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Lives of Doctor Wives: I couldn’t have survived medical school and now residency without practicing these simple steps

Friday, July 4, 2014

I couldn’t have survived medical school and now residency without practicing these simple steps

Having three kids under age four and a husband in PGY2 is no small feat. Some days, life is awesome. My DrH actually gets to come home when he says he will, helps with the kids, cleans up after dinner and gives me a foot rub while we watch TV. We call these “Golden Days” and we savor them. But more often than not, life is a struggle.

I could write a book on why savoring the Golden Days will save your sanity and marriage, but I think that point is fairly universally understood. What isn’t universal is how to cope with the crappy days; because no two people’s crappy days are the same. Here is the advice I’ve learned so far (and wish I would have gotten earlier in this journey!).

Your DrH would rather be at home. Yes, he’s gone all the time. But he’d rather be at home with you than at work. That’s just the way of things. His constant absence from your life isn’t because he doesn’t like you; it’s because he likes you enough to provide for you. (I know that we all know this. But as women, we’re emotional beings and have to remind ourselves to be rational about things!)
Learn To Be Independent. I finally found happiness and sanity in this crazy life of residency when I realized that I needed to implement and adhere to a schedule, regardless of my DrH’s schedule. At first, I’d let the kids stay up until 10pm to see Daddy. But the next day we’d all be cranky and irritable. Yes, putting the kids to bed at 8pm means they may go several days without seeing their dad. But it also means that they’re respectful, kind, easy to get along with and much less prone to temper tantrums during the 12+ hours I’m with them. If my husband happened to come home early, we consider it a happy surprise and we’re all overjoyed. If not, at least I know that tomorrow won’t be Grouch City.

Recharge Your Batteries. Walk the aisles of target. Lock yourself in your bedroom and paint your toenails while chatting with a friend. Go out to dinner with your mom. Whatever gets you out of the house and away from the kids; away from the dishes in the sink and the Mount Everest sized pile of laundry for a few hours. When you return to face reality, you’ll feel recharged, refreshed and reenergized to tackle the tasks at hand.

Take breaks. Let the dishes sit for a few hours. Skip that project you’d planned on getting done today. The way to enjoy your kids is by getting on the floor and playing with them. Even the best laid plans of educational play, sensory exploration or science lessons devolve into tickle fights and indoor soccer. But it’s the tickle fights that they’ll remember anyway, so let it slide. That being said:
Pick Your Battles. With your husband and kids, especially. If the problem will go away by a change of your attitude, then let it go. There are so many real problems, so many bigger fish to fry, that the little stuff has to be ignored. Recognize also that one person’s mountain is another’s molehill. What is unacceptable behavior to you may be par for the course for someone else. Only you can decide which hills you’re willing to die on.

Have Sex. Often. And with gusto. It’s a great stress reliever and brings you closer as a couple. It’s easy to forget to be intimate when you’re both so exhausted, but it’s important to schedule one on one “Mommy and Daddy Time”.

Act As A Team. I tell my three year old “We’re all on the same team. We’re Team Westbrook and we cheer for each other.”. On occasion, I’ve had to remind my DrH that I’m on his team. We’re stronger together than we are apart, and neither of us could function as we do now without the other. He’s gone all day working so that I can raise the kids and run the house. I run the house and raise the kids so he can be at work all day to both advance his career and provide for the family. We’re equal partners on the same team, working toward the same goal.

Be Kind. Really, is there anything more simple and yet more important? Stress is so quickly accompanied by short tempers, which can lead to compounding the problem. As I tell my children: it’s important to be kind, even when you don’t feel like it. Being snotty (while satisfying at times) serves no purpose. You’d be amazed what a difference being polite will make. I’m still working on this one!

There you go, ladies. I hope this advice hits home with some of you! These are the things that I’ve had to learn in my 5 years of marriage. I couldn’t have survived medical school and now residency without practicing these simple steps! Good luck! -Jackie Westbrook

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Blogger Lindsey said...

Great advice, thanks :)

July 15, 2014 at 12:45 PM  

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