Academic common room
PhD and children
Mumlifeandme · 07/03/2023 14:47
Ive been awarded a phd studentship for 3.5years in a health subject. I will not be undertaking any lab research but will have qualitative interviews etc.I have two kids, 3yo and baby. Just wondering if anyone has had similar experiences? How did you afford childcare? How did you make it work? I have recently discovered I will no longer be entitled to 30 free hours of childcare when I start the course as I get a stipend not an income sigh. Thankful that I get 15hrs but I hadn’t realised that I will be having to pay for 2 children in nursery effectively and I’m freaking out. I recently completed a Masters with only one day of childcare and weekends/ evenings, so it is possible but it does impact on home life. No family to help with childcare, Anyone who has done a phd with children successfully? How did you do it?
parietal · 07/03/2023 21:33
congratulations on getting the funding, that is great.
I can't advise on the childcare, other than to say it will be a juggle.
are you able to do the PhD part-time? If you started off part-time then you could juggle the kids better and switch to full-time when you have more paid nursery hours.
bge · 08/03/2023 05:56
Congratulations! I think you will struggle to do a 3.5y PhD with 15 hours childcare. Interviews etc have to be done in working hours, I assume? Could you go part time until the eldest is in school?
DogDaysNeverEnd · 08/03/2023 07:15
It definitely helps to think of the cost of child care as shared rather than your personal cost if you can.
If you can work for the equivalent of 16 hours minimum wage per week and your partner does too, you are entitled to tax free child care and 30 hours free over age 3. My uni pays students a top rate of £15 an hour for tuition/lectures support etc so it works out less than 16 hours to meet the threshold. But funding bodies might restrict the hours that you can work if in receipt of a stipend.
Doing a PhD with young kids and no childcare would be pretty miserable I think, one of the joys of PhD is being able to pursue lines and enquiry, go to meetings with other people active in the field etc. It's a full time job and then some to get the most out of it.
Can you do the PhD part time? It might be more enjoyable that way.
EmptyPlaces · 08/03/2023 07:17
Aren’t stipends usually given for full time only?
Ridiculous that it isn’t counted as income.
bge · 08/03/2023 08:52
part time stipends are fine in my place. May be different in others
Acinonyx2 · 08/03/2023 11:03
I had a baby during my PhD. I couldn't take my stipend part-time so I de-registered for a year, making my third year into two years but the stipend was only paid in the 4th year IYSWIM.
I paid for nursery for 2 days/week and dh looked after her on Sats - so I had 3 days/week. I still couldn't have finished it in just one year though and it did mean a lot/most of the stipend went on childcare over the 2 years.
A lot depends on your finances overall and whether you could complete this with just 2-3 days per week - could you go part-time or de-register for a year to spread it out?
JenniferBarkley · 08/03/2023 11:10
Ultimately you'll need childcare. I'm trying to fit a part time PhD around a heavy teaching load and young DC and it's basically become impossible, and that's with FT childcare. My experience has been that it's not the type of work you can pick up and put down and fit around other commitments, you need to dedicate proper working hours to it on a regular basis.
Mumlifeandme · 08/03/2023 12:08
Honestly having done a masters part time whilst working and having a young baby has taught me that I don’t want to do that again. I’d rather be full time studying and mothering. 2 things, rather than 3 things to juggle. I think I will more likely put them both in nursery for 3 days each & then OC will start school next year. @DogDaysNeverEnd i like what you’ve said about childcare being a shared cost, as I often just think of it as my cost.
Ps. one of the conditions of my stipend is that I can only work 6 hours a week.
Pythonesque · 08/03/2023 12:19
You need to talk to your university about what childcare support is available for students, Maybe someone can signpost you to additional grants if any exist.
What you are proposing sounds do-able, just about, but difficult. More realistic than what I jumped into, a full time lab-based PhD with 1 and 4 yr olds, trying to continue to apply for funding at the same time as starting it. (I didn't complete. Looking back the reasons why I got into that position were still valid, but I do wish I'd made other choices!)
Yarnosaura · 09/03/2023 00:04
It's worth joining the FB group 'PhD and early career researcher parents'.
My advice is make use of tech so you can capitalise on little bits of time through the day, I use my phone (synced with laptop) a lot for lit searching, reading papers and jotting notes.
MaybeDoctor · 13/03/2023 14:48
I probably do it on much less than 15 hours per week as I am working too (part-time senior role plus freelance work) but my child is much older so I can do some bits in any odd patches of time that I have rather than waiting to have childcare. I did my masters that way (toddler) and it was hard!
But, I am part-time for my PhD which makes a big difference. The only problem is it is easier to ‘loose the thread’ when I have to focus on work/family for a period of time.
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