A (hectic) week in the life of a dual-career family

Ever wonder what it takes to make a dual-career family work? Here is a glimpse into one very hectic week for our family.

Sunday April 27, 2014

Ryan leaves town for a short work trip. I decide to start a 3-day all juice reboot diet that leaves me dragging and tired for 2 days. Not my best decision.

Monday April 28

Months and months ago I was asked to participate in a ceremony for graduating KU athletes and help hand out their K Rings at a dinner on the Lawrence campus. With Ryan out of town, I recruited my Mom to meet me on the way to Lawrence and take the kids home with her for the night.

Tuesday April 29

My mom brought the kids to me in KC which was very helpful. Ryan returned that evening. My energy was restored on the juice reboot.  It was a quiet day - the calm before the storm.

Wednesday April 30

I left work a little early to go for a run and called my mom to wish her a happy birthday. Then, daycare called. Charlie fell on the playground and caught himself with his face. His poor face! I was up 4 times during the night helping him sleep through the pain from his fall. My busy schedule turned chaotic.

Charlie's face the day of the fall (left) and the next morning - with a tear! 

Thursday May 1

Happy May Day! Ryan's parents came to our house in the morning to take Charlie home with them for the day - I caught a few of Jordan Metzl's morning show interviews while I waited. Charlie's eye was swollen shut when he woke up in the morning and he looked even worse than the day before. I tried to keep my emotions in check as I began a very long day that ended with Jordan's talk at Unity Temple. Students, colleagues,  friends, and Jordan and his parents all gathered for a much needed glass of wine to end the day. Ryan's parents picked up Izzy from daycare and stayed with both kids at our house until 10pm.

Friday May 2

I woke Charlie up early and got him dressed in the dark to head to work with me. He would hang out at our Exercise is Medicine conference until my Mom could pick him up later that morning. We scheduled Baby Jay to come and greet folks at our conference and lead us in some morning exercises. I had no idea how useful that would be for me at the time! Charlie followed Baby Jay around all morning and played games on the ipad during the first talk. As I envisioned the day of the conference over the past few months, I never once imagined it like this.

Photo by Greg Peters, KU School of Health Professions
Photo by Greg Peters, KU School of Health Professions.
**Note Charlie's shoes in this photo as he sits in the front row with me during the seminar!

My Mom watched Charlie until 2:00 that afternoon and then Ryan's parents came to relieve my Mom so she could make an afternoon appointment. Tag-team grandparents at their best! Ryan had an all day retreat that included a later dinner so I summoned up as much energy as I could to spend quality time with the kids. We all crashed early.

Saturday May 3

Not over yet! I had an advisory board meeting in Lawrence from 11-1, and Ryan had his work retreat from 9-noon. I once again put the kids in the car and drove them to meet my Mom on the way to Lawrence. The kids got to watch their cousins' soccer games and have a lovely afternoon outside in the sunshine. Charlie actually played in his own soccer game later that afternoon. Kids heal amazingly fast!

Sunday May 4

We had my whole family over for lunch to celebrate my Mom's birthday. Did I look as exhausted as I felt?? At 6pm that evening, I had to race across town to join some colleagues for dinner with a visiting speaker. After a quick run through the grocery store, I made it home just before 10pm on Sunday evening. The week was finally over!


There is inevitable fall out to this sort of crazy week. Izzy got significantly less attention this week and is going through separation anxiety as a result of my being gone so much, the shuffling around from daycare to home to grandparents, or maybe just because she is three. All weekend if I so much as walked out of the room she would panic and start crying and run after me. Weekend chores went undone and we're behind to start a new week.

I do my best to avoid a week like this - it isn't good for any of us. Not to mention I would wear out the grandparents very quickly! I try to be very selective in saying yes to evening/weekend work events and decline unless they are absolutely essential. But I worry that this will end up being detrimental to my career or make me seem less committed.

I will admit to feeling very conflicted Friday when I had to bring Charlie to work with me in the morning. I didn't want to seem unprofessional and I needed to be available to handle the inevitable hiccups that come with setting up a big event. I worried that it was an abuse of my position as faculty - would a graduate student or a staff member be able to bring their sick/injured child with them like I did? And a part of me just wanted to focus on my job and what was a very important and meaningful day for me.

In the end, Charlie's health and well-being took precedence over all of those thoughts. If it was unprofessional or if my colleagues resented me for it, I would just have to deal with that. This is what life with a career and family often looks like - a blending of the lines, a juggling act, a bit of hand waving and asking forgiveness later.

And sometimes when career and family blend, a little bit of magic is created. Like when I watched Charlie shadow Baby Jay around the conference room on Friday morning. Charlie was self-conscious about how his face looked and he hadn't really smiled or laughed in over 24 hours. But his face lit up when Baby Jay arrived that morning and he happily followed him around the room, holding his hand, and appearing in everyone's photos with a shy smile on his face.

Suddenly, I no longer cared what others thought about my bringing Charlie with me to work. I did what I had to do to make things work and to get through the day, the week. In the end, my child was smiling and happy, the conference was a success, and I lived to write about it.

A million thanks to Mike and Sharon and my Mom. It takes a trio of grandparents to make this family run!!


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