Years ago, I wrote this blog post about morning routines and how much I adored my "slow" non-workday mornings. I was in the midst of a 3-year IVF journey, but I wasn't pregnant yet. A friend of mine, who at the time had a small baby, laughingly said in response, "That sounds blissful, but wait until you have kids!"
So what's my routine like now? It's still a bimodal scenario: as a part-time anesthesiologist, the morning "routine" varies dramatically depending on whether or not I'm headed to the hospital. On a morning when I don't have to work, the old way I described of waking up to the natural dawn of the sun is a thing of the past. In contrast, many of my mornings start with my two year old daughter either crying or yelling, "Mommy!" I stumble into her room, change her diaper and make her bed/assess for any damage that might have occurred in the nighttime. I may or may not have been in there multiple times during the night prior to the actual wake up. We head out to the kitchen and immediately take our vitamins (me and her), drink a large glass of milk (her) and make a large cup of coffee (me). I tap dance around my husband in the kitchen, which despite being adequately sized, feels like we are bumping into each other constantly. Here's where the "slow" part comes in: we have a little time to chill, play, hug, talk, etc. Eventually we make a breakfast, usually eggs +/- bacon. Once the sun comes over the mountains, we take the dog for a walk to the park.
Those last steps are especially important to me, since I definitely don't make food on my workdays. In fact, on those days I have no idea what my daughter actually eats for breakfast. One thing that has really helped to smooth over my (sometimes rough, always rushed) workday mornings with a baby and a husband with his own agenda has been to hire what I call our Morning Nanny-Taxi. This person comes to our house at 6 AM, plays and takes care of our daughter, gets her ready for the day, and then drops her off at her daycare/preschool at 8 AM (she only goes on my workdays and a smattering of random other days). I've found that this is well worth the market price for 2 hours of service by a driving babysitter. Amazingly, there are people who will do this! Many of the people I've interviewed for this position have another job that is either part time or has a later start time. The few wonderful women we've hired so far were found through websites such as Sitter City and Care.com. (Note: I am in no way affiliated with these sites but have used them successfully to get good babysitters. I would also offer the opinion that Sitter City's pool of applicants seem more suited to random and part-time work as opposed to Care, which tends to have more applicants for regular or full-time nanny work.) While our household is very often awake prior to 6 AM, I don't have to leave for work on my workdays until 6:30. This little half-hour buffer gives me a small chunk of uninterrupted time to get ready, which I now relish just as much as my old pre-baby slow mornings.
You can find mommy blogs and parenting books everywhere that stress the importance of a consistent, daily routine in children's lives. Important for what? My daughter seems to be doing fine despite our undulating schedule. With complicated call schedules and specialties that rely on shift-type work structures, I'm sure I'm not the only mother failing at the routine game. And what about double-doc families? More than one child? Large age ranges? The complexity multiplies...
How do you deal with mornings?
Thursday, June 14, 2018
Thursday, March 22, 2018
How do you fit your "mommy time" in?
I love residency. I love what I do, love my work colleagues, and am so thankful for my attendings and program director. I could not have imagined a more supportive community.
One thing I'm grappling with right now is keeping any sort of structure for my kids when I am at home. When I am at work, the house runs like clockwork. My husband gets them to school on time, the nanny has them fed, brushed, bathed, and in bed by 7:30. No fuss, no problem.
But when I'm around, it's chaos. And not the controlled choreographed chaos of the ED. It's pure, unpredictable, chaos. For example, this morning, all before getting to school by 845 (very late- they start 745), my daughter "ran away" from home down the block, the kids put on a puppet show, everyone ate pancakes, and only then did we start getting ready for school.
As an EM resident, my schedule is varied. I work a lot of later day shifts (10-10) or mid shifts (2-2) and at least 2 full weekends a month. I usually average about 1 dinner/bedtime/bathtime home a week. During that night, we try to fit in all the homework for the week, I try to hear all the stories about their friends, cuddle time, book time, story time, song time, just-be-with-mommy time. Needlessly to say, bedtime gets substantially pushed off. On the mornings when I'm home before shift, I'm usually exhausted, but, as I have not seen them for 2 or 3 nights already, we morning cuddle, make pancakes, read books, play dress up, etc. Trying to fit all this "mommy" time into the 1 hour or so between wake up and school is impossible. So we are late. Consistently.
I know that once they are older, getting to school on time will be more important, but it's been a challenge to balance between maximizing every second I get to be home with them with sticking to a routine. Some days are better than others, but I'd love any tips!
How do you maximize quality time when you don't have the quantity time to give? How do you balance discipline/structure with just enjoying their company?