The content on this blog is written by DMDs (Dads Married to Doctors) but is designed for all busy dads or parents married to busy professionals.
Let’s face it… we’re all busy. When we got married and started having kids, we had a certain idea of what life would be like. At least, we thought we did. DMD Lifestyle is all about parents, and especially dads, doing life together and learning from each other. Learning from our successes, our mistakes, and encouraging each other to create a better lifestyle for ourselves and our families.
When you are a DMD flying on your own with three young kids whose ages range from 5 months to six years you don’t do it to be a hero or because you are brave. You do it out of necessity to get on with the task at hand, however ugly it may turn out because you are a DMD!
Four weeks before Christmas we decided to bring our family of five to my hometown of St. John’s, Newfoundland from Ottawa because of some extenuating family circumstances. This was not our original plan as my wife, an orthopedic spine surgeon, was due to be working from December 27-30. The plan was to have the whole family fly to St. John’s on December 22nd and my wife would leave early on the evening of the 25th to give herself a day of flexibility in case there were weather delays. It was a good thing that Alexandra built in flex time as her flight was canceled and it took her 24 hours to get out of St. John’s. She arrived home at 3:30 am in time to start her on-call shift at 8 am. That’s not exactly how you want to start four days of call.
Once Alexandra left I would be parenting solo on our flight home scheduled for December 30th with our three girls (Aspen, 5 months; Trinity, 4; Sierra, 6). Our itinerary from St. John’s to Ottawa had us take two 2-hour flights with an hour-and-a-half stopover. We were flying in the mid-afternoon so at least it wasn’t a super early flight or a red eye. I honestly hadn’t given flying solo with the girl’s much thought until a couple days before when my mother, half joking, suggested she come with me to help out on the flight.
The day of the 3 pm flight my parents took the two older girls for most of the day so I could pack. I kept the baby with the hope she would have a couple of nice long naps before the flight and allow me the time and space needed to pack. As you can see in the photo the long naps didn’t really work out and packing was a little chaotic trying to track down all the kids’ clothes and Christmas gifts around my parents’ house. I ended up forgetting a bunch of the girls’ clothes as I forgot to check the closet and a dresser drawer in the room they were sleeping. Oh well, nothing was lost and no one was hurt…
We arrived at the airport with time to spare and the check-in went relatively smoothly until the ticket agent asked for an ID for my five-month-old. I said, “REALLY an ID to fly within Canada for an infant?” She actually has a passport but we didn’t bring it as we were flying within Canada. She said it was to prove that she was less than two years old to get the free flight. I held five-month-old Aspen up in the air and said, “She is clearly under two!” Fortunately, she accepted her health card which I had a picture of on my phone.
Once we were checked in we had time to take a couple of photos before heading to security….and then the real mayhem was about to begin.
We went through security relatively smoothly while wearing the baby on my chest. I was selected for secondary screening and got poked and prodded while the other two girls asked what they were doing to me. I was just thankful they didn’t want me to take off my boots. Then, as we were getting settled into our seats at the gate I heard a page over the airport intercom saying that there was a laptop computer left in security. I immediately knew it was mine, as I didn’t remember putting it back in my backpack. I told the kids to stay in the play area and watch our other carry-on bags as I ran off to fetch my computer.
– Always put your computer in the basket before your computer bag- not afterward. I believe I left my computer because I was distracted by the kids and pat down. When I was finished I grabbed my bags and left and didn’t look back to see if anything was on the belt.
At the gate waiting area I struck up a conversation with a nice lady who was reading a book that I love. We had a nice chat until I heard the pre-boarding call. If there was ever a time I needed pre-boarding then this was it and I didn’t want to miss my chance! I hustled the kids over to the ticket counter to show our boarding passes and we were off down the bridge to the plane…. until my third step when I realized I didn’t have my computer bag with not only my computer but my iPad, kids’ headphones, food and diaper bag supplies. I told the kids to stay there as the line started to grow behind them and I quickly ran back to grab my bag from the seat I had laid it on. The girls were so excited to finally board the plane that Trinity, the four-year-old, took off sprinting down the bridge in her winter boots and promptly tripped herself to end up doing a face plant. At this point I am still wearing the baby and a loaded backpack, dragging a wheelie carry-on bag and Trinity’s carry-on in my arms. I picked her up as she was screaming that her lip and hip hurt. I looked behind me and see the rest of the passengers calmly waiting for us to move along onto the plane.
On The Plane
We got seated on the plane with Trinity and Sierra sitting in two seats on one side of the aisle while Aspen and I were sitting across from them in the aisle seat. I was really hoping to have a friendly parent or grandparent sitting next to me to help out with the kids as needed but my dreams were quickly dashed when a six-year-old boy jumped into the seat next to me. The rest of his family was sitting behind us.
Once we were situated on the plane, the captain announced that there would be at least a 30-minute delay leaving because it was snowing too much to even begin the de-icing process. During the wait, I decided it would be a good time to change Aspen’s diaper. I gathered my supplies and headed to the bathroom when the flight attendant told me I could not use it because they were locked for take-off. She also informed me that the bathrooms don’t actually have a change table. I asked her what she suggests I do and then she said I would have to change her in my seat! I had a little chuckle when I got back to my seat toward the back of the plane once I noticed that the last two seats were empty as they are often the seats that the flight attendants sit in during the flight. I decided that would be a perfect place to change a VERY dirty diaper.
We ended up sitting on the tarmac for about two hours before the wheels left the ground. While waiting, the kids seemed to eat just about all the food I had packed for our five-and-a-half hour journey (including the layover). A key element of eating a vegan diet is to bring your own food when you travel and I was almost out of supplies. The airline we were traveling on did not even have food to purchase although they did give us free bags of chips, heavily salted almonds and cookies….oh, and even free booze.
For a moment, I had almost justified taking advantage of all the free booze so that it could help me get through the flight. My rational side prevailed and I declined, as I knew it would just make me need to pee…
Most of the time that we were on the ground the seatbelt sign was lit. As soon as we got to our cruising altitude and the seatbelt sign was turned off, the girls and I, as well as about fifteen others, were bursting to pee and jumped up to head to the one tiny bathroom up front. I asked the father of the boy sitting next to me if he would hold Aspen while I ‘quickly’ ran up to the bathroom with Sierra and Trinity. We patiently waited our turn for ten long minutes. It was just about our turn when the flight attendant came up and asked us to move back because the pilot really had to pee and needed to go next. I thought, of course, he needs to go RIGHT NOW. I guess pilots need to pee as well. All this time, with the girls bouncing around, I was a little surprised that no one offered for us to go in front of them.
Usually, when Trinity goes to the bathroom on the plane she doesn’t lock the door and I stand right outside in case she needs help. For some reason, she decided to lock the door this time…. and of course, she could not get it open when she was finished. I could hear her inside screaming as she rattled the door in desperation. I was trying to tell her how to open the door but it was futile. Eventually, we had to push the call button for the flight attendant to come up and open the door for her. Distraught and with tears running down her cheek she jumped into my arms.
While we were waiting for the bathroom I kept trying to look to our seats in the back to see how Aspen was doing with the stranger holding her. We were far enough away I couldn’t hear or really see anything. As we headed back to our seats, I passed the flight attendant who said to me, “Oh she’s not happy.” As I approached our seats I could now hear Aspen screaming her head off and see the man doing all that he can to help calm her down. Our ‘quick’ trip to the bathroom must have taken us fifteen minutes. At this point, I was sure the entire plane knew that the Stratton’s were on the flight and that I had my hands full. We were not even thirty minutes into our first of two, 2-hour flights!
Thankfully, I was able to get Aspen into the Babybjörn carrier and get her to sleep on my chest. Sierra and Trinity were set up with some downloaded Netflix shows on my iPad and the rest of the flight went much more smoothly. I am pretty sure that for the first time ever there weren’t even any spilled drinks!
Once we were halfway through the first flight it became clear that due to the delay leaving St. John’s we would most likely miss our connecting flight in Halifax, which would take us home to Ottawa. I calmly played out all of the potential scenarios in my head of what could happen in Halifax. First, for some reason, the plane would be delayed in Halifax and we would be able to make it on board. The second scenario was that we miss the connecting flight and have to spend hours in the airport waiting for another flight. Third, there were no more flights to Ottawa for the evening and we would have to spend the night in a hotel. Given the first part of our journey, scenario two and three would have been too epic for me to even to contemplate at this point. Shortly after I began playing out the scenarios in my head, I was relieved to hear the flight attendant announce that half of our plane would be connecting to Ottawa as they had decided to hold the plane for us in Halifax until we could make the transfer. HALLELUJAH!!!
The rushed transfer happened relatively smoothly given the circumstances. I was relieved to see the gate for our next flight was next to the gate we exited. The last thing I wanted to do now was to sprint through the airport with my four carry-ons and three kids in tow. The second flight went relatively smoothly other than a mini-meltdown by Trinity because she wanted to eat her third bag of chips before finishing the few carrot sticks I had packed for her (this airline gives them out for free). Trinity and Aspen fell asleep on the plane and I even managed to listen to a couple of podcasts.
Thankfully, Alexandra was able to leave work that evening and she was at the airport to greet us upon arrival. I think I will wait ten years for my next solo flight, or at least until everyone is out of diapers…
Lessons when flying solo with young kids
Anytime you fly with young kids there is a good chance the unexpected will happen. The more prepared you are to deal with the situation ahead of time means the better the chance that things will go smoothly when it does happen. Selecting good seats as well as packing adequate food, entertainment, diapers and clothes will go a long way to set you up for a good flight.
Going it alone means you do not have the typical backup your spouse would offer. I allowed myself to become distracted too easily at the airport and it almost cost me- big time. You cannot rely on your memory or strangers to help you out. It didn’t help that I had too much carryon luggage, which included my two bags, a diaper bag and inevitably the kids’ bags as well. I became distracted when chatting it up with strangers at the gate while the kids ran around the kid zone.
Take Offers of Help
The fiasco at the bathroom would have been much worse if I had had the baby in my arms the entire time. The fight attendant offering to help me take off the Babybjörn during take-off was critical to keeping Aspen asleep as well. If I had taken Aspen out of the carrier myself she would have woken up and who knows what would have happened in rest of the flight with a potentially screaming baby.
Shawn Stratton is a DMD living in Ottawa, Canada. He is an international leadership and team development consultant, professional speaker, bestselling author, and Ironman competitor. You can find him at www.shawnstratton.com
Hiring a financial advisor is a big decision. After all, you’re hiring someone to help guide you through some of life’s biggest decisions.
Your financial advisor can help you decide what type of car and house you can afford. You’ll go to them to make sure you’re saving enough for your children’s college education. You’ll even seek their advice on the best way to build long-term wealth and save for your retirement.
Needless to say, choosing a financial advisor isn’t a decision you should make lightly or quickly.
That’s why I’ve included 8 questions you should ask a financial advisor before you hire them below:
1. WHO IS YOUR FIRM’S TYPICAL CLIENT?
Some of the best financial advisors in the industry specialize to help a certain type of client. At Physician Wealth Services, I only work with physician and physician families.
2. HOW DO YOU GET PAID?
Believe it or not, this is one of the most important questions you could ever ask a financial advisor. The reason is that there is a huge difference between financial advisors who are fee-based and fee-only. Fee-based financial advisors sell products and charge commission, and for that reason, it’s very hard for them to separate their own interests from their clients’ best interests.
3. WHAT LICENSES DO YOU CARRY?
There are many different types of licenses a financial advisor can show you to prove that they are allowed to give you financial advice.
4. HOW DO YOU ENSURE YOUR CLIENTS ARE PROTECTED FROM FRAUD?
Because of the recent Equifax hack, it’s more important than ever to ask how to protect your finances from fraud.
5. DO YOU CONTACT YOUR CLIENTS BEFORE MAKING CHANGES IN THEIR PORTFOLIO?
This is a great question to ask, mostly because people have different preferences. Some people want their advisors to manage their finances for them 100%, balance their portfolios for them, and purchase the funds they think are best on their client’s behalf. Other people like to be informed before changes happen.
To see the other three questions you should ask a financial advisor before hiring them, check out the full post on the Physician Wealth Services blog HERE.
Do you have a financial advisor or are you currently looking for one? What are some of the qualities you are looking for in a financial advisor?
Justin Breen’s first date with his future wife, Sarah, took place Aug. 28, 2004 – two days before she started medical school.
“We have been through a lot together and have seen the ups and downs of life in a doctor family,” said Breen, who now lives in Chicago’s north suburbs with Sarah – a pediatrician — and their two children – Jake, 5, and Chase, 3.
Breen recently left mainstream media after an award-winning career over two decades in Chicago, Indiana and South Dakota as an editor and writer to start his own public relations firm – BrEpic Communications LLC.
Breen started BrEpic because he saw a void in the PR field of how to properly write and pitch stories to mainstream media. As an editor and writer, he would receive hundreds of emails per day filled with press releases that didn’t accurately and creatively describe stories.
Breen realized that writing actual stories for his clients – the same kind of clicky, viral stories while he worked for DNAinfo and other newsroom organizations – and then marketing the story individually to his media contacts across the country, would be far more successful.
“For years and years, I saw how most PR firms failed when it came to selling stories on behalf of their clients,” Breen said. “I believed BrEpic could do a better, more efficient job.”
He’s been proven correct as BrEpic already has several clients and recently signed The Allstate Foundation and LISC – a national nonprofit that revitalizes communities and brings greater economic opportunities to residents – to exciting, long-term deals.
Breen creates newsrooms for his clients and successfully pitches those stories to mainstream media. He specializes in positive, inspirational stories – the same type of content he wrote as a member of the media. BrEpic clients have appeared in the New York Times,Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times, WGN-TV, Patch as well as a host of several other national, regional and local media outlets.
“The beauty of BrEpic is that it works with any type of business, as long as there’s a good story to tell,” said Breen, whose clients include law firms, accounting firms, music businesses, nonprofits and education companies.
“BrEpic has been an immediate success because of my ability to find clicky stories and share them with my media contacts across the country. These stories are not typical PR stories, but actual good content that the media can use to tell their own version of the story.”
Breen also is a graduate of the University of Illinois and is the current Journalism Chair for the College of Media Alumni Board.
“It’s always amazing to see so many University of Illinois graduates across the country telling great stories, and I’m happy to send them the work that I’ve done through BrEpic,” Breen said.
Breen would love to work with other “Dads Married to Doctors Group” members, as he understands what it’s like to be married to a doctor while having your own business career.
“Being married to a doctor is a truly wonderful thing, and I want to help other DMD members grow their own businesses and brands,” Breen said.
It’s 6pm on Halloween 2017. We’re in a quaint NC neighborhood and my 3 girls are dressed as the Power Puff Girls. My wife is their creator, Professor Utonium, and I choose to be their nemesis, MOJO JOJO! It was a great night and we had fun as our neighborhood was taken over by costumed kids and adults!
While pushing our 2-year-old around in the stroller, a few business and life lessons stuck out to me. I’m sure the spiked apple cider one of the neighbors gave out helped spur my mind…;)
1. Trick or Treating, like sales and business, is A NUMBERS GAME. The more houses we visited, the more candy we received.
We went to some houses where no one was home. We went to a few houses and the candy bucket was empty. But as we persevered, we found the majority of homes had amazing candy and toys for the kids, and drinks for the adults.
2. BE SPECIFIC.
My 2-year-old knows exactly what she wants and when she wants it. On Halloween, she has to be very specific because she has a peanut allergy. So I helped her tell the candy-givers after she said, “Trick or Treat,” to also say, “No peanuts please.”
When you’re making a business call or presentation, you need to BE SPECIFIC and ask for what you want. I’ve made the mistake so many times of pumping up my company and telling potential customers about all our amazing bells and whistles. Then I leave without ASKING FOR THE BUSINESS or asking them to make a SPECIFIC DECISION on how we move forward.
3. BE CREATIVE.
After Halloween, no one is talking about the Count Dracula that visited their house or the Witch that stopped by on the broom. Instead people are talking about the 2 parents dressed up as ice bags holding the baby (ICE, ICE Baby… get it!) or the family dressed up as Bob Ross, his paint board, and the tree scene he always paints.
In business, you need to figure out how to be memorable. When prospects need your product or service, do they remember you? Maybe you wear a bright shirt or tie so people take notice. Maybe you do a play on your name like my friend, Steve Hand of www.trianglebni.com, who always slowly waves his hand in front of the crowd as he introduces himself.
Do you currently have a way to help your prospects remember you? What can you do so that your prospects remember YOU when they need your product or service?
I’m sure there are a ton of other business or life lessons that could be taken from Halloween. What did Halloween or Trick or Treating teach you about Business, Sales or Life? Comment below!
It’s hard to find quality financial advice that is specific to physicians and student debt. That’s one of the reasons I started my firm, Physician Wealth Services. It’s also why I was so angry when a client sent me this clip from the Dave Ramsey show where a young doctor called in and got terrible advice.
If you’re not familiar with Dave Ramsey, he’s actually one of the most successful financial “experts” in America today. He has a nationally syndicated radio show, a pile of bestselling books, and a flourishing company located in Nashville with over 600 employees.
Unfortunately, despite all of his accolades, he gave terrible advice to a physician who called in to his show asking for help. Not only that, he was pretty rude to him too.
On the clip, a physician named Rodrick from Pittsburg called and asked for advice about his $670,000 debt load. He’s a family medicine resident married to a psychiatry resident. According to the call, this number includes combined debt for both of them from medical school, graduate school, and undergrad.
As residents, they have a combined $108,000 household income. When they graduate from residency, they have a projected $400,000 household income.
However, Dave questioned his ability to get $200,000 a year in family medicine. He thought his income would be 25% lower. (Depending on where they ultimately live, though, geographic arbitrage is very real and could be used in their advantage.)
WHAT A MESS!
When Dave Ramsey heard all of this, he exclaimed “What a mess!” Then, he proceeded to tell him that if he had that much student loan debt he would be “disgusted, confused and in panic mode.”
Of course, those of us who are in physician families know high levels of student loan debt is the norm. In fact, the average amount of debt my physician clients have is roughly $200,000 – $300,000.
Rodrick’s situation, while not ideal, is not a “mess.”
I wish this was a total summary of the conversation, but unfortunately, Dave said even more to this physician to embarrass him on national radio. To hear what Dave said, view my rebuttal, and learn how I view student loan debt (which is a bit different than most) visit the full post HERE.
Over the past few days, I’ve received several e-mails and phone calls from my physician clients asking me what to do about the Equifax data breach. So, I thought it was important to quickly explain what the Equifax data breach means, and what to do if you think your information might be compromised. WHAT IS THE EQUIFAX DATA BREACH?
Equifax is one of the three main credit bureaus. This means that they have your name, social security number, birthday, addresses, license number, and more. Whenever you want to check your credit report, Equifax is one of the places you go to see it. So, needless to say, they have a lot of information about you. Last week, it was announced that hackers broke into the Equifax database, which affected 143 million Americans. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
There are a few things you should do if you think your information was compromised.
This includes enrolling in Equifax’s credit monitoring service, getting a copy of your credit report, and freezing your account.
To get full details of each of these next steps as well as links that explain how to accomplish each one, please reach the full blog post on the Physician Wealth Services blog. OTHER IMPORTANT TIPS
You can keep an eye on your credit report through a free service like Credit Karma. This is what I use personally, and it’s easy because you can dispute items on your credit report right through the Credit Karma website.
Also, don’t forget about your spouse and kids. Sometimes, children’s social security numbers are more vulnerable when there is a major security breach like this one because many people forget to freeze their children’s credit files.
Ultimately, I hope this information helps. To read more details about the breach and find out how you can see if your information was affected, visit the full postHERE.
As a physician, I am always looking to supplement my income. Surveys are a great way to do that on your off time. Initially, it was hard to find surveys that paid well and/or catered toward physicians. Over the years, I have compiled a nice list of physician survey sites and their specific contact information. Some physician surveys can pay up to $250 + for an hour of your time. That is more than what most doctors make per hour. They key is to register for as many survey sites as possible and fill out your complete profile. This way you get surveys you qualify for and get more of them. Will this make you rich? Of course, not. But, it can be a significant source of supplemental income. So, take a look below, register and get started today so you can…
*pay off you student loans faster
*pay off bills quicker
*save more for retirement
*start you kids’ college savings plan
*take that vacation you always wanted to take
*much, much more
There are several companies and websites that allow you to do surveys from the comfort of your home or even from your smart phone. Check out the full post of physician surveys.
Custom made Just For You! How awesome is it to hear that? How often do we get something that is CUSTOM just for us? For me, not often. With 3 kids running around, I can’t even get alone time on the toilet, let alone something custom-made just for me.
Well DMD Lifestyle is proud to partner with the VANS Shoe Company, but specifically, I want to highlight their Custom Shoe Program.