Thursday, August 3, 2017

What is the longest you have been away from your kids?

I posted this question on my local mom's Facebook page, and answers were either never, or 3-5 days. The exception being one mom who left for 2 months to do field research. She describes the experience as horrible. So basically I didn't get the external validation I was looking for. I am about to start medical school and am thinking ahead to away rotations, as well as being heavily involved in our large Global Health program, which requires 4-6 weeks away two separate times.

So what about you mamas? How long have you been away? Was it for work, school, pleasure? How did you manage? How did you feel about it? Would you do it again?

14 comments:

  1. My kid has been away from me for a month during the summers. I'm sure that feels different to her. The longest I've been away on travel is 10 days, and it was never a problem for me or for her. I took my first trip when she was a few months old (I wasn't breast-feeding). I never minded leaving her; during the toddler years, I actually looked forward to it! If kids have a stable routine and stable caregiver (the other parent, or a grandparent, or a good friend) they will be fine.

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    1. Thanks for sharing! So refreshing to hear a positive experience. And I definitely understand looking forward to time away during toddler years.

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  2. A woman in my residency routinely sends her kids to her parents to take care of them when she's on a difficult rotation or she has a childcare emergency, often for several weeks at a time. You do what you need to do and try to be grateful you have the option. My advice is to stop looking for external validation. Are your kids taken care of? Yes. Do you miss them? Of course. It's going to be hard but you can do it if it needs to be done.

    Ps there are several male fellows who don't live in the same region of the country as their wives and kids, and only see them once every couple of months. I highly doubt the are on the internet looking for approval from random strangers.

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    1. Yes, I almost brought up the male and female discrepancy on this topic, but that's another long post. I still would absolutely love to hear how other moms are doing it, and what has worked for them and their family.

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    3. You should totally write a post on that.

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    4. That said, how does your partner feel about it, assuming he/she would be the one taking on the childcare responsibilities? I don't know how old your kids are, but if my husband suggested he might leave me with them alone for 4-6 weeks I would not be very thrilled about it. (Shorter periods of time, like 1-2 weeks, wouldn't bother me so much).

      There's an interesting book by Tiffany Dufu called "Drop the Ball" that you might be interested in - she's an executive and her husband while career-building spent time abroad, leaving her with two young kids. They dealt with it well and found ways to keep him very involved (and also gave her time to focus on her career later, taking the kids by himself to Africa for a summer). I say if your partner is supportive (like truly feels fine being in charge for that length of time - and again this is NOT meant to be a gendered comment; I would write the exact same thing if you were a Father In Medicine) and you really want to go, GO!

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  3. everyone is different. do what works for you and your family. as long as the kids have a caregiver they know and trust (grandparent, your spouse/partner/co-parent, nanny) they will miss you but they will be fine. the longest i have left my kids for was 3 weeks when my husband and i went on a safari. it was a lifelong dream for my husband and there wasnt likely to be another time where we could both take off 3 weeks in the forseeable future so we did it. and it was amazing. and we didnt regret it for a second. and my kids were so so happy at their grandparents (and ate so much junk food that a sugar habit was born that hasnt left 3 years later) if you feel like global health is an essential and important part of your medical career then travel and afventure is part of your family's story. own it. you deserve it. and your kids deserve a mother who doesnt begrudge her choices later in life.

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  4. everyone is different. do what works for you and your family. as long as the kids have a caregiver they know and trust (grandparent, your spouse/partner/co-parent, nanny) they will miss you but they will be fine. the longest i have left my kids for was 3 weeks when my husband and i went on a safari. it was a lifelong dream for my husband and there wasnt likely to be another time where we could both take off 3 weeks in the forseeable future so we did it. and it was amazing. and we didnt regret it for a second. and my kids were so so happy at their grandparents (and ate so much junk food that a sugar habit was born that hasnt left 3 years later) if you feel like global health is an essential and important part of your medical career then travel and afventure is part of your family's story. own it. you deserve it. and your kids deserve a mother who doesnt begrudge her choices later in life.

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  5. We went on a cruise when our kids were 3 and 1 and were gone for 9 days, I think. It was fine. They were with grandpa and grandma. =)

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  6. My two kids (ages 3 and 1) are right now spending a week with my parents out of state. They are having the best time! I am realizing how important such times are for them to bond with a set of grandparents they don't see as often (and my parents certainly love the time with them), while also giving my husband and me some breathing room and the chance for uninterrupted study time (Step 3 in 2 weeks!) Thst being said, I've had other times, particularly during medical school and intern year, when I HATED being away from my kids. I resented my attendings, my school/program, even my patients for taking me away from the two little people I wanted to be with more than anything else. I almost quit multiple times, but kept going because in the grand scheme of things, I knew the kids were well-cared for and that the benefits of continuing outweighed the costs. And now that I am a PGY-2 resident,done with all my prelim rotations and fully immersed in my specialty of choice, I find it much less difficult to be away from the kids. Part of that is having a saner schedule than many parts of med school and intern year, part of it is doing what I actually like during the work day rather than slogging through required rotations in other areas, and part of it is taking better care of myself physically, emotionally and spiritually, which helps me to weather the more difficult moments. I guess what I mean to say is, with all this rambling, you may feel better or worse about being away from your kids at different times in medical school and residency. Remember that nothing in this period is permanent - 4 weeks later you'll be onto a new rotation, and one day it will be all done and you'll be more in control of your schedule and work/life balance. And I agree that external validation is not worth much - every working parent has their own reasons for why they do what they do, and it's your reasons that matter for you and your family.

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  7. When I first filed for divorce I didn't realize I would lose my kids half the summer and had near panic attacks and insomnia that whole summer - felt I needed to be there for them more and hired someone to take care of them while they were at my ex's and she would bring them to work to see me a couple of times a week. That's when they were younger, and divorce is a different issue, but having a now stable household x 2 I have spent many weeks without my kids. It has gotten easier as they are older. They do fine. If your partner works and can't handle it alone look for support for him. I see how it makes my kids more resilient and independent to figure out how to handle different caregivers. They learn more lessons and see different points of view. I say figure out what works for you and go for it!

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  8. I know plenty of women who have been away from their children (of all ages) for up to six months at a time, multiple times. They are regular force army, so they deploy when they have to. They, and their children, seem perfectly fine. In fact their children are among some of the best behaved and happiest children I know.

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  9. 6 months was the longest and it was for a deployment. Multiple shorter 2, 3 and 4 week deployments too. With good family support it is doable. 6 months had some lasting anxiety impacts on one but the shorter ones were never bad on the kids. Hard to be away but some focused work time is good too. I think you should be able to make away rotations work out ok

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