No matter their jobs or ambitions, nearly all parents need to work hard to maintain work/life balance. This can be even more difficult when working to balance parenting with the demands of medical school. The good news is, many parents have taken on the challenge before and managed to take care of children while pursuing their education. Here are a few of the tips that have helped many moms make it work:
Create a solid support system.
Many parents have or raise children while pursuing their education. Find the people in your classes who are also parents. You can share stories, help one another with childcare, and just offer support when things are challenging.
Many parents miss out on late night or weekend events with other medical students. Instead of feeling left out, seek out or host family-friendly activities with your classmates. When there are barbecues or swim parties, go with your family so that you can enjoy time with them, and they can meet the people who you are studying with.
Get Creative with the Practical Necessities
A supportive significant other is a must, as well. When you are raising children while attending medical school, you will need to let go of traditional ideas about who does what job. Both parents need to chip in when available to assure that everything gets done. You should both be familiar with your child's schedule and know who to call to arrange doctor's appointments, play dates, and more.
Be sure that you communicate with one another about what is needed during the week and who can be available and on call for the kids' needs. Talk to one another when you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed so that you both feel secure and well-supported.
Make sure that you have multiple backups for childcare. A regular sitter may become ill or go out of town. Even professional daycare centers can have occasional issues. Find out if there is a sick child drop in daycare available for those days when your little one is ill but you still must make it to class.
Give yourself time off to focus on family.
Carve out time each week that is specifically family time. During this time, you should relax and focus completely on your spouse and kids. This time spent connecting can help strengthen your bonds and ensure that you aren't missing important milestones while you are busy with school.
After your time spent giving full attention to the family side of your life, you'll be recharged and ready to dive back into studies.
You'll also find that as you being med school and meet fellow students in your program that you will quickly have a new support system in place from the friendships you've formed. These new relationships, with people who can relate to your responsibilities, can keep you anchored during the most hectic and challenging times in your medical studies.
Do not feel like you have to do everything.
Very few parents, even ones who are not taking on the challenge of med school, are not up to making Pinterest-ready lunches and throwing birthday parties that look like they belong in magazines. As long as your children are fed, clothed and loved, they are getting enough from you. There is no one standard for how to raise children, and you need to make decisions based on what you want and what you realistically can do.
This can be difficult for the sort of driven individual who makes it into a medical program. Accepting that good enough is good enough will give you peace when you are feeling like you are not doing enough or not being a perfect parent or student.
It is important to periodically re-evaluate aspects of your personal and professional life. Children need different levels and kinds of care and attention as they get older, which can mean some changes in your routines. If your spouse changes jobs or if the commitments at a current job change, that may require some adjustments at home. Discuss who will take care of carpooling and other commitments if your child starts a new after school activity or when your child makes the move from pre-school to kindergarten and elementary school.
Throughout the course of your studies, there will be challenges that are unique to moms. Know that others have worked through the same things before and that you are capable of making it all work.
Are we able to get any of our students or graduates to comment? We have candidates that are Moms and Dads, married and single.
About the Author
Stacy Meyer is the VP of Enrollment at Trinity School of Medicine. A fully accredited Caribbean Medical School, Trinity is located in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Students graduating from Trinity are authorized to take part in the United States Medical Licensing Examinations. To learn more visit www.trinityschoolofmedicine.org.