Tips for Caring for a Stressed-Out PA Spouse

Keep Track of Belongings, Sign Papers, and Ask How to Help

Rachael Jarman, her husband Chris, and three daughters, Lucy, Charlotte and Rosie
Rachael Jarman and her husband Chris have three daughters, Lucy (age 10), Charlotte (age 9) and Rosie (age 7).

October 22, 2018

By Rachael Jarman, PA-C

If you’re reading this, it means that A) you’re actively researching how to support your PA spouse, or B) your partner subtly sent this to you as a silent cry for help. Let’s hope you are all in the A category because that means you are light-years ahead of those in the B category.

To start off, I am not here to compare gender roles, or workloads. I’m writing this from my perspective, and I’m just a gal who is in a very busy season of her life. And after talking to many PAs like me, a few themes emerge. We are stressed. We are teetering on the edge of a cliff trying to keep everything balanced and running smoothly. We need lots of help and support from our partners to keep this thing afloat! Working in the medical field and nurturing a family takes organization and time.

Track lost belongings

Because of this demanding schedule, it is imperative that you, partner, do not add at all to the stress of life with menial problems. For instance, if you can’t find a pair of socks, don’t bring this to the attention of your partner. This may seem like a fairly reasonable request. But you would be surprised by how many of us are stuck keeping track of not only their children’s belongings (i.e. toys, sippys, nookies, bottles, socks, diaper changing accessories) but also their spouse’s belongings. This brings us to our first point. If you can’t find something, just buy a replacement. If it’s urgent, you know how to use Amazon.

The next piece of helpful information is about how to give your PA spouse the best day ever. Take the kids and let your PA spouse enjoy an empty house. It seems so small but it actually never happens, ever. To be in one’s own house with no background noise or little people making requests is positively a dream. Extra points if you leave with the kiddos after the house has been thoroughly cleaned!

Sign school papers

If you really want to help take a load off of your partner’s extremely crammed brain, sign papers. All those pesky permission slips, health forms, sports photo envelopes, information release documents─ they turn into an avalanche of overwhelming chaos. Empty those kids’ backpacks and folders once a week and prepare yourself for finger cramps. This small gesture will help your partner to feel like you are aware and care about the details of running a household.

The last and most important piece of advice is to anticipate the needs of your partner. The most annoying thing for us (and probably for you!) is to have to ask for certain tasks to be completed. If you know that every night lunches need to be made, just jump in. If there is a mess, clean it up. If there is a diaper that needs to be changed, go for it!

Ask how to help

We so appreciate our partners and raising a family was way more work than anyone ever expected, right? Just because your PA spouse is amazing and can handle juggling a challenging career and a family doesn’t mean that they don’t drool at the thought of extra help. Just notice the small details managed every day and gently ask if you could help. You will be surprised by how caring in this way will bring you closer together and create a more peaceful home. In the end, we all have the same goal: Keep this thing afloat!

Rachael Jarman is supervising PA at HealthPartners in Bloomington, MN, and president of PA Trek Coaching,  a coaching business designed to help students gain admission into PA programs. Contact her at [email protected].