This post came out of the comments to Dr.Isis's post about balancing work and family. PhdGirl, JLK, Labness and others have asked the age old question: when is the best time to have kids? is it easier during grad school or during your post-doc? What about during the tenure process? Of course there is no perfect time and everyone has to think about their own personal situation. I chose to have my first kid right when I started my PhD. I did this for a number of reasons, the primary reason being age. I was 30 when I started grad school for the second time so waiting until I was done was not a viable option. Having the monkey right at the beginning meant that I was not putting any research on hold (or so I thought). The other advantage is that when the monkey is sick (as he is today) I feel only a minimal amount of guilt as no one is dependent on me. Only my career or timeline is being affected. As a PI, I would have students, post-docs, meeting etc which I suspect make the whole juggling aspect harder.
As a student, I make my own hours. In most lab situations, no one is clocking when you are coming and going, so if you need to leave early to get your child ready for Halloween or take him to the doctor, its OK. The key to having kids while doing graduate studies is having both a supportive and understanding supervisor and labmates. For me, even if my supervisor is supportive, having lab mates sniping about me makes for an uncomfortable environment.
What about the challenges? For one being able to attend those darn 4pm seminars. Due to my personal situation, I am on daycare p/u and d/o duty so its impossible to attend after-hour anything. Hopefully that will be changing, but for now I find the inability to attend the social events and some late seminars makes me feel disconnected from the department. At my oldgrad lab, we used to have fridays@five which was basically hanging out and having beer, it was where friendships were formed, collaborations started and a sense of community established. Once I had the monkey, I could no longer attend as his daycare is off campus.
Not many grad students have kids, so you'll be the odd one out. But as like Dr.Isis, sciencewoman and all the other moms that work, I have learned to work really efficiently. Like today I should get at least 2 articls read, plus my blogs while the monkey sleeps on my lap. With that I must go read some science :)
5 days ago