Anyone have young children?

posted
27-Dec-13, 12:26
edited about 23 seconds later
by Elfin
Avatar for Elfin
posted about 7 years ago
I'm in the final year of a professional doctorate. I'm on placement 3 days a week, and have a study day 1 day a week and then at uni 1 day a week. I work from 8-4pm on placement days to allow me enough time to get back to do nursery pick up (daughter is 14 months). I used to be at home with her on that study day, but from Jan she'll be in nursery full time.

This last year is all about the research and pulling the thesis together. I should have been working for the past week as have been on leave from placement, but I've done nothing. I'm just sitting down to try and do some work now, but I'm so tired, I just want to rest. Also, I'm in the kitchen trying to work - almost impossible! No libraries are open, so I'm continually distracted.

How do you get your work done? My daughter isn't a brilliant sleeper, waking every two hours and needs help getting back to sleep, so even if I have the energy to work after she's in bed, it can be very easily interrupted. She goes to bed at about 8 (though more like 8:30) and I get up at 5:50. Maybe I should be working more into the evenings, but I feel so tired if I don't sleep before 10pm (she wakes in the night), and I can't really do my job tired.

Just wondered if there was anyone in a similar position, and how do you cope? I feel I'm failing at everything.
posted
27-Dec-13, 12:42
edited about 8 seconds later
Avatar for DrCorinne
posted about 7 years ago
I had my daughter in the 2nd year of my PhD. I was lucky because I managed to complete research and a first draft of my thesis before she was born, but I underestimated how difficult would be to pull together the final draft with a little one to care for. My daughter was/ still is like yours, and when you are sleep deprived it is very difficult to think/ elaborate/ work. So, I understand what you are talking about.

The only thing that I can suggest is to ask your husband to get up and care for your daughter for a couple of nights a week, so that you can get proper sleep. You can work much more effectively if you have the energy. Also, there is any chance that your husband or anyone in the family can help you by looking after your child on a Saturday morning every fortnight? I work more effectively in the morning, so that worked for me.

I think that it is important to establish a small network of support around you. That can make a world of difference. It can be your partner/ parent/ relative/ friend/ colleague. You could offer a friend to babysit their children once a month and get the same in exchange. Every little help!
posted
27-Dec-13, 13:43
by Elfin
Avatar for Elfin
posted about 7 years ago
Thanks, DrCorrine. We neither of us have any family close by at all. I think also that we've "made a rod for our own backs". My daughter will only go back to sleep if I feed her to sleep - not something her dad can do! I know I could try and night wean her, but I think I'm trying not to rock the boat, as I don't want it to get any worse than it is now!

My husband has her on a friday, so he works all day saturday. I'm going to have to really try and work on Sundays. Its so hard though, being in the house as I get very easily distracted by her. Local libraries are closed, and uni ones are 1.5 hours each way. Don't think I knew what I was letting myself in for.

Its good to know that there are others out there though that have experienced similar. Part of me wonders whether to just try and go hell for leather and try and burn the candle at both ends, as its just til September....
posted
27-Dec-13, 16:51
Avatar for DrCorinne
posted about 7 years ago
I think that there are a lot of people that experience similar situations. So you are definitely not alone, but as you said, it's not a long term arrangement.

There is no magic solution I am afraid, you have to find your own balance and be aware that something is going to suffer a bit for a short while (rely on convenience food, don't worry if the house is not sparkling clean...).

I had this great idea about working with the baby playing in the corner with her toys, but it never worked that way...so I know that it is difficult to compartmentalize working time/ space. The only thing that you can do is trying to maximize the time that you have when you have it. Good planning is essential, so that you don't waste time.

I am sure that you will get more tips from other members of the forum though.
posted
27-Dec-13, 20:03
by wowzers
Avatar for wowzers
posted about 7 years ago
Hi Elfin. First, you're doing really, really well, it's hard enough without children but you'll make yourself ill carrying on this way. I too have children and both mine were also non-sleepers. Doing a Prof doc I'm taking it you are UK then? You need to see your Health visitor about sleep training ASAP. I'll tell you what mine said...Routine, routine, routine. Bath them 3 times a week, you don't need to do it each night (it's not good for their skin anyway) Other days use a top and tail bowl. In bed at 7pm prompt each night. If you're still BF, use a pump and get some storage milk bags so others can feed from bottle but after 12months you can stop and use just cows milk anyway. Don't feed to sleep (although you already know that!), you need to cut it out for your own sanity, she needs to learn to settle herself or you're setting yourself up for years of problems. You might need to try controlled crying, that's what our HV advised...it was the hardest most emotional thing ever and they both screamed through it and it took a few weeks but oh my days it worked and it's amazing to have your little one in bed at 7pm and sleeping through. But all children are different, please go and see your health visitor about the sleeping, they should be sleeping through now. I know Bounty has a forum for student parents that offer mutual support x
posted
28-Dec-13, 00:06
by Fled
Avatar for Fled
posted about 7 years ago
LOL only if my daughter could go a week with 3 baths....baby food in hair....not gonna happen.

Anyways, as a dad of a 11 month old with a wife in emergency medicine I have to get creative with my schedule, however the original poster said her little one is a good sleeper. Great, that's half the battle won. I got this tip from a successful professional and academic and its been working out great so far.

In preparation for my PhD in April, what I do is I go to sleep WITH the baby...yes 8-9 the latest. That way I can put in my 6-7 hours and at 3 AM guess what? rise and grind! House is quiet, I get my coffee and I go. That way I get my 3 hours research at the very least and I'm ahead all day long, no matter how horribly it goes the rest of the day. This took me about a week to get used to but its doable, its temporary, and in my case necessary.

Do what you have to do because 5:30 is not cutting it. Hit the bed with the baby..no tv, no mindless internet surfing, no decompressing from work...just good ol sleep.

My 2c
posted
28-Dec-13, 08:10
edited about 20 seconds later
by John_09
Avatar for John_09
posted about 7 years ago
Nice post!
posted
28-Dec-13, 15:01
edited about 7 seconds later
Avatar for metabanalysis
posted about 7 years ago
It may seem that you are failing at everything, but the truth is that the system is failing you. If you think about it, the university system was developed by men for men, and fails to support women especially through the difficult years of motherhood.

My advice is to contact your Equalities Officer and see what s/he can advise you about the ways in which your university is obliged to support women. For example, lots of universities have grants for women e.g. are lots of grants for women in education that you can try for e.g. http://www.imd.org/programs/mba/fees/Funding-for-Women.cfm Find out what is on offer and insist that your univiersity respects you as a woman by honoring their obligation to make sure women don't fail in postgraduate education.

Hope this helps :)
posted
28-Dec-13, 17:45
by wowzers
Avatar for wowzers
posted about 7 years ago
Good point about sleep when baby sleeps. You can do 3 baths, that's what the top and tail bowl is or or get a shower seat, anything that cuts time. I've two dirty boys, lol and it worked (it was also to helo their dry skin though).

Def follow metabs advice about equality and see what money you can get, particularly anything towards formal childcare. If you're in your last year are you just on write up or do you still have data to collect as you could cut your placement altogether if you no longer require data or only do a few days or block it e.g 4 full weeks in placement and 4 weeks off? You need to check how felxible the uni and placement can be. ;-p
posted
28-Dec-13, 22:59
edited about 1 hour later
Avatar for LarryDavid
posted about 7 years ago
My better half had our first baby three days into my PhD and no.5 was born two months after my graduation.

My best pieces of advice (which a think are gender neutral but please excuse bias - I am a man after all haha!!)
- Routine
- If possible write early in the morning so you always feel ahead of your work.
- Be involved with every aspect of bringing up the kids
- Be consistent with the kids so they understand when daddy or mommy is "working" or when its the day for daddy or mommy to give them their bath or their trip to the park etc so they don't get stressed.
- Be honest with your spouse; if either or you are too tired to do something that day then communicate this and help the other person.
- Do not compare yourself with other students
- If you are struggling with work do not take it out on the kids - its not their fault
- Always be open and honest with your supervisor re: family issues and the impact of these things on your work.
- The majority of successful academics had families late in life or have no families at all - maybe they cannot or don't want to understand everyday domestic things that can mean having to change your plans. Don't take reactions personally.

This is what I found anyhow. Good luck!
posted
29-Dec-13, 12:50
by Elfin
Avatar for Elfin
posted about 7 years ago
Thanks everyone for your replies. Yes, I am in the UK - I'm in the final year of a clinical psychology doctorate, so the placement is as important as the research element. I think my main problem is that the original project fell through, meaning I'm starting on the back foot. If I didn't have my daughter I think I'd be able to work collecting data (the study isn't even programmed or properly designed yet, then I've got to recruit a relatively difficult population) in the evenings and at weekend, but it just can't be physically done.

I've spoken to my course who are very much of the opinion that they want to wait until things have actually gone wrong (i.e., when I fail to submit on the 20th of July) rather than anticipating what might be helpful before then.
posted
30-Dec-13, 16:38
Avatar for timefortea
posted about 7 years ago
Hi - I can offer sympathy but not much advice as I am floundering! My main problem at the moment is having nowhere to study. My husband is looking after our three today (plus two friends) but I have nowhere quiet to study and our flat is small. I am currently trying to read some articles to the sound of World War One (9 year old and two friends are doing a reenactment). Every now and again two three year olds come and pelt me with lego......

I do agree that getting up early and working is easier than in the evening but I know it is hard. My two boys are good sleepers but if I get up early my daughter often senses it and comes and joins me which is not good!
posted
31-Dec-13, 10:44
edited about 15 seconds later
Avatar for DrStrangelove
posted about 7 years ago
Yes I have done this. A three and a one year old during my final year (of 5) doing a professional doctorate whilst working. I have finished. But still recovering.

I know what it is like. The job study family balance. It is very hard. But keep your head down and you can do it.

Working in the evening didn't work for me. I did some thesis in m lunch breaks and stayed on a bit in the office.

I delivered my thesis only just before my hard deadline. Not good. Try to finish it a month early so you have edit time. Having said that I spent 2 weeks leave with the family away to finish it. I had to commit to it 100%, 16+ hour days. Only then I saw the whole thesis - matrix style!

Do what you've got to do to get it done.

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