Tuesday, February 22, 2011

OMG, I've got to get out of here!

In the division of labor between myself and my husband, I have been given the task of daycare drop off and pick up. It makes sense for a variety of reasons, one of which is that my husband often gets home after the daycare closes.

As a result, at the end of the day, I am sometimes FREAKING OUT that I've got to get out of the hospital before the daycare closes.

Our daycare has pretty long hours, so 90% of the time I arrive very comfortably before the deadline. 5% of the time, my daughter is one of the last kids there, but it's still no problem. Then another 5% of the time, I'm racing furiously through traffic to get to the daycare before closing time.

I've always made it there in time, sometimes with a safety margin of only a minute or two. I guess it wouldn't be the end of the world if I were late. Basically, I would be charged like $20 per minute after the deadline and I'd have to find my child sitting there all alone with a forlorn, abandoned expression on her face. That's still better than the hospital-based daycare a friend of mine was using, where they would call child protective services if you were more than five minutes late.

Most of the physicians I work with don't seem to have this issue. All their kids are older or they have a spouse or relative to help out. They say they were at the hospital till 8 o'clock the night before and just shrug like this is no big deal. In medicine, things come up. If you've got one foot out the door and a patient says he has 10 out of 10 chest pain, what are you supposed to do? There's no excuse not to stay. You can always put off dictations a little bit longer, but there's no excuse for not caring for a seriously ill patient.

It's yet another thing to consider when entering medicine. You do lose a degree of flexibility and control in your life, which can be rough when you have small kids.

51 comments:

  1. Would it be feasible to hire a high school kid to do daycare pickup and get dinner started (if you're not using a crockpot)? Someone might love the shot at just 1-2 hours of work in the evening.

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  2. Hmm, maybe high school students are different in your part of the country, but I wouldn't even remotely trust one of them to do something like that. Even the driving part alone would worry me. I used to hire a high school senior to babysit sometimes and she would cancel on me about 50% of the time.

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  3. I actually think this is a marvelous idea. If not a high school student, how about a college junior/senior who is majoring in education? a local senior (someone in their early 60s)? or one of the daycare workers themselves?

    When I was a high school student I never cancelled... even when my family all went to San Fransisco without me on a whim one time. So, not every high school student does that.

    I am seriously stealing this marvelous, marvelous idea.

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  4. Well, regardless of whether I would trust a high school or college kid, part of the reason I picked my job and the daycare was that it was really important to me to be the one to pick my daughter up every day. I got picked up by sitters a lot as a kid and I hated it. I would feel awful if my daughter spent all day at daycare then another hour or two with a sitter, especially when I chose my job so she wouldn't have to do that.

    Besides, on a practical level, as I said, it's only a problem 5% of the time. Why would I hire someone every day when they're only needed once or twice a month? Maybe other people have the money for this, but I don't.

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  6. Fizzy -

    1) Every single dr I've talked to has this problem

    and,

    2) I think WS and TR are onto something. Don't knock it til you've tried it.

    Of course, what would you complain about then? I have faith that you'd think of something else. ;-)

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  7. This is a stressor for all parents that balance child pick-up with other tasks (work, a napping or sick younger child, volunteer activities, traffic jams to name a few). The real problem is dealing with unexpected events that occur alongside our normal routine.

    Part of the solution is realizing that this scenario is inevitable. The next part is creating a backup plan. Whether it's another parent in your program, the daycare itself, a friend/relative, or a College student, we need to invest time to find several people that can help us out in situations like these.

    Childrearing takes a community but the modern difference is that we now have to create and nurture our own community. Keep in mind that reciprocity is also necessary when you are a member of the community.

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  8. OMDG: I can complain about Scott's "extra soft" toilet paper. I actually to return a pack this week because it sucked so bad and I wrote an angry letter to the Scott company. It's not like I'm some kind of toilet paper diva, but seriously!

    If all other female doctors you talk to have this problem, what do they do? The female docs I know with small kids all seem to have retired parents or in-laws nearby.

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  9. A friend of mine is a radiologist with 2 small children (5 and 2) and she hires college students if she or her husband can't manage to pick them up.

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  10. Since you asked... :)

    I chose to live in the same town as my parents so that we have a backup plan x two reliable people. I specifically did not pick the residency that best matched me because having my parents nearby is extremely important. I know you this is not something that you can do - but maybe those who are going to make a future rank list for residency and fellowship should take this into account.

    We also chose to live next door (literally) to our daycare center and live in 1000 sq feet so that a neighbor could pick our child up in an emergency. Also, not something you could do. But might be helpful for those reading your blog who are just about to match.

    I think this is a wonderful topic. Reminds me to give a key to the reliable neighbor next door and the one above us. Known them for almost ten years.

    This is a brand new problem for us as this is the first time because my husband - who is supposed to have an easy job with easy hours (something I agreed to when we decided to have a child)- suddenly is flying all over the country while I am on q5 wards working crazy hours.

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  11. Fizzy -- I cannot stand extra soft toilet paper. Don't even get me started on the subject.

    As for what other people do, since I am currently childless, the subject hasn't come up that much yet. Let me give you the few examples I know of:

    1) Male senior resident had to pick up kids at daycare by 6PM. Was on consult service. Tried to finish seeing all patients by 5:40, but if he couldn't he would have to leave. This seemed to be understood by everyone (including the attending, shockingly enough). When he was on an inpatient month, his wife (a resident in the same dept) did pick-ups. The department coordinated their schedules so this was possible. There was surprisingly little resentment among co-residents.

    2) Attending (male) basically just rushes home to pick up the kids and is out of the office by 5:30. His wife (also an attending) does it sometimes too.

    3) My mentor does pick-ups when he's not on service in the MICU. I'll have to ask him what he does when he is on service since his wife is also a doc (derm) who works 40 minutes away.

    4) I have a friend whose husband does drop offs and pick ups since she is a med student and can't.

    5) An attending recruits college students in the area for baby-sitting/ pick up duty. He is an EM attending, and his wife is a peds. They have 3 kids. They live 5 blocks from campus.

    I'll try to find out what some other people do for you, if you want more suggestions. I have a friend who is a single mom and is a pediatrician. Her daughter is 8(?) now, so obviously she doesn't have to deal with daycare. I really should find out from her what she does with after school time, since it's impossible to pick your kid up from school if you're working, and 8 is really too young to be home alone.

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  12. It really isn't that easy.

    Somehow everyone lives in the Land of Magical Babysitters where you can call one number and have Kristy, Claudia, or Mary Ann come pick up your kid at a moment's notice. But it's not so easy around here. There are no nearby colleges spilling over with kids who have nothing to do every day during the hours of 6 and 8. Countless times, I've been introduced to a mother who lives in my area and the first thing she asked was: Do you know of a good babysitter? (I don't.) Getting someone reliable who could pick up my kid every day would cost me a small fortune, even if that was what I wanted.

    Making arrangements with another parent isn't so easy either. You have to find a parent whose work schedule is compatible with yours. And everything involves car transport, so how do you transport an extra small child if you don't have a carseat for them? Or room in your car?

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  13. OMDG: You may feel differently about the soft toilet paper when you're pregnant or have had kids :) /TMI

    If my childhood is any indication, your single mom friend probably has an after school program that she uses.

    Right now, my daycare is open till 6:30, which is about as good as it gets. I think I'll probably just end up racing there on those 5% of days, and if I don't make it, I'll pay the late fee. It's not ideal, but at least they don't call child protective services.

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  14. Fizzy -- Ever considered a bidet? My husband is very sad they don't have them in this country.

    I actually think rushing around at 5PM is the norm, sadly. Or people have babysitters and have dispensed with the daycare entirely. Of course, this is can be very expensive. I think most of them, since they're attendings now, can outsourse the emergency situations to people like residents most of the time.

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  15. Fizzy, I completely respect you wanting to be the one to pick up your kids - especially if your childhood memories are of babysitters.

    It might be possible to find a few reliable people who you could call in a pinch, though. Contact the AP teachers at your local high school to find someone who might be more reliable than those you've encountered in the past. Or see if there's a local homeschool group that could put you in touch with someone who could help out periodically (parent or teen). Or if your city has a senior center, they might know people who'd love to give you a hand once in a while.

    It's not realistic to think people will sit by the phone just in case you call, but if you have a pool of folks who might be available, I'd bet it's doable for that once-a-month time you get stuck.

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  16. Having dealt with this problem for 6 years with 2 young children all I can tell you is that there is no easy solution.

    My career has taken a hit as I haven't been able to find reliable child care. My dream would be to "win" a daycare spot that had a penalty for late pick-up.

    A year ago I finally embraced that I need others' help and vice versa. My solution changes every few months with my changing work hours, my children's needs, and the fact that child care that isn't daycare is often unreliable and short-term.

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  17. Here, here, k-kel. Finding someone to be responsible for your most precious possession is never easy.

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  18. I fully agree that it is hard to find a reliable back up - and I live in a small town :)

    I worked it out with my daycare that if it happens that I am late, she charges me a special fee - not the jacked up price it was in the contract for when i'm late. I've only had to use it once - like you, I'm there 95% of the time and barely make it the other 5 - but it is really nice knowing that the one time I'm in a pinch she can cover me. Of course, this is a small daycare, so that helps. Otherwise, i am rushing out the door and occasionally have had to bring the kids back to work with me - those times I stole a med aide that helped out - totally not ideal but had no choice!

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  19. There are no perfect solutions but I made friends with a few other moms in the center whom I could call in a pinch. They usually had the same schedule and my kids would go home with them and I would get them there. The kids were okay because it was a play date and I knew they were safe. It worked so well (and I reciprocated) that it became a regular thing. But knowing I had that option dramatically reduced my stress. We were part of a center associated with a community college so one of my friends would pay one of the students to take her child to her in the hospital. That extra time let her finish her work and shortened the commute because she did not have to shlep to the daycare. I would not use that every day but in a pinch that would be an option. Not to burst your bubble but daycare is easy. Later when they are in school you have the unexpected teacher work days and weather related school delays that really wreak havoc!

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  20. Although I am only a 2nd year medical student now, I did have a career as a software engineer before med school. My kids were younger then, and there were many occasions when I would be racing against the clock to pick them up.

    The problem is not unique to medicine. Any demanding career outside the home will likely pose similar challenges. Although a piece of software not working right many not seem nearly as catastrophic as a patient with 10/10 chest pain, when there are hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake and clients expecting results, managers standing in your office tapping their feet waiting for you to fix some unexpected glitch, you can't exactly say "sorry, bye, I have to go pick up my kid from daycare", unless you want to be fired the next day.

    Prices used to be cheaper then (only $10 for the first minute and $5 per minute for each extra minute past closing time), but we did have to shell out quite a bit of $$ a few times. Then we asked one of the wonderful single daycare teachers if she would consider helping us with child care. She had a flexible evening schedule and agreed, so on the rare days when I was running late I would call her and she would just take the kids to our home. We paid her very well and used her for occasional date nights and "adults only" outings on rare weekend evenings. It was fantastic for our kids and for our sanity.

    And yes, it does not get that much easier when the kids are older and there are school closings, half-days, teacher work days, sick days, etc. Both of my kids had the stomach flu last week the night before I had a huge exam. My husband is back in our home state because there were no suitable jobs for him here and I didn't get into med school there (hopefully will be going back home for residency, fingers crossed). Somehow we seem to manage - with a network of friends and friendly neighbors, a positive attitude, a willingness to always return favors with a little "extra" and always give a little more than we get, we seem to be making it so far.

    I always tell myself:
    For every problem there are at least 2 viable solutions.

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  21. Teapot: I'm aware things are only going to get worse in regular school, which is why we're staying with daycare through kindergarten, even though it will cost extra. God knows what we'll do with all those vacations: christmas, president's week, easter, SUMMER. It's impossible. School is really geared toward the idea of one parent who doesn't work.

    WhiteCoatDreamer: I do understand there are other jobs where you could unexpectedly be asked to stay late. But I have to believe that more physicians have this problem than software engineers.

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  22. Dear Fizzy, I am not sure that you "have to believe that more physicians have this problem". Why do you have to?

    I have friends who are attorneys, who often work very crazy hours and cannot exactly leave a courtroom when the judge decides to continue hearing a case well past 5 PM (this does happen more often than you'd think). I have friends who are consultants and have to fly around the country, not always making it home at the time (or even on the day) planned. I have a friend who is a dentist and has worked out a deal with her secretary that if a case ends up running past closing time the secretary will go pick up her kids.

    For many women who have gone straight through high school, college, medical school and have added motherhood somewhere along the road into that mix, it may seem that they have it the hardest, but the reality may be a bit different. Most women I know who have had more than a year or 2 between college and med school, have had a career and have had kids in that time, will tell you a different story.

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  23. WCD: The reason I "have to" believe this is that all the software engineers that I know personally seem to have fairly flexible hours. Some can even work from home! Some of them work hard or even long hours, but very seldem have unexpected emergencies. I can see it happening with a lawyer... I know they can have insane hours. (Also, I'm obligated to point out that a dentist IS a kind of doctor :)

    Regarding consultants who travel a lot, the big difference is that you know going into a job if you're going to have to travel a lot. Whereas people who go into med school right out of college, not thinking about the future of having children, and may be misled because the first two years of med school are so flexible. By the time women realize how incredibly unpredictable medicine is, it's kind of too late. That's why I make posts like this.

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  25. Fizzy -- Please don't take this the wrong way, but White Coat Dreamer is right. It happens just as often in other professions. Doctors (unfortunately) do not have the monopoly on work emergencies. And also, demanding bosses who don't understand the plight of the working parent, and last minute deadlines lurk everywhere. Unfortunately.

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  26. Gotta agree w/ White Coat Dreamer. My mom was lawyer and she struggled to make it to pick up time more than once. With clients' livelihoods, her own livelihood and her reputation riding on a case, she couldn't just check out early.

    Doctors do important work but there are other important and demanding jobs in our society and many, many working parents face the pick-up dilemma.

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  27. I just said I know lawyers work ridiculous hours. The lawyers I know work much harder than I ever did. At my last daycare, me and the lawyer-mom were always the two people racing to get there at the last second.

    I know there are many careers that are unpredictable. But I walk through the administrative part of the building as I'm going to get my jacket at the end of the day, and it's a ghosttown. I've never seen anyone there past 5. And there are usually only a handful of kids ever left in the daycare past 6, out of hundreds of kids enrolled. So I think there are also plenty of jobs with very predictable hours.

    I think the big exception with medicine is what I've said over and over. I think some people enter the field without *realizing* the impact it will make on their entire lives. And by the time it's clear, you're too deep in training. If you start a consulting job and realize it's not for you, you can quit and do something else. It's not so easy when you've dedicated tons of money and time to training.

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  28. We didn't have any family locally either. Now this is old experience,since my girls are grown and have their own childcare problems, BUT: the last hour or so at daycare is pretty much bedlam, since the number of kids decreases slower than the number of teachers. I worried more about the children getting picked on by the big ones in that last hour. Back then (and this may still be true now) a lot of the daycares worked people just under full time (so they wouldn't have to pay benefits, I guess). I hired one of the kid's teachers who got off at 4:00 to take them home and stay with them, start dinner, etc. She needed the extra income and didn't mind getting home a little later--of course I paid very well. When the kids got older we had a series of high school/college girls who picked them up from school and did the same thing. It worked out very well for us. The kids say they never felt deprived or upset, it was better knowing they would go home at x-time with Ms Leanne/whoever than wondering WHEN mom was going to come for them. Of course, when they got to elementary/late middle school age these folks were their "drivers" not their "sitters." Also since my husband traveled I sometimes paid these folks to sleep in our guest room when I was on call. Best wishes and hope this helps.

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  29. Dear Fizzy,

    I would like to point out that your clarification somewhat negates your earlier position. Your earlier position was that "more physicians have this problem", which you have now agreed may not be the case, and your new position seems to be that more women physician do not realize that they will have this problem when they initially enter medicine. I wholeheartedly agree with your latter position.

    I am glad you clarified, and I do agree with you that it is important for women to go into medicine (just as into anything else in life) with eyes wide open and armed with as much information as possible. I do appreciate this post and the debate that it has engendered.

    P.S. You had specifically said "more physicians" (not "more doctors") which is why I gave the example of a dentist.

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  30. White Coat Dreamer: I still maintain both things are true, and don't necessarily negate each other. I think compared with MOST other fields, doctors have much more irregular and unpredictable schedules. That's not to say that certain other professionals may not have a worse schedule, including lawyers (and apparently some software engineers :), but I think doctors are way up there. And it's exacerbated by the fact that women may not realize it's going to be like that till it's too late.

    But yeah, anyone can have a crap boss who makes them stay late at their own whim.

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  31. Fizzy, I think you've got to be in the wrong specialty or are just too conscientious :)
    I've run into my kids specialists picking their kids up from school

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  32. I'm not a doctor, just a CT tech, but I'm expected to stay late if needed. They don't really like it when I turn exams away because "I gotta go, My daughter has gymnastics in 30 minutes"...so I stay....

    At least once a week I see someone's kids at work, almost always one of the physician's kids, but occasionally it's one of my co-workers kids...It seems kind of common for 1 particular doctor to leave, pick her kids up, then come back to finish up paperwork while the kids hangout in the conference room. But her kids are 6,9, and 11...I still think they wouldn't think it was neat if I did that with my 2 kids though....

    My options for emergency care are my parents, and our long time , now college age, baby sitter. I need to make more friends as it's supposed to snow tomorrow or Thursday and I have no one who can watch the kids if school is closed...

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  33. I am commenting from phone in Hawaii (hotel internet charge at this conference is outrageous) so I'll be brief. I hired a nursing school sitter to pick up kids for first time this year. Now that kids have after school activities that require a driver, it became mandatory. It has made a wonderful world of difference. I still do mornings, which is nice. I encourage you to consider, at some point, at least on a trial basis. To be able to drive straight home and have kids settled, bathed, and sometimes dinner started made my life so much easier.

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  34. Fizzy-it is a tone issue again that people are reacting to. At my old daycare, it was not only the docs coming in late by a far stretch. Sometimes people are stretched by the two career lifestyle. The key is trying to work out the backup. Yes, it costs money and yes it may mean you are not the one doing pick up. But remember your post about yelling? Stressful situations like rushing to daycare can bring that on. For me, being calm and happy with my kids is worth the price. Also, some of the solutions above cost no money, just willingness to ask friends for help and doing the same for them. Yes, medicine is hard as you state in your posts but you are writing to people who are problem solvers. Most find the way that is best for them and their kids.You can too. Beyond daycare takes some planning: my kids go to minicamps on breaks or that is when we vacation or they go on a visit to Grandma or she comes for some in depth spoiling. We manage and they seem well adjusted...:-)

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  35. Sunnimom: I don't begrudge anyone trying to find solutions for me. Everyone has been completely civil. But I will probably keep doing the easiest solution right now, which is to rush like hell on those 5% of days.

    Giz: I actually would trade mornings faster than evenings. Mornings are impossible and I hate them. But my favorite part of the day is picking her up at daycare (provided I'm not rushing), so I don't think I'd want to give that up, forgetting any financial reasons.

    Mary: I'm hoping by the time my daughter is 6, she'll be mature enough that I can rush out of work on some days and grab her, then let her do homework or whatever while I finish up for the day. I still remember my mother used to bring me to work fairly frequently.

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  36. >>it's exacerbated by the fact that women may not realize it's going to be like that till it's too late>>

    Surely, you can't be serious. Physician-mothers are MORE likely than women in other demanding careers to be surprised by their long, irregular hours? Please!

    Honestly, I think attorney-, MBA- and yes, engineer-mothers are more likely to be surprised by long hours. Physicians? Comes with the territory.

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  37. Fizzy - thank you for your important topics as always. What you have described has been my life off and on. My neighbour physician told me she changed 5 babysitters in 4 years and used school after care in between. Those 2 hour a day low pay people are never a long term reliable solution. We all are in this boat suferring immensily to judge if we give ALL to our kids, while home staying living next to nothing moms seem to shower their kids with affection, home made foods, school volonteering and "creative" time spending. My heart goes out to you. Please, ignore all condesending angry comments above. Clearly shows that we as physicians must be more respectful to each other, and more supportive as mothers toward other mothers. Really puts me off when people try to lecture you like you are a 5 year old (all these catty comments - REALLY? PLEASE!). Tell daycare center about your situation and reserve right to call them when you have emergency and ask them to work out civil solution for you - without rebuking or fining you. I did it in my kids daycre 3 years ago and they pushed pick up time 30 min later just for me for my emergencises and even told me they would not charge me and pick up the cost (will pay their employee for my extra 30 min). My best to you

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  38. This post rang so true to me - the flashback to 4 weeks ago gave me palpations just now ;)

    I was up on the 16th floor admitting a chronic pain palliative patient in the late afternoon and by the time staff had come into review, the clock was past 5. I remember watching the clock tick on in slow motion as the long, slow discussion moved on like molasses. Daycare was only 16 floors and two blocks away, so I thought I would be able to do the mad rush over but as it got closer to 6, it seemed inevitable.

    I left the staff talking to the patient twice to call my inlaws to help to no answer. Finally at 5:45 I passed her a note -- that I had to run to daycare but would be back to do the orders. As I went down the elevator I sent out a mad text to hubby who was at a different hospital working late and another resident friend at the daycare for help. Luckily hubby was off early and drove straight to daycare and my friend was willing to go back to daycare and re-pick up my little one (love her!) if need be.

    It was awful being torn by wanting to be a professional, appropriate doc for the team and patient but having family needs so much more urgent at that point in time.

    I hate those mad rushes so much - but it's really that feeling of helplessness, panic, and being pulled in too many directions that is maddening.

    Phew. Feels good to get that off my chest.

    So, yes... for us it is having a wide net I can throw out in an emergency. The inlaws are key as they do about 40% of drop offs or pick ups for us, and the other 5 amazing mom and dad friends I have are wonderful supports for daycare and in life!

    Our residency union has talked very loosely about a daycare for residents in the city - I think it;s an awesome idea and would help alleviate issues like this! Probably 10 years in the future, but wouldn't that be awesome!!?!

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  39. My sister in law the lawyer had the same issues with the daycare rush. I remember being on the phone with her as we were in two different traffic jams at 545 trying to make a 6 pickup. For her, it may affect her ability to make partner. I never felt it affected my future to be making that rush.My current residents with work hour restrictions have some advantages in that they have firm checkout/signout times so they tell me they make it to daycare on time.

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  40. Thanks for writing about this. I feel like a lot of mothers in medicine tell me, "You can do it!" or "It was challenging," when I ask about logistics of childcare. I appreciate hearing the honest struggles, because I know that they have to exist.

    Also, I can't believe that the hospital-based daycare would call CPS! I don't think being late because you were SAVING SOMEONE'S LIFE quite meets the criteria for neglect. You'd think that a hospital-based service, of anybody, would understand this.

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  41. Red: Yeah, I was shocked about that daycare. I kept saying, "No way!" I couldn't believe a hospital-based daycare could be so inflexible. But apparently, that was the threat.

    It would be so awesome if every residency program had a good daycare available with discounted prices for poor residents and flexible hours.

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  42. Our program does have a discounted program with great hours but have some pity for the people who work there. They have a tough job too and do not get paid well. Many of them are restricted to 35 hours a week so no benefits. If the hours were "flexible" they would not be affordable.

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  43. Hey Fizzy,

    I really struggle to understand the patronising replies to your posts too.

    I remember the day I realised I was not going to be a reliable daycare pick up person. It was horrifying to me.

    I was a junior doctor in a peripheral Emergency Department with 3 resus bays. 30 minute drive from my baby girl (baby boy incubating, 10 weeks away from being born). A car accident came in, then another. All 3 resus bays were full. 30 beds in the department- full. I looked around and realised I was the only doctor left on the floor. No way of popping by resus and saying "Good luck with that resus, my kids need picking up".

    The next day a ruptured ectopic preesnted at knock off time.

    The next day we had a 36 week pregnant woman with troponin positive chest pain- you guessed it- at home time.

    I wasn't involved with any of these patients directly. But I was part of the team, and other sick patients needed doctors. My colleagues needed support.

    I had a long chat to my husband and for now, he needs to be the pick up person. In the future, where there will hopefully be more babies, and his studies will be finished and career on track,
    we will probably try and find a babysitter/pick up person/cleaner to "do" afternoons, I think a load of washing, a bit of cleaning, school pick ups and dinner prepartion would be a great way of making sure they get enough pay and our household runs smoothly. Hopefully we'll be home shortly after our kids, but if there's an emergency, they'll be at home, doing their homework and getting ready for bed.

    Haven't found this magical person yet, no need. But I hope we can when the time comes.

    Hope you find solutions on those 5% days.

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  44. This post rings true for my family as well. My husband is an engineer (works 10 hr days, or used to before I returned to work) and we have no family nearby. I work 8-5 and have the occasional extended procedure to stay for.

    Most times it works fine for pickup/dropoff, but it's those unexpected times that make it hard. When my 4yr old gets the stomach bug for 3 days and then my daughter comes down with it 2 days later, my husband and I argue who can take off the time more easily. When I have to stay late, I worry about my daughter who still at 9 months refuses the bottle,
    will she be starving if I dont get home until 7?
    Like everyone else, finding reliable backup when you have no family in town, is difficult for a temporary situation or one you only need on rare occasions. And when you have sick kids, what do you do? I mean what sick kid wants to be
    away from home when they feel awful?
    We have also suffered consequences to my going back to work. My husband has already been talked to about sick days (he missed 3 this year due to the kids), and instead of 10 hr days, he now works 8-9 and has heard lots of comments about "just strolling in?" when he comes in at 8:45. In my position, I am the only one in my department with small kids. Most of the people either have older (out of the house) kids or never had any kids. I am the only one who takes a sick day (for my kids); when someone takes a day off it is filled with questions and explanations of why you need the time off.

    I have currently applied for a parttime position that is a bit of a step down career wise, but it is basically the same job, same pay but less hours and I will be leaving at noon. We are hoping that with me having more time in the afternoon, it will be great for everyone. I know this type of job doesn't come up often in medicine so I'm really hoping I get it. I hope all of you struggling with the same issues can find a solution too.

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  45. It's a very hard situation and unfortunately, there's no easy answer. That's why I may have gotten a bit snippy at the first few posters who suggested I just entrust some kid to pick up my daughter every day.

    One thing I'm grateful for is that my husband's job is very, very nice about sick days.

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  46. Bekkles- I did not read patronizing; I read solutions from people who have been there. If Fizzy does not find them palatable, she doesn't have to use them. Shrug

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  47. I have the same feeling daily when I get out of my last class and drive an hour across town to the kid's school. I have exactly enough time if class ends on time and there is no traffic/accidents....but I'm always worried I won't make it in time.

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  48. I can absolutely, positively relate to the tortured mad-dash out to my car, across town to two different child-care places to meet the 5:30pm and 6:00 pm deadlines. Both of my kids generally expected to be one of the last, if not THE last, kid picked up. I usually made it in time...but just barely. That setup also meant that the first 30-45 minutes I spent with my kids at the end of the day was a constant urgent nag: "come on, let's go, get your backpack, hurry up, we're late to get your brother, no don't tie your shoe now, do it in the car..." Ugh. I shudder remembering it.

    This school year, we hired a babysitter. Actually, a manny. He does cost more than the local rec department after school, but he drives the kids to their activities, helps my daughter with her not-inconsiderable homework, and saves my sanity. Just like Gizabeth said - now I walk cheerfully into a relaxed and usually happy house, often with dinner on the stove (this guy, I tell you, is a GEM).

    Do you live anywhere there is an online service to help you find caregivers? You still interview them and everything, but they usually have some basic requirements (over 18, have passed a background check, have taken CPR, etc) and you pay a small fee (mine was $35 for a month of access) and you read through profiles or post a job. sittercity.com and care.com can be good options if they exist in your area.

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  49. You wrote about my day. I'm in exactly the same position. Only, I think it's garbage. People should be able to have families too.

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  50. What scares me half to death is that I commute 45 minutes on I95. I would be a nervous wreck having my child driven by non-family. Solutions to this one, because it's getting desperate?!?!

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  51. We transferred from the day care near my work to one closer to our home and hired one of the teachers at the school to drive our kids home and stay with them until we got home. I still had a deadline but at least my kids were home and safe. Sometimes she took pity and started dinner.

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