life Work

Onward and Upward

January 16, 2024

Call week –> in the books!

I made it through. It was definitely on the busier end of the spectrum; I think since it was the first week back to school around here after winter break there was just a lot going on for people and shifts like that often bring various forms of illness resulting in higher hospital volume. That and the winter viruses!

(We get those down here too even though it isn’t cold, though our ‘viral calendar’ does sometimes differ a bit from colder parts of the country!)

((Even though I’m not a general pediatrician, a busier hospital means more things to do for everyone, specialists included!))

I felt like I gave the past week my all and am glad I did. I prioritized family stuff when I could and accepted a temporary decrease in sleep, for better or for worse. AND NOW I have many (8) weeks of regular call-free life to look forward to, which feels like a gift!

So in a way . . . this is my first ‘regular’ week of 2024!

Week 1 included New Year’s Day, and the kids headed back to school on Wednesday.

Week 2 was last week.

Week 3 is now! I was starting to feel a little bit sad about not making progress on my January goals (in particular . . . zero home organization has happened since winter break!) but then I realized that I haven’t had a chance to really experience ‘normal’ life yet in this new year. So, here we go. Although the post-call week is its own beast too; often I need some extra sleep and rest just to recover (and uh, maybe a massage if I can squeeze on in?) AND it’s always a full week from a podcast/course perspective too because I have to make up for the lost time of last week.

(So maybe . . . next week is the first normal week? And then January will be almost over! Haha.)


  • Watching the first half of Harry Potter #1 + #2 with all 3 kids. (Rare movie series that captures all of their attention. Not sure when it will possibly get too scary for G . . . has been okay so far. Why only half? I fell asleep during #1 and last night we all only made it through half of #2 before I had to put G to bed, but it was still nice.)
  • NOT SCROLLING OR GENERALLY BEING DISTRACTED BY MY PHONE AT ALL!!!!!!! I don’t think I have ever reached this level of digital peace. I freaking love it. I feel like I can concentrate better and just generally enjoy life more.
  • Using my planners, so far my stack has been serving me quite well!
  • Group runs. I’ve been able to hit faster paces on my ‘moderate’ Monday/Wednesday runs than I have before and it’s been really fun. Credit for this goes to my fast friend (J) who somehow motivates me without pushing me whatsoever and we also chat so the time flies by.
  • Sunday dinners. Not everyone likes what I make (last night only 1 kid really did, ah well) but I love it when I can cook and we can actually all sit down together. (We also often do family Saturday dinners out or family takeout, unless Josh and I are doing some kind of date night.)
  • Generally doing well with my usual habits of meditation (doing Headspace 365 – didn’t realize some of the meditations are longer than 10 min but so far hanging in there!) / Duolingo / playing music
  • MUSIC – on that note, leaning into music this year! Both old and new. I loved the All Songs Considered 2024 Preview but was also rocking out to Mitski (since we are seeing her live soon, love her music) and OLLLLD Aimee Mann that made me so happy while cooking dinner last night. I don’t even mind the kids’ favorites (C: Shawn Mendes; G: currently the Wonka soundtrack; A: Olivia Rodrigo, Ava Max, Taylor Swift).


The most unbitten my nails have ever been after a call week 🙂

(So far no biting in 2024!!!!!)

((I need a mani stat even a home one!))


  • Reply coco January 16, 2024 at 5:14 am

    no biting nails? that’s a great progress there in managing stress! I’d definitely bite my nails if they are not professionally done.
    there seems to be a wave of covid/flu everywhere, even here in Jakarta.
    Question: how many times per day do you check/update your planner? I only remember in the mornings most of the days… either too lazy by the end of the day, or just forgot.

  • Reply Coree January 16, 2024 at 6:14 am

    Well done on surviving and hooray for the first quasi-normal week. We had Covid in week 1, hanging over into week 2, so it feels slightly more normal here as well. I’ve been experimenting with 2-week lists as I’m not teaching this term so have fewer small/fixed tasks (lectures, uploads, etc) and I was way too ambitious with the first fortnight, but seem to have created a more reasonable list for the 2nd half of Jan. I made a monthly “top 5” tasks, and I’ve got 1 fully done, and 1 more that I’m just waiting for someone to send me the upload link. The household admin is a bit behind, but T is going to grandma/papa for February break, so I’m looking forward to doing a big sort whilst he’s away. I like my decluttering to be unsupervised by acquisitive children.

    T is a few months older than G and we’ve watched the first 2 Harry Potter movies recently as well. I think we’ll pause here though, b/c I seem to remember they do get a bit scarier. We’ve also watched the first Indiana Jones which was not strictly age appropriate but he seemed to enjoy it/ignore the inappropriate bits. We do Friday homemade pizza/movie night, and it’s my turn to pick, so we’re watching Kiki’s Delivery Service.

    Music-wise we’re doing some oldies via CDs in the car, which feels very retro, but we don’t pay for Spotify and are honestly only in the car 1x-2x a week. I think it’s actually really nice to listen to a whole album all the way through. We’ve done Beach Boys, and are now listening to The Beatles. There’s a random shop nearby that has DVDs and CDs for £1 (a bit niche, it’s 2024….) and we picked up some of our teenage favourites to listen to as well.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 16, 2024 at 9:10 am

      oh I love Kiki’s delivery service!!! i bet he will really like it!

      • Reply Coree January 16, 2024 at 10:12 am

        We loved Totoro. I’d like to see the Boy and the Heron, but T is very stressed about the prospect of war right now (thanks to Remembrance Day celebrations I think?) so I think we’ll wait til we can see it at home and contextualise it.

  • Reply Nicole C Vinson January 16, 2024 at 6:18 am

    Is Headspace new for you Sarah? I know you have been doing Duolingo, so maybe you have been doing it for awhile and I just didn’t realize. Let us hear about it and if you think this made a difference with scrolling, nails biting, and whether you
    attributed to your call week stress decrease? Thinking of trying it.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 16, 2024 at 9:11 am

      Haha nope, not new. I’ve been doing it fairly consistently since 2020. Not a magic bullet for me, but I do like it and feel it helps me!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 16, 2024 at 9:11 am

      and I still recommend trying it!!

  • Reply Sarah January 16, 2024 at 7:17 am


  • Reply Lou January 16, 2024 at 7:58 am

    Hi Sarah, sounds like a really good week! I am also battling with the mindless scroll when on call (usually when I should be asleep, but can’t settle after a late late finish – I’m an ED consultant in the UK). It’s tough. Need a readily available alternative (something I’ve actually cued up to watch on you tube, or a lightweight book) I find.
    Headspace 365 is really lovely, but after the first course they are all 20 minutes I’m afraid (I’m about half way through!) I do the 365 when I have 20 mins, and the daily 10 minute med when I don’t. I love Andy Puddicombe’s voice and approach, have tried Calm and also 10% happier (great podcast) but always come back to Headspace, which is free for UK NHS staff which makes me love them even more.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 16, 2024 at 9:09 am

      oh WOW 20!!! There should have been a warning. HA!!!

  • Reply Cate January 16, 2024 at 8:41 am

    Recommend bare hands stuff for good nail care (oil, buffing cuticles and nail bed) at home -non-toxic, changing paradigm re:polish, which an endocrinologist would support, no?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 16, 2024 at 9:12 am

      good to know! As an endo, I honestly believe that the entire WORLD is so full of hormone disruptors at this point that I tend NOT to be that paranoid beyond a few specific things (I will not microwave plastic, for example). But good to know about! I will check out their stuff!

  • Reply Leanne Sowul January 16, 2024 at 11:13 am

    Hi Sarah, how do you like Headspace 365? After YEARS of trying I’m finally in a regular practice, thanks partly to the Headspace on Stress series. It just ended and I’m trying to figure out my next series. I don’t want to lose steam which is why a whole year of meditations is appealing… but do you feel like they have a consistent theme or is it super random? And can you predict when they’re 5/10/15 minutes?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 16, 2024 at 1:23 pm

      I’m only on day 16! But Lou notes that most of them are 20!!! So I’m not sure I will stick with it for 365 but will at least keep going until I’m ready to do another series 🙂

  • Reply Kristen January 17, 2024 at 7:21 pm

    Congrats on making it through your call week with all nails intact! I know you (and many others) love to celebrate a fresh new start in January but I think January is a rough month to set high expectations for. It’s a busy month from a parenting perspective with the transition back to school and, like you said, lots of cooties going around. I’m home sick myself today. Easy for some goals to be missed this month.

    Give yourself grace on the January goals and keep celebrating the small wins and moments! We are big Harry Potter fans too-it’s fun when the whole family loves a book and movie series!

  • Reply jennystancampiano January 19, 2024 at 8:42 am

    I’ve also been very slow about implementing my January goals (and I don’t have the excuse of a call week!) It does feel like things were chaotic for the first part of January, and are just now slowing down. I say, all New Year’s plans and goals need to be implemented by the END of the month- not the beginning.

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