Juggling PhD with motherhood... any advice?


Hi fellow PhDs...

I need some advice

I have a 7 month old baby and am due to begin working again fulltime from January. Now on my stipend, this is never going to happen, as I cannot afford to put baby in nursery for 5 days fulltime. I am planning to work in the office 3 and 1/2 days a week. I am in my final year technically but have about 18months left before they say they'll cut my funding.. yikes!!! hence my username gottofinish! lol

Please ladies (and gents), if you have any advice.. i would gladly receive it. what has been your secret to success??!!


I had the same problem with childcare - I could only afford 3 days/week (and didn't really want to use more anyway). Do you have a partner living with you? My husband takes dd (now 3) out on Saturdays while I work at home. Technically you can work nights but I find that next to impossible - depends how much sleep you are getting. I have just started my 4th year and my funding ran out end Sep so now we are paying the childcare with no grant:p

I'm expecting to finish by March. Use the childcare you have to the max. I have switched from nursery to childmibnder - not only is it a lot cheaper (2/3 the cost of her nursery) but the home environment and consistency of care is especially suited to younger preschoolers - especially babies. I wish dd had gone to a childminder from the start. I rarely work in the dept now - it saves the travelling time. And don't get suckered into doing anything else like teaching etc - people forget that your time is more limited than most.


thank you for your reply. I have been toying with the idea of a childminder but worry for example that if the childminder is unable to care for my dd for whatever reason, it leaves me stuck. Also I thought nursery would give her more interaction with other kids and perhaps learn more through play as they have structured play. Although, who says kids need 'structured play'... they just want to play right?! Do you mind me asking what age your dd went to nursery from and how you think a childminder has proven more beneficial?

Partner has agreed to look after dd on saturdays so that I can get some 'me' time and do some work and then Sunday will be strict family day - no work... but we'll see...

thank you for your advice x


Yes nurseries are more reliable but babies don't really play with other kids - that really starts about 2-3 years. Personally, I think nurseries can be a bit too impersonal and lacking in one-to-one care for a pre-toddler (and I sent mine when she was 7 months). But I felt more conifident about safety and security issues in a nursery since she couldn't talk yet and I felt a bit insecure leaving her with one person in their home. The trick is to talk to other mums and get some ideas about the CM from them - I just didn't know anyone at that time to ask and didn't feel confident choosing a CM. Childminders do have others kids usually - just fewer. Many CM's are part of a network so that they can cover for each other if one of them is sick etc (mine isn't unfortunately).


Hi - if you have the choice I would choose a childminder for now as like Smilodon said, babies don't really "do" interaction at that age - at least not with other babies. We had a childminder for my son until he was 2 and then he went to nursery part-time. It seemed to work out well - good luck!


Hello there, I just wanted to say that I have an 8 month baby girl and I'm still at my second year of my PhD life,, What I have done is working Saturday and Sunday instead of Tuesday and Thursday and putting my baby 3 days at a nursery,, that would work with you if you have a partner or a friend that can look after your baby on holidays,,, Also in most universities there are usually funds that you can apply to (childcare trust fund) Just ask about them and they will help you in childcare cost to a reasonable level.
Do not worry, life will go on, it was very difficult at the beginning for me to cope with motherhood and study and still is, but always remember you'll have a life time to enjoy with your baby after graduation and also your doing all of this to give them a better future,,,:)


Hi there, I have twins who are now aged three years.
I started my phd when they were one and was going to do the three day childcare and work evenings and weekends but it just didnt work out. No real time to get momentum for anything and very constricted for conferences etc. So I sank my entire stipend (yep twins in nursery cost over £12,000 a year) into full time childcare and we make do on hubbys wages topped up with tax credits. This way I work mon-fri 9-5 and our weekends are all family time.

Mine went to full time nursery as I just don't like child minders (no offence to any out there I was one myself once). I don't like that closed door scenario. At least if one of the nursery nurses are struggling she/he can call for help. Also I negotiated with my nursery a discount for the second child and fee waiver of 6 weeks a year (when I have them off on holiday and you would normally pay a retainer). Nurserys are feeling the pinch of people being laid off and may be open to more negotiation than normal at the moment.

We have just got the governemnt childcare vouchers so at last I see abit of money from my stipend and when my funding ends they go into school full time.

I would recommend trying to get as close to full time care as possible and treat the phd like a full time job if you want to avoid more stress and ending up hating your phd because it takes time away from your family.