Being on-call as a doula can be hugely stressful. I appreciate hearing how other doulas manage their lives and calendar -- there is always something to be learned from the experiences of others. Thanks to Staci Plonsky for this helpful guest post sharing the ways she keeps it all together when she could be pulled up away from daily life at any moment to support a woman in labor.
I get asked a lot, “How does your family manage when you’re on call?”
Here are a few things we do to make life manageable for the on call times. (Typically, I’m “officially” on call 5 out of every 6 weeks. “Officially” means I have 1 or more clients at 37 weeks pregnant or greater.)
1) Flexible husband. My husband has some flexibility in work and can take off enough time to pick up the kids from school and man the fort until school the next morning. He puts in extra hours when I'm on call to prepare. This picture shows my husband treating our youngest to lunch in their favorite restaurant.
2) Backup babysitter. My mother has finally retired! That means she’s my new backup babysitter. The kids love it when Nana comes over to take care of them. She's much nicer than I am, they claim.
3) Frozen meals. I try to keep some frozen dinners on hand. I make a double batch of pancakes, meatloaf, chicken noodle soup, etc. when I make dinner and then freeze one for times when I’m not home. The funny thing is, my kids usually talk their Dad or Nana into McDonald’s. Then I use the freezer meals when I’m home recovering from an overnighter. Here’s a great meatloaf recipe, by the way.
4) Google calendar. I religiously record all events and upcoming activities and kids’ school project deadlines. There shouldn’t be any surprises, as long as the calendar is checked.
5) Schedule caveats. “As long as I’m not at a birth” is added to any invitations I accept when I’m officially on call. And I try to purchase (and gift wrap) birthday gifts, teacher appreciation gifts, and other items before the day of the event to save my husband trying to figure out what to buy.
6) Reasonable expectations. I don’t expect the home to be spotless (although my husband usually cleans better than I do.) And the family knows when I am on call. There are no surprises if I can’t make it to a function, although I do try to give the kids a heads up so they’re not missing me.
7) Excellent backup support. I know that if my children have a medical emergency, I can trust one of the Brevard Doulas to provide excellent doula services to my client. (I’ve never needed to use my backups so far, but I love that they are just as committed as I am.)
8) Professional approach. This is my profession. I realize it’s unpredictable in timing, but I am as committed to my work as the 9-5ers are to theirs. My family understands that I get paid to support clients and that income enriches our lives.
Those are just a few ways we prepare for a spontaneous work week!
Serving families on the Space Coast and Brevard County area since 2010, Staci Plonsky CD(DONA) is a certified doula, committed to providing exceptional support to families through their pregnancy, birth and postpartum experience. Passionate about keeping her skills sharp and her knowledge current, Staci is also a certified childbirth educator through Florida Outreach Childbirth Education Program and pre-certified as a Labor and Postpartum doula with ProDoula. Along with these certifications, she stays current with Spinning Babies, VBAC Facts, La Leche League, midwifery assistant training and pre-nursing college classes. She achieved a Bachelor of Arts degree from Florida Southern College in 2001. Staci serves as the leader for the local Brevard chapter of the International Cesarean Awareness Network (inspired by her own Cesarean and subsequent vaginal birth after Cesarean "VBAC".) She has presented on the benefits of doula support, Cesarean prevention and natural comfort techniques in labor. A native Floridian and 14 year resident of Brevard County, Staci lives with her husband, 3 children, and Basset Hound. She enjoys riding her Irish Draft Cross Horse and gathering eggs from her resident hens.
♥ four young boys and a boy dog (offspring)