back to PhD after maternity - help!(5 Posts)
I'm starting back to my full time PhD (2nd year, social sciences) at the end of the month after having a break for 5 months following the birth of my first daughter. WOW is looking after a baby more difficult than I'd thought - I love being with her, she's great, and I love being a mum, but I don't know what I was thinking when I envisaged being able to study (from home) with a baby around. I thought...well, I don't know what I thought! I'm pretty shattered most of the time, and when she naps (which is usually 2-3 times a day for 20-40mins) I need to use that time to feed myself, do housework, sleep or maybe have a shower. My boyfriend works full time, but I thought I could hand him the baby when he gets home from work - nope! She cries if I so much as go out of eyesight, plus I couldn't study in the evenings anyway since I'm so tired by 8pm. I could study weekends but there's so much going on - its our only chance to spend time together as a family plus we usually have to visit one or other of the grandparents. I could try to study when I go there but then they want to chat, drink tea, then the baby needs me after 10 minutes anyway. My brain is mush. I also thought "well there are other mothers in the department and they make it work", well, it turns out they conveniently all seem to have full-time grannies to help out. I don't have that, and even if I did they live in a different town. I can't afford childcare, plus I don't feel ready to leave her with a stranger. I'm screwed! I love my studies, I was doing so well before I (accidentally, although we were delighted when she arrived) got pregnant. Now everything seems impossible. I know its one of those predicaments you just have to sort out yourself but I'd love to hear from anyone in a similar boat! Thanks, totally overwhelmed...
I had a baby followed 12 mth later with twins during my PhD. It wasn't planned that way and yes it was tough to get back into studying again. I found that gently reading around the subject helped to engage my baby brain with the subject again. Then I worked out what time I could devote to my studies. For me I used evenings when hubs got home and the babies were in bed so 1930-2030. Then I put aside some time on a Saturday or Sunday evening. We paid for one afternoon a week of childcare from 1300-1800 for complete quiet study. I guess I had about 23hrs a week to study. I also found that I would be jotting down notes during feeding, nappy changes etc. I kept my desk tidy but ready to go with books and papers there with my laptop so i could just start from where i left off and lots of to do lists. If I was struggling to think then I did basic stuff like journal searches, thesis structure, stats etc and kept the writing for those more awake days. Accept that some days productivity will be less due to baby needs and other days will go well. Just monitor that progress is being made over time. It can be done, believe in yourself.
Thanks 2plus1, that's exactly the kind of reassurance I need! Everyone keeps telling me I'll need full time childcare and that's not possible. I'm really hoping to be able to squeeze study around baby. If all else fails I can always bore her to sleep by reading my literature review to her :-)
From an admin point of view, be really clear to what you're committing to. If you're not doing ft hours, switch to a pt registration (so you won't have to meet the submission deadlines).
I totally agree switching to part time registration makes sense, and even extending your mat leave if you can. At 5 months you are still right in the thick of it, and you just won't make any real progress during naps etc. You don't need the clock running down on the PhD before you have childcare sorted. Then look into your options for when you're ready, eg your uni may have a nursery and/or subsidised childcare places for students.
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