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Laughter, responsibility and remote controls in the freezer

Dr Clare Barton, a part-time salaried GP in Raynes Park, south-west London, explains how she and her husband juggle two careers with 24-hour childcare

I feel very lucky to have shared our childcare with my husband.

It was daunting for both of us at first. I felt rusty returning after my second maternity leave and the prospect of the school run and small-talk with lots of 30-something Mums was not top of my husband's ‘to do' list.

Consequently our first week was full of interesting phone calls to each other: mine usually involving ‘how do you manage…..?' and his ‘where are the nappies?'

The childminder I'd so carefully arranged six months before going back to work pulled out six days before I was due to start my retainer post. As a consequence, our ideas of work and managing the needs of a four and one-year-old had to change.

Things are chaotic but fun now. My husband and I see little of each other, but the kids definitely benefit. We are lucky in that both our jobs have a degree of flexibility – my husband working 80% FTE in A&E and myself 40% as a salaried GP. Somehow, despite tired ‘handovers', we cover the childcare ourselves.

As a result we are reliant on no-one else – which certainly gives an enormous sense of satisfaction. Medicine is a vocation, and parenthood full of laughter, responsibility and finding remote controls in the freezer.

If the children are ill you could argue they have reasonably competent carers and if we are ill, we still turn up for ‘duty'.

So in a crazy 24 hour world where apparently 60% of doctors find adequate childcare difficult to access, I am happy with our current situation.

Obviously things will change as they grow up, but childhood is brief and to have shared these special years will be something we will treasure forever.

Dr Clare Barton Dr Clare Barton