Daily routines as a resident with children

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    For women who have or had kids during residency, what was your daily morning routine?

    What time did you wake up?

    Change the diapers, dress the kid?

    Drop him off at daycare? Who did the dropping off at daycare?

    Did you consider childcare before making your rank list?

    What time did you get home from work?

    How did your routine change depending on your varying assignments (eg. university hospital, VA, community clinic, inpatient, outpatient etc)

    When did you read?

    I thought that having specifics about the rhythms of life as a resident would be more illuminating than more general advice.


    This question depends very much on what specialty you’re in, what program you’re at, what rotation you’re on… It’s a very difficult question to give any sort of generalizable answer for those reasons.

    FWIW, I can answer from a peds perspective…

    On my inpatient ward months, I typically wake up around 5:15/5:30, nurse the baby and put back down without changing her diaper, quick shower & change, pack the pump parts & lunch, throw breakfast together & put coffee in my travel mug, and head to the hospital sometime between 6-6:30. At times when the service was busier, I sometimes would start pre rounding at home by looking at patients’ charts, etc… We now have an au pair so I literally do not have to worry about getting the kids ready in the AM. I get back anytime between 6 and 8:30pm most of the time on these months. I typically *should* be able to leave between 5-7 3 out of 4 days while on inpatient with 1 out of 4 days as a “late” day when I stay until 8pm… But the days that I leave before 5:30pm are very rare. We live ~5-10 min from the hospital which has been key to actually getting to spend any time with the kiddos.

    During my NICU month, I left my house around 5:30am every morning so adjust the AM times accordingly. I got back closer to 8:30 more than half of the nights on that rotation. On nights, I would leave our house at 6:30pm and wouldn’t get back until 7:45am 3 days of the week and closer to 9am 3 days of the week. During my ED time, our schedule is all over the place and during that rotation, I sometimes would be in charge of the AM routine and getting the kids to school, changing the baby’s diaper/putting clothes on her, etc… but all of that just depending on what hours I had to work. Lastly, during our lone outpatient month, I typically had to be in between 7:30 and 9am (usually 7:30 or 8:30) so would get the kids ready and then our au pair would take the kids to school. I was usually home by 6.

    As for reading… quite honestly, I do little to no reading at home. I read about my patients and try to get a little relevant reading done during my pumping sessions (which have been pretty much once per day or mayyyybe towards the beginning of intern year when my baby was only 6 months, I’d pump a second time following my shift). I do end up writing a lot of notes from home – particularly from the ED, my outpatient month, and my continuity notes. It’s the cost of trying to rush home to get back to my family before everyone goes to bed. Our volume is heavy enough that I feel like this has been sufficient thus far, but as I move my way through residency and get closer to the boards, I think I’ll have to step it up.

    I did not really consider childcare when making my rank list simply because we were at the point with two medical careers that have us leaving quite early and with crazy call schedules, etc… not to mention 3 kids that need very different things to meet their needs if we went the daycare route (elementary school vs. preschool vs. daycare) that we needed a live in who could help with all of that. Plus with 3 kids, 2 of whom would’ve needed full-time care and a third who would need extra hours on top of school AND people to pick up and drop off every day, it was simply not worth it 🙂 (that was the route we went during my third year of med school when we only had 2… it quite honestly, stunk).


    What program you’re in is key as mentioned.

    As a surgical subspecialty resident, I did no essential child care. What that means is that I would help when I was home but my hours were so erratic that I never agreed to do anything as vital as pick up/drop off.

    What time did you wake up? 5am? I was usually at the hospital by 6.

    Change the diapers, dress the kid? Never in the AM. And when BF-ing I wouldn’t wake the kiddo up for a feed when I left unless already awake, but would pump in the car to and from work.

    Drop him off at daycare? Who did the dropping off at daycare? We had essentially a nanny-share and non-medical husband did the drop off. Again, surgical residents = unreliable.

    Did you consider childcare before making your rank list? YES, my top ranked hospital covered 1/2 the fee for emergency back up nanny service, VITAL. Nannies and husbands get sick but you still need to take care of your patients.

    What time did you get home from work? 6/7pm on a good day. We arranged nap and other schedules so that bedtime was 8:30/9 after first years so it was rare, maybe once a week that I missed seeing the kiddos entirely.

    How did your routine change depending on your varying assignments (eg. university hospital, VA, community clinic, inpatient, outpatient etc) On research block I pitched in with the morning routine and drop off. On clinic-only days I usually made it home for dinner. As a senior resident my schedule became more predictable and it was easier to balance a late night with a following early one.

    When did you read? Hahaha. I learned I couldn’t read at home, too busy. I would dictate (taking some work home = getting home earlier to see the family) and look up the next day’s patients after kids asleep and before passing out — husband sometimes had to wake me up mid-dictation! When it came time to study for boards, I took a weekend and checked into a hotel. Reading at home without interruptions was simply impossible.


    I completed my residency in psychiatry last year and had 2 kids during residency (intern and 4th year). I changed my childcare situations to fit my training demands and childcare situation (single vs multiple children, baby vs toddler). I had a live-in nanny for the first year of my first child’s life, transitioned to a daycare / nanny combo, and I now have full-time daycare only for my 2 kiddos. I have received significant help from my husband, also a physician. The following is our plan with the daycare model

    Morning Routine:
    Husband and I wake up 530AM. Husband walks dog and starts coffee while I shower and get myself ready. Pump while eating breakfast. Husband gets oldest child dressed and ready. If baby gets up, will feed pre-pumped bottle milk (early on would breastfeed) OR if baby sleeps in I will wake him up at the last possible minute before I leave and he will receive bottle at daycare. Complete daycare daily progress sheet for baby. Change baby diaper before leaving (baby already dressed for school the night before). Husband and I each carry one kid to the car. I leave the house by 645AM, and I drop off at daycare (down the street from the house). I am on my way to work by 655AM.

    Evening Routine:
    Arrive home around 5pm. Work out. Pick up children between 6-630PM (I usually do pickup because I like to talk to the teachers, sometimes dad does). Husband or I starts dinner depending on who is home first. Share family dinner together and talk about day. Husband gets oldest ready for bed while I give baby a bottle. I clean up the dishes while baby eats. Baby goes to bed (7PM) after diaper and clothes change (I dress him in clothes for school the next day). I prepare bottles / pumping tools for the next day and place used pumping supplies / bottles in dishwasher (I keep 2 sets of each). I complete my bedtime routine with the oldest (book and cuddle time individually with mommy after daddy). Oldest in bed by 8PM. Sometimes do a load of wash but usually spend quality time with husband until bedtime 10pm.

    I considered childcare when making my specialty decision as well as in my rank list.

    How did your routine change with varying assignments?
    I had a live-in nanny in my intern year (nanny did all morning and afternoon child prep, very easy). By 3rd year, I was utilizing full-time daycare due to more flexible hours. Typical hours on most rotations were 730AM-430PM, and I could adjust some changes in time with daycare (daycare hours 630AM-630PM). Intern year there was more call, unpredictable hours, and earlier wake-up that made having a live-in nanny really nice. I closely coordinated with my husband for hours, particularly evening call shifts (we made sure that I moved around my call shifts if they overlapped with his schedule)

    When did you read?
    I tried to read during down time at work. I also would send my kids to daycare half-days on holidays to get caught up on reading so I could enjoy quality afternoon time with the kids without work distraction

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