Any other PhD mums?


Just thought I would start a thread for all us PhD mums (and dads!) out there. How is everyone getting on? Have you, like me, done hardly anything over the school holidays? :$ I really need to get back into the swing of things and would love to hear from others in the same boat - any tips on juggling studies with kids? At the moment I can't wait for normal service to resume! Dunni - are you still around? Every time I think I can't do it I think of you and push on!!


Hi Timefortea, I am still on here!! Just very busy relocating our family so sitting amongst boxes awaiting the removals next week.

School hols didn't affect me too much as my bambinos went to the childminder for one afternoon a week regardless, however children and their demands are unpredictable! I found that my study time would be going well for a while but then something would occur that meant my study time reduced (ie teething, illnesses, youngest having surgery, childminder having a holiday lol). I think the key is to be flexible, take as much study time as you can when everything is going well but be accepting of the needs of the children when they need you. Overall, the time will work out. It is difficult managing the feelings of guilt, spending enough time with the children and spending enough time studying!

To get back into your PhD, take a look at where you were at and make a list of the next steps to take. Breaking everything down into smaller tasks makes it easier to achieve. Set yourself a plan of what you are going to do, being realistic about your study time! As you start ticking tasks off the planner, motivation should increase. Depends on your situation, the child-free time for you to work may need to be adapted as the children's routines change. I found that working in the evening was good for our family as they slept through from 7pm, however for some parents getting up a bit earlier may suit. Maybe it works well if you study when partner is about to deal with the children? Working out when you can study is key to succeeding and as said, this may change during your PhD.

Lastly, it is tough but it is possible. Doing a PhD without children is also a challenge as life does have its ups and downs. It maybe that an extension is needed to help when things get difficult, I had one intermission period in place for having the twins but never actually used the extra 6 months. Motivation and determination should see you through!


Enid Blyton used to always have Mums that longed for the end of the school hols and I never could understand it - until I had children of my own that is! I have four children and have found the summer incredibly stressful. Without going into the gory details, one of my twins pushes, pushes, pushes the boat out, and my buttons with it, pretty much all the time. I actually don't mind working with background noise but when they start fighting :-s. Added to that my son has left home to study in Sweden and has sent me a total of two texts in two weeks; 'yup, yup, things good, how's the dog?' My daughter is re-sitting a French exam tomorrow and has her driving test in a couple of weeks. Life at the moment is practising 3-point turns and reversing around corners in Wanda (her car, bought off her brother!).

No tips for studying with children although at least as mine are teenagers they sleep in the morning. Then they get up and start eating, and fighting, and eating and fighting, and so the cycle goes on... Today I re-jigged my chapter five to the background noise of the boys throwing shoes at each other and the hose turned on and aimed in the bedroom window. Cue me turning into psycho Mom :$


Oh dear Ady, my twins are 19 months and fight loads - I was hoping that it was going to get better not worse! My older son would agree with Blyton - he can't wait to get back to school luckily.

Dunni - good luck with the move! Hope it all goes smoothly.

Avatar for sneaks

I have a husband who craves constant attention - is that the same thing? I had to drop him off at 'creche' (pub) yesterday, but he wanted to come home early, meaning an hour drive to go and pick him up :-s but I've got a toy for him to play with today (New PS3 game), so hoping that keeps him entertained enough to not pester me :p


Haha Sneaks, I love it lol. At least with an only child he doesn't 'fight' with his playmates :p

I agree that 'fighting' starts at an early age (my twins are 20 mths) and I have the eldest (almost 3yr) fighting with her twin sister (girls :-s). My twin boy usually plays happily with his toys until the girls take them off him, then he has a meltdown. My twin daughter has so much frustration at such a young age too. Some days I think that I need to put them all in separate rooms and put myself in a dark padded room lol. I agree with sending them to school for a break as my week is like the summer hols every week. Sadly, the preschool won't take til 3 years so a few months for the eldest and another year for the twins. By then I will probably be working full-time anyway (well I hope so, probably stacking supermarket shelves with a doctorate) At least my PhD gave me my own interest to focus on, now I don't have anything.........maybe I need something new! However, my hubby refuses to let me do another PhD (mmm, I wonder why!!).

Avatar for Caterpillar27

Hi, I have three children (ages 10, 12 and 13). I enjoy the school holidays, spending time with the children, not getting up so early, no packed lunches to make, homework, after school clubs, etc. BUT I can so agree with the comments about fighting!!!! My middle one also likes to push the boundaries and wind the others up (very frustrating)!!!!!

Also I find it so hard to work when they are around as I am easily distracted and there always seems to be so much other stuff to do. I can't even catch up at weekends when Hubs is home as I go to work then. I am getting some work done, but I have just lowered my expectations of what I can complete at the moment. Things are going to get intense in September though!!!! I aim to hit the ground running as soon as they go back to school.  ;-)


Timeafortea, tks for the thought of starting this thread! I know it might sound unbelievable but I haven't met another PHD mom yet. all the other PhDs i see are focusing on their doctorate exclusively. I am married, i have a baby boy and a career. So I am excited to meet you all! And dunni, your advice is so useful! Indeed, at times you feel overwhelmed because you feel you are not doing justice to neither your child, nor your doctorate. For me, there is no balance. I just focus more on one or the other whenever I can. Good luck with the writing everybody!


======= Date Modified 30 Aug 2011 09:27:47 =======
India Knight had a really good article in last week's Sunday Times News Review about Alex Crawford from Sky News. She's out in Libya at the moment but has young family at home. Seems even she feels the mummy guilt that just never goes away. I either feel that I'm spending too much time on family and PhD suffering or vice versa.

School started this morning :-x


Hi everyone,
I just joined. In the middle of a part time Phd, have two kids and a full time job and some days wonder what did I get myself into. The only thing that keeps me going (when i do get going) is that the kids will grow up and at least I have done something for myself and my own future. I guess it's as with everything there will be ups and downs. I envy the males as they seem to have it much easier, go to work, focus all day on work, come home from work, etc whereas I find myself running here and there and having to focus on 10 different things at one time!


Can't express how happy I am that the school is opening on Friday. It really is challenging to concentrate when a kid is at home !


Hi Timefortea. I have one child, so although she has the energy of two I am probably less under pressure than the majority here.

As others have said, juggling family and PhD is not easy and I too constantly felt that I was letting down either one or the other. More often, I felt that I was doing everything badly! I think that there are no recipes, everyone have their own way to deal with the workload.

I was lucky that I managed to do all my research and fieldwork + I had written a first draft of all the chapters, before I had my daughter. I was out on ML for a year, and I personally found going back very difficult. When she started going to nursery some mornings, it helped greatly. I found that having some time to focus only on the PhD made all the difference, and I was able to spend better quality time with my little one when she was at home. 

When I tried to work while looking after her, it didn't work very well. So, trying to compartmentalise as much as possible definitely worked for me.

Obviously everything come at a cost, both financially and emotionally. Childcare can be expensive, and if you don't have family and friends that can lend a hand, it can be pretty difficult.

Also, my social life became almost non-existent, and me-time went out of the window. Actually the PhD became my me-time!


Hi everyone

This is the thread that ive been hoping for!! I am actually not a mum...yet....I start a part time masters and PhD next october and will be likely starting a family then onwards too! My partner and I really want to start a family but I will be working full time, although part time once we have a baby. Ive been looking for advice and tips on how you all manage and if it is possible to work, have a baby and do post grad studies. Im starting to realise that it is possible but I must be realistic and well, much, much less lazy! Tommorow I am going to havea uni prep day. Im doing what I can this year (2011, starting a new job full time +shifts in 2 weeks!!) to get finances sorted, work on my application (for fees studentship) and back in reading mode etc. You are all wonderful and I take my hat of to you all for doing so well and working so hard. I hope you dont mind me gatecrashing the thread. Any tips for me would be great as a prospective mum studying!

Thanks again you
Kitten x


I have five children and I am about to start my PhD, however I did do my undergrad as a parent so I am used to studying with lots of chaos in the background. I am also waiting for the school hols to end so that I can get some peace and quiet during the day ;)


Hi All,

Glad that I am not alone in the boat. I am also here with my just two years old boy. Just started my write up. This time when he goes to bed I feel some me time but full of stress then. Want to work with my PhD but at the same time feel tired and sleepy..really don't want to open even word document.

Don't know how to do..please keep sharing tips as when and how to work and what to do with baby if nursery/child minder are un affordable. Full time single mum here..