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2012 Student Mama Accountability Thread

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 

Hi mamas! This thread is for student mamas to check in and support each other. You can come back on a daily, weekly, or semi-regular basis to check in on your progress.


Want to join in?


Let us know a little about you:


- Who you are

- What you are studying

- Where you are in your progress

- Goals for the month/semester/term

- Any major challenges you may have - where you need support


Hope this helps us all move forward!

post #2 of 44
Thread Starter 

I'll get us started!


My name is Tracy. I'm a PhD candidate in Public Policy and ABD (all but dissertation). My research was approved December 2010 - which seems so long ago now since I had a baby boy last May. My study is qualitative - I am interviewing families with children with autism and state policymakers about the systems that support children and families. I have completed 8 of 12-20 interviews, and my advisor has suggested I analyze the data I have, so I am in the process of transcribing it. It is a very long process, so I just paid for one interview to be transcribed, but I am having a hard time justifying the cost.


My goal for January is to complete all the transcription - doing 1-2 hours a day and one 4 hour session per week. I'll start on Sunday! (We are in the car all day tomorrow returning from visiting in laws).


My biggest challenge is an 8 month old who doesn't nap in his crib and an exhausted mama with no energy to do anything once he is bed at night (I'm pushing myself here but motivated!). I also feel pulled by regular life and household responsibilities... I've almost given up on a clean house.


Looking forward to hearing from other mamas! I'll be back Sunday to update you all on my hour.

post #3 of 44

I'm Teresa, studying psychology, I'm also ABD and have 2 funded terms left but 3 terms in the program left to finish. I have a 7 month old (who also won't nap in his crib - ha), and I am also very tired all the time. My thesis is experiment-based, and I have 2 experiments that can be included in the dissertation and 1 more underway. If I receive a scholarship to do postdoctoral research I'll have to finish my dissertation by the end of August 2012, so I have a lot of work to do this term to get to the point of handing in a draft to my committee. By the end of the term I need to have Experiment 3 completed, analyzed and written up and I need to have the dissertation pretty much written so that I can get things rolling before the end of the summer, it's along process from submitting the draft to defending, it takes about 8 weeks, so I have to be done by June to be safe. 


This week I'm going to be collecting data for the third experiment, and preparing a talk based on my topic's background research. I think I'll also start a document of my thesis just so that I can start filling it in and feeling official, after so many years in graduate school the thought of actually finishing is kind of surreal. 


In terms of when I work, I have grandparents babysitting 2-4 days a week (very lucky I know), and I am a night owl and get an evening burst of energy (even though I should be sleeping), so I will be trying to spend that energy on my work instead of on household maintenance for the next 12 weeks of the term. I am terrible at just leaving dishes and laundry to be done, I do everything immediately but to the detriment of resting and my work. 

post #4 of 44
Thread Starter 

Hi Teresa! Glad you have joined me! I agree about starting a document and working from it. I got advice from someone - probably a fellow student - to write my acknowledgements. Then I would feel motivated or inspired to follow through - although maybe just guilty. Whatever it takes...


Just wanted to check in and say I worked for about an hour and a half on transcription tonight. I will finish this interview tomorrow. 


Tallying - 1/8 interviews transcribed 


Updated - 2/8 transcribed (9 Jan!)

Edited by tracylee - 1/9/12 at 7:41pm
post #5 of 44

Hi, I'm K, an exhausted PsyD candidate on internship full time and with a DW and 17moDD at home. My dissertation is so far behind its pitiful, I can't get my advisor to get back to me, one of my committee members just told me he can't write a recommendation for postdoc for me because I don't have an approved timeline in, my other committee member moved across the country, and I really want to walk at graduation in May. It's giving me ulcers and really not any fun. 

My dissertation is program development and evaluation, so it's all just writing. I have several chapters with some written, and a detailed outline to get me through the rest, but I struggle to stop myself from attempting perfection with every sentence. I secretly think I'm delusional if I think I'll be done by May. If I can keep to my schedule and get prompt feedback from my committee it could be possible... But I just don't know. 

My goal is to finish and submit Chapter 1 by Jan 31.  That only requires one more small section, maybe five additional pages written. It should be possible. 

The bigger challenge will be completing Chapter 2 by Valentines Day. Lately I go to work an hour early every day to get some done. I think I need to add evenin work after E is in bed. I'm just so tired after a whole day with kids (internship is therapeutic partial care program for 2-6yos)... But I need to push and make it happen. 

Thanks for this thread!

post #6 of 44
Thread Starter 

Hi, K! Thanks for joining us! So much of this process I have realized is just doing something every day. Setting goals and sticking to them is so hard though. It sounds like you are doing really well though and to walk in May - that's a fantastic goal! 


Are you involved with the American Evaluation Association, by the way? My advisor is involved in AEA, and I keep a student membership. 



post #7 of 44
Thread Starter 

Just checking in and wrapping up the week. I did between 30 minutes and almost 2 hours a night! I am trying to force the habit. So far it's working, although it is late, and I am tired. For the transcribing though I think it's okay - analyzing data when I am sleepy will be more difficult. 


Tallying is up to:


3 of 8 transcribed! 

post #8 of 44



- Who you are

- What you are studying

- Where you are in your progress

- Goals for the month/semester/term

- Any major challenges you may have - where you need support



My name is Denise.  I am a WOHM (i am a teacher at a school for hearing and speech delayed children.  I teach kindergarten.)  to DS(7) and DD(5)   With a new DD on the way!  I have a BA in religious studies and broadcast news and a BS in elementary education.  I am working on my MAE in literacy education with the hopes of working in a university setting at some point.  I have completed 15 hrs of 36 and will be taking 2 classes this spring.  


My goals are to keep my gpa up and keep up with things in a timely manner.  My classes are completely online and I'm due at the very end of the semester... I hope I can keep up!

post #9 of 44

Tracy I like the idea of writing the acknowledgements to get the ball rolling, thanks!


I have papers written that will turn into my dissertation and some introductory stuff written up so I'm not in terrible shape but like the other parents I am just so tired every day it's hard to follow things through, plus it's winter and finally cold here and I just want to curl up until springtime. I am trying to motivate myself with how good it will feel to be done and to be able to wake up and not have this giant goal looming in my mind and over all of my activities. I spent my holidays cleaning and de-cluttering in the hopes that my daily life would be more manageable but I still feel like I'm fighting chaos every other day.


My goal is to not be a perfectionist this week and try to get various tasks started in a way that is 'good enough' if not perfect. This past week was taken up with preparing for a talk (that I gave on Friday), now that that is out of the way I want to get cracking on day-to-day things, I even had a dream last night where I was making a do-able to-do list with all of the little things my dissertation needs, so clearly I am ready to get going, hopefully my baby will co-operate as best he can and keep giving me a few solid hours of sleep, he was a little hard to settle the past few nights but he has his first teeth poking through so maybe that was why. 


Anyway I wish the other student mamas a good (enough) week! : )

post #10 of 44
Originally Posted by tracylee View Post

- Who you are

- What you are studying

- Where you are in your progress

- Goals for the month/semester/term

- Any major challenges you may have - where you need support



Hi Tracy, thanks for starting this thread!


- I'm M, WOTH FT single mama to a 3 year old girl. I work in a law firm which kind of sucks since it's not my field at all. I have a B.Ed. in secondary education, specializing in teaching English and religious studies, though it's been years since I taught in the classroom. I mostly taught privately to students with learning disabilities.

- At this point, I am doing my 3rd graduate course in a 30 credit graduate diploma in distance education. It's very slow going because I work 37 hrs a week and I've got my little girl with me all the time; I only do 1 course per term to avoid going insane.

- This term, I'm actually finishing off a 20 week online course I started in November in Instructional Design. I'd really like to finish the darn thing even though I despise the course. My deadline for my fourth essay is coming up really soon and I haven't yet decided on a topic...I'm considering  a new trend in instructional design: cultural diversity.

- My main challenge is this: last December my boss got a promotion which nearly doubled my workload...I had previously been able to find time at work to do some reading and writing, but now I end my days completely exhausted. Then I go home to be Super Mom and by 21h00 when DD is asleep, I'm too pooped to start studying...so...I'm in the last stretch and I REEEEEEAALLLLY need support!

post #11 of 44
Thread Starter 

Teresa - I hear ya on the fussy baby scene. We had a week of him only sleeping alone in his crib at night for about an hour at the most. Finally on Friday when I was too exhausted to do anything else but nurse him, he had a big poo and has slept pretty well since then! He still comes to bed with us when he gets up before we go to bed, but its nice to have more than an hour to rush and get something done (and take a breath). I also must give you my mantra (taken from a friend) - "Done is better than perfect." Okay - just repeat it a few dozen times!


Hi M - glad you can join us! Your boss got a promotion and you got more work.... hopefully you got a raise, too? Cultural diversity sounds like an interesting topic - I always found researching/writing about something that interested me kept me going in some of those awful classes. Hope this forum can be supportive!!


I ended up taking last night off. I didn't intend to I just sort of forgot about working on my dissertation. I guess it was my "holiday" break, since it's MLK Day here in the US. Although reading about and listening to his speeches got me fired up again about my work. A few quotes for student mamas (and papas)...


"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals."


"Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think."


Is anyone else working with qualitative data - I am really enjoying listening to my interviews and that is also helping me stay motivated. I have a responsibility to these families now to honor their time and experiences. 


post #12 of 44

So, since typing this up, I actually have done almost nothing on my diss. :(  My advisor got back to me, finally, and she wants the entire draft in by Friday, but then thinks it will take til mid-June at the earliest to wrap the whole thing up. My hopes of walking for graduation in May are pretty much gone, which sucks.  I'd still love to try to push for mid-May to finish so that I don't have to pay tuition for the summer semester just for a few weeks of wrap up, but I feel downhearted about that as well. The whole thing just feels horrible these days, I can't stand my topic, no one else cares, I feel totally isolated about it. It's just miserable. It's so much more fun to play with my DD and spend all of my non-working hours with her! I'm completely disillusioned and annoyed now, but I need to make myself do it anyway. My debt is just too great to not finish. 

Can anyone give me pointers on how to do something that you really hate but must do?  How do I force myself to sit down and do this? 

post #13 of 44

Osker...how about doing it in spurts? Commit to only short bursts of work and then set it aside. Schedule say, 20 minutes, set a timer, and then brainstorm like your life depends on it. Get back to it later and organize what you've written, working only in short periods of time. Before you know it, you'll have some material to work with.


I'm facing the same thing with my current essay (heck the whole course too)...don't want to do it but HAVE to.

post #14 of 44

Wow mama's! Your all so hard working with such young babies, congrats on your success!



Im Shawna, studying early childhood education (which i was doing for an undergrad for teachers college, but now im just not sure, I just want to start working!)


Im in my second year, moved back to Toronto, was waitlisted to continue my program, nothing for fall semester and ended up returning home for Winter anyways so Ill be finished into next semester


My goals are to get honours, ive been hovering at 78.5 GPA first year, however was working 4 days a week on top of full time studies so hopefully i wont be so drained this semester that I can remain focused (But i miss and want to work!)


Got some big projects that I need to get a nice head start on, but truthfully, this is just a diploma program and nothing compared to the work load you Phd students have


I need to stop procrastinating, I always leave things to the last minute, but prefer it in its own right 



I hear you osker, all I want to do when I am actually home is play with my son and plan fun things to do, I miss being off with him, going to community activites, etc. 


Ive been having 8 am class, which is an hour away, up at 6am and by the time my son normally goes to bed ( 9pm on a good night by the time Im downstairs) Im exhausted


and has anyone tryed concentrating on writing academic papers with a toddler around? its practically impossible, no matter how fantastic of an activity is set up, you maybe get 15 mins bought


He was 1yr when I started, now is 2 and a half, Im struggling with daycare now as well, he hates it and cries and so do I 



post #15 of 44

Hello! I'm finally getting around to saying hello! I'm a SAHM to a 2.5 yo challenging DS (boy does he have energy!) and one surprise on the way in May. :D We have no childcare and no nearby family to help out, so it's tough. I'm in the finishing stages of a PhD in anthropology, so all my work has been researched by participant observation, qualitative interviews, surveys and a plethora of other techniques. Now I've been trying to put all that research data into a constructive argument. The hard part for me is consistency and flow, because my time to work on the thesis is so disjointed that my arguments have become muddled and my chapters a little repetitive. Ugh.


Since I posted in the other thread on PhD parents, I've had a long chat with both my advisors. My goal was to submit a final draft in February, sit my defense in March, finish inevitable corrections and re-submit in May, have a baby, then graduate in July. But my advisors have both been reluctant to have me commit to a February deadline given how little time I have to work on the thesis (I tend to work some evenings and 12-hour weekends). My DH works full time and travels 2 days out of the week to complete his own course (which isn't thesis-based, thank goodness!). So I've decided to take the time and drastically edit the entire thesis, rearranging large chunks and forming a tighter, more cohesive argument and submit the final draft in May. I'll sit my defense in June with a newborn, and then have the summer to work on potential corrections (about 90% of students end up getting minor corrections to fix, so I'm expecting them). So since that talk with my advisors, I've begun reorganisation on CHapters 1 - 3. So far it's going well and I'm excited again to be working on this thesis (rather than bored lol!). I've also had a nasty stomach bug and have been lacking in energy and general good health the last week or so so tonight I'm taking it easy. Back to the grind tomorrow!


I also found writing my acknowledgments to be hugely motivating when writing up, but strangely, now that I'm at the point to really start thinking about it, I've found that what I want to say is not what I've wanted to say all along. For some reason, I now feel weirdly embarrassed to write my acknowledgments and I'm not sure why. I also feel a bit embarrassed that I won't be submitting in Feb after all, like others in my dept will look down on me for submitting a bit later because I've gone and "got myself knocked up again". BUt that's probably just my own paranoia. To be fair, this is my fifth year doing this PhD and I really feel I should have finished last year, but I've also had a baby, organised and hosted a conference, published four articles and guest-edited a journal edition. Yet none of that feels like an accomplishment compared to an unfinished thesis. :(

post #16 of 44

Onedayatatime, I totally hear you on feeling under-acomplished due to not finishing yet.  I actually jumped into applying for postdoc to give myself a push and realized, as I was writing my CV and cover letters, that I actually have done a lot! A lot more, compared to my classmates, and really good stuff...

BUT, it's easy to push it all down and ignore it because the dissertation is still looming over me. dizzy.gif

post #17 of 44

I'm glad that there are others that feel this way! My friends tell me to focus on what I've done that's positive so far, but all I can see how far there still is to go. It's a bit overwhelming at times and when I feel overwhelmed, I have a hard time concentrating on the task at hand. Which means my work goes very slowly. And then it's just a self-perpetuating cycle! 


I have more time this week then usual (MIL is babysitting!!!! It means my DS is two hours away and I miss him LOADS, but he's well cared for and I reall should buckle down!). So my goals might be a bit, erm, enthusiastic, but I'd love to have completed the revisions for CH 1-3 and have a decent amount of CH 4 underway...

post #18 of 44

OMG!! I sent my advisor Chapter One!!!

It really feels like some day I could move on from this huge albatross!!!!


Good luck, onedayatatime, having the kiddo out of the house is a huge help!


Now onto Chapter 2 by Valentine's Day. If I get it done I'm going to make DW get a babysitter so we can go out just the two of us!

post #19 of 44
Thread Starter 

Hi mamas. I am feeling very negligent!! I have not done anything since maybe last Wednesday! My husband had a trip out of town Thursday-Sunday, which totally messed up any routine or schedule around here. I think I had one night with about 30 minutes to do dishes before the babe was awake and wanted nursing back to sleep. This was also after I put him to sleep in his swing, since he just wouldn't settle in his crib. Husband comes home and babe sleeps last night like a dream. Guess he just missed his daddy!


So, I am going to get back to my interviews tonight - in a hour or so I hope. Still at 3/8 completed, but hoping to get to 2/3s of the current interview completed tonight. Thinking about paying to have another (long) interview transcribed. My fellow qualitative ladies - did you do your own transcription? Thoughts or advice? Thanks! 

post #20 of 44

hi mamas...like tracylee, I've been rather, um, negligent. I've almost totally neglected my research and readings in favor of considering....dropping my FT job and going back to school FT to do a Masters' degree, instead of just the graduate diploma. I'm working on the logistics right now, but if things go as planned, I'd start at the end of February and it would take me about 1.5 yrs to finish the non-thesis Masters' degree. After that, I'll be broke but I'll at least have my degree. Hopefully, I can find work in my field then...


Ok, NEED to get to some reading on multiculturalism in instructional design. Ugh.

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