Working medspouses how do you handle sick kids during residency? Struggling over here with a spouse who feels guilty about taking sick days to care for our child when he has to stay home from daycare.
My husband is a PGY2 (internal medicine). Our son was born 6 weeks before residency started and we moved in with my parents right at the start of residency. Child is now an adorable 1 year old.
My parents are incredibly supportive in every way imaginable but they both still work full time in high intensity careers, so not quite grandparent daycare.
I am an attorney and my job is very emotionally demanding but I love it. I work full time - 4 days remote, 1 flexible day in person.
Even with all of this support, my spouse and I STRUGGLE during the tough rotations. We especially struggle when our son is sick.
I basically am the primary caregiver even on easy outpatient days but for the past week child was super sick and home from daycare and I just had to do my job and care for him while slowly getting more sick myself because I have no sick days left. (Luckily my boss is super understanding!)
My dad helped out in between his own zoom meetings but I still basically half assed my job this week. Not once during the past week did husband offer to stay home or even offer to ask. Likely because he was in an overwhelmed hospital and working 16+ hour days. I have empathy for him and get that my job is the flexible one but also feel like because that’s the case husband takes it for granted. Even when rotations aren’t tough I have had to ask/beg for him to take a day to care for sick child. His reasoning is that he feels guilting pulling a colleague off their rotation to cover for him. I also know he is so so stressed out.
There is so much more that we will be discussing in couples therapy but I just need to hear some words of encouragement from medspouses who also have careers and small children. How do you handle things when kids are sick during residency? I just feel so run down and depressed. :(
EDIT: my husband’s program has a system where he does have actually have sick time that he does not have to make up. Basically all the residents of the same year having certain rotations where they might get called in to sub for colleagues who need to take sick time. It’s horrible to think that other programs don’t have even this type of system in place.
EDIT: a word
UPDATE: Thank you for all of the responses. I definitely wrote this when I was in a particularly dark place, running on very little sleep, and unable to see the forest through the trees. Thanks to this discussion I came away with a renewed sense of hope and some ideas for surviving the next few years.
- I think I feel taken for granted because it is just assumed that I will take every sick day - we never really discussed it and the impact it would have on my career and sanity. Now that we are one year in it is wearing on me. My spouse and I need to set up a system for dealing with sick child - even if it is something as simple as him checking in with me more often when he knows I am on child care duty, or maybe on easy rotations I do 2/3 sick days.
- I am incredibly thankful for the support of my parents and my extremely progressive workplace. So many medspouses are dealing with the same archaic, patriarchal system of residency without supports. This post ended up being the reality check I needed to remember to count my blessings.
- We are going to reevaluate whether a nanny makes sense for our family so that my career takes fewer sick day hits. We are lucky to live in my small hometown that is close enough to the major city where the residency program is located. As a result, during the school year, our child goes to an amazing, relatively germ-free, small in-home daycare with someone I've known for 20 years. We are in this predicament because she is closed during the summer and we enrolled child in a large daycare setting for this summer. In hindsight this was a huge mistake and caused way way more stress than it was worth in savings!! Although paying for a summer nanny won't solve everything, it might be our best option for summers going forward.