From my perspective right now, life is all about finding balance. Finding a balance between work and play, rest and physical activity and even eating healthy foods and treats. Finding this equilibrium isn’t always easy, especially as a spouse of a doctor in training. I find the home scales have been tipped, and with one partner frequently absent I need to find new balance on uneven ground.
I’ve put together some tips to keep you in balance during the tougher times throughout the training. These are things that helped me find my centre in this lifestyle.
Have realistic expectations.
Know that much of the time- training, patients, meetings, studying and conferences will take up so much of your partner’s time, sometimes there’s little left for the family. If you are prepared for this, you can organise your life accordingly to what you can cope with yourself, and any time your partner is home for evenings or weekends it’s an added bonus.
Have honest short term and long term goals.
Set aside some time to talk these through with your partner. Even though it can be very unpredictable, it’s good know the possibilities that lay ahead. Have something small to look forward to every day. Yes, every day. Even if it’s just, at the end of the day, after the kids are in bed, sitting and watching your favourite show, reading a good book or planning a family holiday (yes, the do happen occasionally).
Organise a nanny, family member or child care so you can regularly attend sports activities or classes you enjoy, or go back to part time work. Even if it’s just help for a few hours in the evening when it’s the busiest time of the day with the kids, it can really help. If money is tight, don’t be afraid to say ‘yes’ to any help that new friends and neighbours may offer. Say yes to the help to pick up your kids from school or play date, say yes to the home cooked dinner or the baked goods. There is only so much time and energy you have each day, and doing it all yourself can make you end up feeling depleted and resentful.
Don’t suffer in silence.
Talk to your partner if things are getting too much. See what you can organise to change together. Talk to professionals. There are many networks and organisations in Australia and New Zealand that offer counselling and support to medical spouses. ADSN has a database of networks here.
Know that you are not alone and the training is not forever. Even if you have to relocate frequently and have lost your family and friend support networks, there are networks like ADSN, or rural medical clubs that exist to make things a little easier and meet like-minded people.