Baby and PhD - anyone survived to tell the tale?



I had a baby a few months back and am now back into my research but really struggling. Has anyone got ideas on how to get the focus back and what helped them to pull through?



Does a MSc count, too?

Then I can honestly say: Been there, survived that.. with loads of caffein, less sleep than could be considered healthy and very thin stretched nerves. I started my studies when my boy was 4 months - it was interesting to say at least ;-).

It won't help you know but I can assure you that it will get better with time. My boy is now 4 and despite the usual "Omg he is sick( again), how to manage to do my experiments while taking care of him at the same time?" it got a lot better. The first few months are hard, especially with you adjusting to the baby and the baby adjusting to the world.

I can only give you general tips: Ignore the housework as much as possible (it won't run away and you need the time to do some work or sleep when the baby sleeps), try to find somebody who can look at him/her once or twice a week AFTER your work so you can actually come down a bit (just for an hour - you need some sanity in your life after all or you won't make it through) and have somebody that helps you when you struggel through the hard times. After all, there will be events like toothing, stomach aches and the first nasty bugs that will not allow you to sleep "enough".

Sounds terrible, but I have to admit, I won't give him back even when offered a whole load of cash. ;)

For the focus: I have no idea how your daily schedule is planned - do you have times set aside for pure work or do you have to work "round the baby"? The second one is definetly harder - I would suggest you make a weekly plan what you want to achieve and check midweek how you are doing. That helps you estimate whats possible at the moment - and what not.


I have to say I applaud you for getting back into your research with a newborn in the house. I find it hard enough juggling a full time job with a full time PhD but at least I only have to work on one thing at a time.

It sounds like you are determined enough to continue with your studies so that will help you to some degree. My advice would be to just stick at it, ask for as much help as possible and when your having a really bad day just eat chocolate and feel sorry for yourself but then pick yourself up the next day and start again.

Good Luck x



I have just come through this - I am just about to take my viva and I returned to my studies last year after ML. So it can be done! I have gone through a lot of ups and downs this year trying to juggle everything so just know that it's normal to feel overwhelmed but you have to just keep going.

My tips would be to have help from family/ have a childminder/ nursery so that you have dedicated time to work. Ideally it would be good if it can be flexible so that if you get into a good patch of working you can go with it.

I have also found meditation to be invaluable to help me switch from mummy mode to working mode quickly so that I use my time effectively (as effective as you can be when you're tired etc!) Here's a link I use:

Finally, to manage your own expectations of what you can achieve and to agree your scope clearly with your supervisors. I've had to be pragmatic about my research to get it finished.

Good luck x


Congrats on baby :) I did my MA with a 1 and 2 yr old while working. Now during my PhD I'm heading into my third years whilst my now 7 and nearly 6 year old are trying to kill me with stress. I tell myself going to work after this will be a doddle and feel like a holiday...looking for the silver linings. Only tip is find what works for you and plan in some holidays! Good luck.