Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Day Care Drop

How do you manage day care or school pick-ups, drop-offs, holidays and sick days for your children? My husband is a surgery resident so he can't drop my daughter off (he leaves the house at 5am), and most days even if he *thinks* he may be able to leave early, something inevitably comes up and he can't leave as planned. He sometimes can get a day off to care for our sick daughter, but he certainly can't do it every time she's sick. I know there shouldn't be a difference between MiMs and FiMs (Fathers in Medicine) but hey, I think the reality is there is a difference. Just curious.


Bea is married to a PGY-2 surgery resident and writes a blog about medical marriages and her experience thus far.

Thank you for the question Bea.

When I headed back to work after my maternity leave I was surprised to find how pre-occupied I was (constantly) with this very issue. Working mom's may seem busy with the task at hand, but a small part of their attention is always dedicated to the child(ren). During my day there is a second schedule (not included in my outlook). It includes a series of toddler activities: reading time, art projects, music, lunch and nap. As I move through my day I am thinking about my son and what he is up to. As the day winds down this turns into an obsession watching the clock. A real MiM fear, getting caught up with a sick patient and not able to be there for your child.

The day care is a wonderful place, overall. A little less wonderful is the yellow highlighter they use on the classroom sign-in sheet. Ten hours per day, maximum. That seems like a long day for a one-year old. It is a blink of an eye for a Cardiologist. Drop off at 7:30 AM, pick up at 5:35 PM..... violation! Marked in fluorescent yellow for all of the parents in the class to see. Oh the judgement and guilt served by that mark!

My husband is not a Father in Medicine, but he is a Corporate Executive where the majority of his colleagues are married to women who do not work. We try to stagger the drop-off and pick-up so that we can each work a full day. The game plan however, is altered more often than not leading to a frequent race against the clock.

I hope others will chime in and add their creative solutions, depending on your specific situation there may be a novel idea that could be applied. In our house, salvation recently came in the form of Miss Kim. She is a teacher in my son's classroom, and he LOVES her. She is single, and lives between the school and our house. She now "picks up" for us, bringing my son home from school. Sometimes they stop at the park, other times they rush home to take the dog for a walk. She feeds him dinner. Now my husband and I arrive by 6:30 with a happy and fed little one. We then spend the next two hours relaxed, fully engaged in the bedtime routine.

Another strategy for me, our University has Major and Minor Holidays. The Minor holidays being those where school is out but most work places are open. If we work the minor holidays we receive an extra vacation day. I have my admin block all Minor Holidays- Out of Office. It is my Mommy prerogative. That way it is set up in advance, and I am not scrambling the week before to cancel clinic or find child care.

Then for those rare days, when my day is a short one and I can greet the little man mid afternoon. The best is making it for "buggy time" at 430, when the kids are strapped into the multi-kid stroller. Carrying my son around the block while the others ride, taking in part of his day- I am on top of the world.


  1. We have a 16mo daughter in a home-care situation (hours 7a-6p) and a 5yo son in a preschool (hours 7:30a-5:30p). I am an academic family doc (2 days clinic and 3 days at the university) and my husband works in accreditation.

    During the 20-25 weeks a year Husband is not traveling:

    Monday, I drop off on my way to clinic, husband picks up.

    Tuesday, husband drops off because I have to be at student health by 7:30, I pick up.

    Wednesday, I drop off on my way to clinic, husband picks up.

    Thursday and Friday, whichever of us has a lighter schedule drops off/picks up.

    When Husband is out of town, all bets are off. My mom, mother-in-law, sister, sister-in-law and best friend all jump in to save me when clinic runs late or when I have to be at the university for an early lecture or when I just can't get away to pick up the kids. My mom sometimes stays with me to help with the early morning rush of getting them ready and out the door by 7 a.m.

    One day, when I couldn't get my daughter picked up until 7p, an hour after her childcare provider's set hours, I called, crying, and begged forgiveness. My provider was wonderful, talked me down from hysteria. The next day I sent her a big box of Mrs. Field's cookies.

    It takes a village.

    Husband plays the lottery and dreams of striking it rich. I told him I would not want to quit my job, but I'd love a kid-transporter who would make us dinner every night!

  2. I don't think my answer will be very helpful, as my husband is "work at home" so nowadays, he does all the pick-up, drop-off, sick days, etc., and he tailors his work duties around the time that he has. Occasionally I will get to be the one that picks them up from "school," (the best of the duties, IMO), but it is rare. Dropping them off is often out of the question, as I need to be at work starting at 7 am most days.

    Even when we were both working, however, he would 90% of the time take care of most child-care related issues...I would try to be the one to pick them up from daycare, but it would not often work out for one reason or another, especially with the call I was taking.

    Now, our kids' daycare has a school-aged kids program that provides care for kiddos on school holidays and summer vacation, so this helps, somewhat.

  3. After a very busy semester in school(first year), I went to pick the kids up from school after my last set of exams. One of his teachers asked me if I had taken a break from school? I asked him why - because he hadn't seen me in so long that he was surprised I had finally shown up. Made me fell this small. The kids still recognize me, even if school feels like I am a non-existent parent.
    I honestly rely on my husband for most of the pickup and dropoff. I feel that medical school is less conducive to a normal life than working in the real world was. We have last min changes frequently, lectures that run long 50% of the time - which may be my school, but I have just learned not to expect any sense of consistency. Having worked in the real world for many years, this was surprising and a hard adjustment. But I have let go of the notion that I can be there for the pickup and drop off - but reality is husband has to do it. ANd he is in school(non medical of course) - but at least, he is allowed to call in sick for a class or two, I just can't.

  4. I'll repeat advice I've written elsewhere which is: consider trying to live near some sort of blood relative, something you might not really think about when you are childless but which suddenly becomes super duper helpful with kids in the picture. And in our experience and watching our friends, the nearer the better, basically as close as you can stand them. They become SO helpful you can't even imagine. Friends will drool with envy.

    Also, never be afraid to hire more help -- teenagers, retirees, university students...they are all very helpful and not necessarily very expensive. Having a good relationship with some good sitters is crucial to your job and your relationship!

  5. I am a stay at home mom who's married to an ER doc who's in the Air Force and currently deployed in Haiti. He just left 2 weeks ago and his return date is still questionable; it might be in a month or 3. We have 2 girls - a 3 year old and a 15 month old. We're new to the state and only have a handful of friends who are mostly in the military. Reading everyone's comments made me think that my case is just as difficult, although mine has less to do with drop-off and pick-up as I really don't have much choice at this time. My 3 yo attends school/daycare 3 times a week (MWF) and they're open from 6:30am-6:30pm. We decided to enroll the younger one while DH is away (thanks to the school director who accomodated our needs and took in our lil one the same days as the older one). This schedule allows me to attend to other needs at home and mostly to balance my time (and sanity) especially on weekends when family time was a common activity. With no family nearby, I can only rely on those handful of friends in case something happens where I cannot do drop-off or pick-up.
    Such is an example in military families when the other spouse is left behind to care for the kid/s and being resourceful is the only key to survival to get immediate help when needed. Military support is available and is most useful if you leave near the base. Otherwise, your friends better be in your speed dial list or either fly out with the tykes to spend time with extended family in other cities or fly them in to help you out.
    Being married to a doctor who works lots of hours is one thing. Being married to a doctor who's in the military and who gets to be deployed for long periods of time is another.
    I hope my comments made some of your worries and problems a little lighter. Always remember, it could be worse.

  6. Thanks for the comments and suggestions. I've learned a lot. We aren't near family and it DOES take a village, so I am going to have to find more babysitters and friends who are willing to help. I love the JC's situation with Miss Kim.

    Thanks again everyone!

  7. I have older children, and am currently instituting two new modes of help - summer driver for camps and activities and an after school helper from 4:00-7:00 to be available to drive the kids around to activities if I get stuck at work late. The summer helper is a college student already in place and I am having her babysit some and do one-on-one activities with them over Spring Break in order to get to know them better.

    Still hunting for the 4:00-7:00, but I know it will make my life a lot easier, especially going through a divorce. I did the yellow highlighter days - and me and the kids both suffered.


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