Thursday, May 17, 2012

MiM Mailbag: Living with the in-laws?

I will be starting my pediatric internship year soon, after 6 months out of clinical practice (I took some time off between my 3rd and 4th years to spend time with my newborn and graduated a few months after my classmates). I have a fiance, a dog, and a 21 month old daughter. We are so very undecided about our future living situation. My soon to be in-laws have a house approximately 30 minutes, with traffic, away from the hospital. Since we can't afford to buy a house at the moment, we are considering the following options, one of which I am uncomfortable sharing with others who know me, for fear of judgment. One option is that we all live with the in-laws. I think I would go crazy with this option as the in-laws are a loud, lively couple very much ingrained in their ways. The other option is to rent somewhere between the in-laws and the hospital so that my mother-in-law (unemployed) can help out, either by driving to us or us dropping off our daughter with her. The last option, and the one we are strongly considering, is that I rent a small place near the hospital and my fiance, daughter and dog reside with his parents.
I'd greatly, greatly appreciate your opinions and own experiences with the issue. We need more spaces like mothers in medicine!



  1. I think it depends a lot on your relationship with your in-laws. My in-laws are great, but living with them would make me depressed / insane, and would be really difficult on my husband too, no matter how helpful they could be.

    I like option B, even though it is more expensive, since it provides space for you and your family, yet the fam is close enough to help. Plus you'd still be only 15 min away from the hospital.

    The last option might be ok too.... but I think I'd want my family living with me if I had a choice. I'd be more likely to consider option #3 if my husband couldn't find a job in the city where I matched. Is there any particular reason this last option has appeal that you're not disclosing?

  2. Opinion from a Residency Program Coordinator (ObGyn) Congrats on starting residency! Keep the family together in the in-between in-laws and hospital option. You may end up spending more time in the car going back and forth, but your privacy as a family is important, and your sanity more so. Residency is an intense time that places many demands on your time and attention. It helps to have a great support system in place like you describe. Eliminating or minimizing distractions due to family dynamics is a good plan.
    Good luck!

  3. Yep - option B for the reasons above.

  4. Congrats! Peds residency is the best (I'm biased). Still, it's a LOT of work and fatigue, so I would suggest staying as close to the family/helpers as possible. I did residency far away from family and it was SO HARD between not sleeping at work and not sleeping at home(and expensive- babysitters cost a lot). After residency my husband, son, and I moved in with my parents so we could save up money to buy our won house and it was the best decision. But, I love my parents and know what it's like to live with them. You need an environment that will make you happy and support your family (as a part of making you happy), which for you sounds like option B- family, support, yet independence. The reason I don't suggest C is because you will already be somewhat isolated from the outside world, and separated from your child (a little bit) by being a resident, so you may not want to live alone too. But only you know what will work best for you! Good luck with the decision! (PS My husband would bring our son to the call room for me to feed him occasionally when I was on call. This really helped brighten my day, and my husband understood that I might get paged or have to jump up and disappear at any moment. Having your fiance and child closer by, as in option B, would make it easier for them to come visit, even when you're on call.)

  5. This opinion is coming from a soon-to-be anesthesia intern who has taken a year off to be with my daughter. I would definitely prefer option B. I think privacy is important, as is keeping your family together during a stressful time. I think you'd probably start to feel miserable if, after a long shift, you had to go home to an empty apartment while your husband and in-laws had fun at theirs with your daughter.

    And we've decided to not prioritize finances during residency. Obviously we're being fiscally prudent and not overspending, but we just moved into a much more expensive area so that we are closer to the hospital and to my husband's job and can spend the most amount of time together. Let's face it, we can make up for lost time financially when we finish residency. Good luck!

  6. Halfway with the whole family- everyone already stated great reasons why this is the best option.

  7. I would choose B, but I know a number of people who would have chosen either A or C and never considered B. It really, really depends on the relationship you have with your fiance and with his parents, and also on whether the drive is 30 minutes at most or 30 minutes at 3:00 AM without traffic, and 90 minutes at 7:00 AM or 6:00 PM. It also depends on how you feel about having your mother-in-law in your house all the time. That would drive me up the wall - I'd almost rather live with her.

    I do agree that I'd leave money out of the equation as much as possible: time with your family and making things easy for yourself should be the priorities.

    I would not have survived residency if I'd lived 30 minutes away - and I mean that literally, as in I think I would have fallen asleep at the wheel and crashed my car. 15 is do-able. We were less than a mile away during internship and never more than 10 minutes (we moved a lot, which I don't recommend). My husband had a much longer drive to school (he was in grad school) but he didn't have to stay up all night, so that was the best choice for us.

  8. I recommend the second option, like everyone else. The in-laws, though well meaning, can get a little crazy, and living by yourself is not only lonely, but makes you come off like the "bad" guy, which, depending on your in laws, can translate into "prioritizing career over baby" into "in-law-ese." Not saying that what others think should matter, but really, it can get annoying after awhile. My husband and I rent a space about 10 min door to door of the hospital (where we both work) and I pay out a good chunk of $$ for a nanny (even though in laws live only 7 min away, they are only there for emergencies and not routine child care). You can totally manage internship and child- but obviously every family is different, and while my in laws would have made me insane, yours may be totally supportive and be more understanding of how hard your job is if they see you stumble in post call.


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