How do you divide your time: PhD and child?

(11 Posts)
Equimum Wed 15-Aug-12 13:34:33

Hi, I posted before about childcare provisions while studying for a PhD, but was just wondering how other people organise their time so that they give enough attention to their two 'babies'?

I'm going on maternity leave mid way through my second year and am struggling to see how I am going to balance everything. I don't have to attend uni at any set times, and my supervisors are very understanding/ flexible but I'm still stuck, which is not helped by the fact DH is out of the house 7am-8pm five days per week and we don't have any family close enough to help out. We are fully prepared to pay for nursery or a childminder, but don't want to leave a six month old child 8-5.30 Monday to Friday.

I'd really appreciate any feedback, thanks.

MeghanMc Wed 15-Aug-12 14:02:15

Hmmm... this is really a hard one to juggle between the two. Personally I would set may be one to two days aside to fully do the research without the 'babies' in the house, even if it's says 10am to 3pm. So you know you HAVE to concentrate and do as much research as you could cramp in that amount of time. Even though people said you can do some at night, you will be exhausted from the day run/house chore/feeding and not to mention it's the last thing (i.e. research) you really want to do at night.

The housework can wait till you have the babies home and you can work round the housework around their time (so you are also spending time with them too). Have you consider 'babywearing'? Basically you 'strap'/wrap the baby on/around you so you can carry on with your everyday activities (more like housechore).

I know it will be hard but it doesn't get 'easier' as the baby gets older esp trying to finish a PhD. All the best to your PhD and hope it all goes well smile

Hope you find this helpful ;)

2plus1 Thu 16-Aug-12 12:05:35

I was half way through my PhD when I fell pregnant. I had most of my data collection done and was doing the data analysis and prelim write up. I tried to get as much done as possible pre-delivery while on mat leave. When I delivered I gave myself about 3-4 months off the serious studying and got an intermission from the uni to extend my course time just in case! I found that it was essential to read the odd papers and do the easy mundane tasks in the early weeks to just keep your eye on the subject, baby brain is very real lol. Once they were sleeping through I paid for 1/2 days nursery so it was not too much at 3-4 months of age. Later this changed to a childminder for the same time as it was a little more flexible for me. My studies were done during the evenings for 2-3 hrs a night and the 1/2 days childcare. Even whan hubs was away for weeks at a time the routine continued. I had to go back to the lab for a week so hubs took a weeks leave to cover this for me. During the day at home with the three babes was hard as I would have the inspiration but no time to act on it, so I started a notes book to capture the ideas (while nappy changing/feeding etc). In the evenings I had lots of notes of what needed to be done and ideas to consider so I was far more productive. I also had my tutorials via skype link in the evenings so that I didn't have to arrange childcare for this as hubs was home. The time I had during the day 'child-free' was great for a peaceful study time, however, you will need to be focused on just that. No housework, errands, cooking, tidying etc as you will need this time for your work. It sounds hard to get back into it but you can do this - it is only for a short time in reality! It is possible, I passed my PhD with three babies (multiples!!) but it will require dedication and commitment.

cathmac1980 Wed 22-Aug-12 11:06:00

Amazing feedback 2plus1. I am about to go on maternity leave at end of 2nd year PhD, first baby due next month and have been thinking about how to make the balance work. You obviously made it happen and as you say it's a short time in reality. I have started a group of PhD Mums called 'Motherhood and the Academy' to meet and discuss the trials of undertaking this type of route and also what we can do to implement change in academia's acknowledgement of maternity including increased flexibility for women to be mothers and academics by offering creche facilities, flexi-work etc. Not everyone may have experienced a negative projection of this but sadly many of us have been left frustrated. Get in touch if you are London or SE based and interested in joining!

Equimum Wed 22-Aug-12 12:35:32

Thanks everyone for your responses. 2plus1, that's really helpful (and comprehensive) advice. I'll definately be keeping a notebook close at hand for all those ideas that pop up at the most bizarre of moments, and I'm really beginning to see the value of being super-organised in advance of actually sitting down to work. I guess routine and dedication are the most important things.

I have six months paid leave plus the option of upto another six months without payment, any amount of which will automatically be added to the end of my studentship.

cathmac I'd definately be interested to know more about your group. I am based in the South-East and although I haven't yet experienced any negativity around requesting time off, I know that I am likely to come across more problems when I'm actually back to studying with a young child.

zombiebanana Wed 22-Aug-12 16:05:02

I'm also exceedingly interested in a PhD parents group. When & where? I have so little in common with my new 'baby friends', I need some fun clever chat without too much reference to baby equipment.

2plus1 Fri 24-Aug-12 22:32:46

cathmac - your group sounds very interesting, I found myself quite alone studying for a PhD with babies aswell. I think that a support network for new and expectant PhD mums would be fab and could highlight the concerns and flexibility requirements that universities may need to provide. I studied in Cambridge but am in the South East now so would be happy to help!

FiveRingsForDinner Thu 20-Sep-12 19:57:15

Cathmac - i'm interested

EyesDoMoreThanSee Fri 21-Sep-12 12:27:56

Cathmac I am also interested

I am a FT PhD student, my DD is 2 and has SN which does involve a number of days at the hospital and doing therapy. I have 3 days childcare a week 9-5, I try to work one day at a weekend and my mum helps out another day a fortnight when she can. I am feeling quite low at the moment balancing my families needs with my phd - which I see as a job.

Just a job.

2plus1 Sat 22-Sep-12 20:50:41

EyesDoMoreThanSee - sorry to hear you are finding it tough juggling your studies and family. In my experience, my family had to come first which would be the same in any job. Juggling my PhD with my family meant that I had a real rollercoaster of productivity. There were times where childcare and children were running smoothly and I had great strides in my work but then another phase would start where child illnesses or childcare hiccups took my attention more. I had to realise and accept that this was the way it would be but overall progress was there. As a mother and academic I think compromise is very real but your determination will pull you through. At low times like you describe, I tried to remain motivated by focusing on how proud my children would be when I passed my PhD! Good luck and keep smiling.

wilderumpus Sun 14-Oct-12 08:33:15

2plus1 your post is so accurate. I had my DS in year 3, after I had done most of my research and am due to submit at christmas! Is has been so difficult, not least putting ideas of 'routine' out of the window - if DS is ill he needs me; if the childminder is ill, I can't work, if DH needs to work extra that evening, I can't work... This was so very frustrating and stressful but I have kind of learnt to let it go and work when I can... Even if I just do ten minutes instead of the planned for few hours - momentum is key.

Saying that, support from your partner/friends is so important. We live away from both (we moved here for me to go to Uni) and so can combust sometimes with the demands of our different lives. DH thinks my PhD is a hobby Plus, I am not earning anymore since my funding ran out sad BUT I am nearly there, which is almost proof it is doable even under the most strained of situations!

good luck ladies!

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