution this time is a “patch-work” approach with the help of our parents who are not nearby. After the first 6 months, there is still more to figure out.
Our “patch-work” is something like the following: 2 months of maternity leave with me, 1 month with husband’s mother staying with us, 2 weeks of husband (delayed paternity leave), 1 month of my parents staying with us, 2 weeks of me (personal leave), one month of husband (delayed paternity leave).
Yes, my husband’s work offers 6 weeks of paid paternity leave, and he is going to take it.
I guess the lesson is that you have to be adaptable. And that resources and support help. But the process can be scary. Maybe looking at our oldest and seeing how things have worked for her has reassured us (perhaps falsely) that things will simply “work out” if we are diligent. We certainly hope that that is the case for this one.