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Should I ditch my PhD??

(15 Posts)
Kittyroo Fri 16-Sep-11 21:49:22

I have a really complicated situation but need some advice badly please!!
I have a 3 year old DD and an 11 month old DS and before I knew I was pregnant with DS I applied for a PhD which at the time I really thought I would love. When I found out I was pregnant I phoned supervisor and explained I couldn't do it as i would be giving birth in the October when I should have been starting the PhD!

He said it would be fine and I would just get maternity leave like any other job. Great I thought. Fast forward 11 months and I have started it 3 days a week (doing it full time in 3 days as can't afford any more childcare).

My main problem is that I am finding it really hard to leave my DS. DD is fine and loves nursery and childminder but DS is not settling all that well and it breaks my heart everytime I leave him. I could probably get over it if I was loving the PhD but I'm not really. It's not turning out quite as I hoped and the subject area is becoming completely different to how I imagined it would be due to my supervisors research interests.

I can't really go part time due to money and the thought of it lasting so long is depressing. I am hopeless at working in the evening and hate the thought that my weekend would be spent studying instead of seeing my babies.

To further complicate matters my husband works in the same department and so says it would make things difficult for him if I left. I would feel terrible as really like my supervisor and don't want to cause hassles for him. I also don't want to burn my bridges with the dept as would maybe like to work there in future.
The final issue is that I have already ditched one PhD which I started before I was pregnant with DD. I did literally ditch it at the very start whereas with this one I am sort of a year in as have been doing bits and bobs here and there.
I am a wierdo I know but please somebody give me some advice and stop me going round the twist!

lollystix Fri 16-Sep-11 23:32:26

How long has ds been at nursery? I ask cos my first 2 were quick to settle at 7&9 months but my last started at 12 months and took a while to settle as that much older. Fast forward 2 months and he was beating down the door to get in there.

If u weren't doing the Phd what would you rather be doing?

Kittyroo Sat 17-Sep-11 09:11:20

WOuld just like to be a SAHM until DS went to nursery and eventually would love to train as a secondary teacher. Just a bit difficult as although DH works hard he works in the environmental sector which doesn't pay all that well. We would be totally broke. I did used to do childminding when DD was a baby so could maybe do a bit of that.

An0therName Sat 17-Sep-11 10:55:18

could you write up as a masters? then you would have something for it? how long as DS been at the childminders?
And if you have concerns about the content of the Phd why don't you talk to the supervisors
If you were to do childminding, it wouldn't bring a lot as limits are I think under 5 - although could be tax efficent as you can claim for quita lot of thins although there is always a demand normally for school pick up and drop off

What about the university careers service to set some more advice?

crystalglasses Sat 17-Sep-11 10:57:48

Surely you don't need a Phd in order to train to be a secondary school teacher?

lollystix Sat 17-Sep-11 11:00:25

Childminding when u have your own does on the face of it make sense to me.

If you want to do secondary does continuing a phd really benefit this at all?

I suppose also you need to look at the income from the phd less the childminder and nursery costs versus the potential income from childminding if money is the concern too.

Bue Sat 17-Sep-11 18:29:01

Seeing as this is the second PhD you're considering ditching, is this really what you want to be doing? It sounds like you're fairly clear on what you WOULD like to do, and you don't need one to train as a secondary teacher. DH has a PhD and is a teacher too (which he absolutely loves) - he always says, for the love of god if you don't want to be an academic, don't do a PhD! It's so much stress.

What about An0ther's suggestion of the Masters - would this be an option, or have you already got one and a second would be pointless?

RosMyerswannabe Sat 17-Sep-11 18:41:18

I think you need to try and separate your feelings about the PhD from those about leaving your children. Going back to work is always really hard, are you sure you're not blaming the PhD for missing being at home? If you do decide to give up on it again just make sure you are doing it for the right reasons as it could be something you later regret especially if you later feel you didn't give it a good go. Also, my funding agency doesn't require me to pay back any stipend if I leave my PhD, is this the case with yours?

Kittyroo Sat 17-Sep-11 22:59:08

Thanks Ros, I think I do need to think some more. I do already have a masters and I realise I don't need a PhD to be a teacher but it is just something I have always wanted to do. I don't want to be an academic but would maybe like to work within the subject area and a PhD would help with this. I have also thought about teaching for a while and think I would enjoy it.
The problem is that now I am doing the PhD it is quite difficult to get out of it without annoying people (one of them being my husband!) and also burning bridges with the uni.
It also doesn't help that my parents think it is terrible that I have gone back to work and mum tells me that I shouldn't have had children if I didn't want to look after them. They don't acknowledge what I am doing and never ever mention it or ask how it is. Which is nice.

RosMyerswannabe Sun 18-Sep-11 09:47:19

The lack of support from your parents must make it really difficult, but it is YOUR life not theirs, were they not proud if you when you got your Masters?
Talk to your supervisor, could the project be taken in a different direction that appeals to you more?
The PhD isn't for ever, it's only 2 more years, ok I know it's 2 years of hard work! Maybe give it until Xmas and see how you feel when you're a bit more into it again and your DS may have settled a bit better at nursery? Plus it will give you an income while you make up your mind! You have obviously got to do what's best for your family in the long term but you need to be as sure as you can be that you're making the right decision and not one driven by hormones!!! grin

lilham Sun 18-Sep-11 15:37:11

I don't know about your field but I used to work 7 days a week and also all evenings when doing my phd. That's what is expected. Everyone doing it is young and single and childless so has no problem working all day in the lab. Is your funding for 3 years? What would happen when you can't finish it in time? In my dept we can go nominal on the forth year which means no funding but you are allowed to stay on and write up.

Do you think you have the time to do this with two young children? I'm asking coz it'll be really sad if you are 3yr down the line and don't have anywhere enough work to write up.

RosMyerswannabe Sun 18-Sep-11 16:21:59

Who is to say she can't finish it in time??!!! And yes I agree most people doing a PhD are young, single and childless but not all of them are! Everyone has distractions in their life it's just about managing them and us working mothers are fab at multitasking! Plus a lot of the students I've seen over the years aren't focussed and don't turn up until lunchtime! Also if her husband is in the same Dept then presumably he is aware of the commitment that a PhD requires and is supportive? I'm not saying it'll be a walk in the park cos nothing worthwhile ever is but surely it's worth a try??? smile

Kittyroo Sun 18-Sep-11 22:11:48

Well I realise that many people do work 7 days a week and every hour god sends but plenty don't. My husband was doing his PhD when we first met and he definitely didn't do anything like that much work, especially in the first 2 years and he managed to finish in 4 with a bit of a mad final 2 months!
I think as the time goes on my childcare can only become cheaper so that by the time I am writing up DD will be at school and DS in pre-school so will have a fair amount of free childcare so even if funding has finished then I won't have so many outgoings.
I do realise though that it will be a hard slog and I am not the best at coping under pressure. I am going to see what my supervisor says tomorrow I think. Thanks for all the comments though it really has helped to get other peoples point of view.

FrozenNorthPole Tue 20-Sep-11 22:32:05

Kitty - I'm just going into my last few months of my PhD having taken two separate periods of maternity leave during it. It's been an uncomfortable juggling act but I'm fairly sure of finishing within 2 months of my deadline, which was my goal.
As someone else mentioned, if you ditch the PhD you may end up having to pay back maternity leave pay. A major motivating factor for me to finish has been the prospect of giving back 14 months' pay grin
In all seriousness, don't do anything right now. Give your DS some time to settle in (have a good chat with the nursery about ways of trying to make this easier on you both) and talk to your supervisor about pursuing your research interests. In the end, the point of doing a PhD is pursuing a topic in which you're interested, so it's worth trying to make sure that happens. My PhD has turned into a very different piece of research to the one that I initially planned, and a lot of that has been down to new directions that I've pursued. I know this varies between disciplines, and indeed between supervisors, but my point is that there is usually some flexibility about subject matter if that's the key bone of contention.
Anyhow, all of that may be redundant as you'll have already talked to your supervisor - but I thought I'd put my experience out there as, like your DH, I certainly haven't found it a 7 day-per-week, evenings and weekends kind of job. I do know a few people who've worked those kind of hours, but they were parts of huge teams in the physical sciences (and doing a lot of their supervisor's research rather than their own) or were just a bit obsessive about the whole process ... perhaps without concomitant gains in productivity smile

Kittyroo Wed 21-Sep-11 22:47:31

Oh FrozenNorthPole that has made me feel so much better. What a helpful post! I spoke to my supervisor on Monday and it was like banging my head against a brick wall. I kept telling him I didn't want to go down a particular research route (i.e. his research area) and he just kept twisting every idea I had back to his research subject!!
I have been pro-active though and taken my DS out of nursery (which he hates)and he will now just go to his lovely childminder so feel much better about that.
Am going to try and speak to supervisor again tomorrow so will see if I can actually get through to him! Thanks again.

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