Meet my friend and mentor Caroline Fausel, blogger of yummy clean food recipes at OliveYouWhole.com. We met through a mutual friend and our love for clean living inside and out. She is the wife to Chaz who completed a residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and is currently in a Regenerative Medicine fellowship. They have two kids and are such a power couple! Love how she is open in this post about the challenges they faced and what made it better.
When you are the spouse of someone in medical school, trying to figure out some semblance of balance in your life can be challenging at best! Really, this is a struggle for anyone with a spouse who either works a ton, has an irregular or unpredictable schedule, or… both.
Let me give you a little bit of our backstory: Chaz and I got married right after I graduated from the University of Georgia. Our “Plan” was to wait until after his fellowship year (yes, the one he’s currently finishing seven years later) to start a family. That didn’t go as planned, and six weeks after our wedding day we were pregnant! Then, to make matters even more interesting, our sweet Ella was born at thirty weeks. So, if you do the math, we had a baby EIGHT months after our wedding day. Yep.
Ella was born during Chaz’s 3rd year of medical school (Chaz and I are a little over a year apart but he was 2 years in school ahead). Despite that not in the slightest being our plan, it actually was pretty great timing in terms of his schooling. When she was old enough to know what was going on, during his 4th year, he got to be around a LOT more! That was a really sweet time.
I want to share with you some of the strategizes we imposed to get through the extra long hours, and how I balanced being a Mom, working from home, and being the wife of a medical student.
Ways I Survived Medical School and Residency as a Medical Spouse
Ok, that title sounds pretty dramatic. Let me first point out the obvious: Medical School and Residency is at least ninety billion times harder for the person in medical school than it is for the spouse. But that still doesn’t change the fact that being a medical spouse comes along with its own set of challenges. I’m sharing with you the challenges we faced, and what made it better!
1.Make Your Own Plans
Something we did pretty poorly at the beginning was simply doing our own thing! Because Chaz had SUCH little time to spend with us, I really wanted to be sure any time he had we got to spend with him. With the uncertainty of when Chaz would get off work (it could be 5 pm, it could be 2am), we would sit around. And wait.
This got really, really old.
Eventually, for our own sanity, we figured out that we had to make our own plans! If Chaz could join, amazing! If he couldn’t, at least we had something to do! This saved us from the dilemma of sitting on the couch doing absolutely nothing but waiting. It also helped me not unnecessarily blame Chaz for being at work late (see #3).
2. Create Your Own Community
Because being in Medical School and/ or Residency takes up nearly ALL of your time, there’s not a ton of time for much else, including friends. Especially because your time is so unpredictable, it’s hard to make plans. Even when you do, there’s a good chance you’ll have to stay later than anticipated and cancel said plans.
For that reason, I had to be the one that really made the effort to form a community for both me, Ella, and Chaz (and later Owen!). Honestly, I’m naturally the more outgoing one, and I love meeting new friends! That made this role for me easier.
In every city we’ve been in, we quickly found a church we loved. Then I got plugged in with as many ministries I could! Moms ministry, a small group, etc. Finding like minded people who are willing to help support our family is super important to us! That was a huge help during these seasons, and really any season!
These friends were also suuuuper accommodating of our weird lifestyle. I would make plans with them, and would let them know that at the last minute we may bring Chaz, too! Or there may be times we needed to cancel, etc. This is SO not like me, so it was a hard road learning to be super flexible AND learning to communicate that.
Since I had worked hard to forge some great friendships for us, it was such a blessing when Chaz could join us! He benefited from having a strong community and support system, too.
3. Don’t Blame Your Spouse
As mentioned above, someone in medical school has long, often unpredictable work schedules. One thing I regrettably did in the beginning of our marriage was blame Chaz when he wasn’t home when it was anticipated. (I know, I know, it’s terrible). It can be so easy to fall into this pattern, though!
It can feel as though he is not being true to his word… But if he thinks he will be able to leave around 5, then is backed up, has patients that are late, is behind on dictations, or whatever it is, and can’t leave until 9pm, is that his fault? Nope.
Trust me, he also wants to get home and see you and your family as soon as is humanly possible, too!
When I shifted my mindset and tried really hard to be understanding of Chaz’s situation and be grateful when he got home, whenever it was, SO much changed in our relationship.
4. Make Time for Just YOU
If you have kids and work from home, I would highly suggest finding at least some schooling for your little ones! Ella has been in a preschool since she was one! She’s super outgoing and has always loved school.
Especially during Medical School, when your spouse isn’t getting paid yet, it can feel overwhelming thinking about shelling out money for childcare. But it’s pretty incredible how much you can get done in even a short amount of time without a baby on your hip or a toddler standing at your feet constantly saying, “Up, Mama!”
It may feel like a huge cost, BUT I would suggest you’ll make it up and then some by having that dedicated time to churn out some work!
This dedicated work time for me has always made the balance so much easier! There is time that is dedicated to WORK. After that time is up, the afternoons are dedicated to KIDS. Then when Chaz gets home from work, that time is dedicated to FAMILY. When the kids go to bed those couple of hours before we go to bed ourselves is dedicated to CHAZ. Those times are so cut and dry, that the ever-elusive balance seems attainable and sustainable.
And regardless of if you work from home or not, dedicating some solid time for you to relax and refresh is of the utmost importance. I literally tell every single woman this! Find out the things that bring you SO much joy, and make time for those things. Things that fill up my cup: a women’s only small group, worship, solid time in prayer, taking HOT baths with Epsom salts, yoga, hiking, getting my nails done… The list could go on so I’ll stop there!
What are some ways that you’ve found balance between work, family, and your spouse? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
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