Friday, August 7, 2015


I love routines. I am the kind of person who is perfectly happy to eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day, while cycling through a handful of choices for dinner. I like knowing what I am going to do, and when, and with whom, and for how long (and then what I am doing afterwards). Not surprisingly, I have found the lack of routine to be one of the most challenging aspects of the clinical years of medical school. As one of my classmates said: "Going through your MS3 year is like having a new job every four weeks". With each new rotation comes a new schedule, new preceptor, and new set of expectations.

One of the perks of the research year sandwiched between my MS3 and MS4 years has been the freedom to set my own schedule - which has meant the freedom to develop a routine for my family. These summer months have been particularly wonderful. I am loving the daily habits my 18-month old daughter and I have developed. In the mornings before daycare drop-off, we go for a walk around the neighborhood. She starts by insisting that she wants to walk, trotting beside me and excitedly pointing to various objects with an exclamation of "diiss?!?" (this), then nodding in agreement ("yah") when I identify them by name. After a few blocks, she puts up her arms for me to carry her - which thankfully doesn't last long (the one-armed toddler carry while pushing the stroller is something of a feat these days). Finally she consents to sit in her stroller, sipping on some milk while we walk to the nearby market or just around the block.

The content of my day may vary (lately including thesis edits, manuscript preparations, half-day clinics, and residency applications), but I know that in the afternoon I'll pick up my daughter from daycare and we'll spend a few hours at the playground or splash zone while we wait for my husband to finish work. In the evenings after dinner, I give her a bath and brush her teeth before settling in for some board books (Corderoy is the current favorite, followed by Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Goodnight Moon, and Machines at Work). Then we turn off the lights, put on some jazz, and snuggle for a few minutes before she falls asleep.

My research year is coming to an end, however, and soon we'll be back to living life four weeks at a time. I'm excited for the rotations I have scheduled for my final year of medical school, but I'm also sad to leave behind the daily rhythm we've developed. With only a few more days of our summer routine left, I'm soaking up as many walks and baths and trips to the park as I can.

Any tips from other MiM's on how to maintain some semblance of a family routine while on busy services or when working long or unpredictable hours?


  1. My husband's schedule was regular and he was the main reason why there was any routine. As a Resident, my schedule was too variable for me to be a regular factor. It sucks and I (like many of my Resident mommy friends) had a lot of guilt. Elective months were awesome for making me feel a part of the family unit but then when inpatient months rolled around, I was MIA again. Life as an Attending is better.

    - get help. If you can, hire a cleaning person
    - get help. Make sure you have some regular babysitters that you feel totally comfortable with
    - make sure to schedule regular family outings and fun times
    - also, schedule regular date days/nights for just you and your spouse

    1. Thanks for your comments and suggestions, Mommabee. Cleaning is definitely low on my list of tasks (even when I do have time!) so if it fits in the budget, I may advocate for that with my husband... I am also lucky that my husband's schedule has more regularity and also flexibility than mine, which makes life much easier. Even though I would love to be the one who does the day care drop-off and pick-up, that won't always be in the cards during training. Your suggestion for scheduling date nights is also a good one - often that's what falls by the wayside when we are busiest, but connecting with my husband and reminding myself that we are on the same team is what keeps everything running!

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  3. Even when I work late, I'm usually at home to participate in part of the bedtime routine, so that happens most days when I'm not on call. We tend to do family focused activities on the weekends too, and try to get in an occasional date afternoon. Otherwise, I have been leaving the rest of the routine to the husband and babysitter.

    1. Thanks for your comment, OMDG! It does seem like having people you can count on consistently, whether they be family members or other childcare providers, is important to maintaining a routine for kids. It's hard (for me, at least) not to be able to participate all the time...but it also makes those times that we can do things as a couple or a family that much more special. I definitely cherish those opportunities more when I'm on a busy rotation.


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