coping with a baby and PhD


Hello everyone

I wonder if I could ask for some help/advice/an ear...

I am now in the writing up phase of my PhD... soo very nearly there... and have a 15 month old at home. I *so* thought i could have it all but am seriously struggling. My DP works 70 hour weeks on his own business so can't really help me and I have two days a week when my wean is with a childminder. I try and work evenings/nap times but am failing to meet my deadlines and am terrified and well, generally feel so very guilty all the time. I am also ESRC funded so feel a huge obligation to Uni and my Supervisor to finish soon and finish well. But I am so stressed and pressured I can't seem to work at all but stare out of the window or well, cry at the moment!

I would love to hear anyone's stories of how they coped or are coping with a baby and PhD? Or even to start a thread where we can help each other. I think it is really hard - but maybe that is just me not coping very well?

Thanks for listening folks


Hi - i know how you feel as mine is about 2 1/2 but hopefully i will submit in the next few weeks. I found it incredibly hard and gradually moved from two 1/2 days at nursery to three full days which i find is the minimum amount of time that allowed me to be productive - if not i was spending all my time getting back to where i left it off. I used nap time for busy work like checking citations and downloads and tried to reserve nursery time for writing but i have never managed to work evenings and very rarely at weekends as I'm too exhausted. have you tried the student parents forum on mumsnet there are some phd students on there and you can get some good advice and support. Push on it will be worth it! At one point the main motivation for me to continue was so that my liitle one would know that i didnt give up!


Hi - I know exactly what you mean! Mine are 15 months now too and I am struggling tbh. I also can't do anything productive in nap times as sometimes one wakes up and I have to go and get him/her before the other kicks off! I have a childminder each morning (actually 2 different ones) and find that I work a lot better when the "better" one is looking after them - I think subconsciously with the other one I am always thinking about them! Anyway...that is my tale of how I am not coping...but my plan (which I am about to implement) is to go to bed early and get up really early (5am?) and try and work then - I think I will have to just bite the bullet and do this for a while so I can get on top of things.

Anyway, good luck! It is tough but I know lots of people get through it so I am sure we will too. ;-)


Yep, I am on the same boat! I made careful plans on how I would work early in morning (no way, my daughter wakes up at dawn!), and late in the evening (nope, she doesn't fall asleep before 9!). I think that it was pretty impossible to do any serious work until she started going to nursery 4 mornings a week a few months ago. I found very hard to concentrate at the beginning, and I sometimes wonder how I managed to put together anything at all! My husband helps a lot at weekends, so that I can work a bit. Me time = 0. Luckily, this is not going to last forever!


Hi, my kids are now all grown up, but I did my first degree (OU) when they were very small, and I had 3 under the age of 5. What was a great help to me at that time, when assignments were due, was I had a very kind friend who used to let me go over to her house, and she would look after my kids downstairs for an hour or two, while I sat up in her bedroom studying - that way I was nearby if help was needed but I had peace and quiet (relatively) to study. Could you work out a similar arrangement with someone? I know the level of work for PhD is much greater than for the degree that I was doing at that time, but I think you have to just study when you can, with as much help as you can. Also, depending on the child, sometimes you can fit in a bit of work, while they are playing beside you. Good luck, I hope you manage to sort things out, and remember to allow yourself some rest time, doing a PhD and looking after a little one is bound to leave you feeling a bit tired. All the best :)


Hi sp, you are really close to finishing if you are writing up.  It all seems so overwhelming to get a thesis written, despite a baby too. My PhD is part-time over six years and during this time I have has three babies. The eldest is now 2 and the twins are 1.  It wasn't planned to have the three so close and during my PhD but these things happen! I have spent 8 months writing up my thesis to submission with limited childcare.  My hubby works away for periods of time so is not really able to help much, but is very understanding. I was fortunate that the babies all went to bed at 7pm leaving me/hubby to cook dinner and then dine, followed by me working for about 2.5-3 hours in the evening before bed.  I found that naptimes with three babies very unproductive as the eldest would sleep at different times to the twins. I take all three to the childminder for one half day a week so I get about 4-5 hours of study time.  During the most productive thesis writing I was working about 25 hours a week down to 15 hours. As mentioned previously, my motivation was me setting an example to my babies of 'not to quit'!  Hopefully they will be proud of my achievement one day and this may motivate them too.


Thanks for your time guys! I am so grateful! it is just great to hear your stories and experiences and not to feel alone, and to see how you did it/are doing it. I seem to be pretty much the same and it is reassuring to see that you all do things differently... Just working as and when. And I really appreciate comments that you didn't want your babies to see you as quitters. That is the last thing I want - I want my son to have a strong mama :0)

I will buck up and get on. no more moping!

Thank you so much
x sp

Avatar for Mackem_Beefy

If funded, could you not suspend for 6 months until you baby is six months older?

At that stage, the baby will be a few months older, more settled and you may be a bit closer to being able to trust someone with them for a few hours a week.

Raising a child (especially a young one) is a full time job in itself.


Hi there
I have a 2 and a half year old, a part time phd and a full time stressful job. I cope by waking up early in the morning and working most of the the weekends. I give undivided attention to my daughter for at least 2 hours a day (more in the weekends) and also try to involve her in anything I can. I have been in this situation since submitting the proposal in 2009 however I am starting to feel really worn out and unhappy as I want to . I cannot imagine this going on for another 4 years. I think a full time phd would have been a lot more do-able and I envy anyone who has that luxury! So I guess my message is... could be worse if you had a job to deal with too! :-)


Dear All,

Went through all your replies. I am due July 2018 and my husband and I are planning to join a funded PhD in Europe (we are from India) around Oct 2018. Hopefully, my mother in law will accompany us. We are sure that it will be tough. But wanted to know if there are people who have done this already?