Parenting Work

Call Week Check In

November 16, 2022

At work, I’ve been mostly cheerful.

I really don’t mind hospital work. I like feeling useful to other teams as a consultant. I have a sweet and engaged resident working with me, which is fun. Thus far, I haven’t gotten behind on notes and it definitely helps that I don’t have to rush home like I did when the kids were younger and our nanny’s day stared earlier.

It has also been incredibly refreshing to focus on call without the pull of GME or other leadership responsibilities. I am not sure I understood how much they added to the melee of those weeks, but I am glad to be able to just have one focus.

At home, I’ve been a basket case.

My ideal call lifestyle would be zero parenting duties. This is neither logical nor feasible. It’s not even that call takes THAT much out of me. It’s more of a mental load/mild ever-present anxiety thing that leaves me in a mode that makes parenting very challenging. The kids sense it, and I’m testy with them, and they’re testy back. It’s a loop!

Josh is generally patient with this but there are limits. (Also, he doesn’t fully understand my call stress because his job is objectively harder. There is zero debate about this — it totally is! For example, he was operating between 10p – 12a last night and he wasn’t even on call!! But his crazy job doesn’t make me feel more settled and less stressed about my own during call weeks.)

ANYWAY. It’s not too late to notice this and regroup.

Today is Wednesday, day 3/7. I am going to try to just notice the struggles I had over the past two days and move on. I believe I can do better and there is no reason not to try. Onward!

(Many) kid happenings:

  • Annabel moved up a level in gymnastics. It had been a goal for her and it made me proud to see her sticking with something consistently.
  • Cameron’s soccer is still super late. He still really likes it. However, Josh and our nanny are planning to do most of the driving/sideline sitting and he is mastering the post-practice 5 minute shower + bed routine so it’s doable. For now.
  • The big kids are . . . having second thoughts about camp. It seemed like they were really happy last summer but one in particular is adamant about not going back all of the sudden. I am feeling weirdly disappointed about it but also conflicted on how much to push. (If they don’t go to sleep away, they will definitely be going to local day camps. But I did feel like the 4 weeks of relative independence and intense outdoor time was good for them.)
  • The hamster is getting a lot of love and attention but we have some work to do to tame it!
  • I got registration forms for school next year already – it was so weird to see forms for MIDDLE SCHOOL for A!!! AHHHH! And Cameron will move into Upper Elementary which is also rather mind-blowing.
  • I’m supposed to make pumpkin bars for a school Thanksgiving event this weekend. Anyone have a fantastically easy recipe?

Well. That’s a lot. (And I left some things out that are not blogworthy!). This time of year is a lot!

Pix from last weekend’s farm bday party:

feeding goats
first time riding a pony!


  • Reply istudymemory November 16, 2022 at 7:07 am

    I have several friends who went through the uncertain before returning to sleep away kid discussions and all of them had a great time. I assume part of this is just uncertainty that’s exacerbated by what happened with the pandemic. If you think they’re getting good life lessons and you know that they’re safe, I think it’s okay to push for them to go again. Our brains are a lot better at remembering negative events and outshadowing the positive so that might be playing a role as well. Maybe there was a day that they got in a fight with a friend and that’s where they’re stuck. You are not a monster if you put down the deposit.

    On the call stress, one thing that stayed with me from the how to stop losing your you know what with your kids book, was the multitasking was a pretty sure way to end up losing it. Sounds like call week is a giant multitask when you’re home so be gentle with yourself, please.

  • Reply Grateful Kae November 16, 2022 at 7:48 am

    Wishing you a smooth rest of call week. I think it’s pretty normal to feel a bit testy by evening after a full day. My older son last night declared, “Mom is always crabby after about 5:30.” HA. Whoops… gold star parent over here. And I wasn’t on call!!! What can I say.

    About camp, that’s a really tough one. I sometimes have mixed feelings on how much I always trust my kids’ judgment on certain things, just because they aren’t always able to zoom out and see the “big picture view”. BUT, and this may just be me, but I can totally see how 4 weeks away from home (1/12 of the year!) might not be for everyone. I know I would NOT have wanted to do that as a middle school aged kid, just because I loved my summers at home with my friends/ activities so much. And, that camp sounds very very very $$$…. so I guess I’d make sure it was really worth it, if I were going to invest that much in it. Don’t you also have a pretty long vacation planned for next summer? So that means kids will be gone for over 6 weeks in total, right, during their summer time off? Then again, sleepaway camp is a very cool experience! Couldn’t you find just like a local weeklong sleep away camp? That’s what my boys have done and it has felt like a perfect length, I think. Good luck- probably not a cut and dried answer on this one! 🙂

  • Reply Brooke November 16, 2022 at 7:59 am

    Comparison helps no one. Just because Josh’s job is “harder” does not invalidate the stress you feel during call week. We are all different and we process stress differently. I get very thrown when my plans are changed, and changes to schedule don’t bother my husband at all. I imagine we’d deal with call very very differently if that was part of our job. It’s taken both of us a long time to accept that we are different in this way. You are mindful and consistently taking steps to reduce the stress and deal in a productive way. It’s is ok that a VUCA* week is challenging.

    *VUCA = volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity

  • Reply Coree November 16, 2022 at 8:29 am

    Oof, call week sounds horrible. I flew in this am and my husband and I sat down for a summit over lunch to talk through life logistics and travel plans for the rest of the year through September 2023 (when his holiday allocation resets). I feel like I have a better handle on things, whilst simultaneously being salty that we likely won’t get a proper family vacation until October (Legoland Denmark).

  • Reply Elisabeth November 16, 2022 at 10:50 am

    You have an intense life – no comparison needed!!

    I have no idea what is right for your kids, but I truly HATED camp. I was only away for one week each summer and your kids seemed to thrive last year for their 4 weeks, but for what it’s worth, I would feel sick for a month before camp each summer. EVERY YEAR. For YEARS. I verbalized it a bit to my parents, but also felt like it was something I was supposed to love. But it was so awful for me (an introvert and where I went most people knew each other so I felt left out). It was all a HORRIBLE experience and I told my husband that I would never, ever force my kids to do sleepaway camp if they didn’t want to (my daughter loves it, but there is 0 chance of me forcing her because of my experience). I was so relieved when I got to an age where I had a choice/aged out? Can’t remember exactly what happened but one summer I eventually stopped going and it was amazing.

    I’ve made these Pinch of Yum pumpkin bars a few times to rave reviews:

  • Reply TAS November 16, 2022 at 11:08 am

    Could you arrange some FaceTime calls with some favorite camp friends?

  • Reply Cindy November 16, 2022 at 11:59 am

    Love your site. Have been a reader since before your firstborn…. We have 3 in their 30’s. One went to U of M med school right before you moved to FL. I so enjoyed visiting SouthBeach when he was a student….. Reading about sleep away camp and there are many to choose from. I am sure you have looked into the many available. My only opinion is if one of yours does not want to return…. Lean in. These camps are good camps however not always. Take a pause and research the reason as one of ours was for sure in a wrong camp… changed it up and took a different direction. Your 3 are beautiful… take care. Thank you for the blog.

  • Reply Irena November 16, 2022 at 12:48 pm

    I agree that it is not a work per se but combination with the parenting duties that make it exhausting. As a Scientist, i work on a lot of grant proposals, and some of them come with very tight deadlines. My wish if I could go away lets say for a week or at least 2-4 days before the deadline and just focus on my writing, and don’t get interrupted by the kids’ activities, dinner times, and bedtimes. I can hear you there!
    My motto is to learn how to let it go: Last weekend i was a solo parent, and we had a blast on Saturday, when I took both kids to the pool, organized a painting session at home, did our laundry, gave them healthy food, etc. But on Sunday I got us a Pumpkin pie from the Village inn, and said that Mommy needs to work and focus for a good part of the day, so the pumpkin pie would be their breakfast and lunch, self-served, and off i went to my office in the basement leaving them to their devices for longer then ever desired.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns November 16, 2022 at 3:09 pm

    Last week my older son said, “Mom you are fussy.” I thought that was pretty funny. I guess he got used to hearing us say his younger brother was fussy when he was a baby. I had a rough evening on Friday for a confluence of reasons and it was apparent to everyone, including the kids.

    But ugh, operating from 10-12 sounds awful! I am so not cut out for that kind of role. I need my sleep!

  • Reply Irene November 16, 2022 at 6:51 pm

    I completely lost my temper this morning due to a combination of work stress and kid stress (including worry about the kid I yelled at! Why can I not stop that?) I felt terrible nosocomial the day. I am regretting certain commitments that are making me more stressed than I’m comfortable with. Tbh my husband works a lot more than I do (not operating but he’s working until midnight sometimes!) and frankly working a lot but knowing someone else will make everything work seems a lot easier to me! I’m the parent who is simultaneously needing to deal with two or three things at any given time with kid issues bleeding into the workday and work bleeding into the evenings (because I can’t get it all done during the day) and it’s just really hard. I say that as someone who has worked really long hours in the past. I don’t know if that’s your situation exactly but I think comparing how hard people’s situation is with your own is just impossible. My husband had a crazy day of work and travel not long and he straight up said he would find it harder to be solely responsible for our kids with all their needs. Anyway just wanted to say you feel what you feel and all you can do is keep trying to make your situation work for you. Good luck!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger November 16, 2022 at 7:36 pm

      awwwww 100% get it. solidarity!

    • Reply Amanda November 17, 2022 at 6:45 am

      Yes! I started to post to say something similar. This really resonates. My husband works late into the night, but never worries about being responsible for handling things at home while he’s at work. I do call as well and feel similar to what you’re sharing.

      Congrats to A!

  • Reply Shelly November 17, 2022 at 7:54 am

    I would find the unpredictability of a call week hard. I don’t have control of when the classes I teach are scheduled. I work at a teaching college so (no research) and I usually have 4 to 5 courses a semester and waiting to find out what my days will look like, knowing I also look after all the logistics for the kids, etc is a lot. I think a call week sounds like that. Not being able to have control over your week (when calls happen, being available) would be a challenge with your lover of planning. Being gentle as suggested and also allow yourself to feel the discontent and that it is ok to feel that way.

  • Reply Ashley G November 17, 2022 at 8:29 am

    I made those last year and they were a big hit and quite easy.

    Also, I went to one sleepaway camp as a kid. I was around 11 and I still shudder thinking about it. Not that anything particularly bad happened, but as an introverted kid (but still very social), being forced to sleep and interact with wall to wall strangers for days on end was just….ugh.

  • Reply Megan Jacoby November 17, 2022 at 1:03 pm

    Hang in there, Sarah! I was in Key Largo last week (and then heard that you and Laura were too – my mind would have been blown if I had seen you!). I had some okay key lime pie, but I wondered if you could post the recipe that you’re making 3 of for going to your in-laws? It sounds like you have a really good recipe!

  • Reply Jenn N November 17, 2022 at 8:46 pm

    Hmmm the camp thing is interesting! I am super biased but I went to sleep away camps in my preteen years and I didn’t think I hated them at the time…but many not great childhood memories happened there, I’ve discovered with the help of a therapist lol. Nothing super traumatic, but I did not like the feeling of having “no control” over my schedule, food, chores, etc., I had a sleepwalking problem there (possibly from the anxiety?) and no alone time either. I know some people that looooove camp but it was not for me! Did you do sleep away camps and enjoy them?

  • Reply Marie November 17, 2022 at 9:56 pm

    Could this count as a pumpkin bar? Two ingredients!

  • Reply DoingWhatICan November 18, 2022 at 10:26 am

    I find that I’m either doing excellent at home or amazing at work- but never at the same time. When I’m doing fabulous at one, I’m doing just OK at the other. I’ve never managed to rule at both at the same time. This is fine. There’s only so much mental capacity.

  • Reply neuromd November 21, 2022 at 3:42 pm

    Despite your comment about Josh’s job, there is something uniquely stressful about pediatric medicine. People don’t expect kids to get seriously ill and people also expect sick kids to bounce back quickly, so the communication skills and sensitivity it takes are a whole level higher than in adult medicine, I think. For example, when I did adult neurology as a resident, the attendings never came in on weekends or nights to talk to families, but as child neurology attending, I am expected to talk to families directly.

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