PhD Student Mamas Tackling 2008 - Page 6 - Mothering Forums

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Old 11-21-2008, 04:38 PM
 
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Originally Posted by FtMPapa View Post
I think my comment about the class issues behind mamas who say that academia and children don't mix well comes from my own class position, vis-a-vis that of most of my colleagues.
[snip]
However, most of my professors and most of the people I know who are above the rank of grad student (postdocs, lecturers, junior faculty, on up) have never really worked outside of the academy for any length of time.
[snip]
Altogether, it means that I have spent about seven years in the working world, working full time, supporting myself, and partially supporting my partner, paying the bills, getting myself through university (though to be honest, my focus was always paying the bills.)
This is not typical of my colleagues.

Nor is it typical for most the mamas who complain about the lack of work/life/family balance within academia.
I don't think that's fair. If you show me numbers--actual numbers of women in academia, the kinds of jobs they have worked, and what they do now, maybe I'll be convinced. All of the women in my department work to support themselves or their families.

I complain about the lack of work/life/family balance. I worked PT all through undergrad (FT really, the second two years as I had a regular student job and was editing the student newspaper), worked two PT jobs through my master's (supporting myself). I stayed at one of those (a retail job) during my "year off" between the master's and PhD, while working two other PT jobs (one at a mouse-infested office, oh the joy!). I continued working at the retail job while working on my doctorate, and also had a dept RA-ship and eventually, added a third PT job (teaching as an adjunct).

Since then, DH's salary has picked up. I left retail. Since DD was born, I've reduced my PT schedule and then reduced it some more in order to complete the dissertation and phinish.

Even then--even though I managed to win a fellowship and have only one class this semester--it's a huge struggle. The struggle looks something like this:

- I have a big deadline and lots of grading
- DH has a series of early meetings and/or extra work that he brings home.
- Things don't get done around the house.
- I pick up the slack.
- DD immediately reacts to the stress by getting up early and/or going to bed late, and spends a good deal of the day whining and demanding even more attention, which slows everything down. Case in point: I was printing out a [mostly] final draft of my dissertation to bring to my advisor this afternoon. DD knows that as soon as I finish doing it, we're going to do fun things. Rather than actually allowing me to print it, she demands to nurse, demands that I pour her juice, demands that I allow her to have the juice on the rug [the rug that I just washed because she spilled milk there yesterday...which she wasn't allowed to have on the rug but poured herself because I was busy trying to do laundry]. So I've nursed her twice and finally (!) printed out the draft. She's sleeping on my lap as I type this because she got up extra early when she noticed DH was up extra early).
- I either set aside my dissertation goals, or stop sleeping (lately, the latter)



This didn't stop DH from complaining about the general state of untidiness the house is in last night--not that he's bothered to pick up her toys or put the bills in the bill pile or recycle the newspaper anytime recently.

The only concession to work-life balance we've had is that DH took Tuesday as a vacation day and took DD to the zoo so I could have an entire uninterrupted day for my final push on the dissertation. It is the *only* entire day I've had to work on it since DD was born. Yeah, ideally I could just stick her in daycare (not dissing people who do!), but DD is not ready for that (social anxiety, borderline selective mutism--but both are improving so I'm reluctant to "shove" her forward when she is making progress).

On a board like MDC, I certainly think that respecting our child's needs is important too. In our family, it's very difficult to balance DH's tenure-track work load with my own adjunct PT load and dissertation work and DD's needs.

More importantly, I don't really think that I somehow have more or less of a reason to feel frustrated with the situation because I came from a working class background or because I worked retail/cleaned apartments/did office work (yes, all three). We ALL deserve more flexibility in work-life balance: men and women in academia, and men and women in corporate fields, and men and women in working-class jobs. Frankly, it doesn't make any sense to take the worst working situations and then use those as a barometer of what's "good."

****
My 2008 accomplishments: as soon as I transfer DD off my lap, I'm off to take a shower and then to deliver the mostly-final draft to my advisor, yay!

Lisa  caffix.gif and her wonderful girls: R (9) violin.gif &  J (3-3/4) coolshine.gif 
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Old 11-21-2008, 08:33 PM
 
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DH comes from a working-class background, I don't, and he gets more frustrated with work-family-academia balance than I do.
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Old 11-25-2008, 10:35 PM
 
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hey z.--

i agree. it is disheartening that academic careers are so hard to square with mothering. and yes, there's a class element to the fact that some have an option to "put things on hold" and others do not. but frankly, as time goes on and dh's salary goes up and i'm getting the option to "put things on hold," that also creates its own set of problems. as it becomes possible for me to opt out, it becomes a real choice for me when i DON'T.

and not to be like all sob story over it because i'm so lucky to have choices, but it's HARD when you realize you are CHOOSING to pursue a career when you could stay home. at least for me it is. there are all those social messages about SAH being better, even more so in the AP community

not to mention, the more he's working and getting career-focused to get these promotions, the more is falling on me in terms of DD's care. and even though i am technically a WOHM, everything seems to fall on me in terms of choosing childcare, taking her, picking her up, and then most of the care at home as well. sometimes i think it would be easier if i just SAH and let him do the career thing :



it is hard deciding to start daycare. but if you go that route, i think you'll find you can get a lot more done. i never had the best luck with sitters, either. even if they're responsible, they're expensive and they get sick, and they leave town (especially the student ones!), etc. daycares are much more consistent. you can rely on them day in and day out at a (mostly) reasonable rate.

where are you looking at?? good luck! i know how hard it is to choose a place.
i still don't know what to do. the daycare is on meade st--about a 7-10 min drive. nice, clean small place, affordable, open door policy. we met the director/dcp, she's nice enough, its just her and another parttime dcp. they are both mamas and happy to accept pumped milk and clothes dipes. she said she'd wear dd. besides that there's not much to see since our dd would be part of the first batch of kids in the place as its a brand new center. my babysitter got a job so she quit before i managed to replace her. i should writing/reading and preparing for teaching next semester and i'm not. caring for dd is my main excuse so i've got to get some steady childcare. she's 4 months tomorrow. DH is not thrilled about sending dd to daycare but he's generally a quite reluctant "sitter" himself esp if i'm trying to work at home.

this sucks. any words of wisdom on placing a 4 month old in daycare or not?
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Old 11-25-2008, 10:38 PM
 
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nnaemeka: I remember having to make changes too after my proposal. really looking back on it now, it seems small in comparison to all the work that went in to it. it is a pain, but just look at all you have accomplished--you are ABD!! it's a big milestone, don't let the small stuff take away from this accomplishment you deserve to enjoy it too:
that's sweet of you! thanks for the perspective.
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Old 11-26-2008, 11:05 AM
 
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Hi Mamas! I usually hang out in the Working/Student area.
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Old 12-15-2008, 06:45 PM
 
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Reviving the thread.

As I am sitting here panicking that I will never graduate ever, my advisor jaunts in and asks me about my funding for next semester. Mind you he told me this fall that because I didn't perform to expectations, he was no longer going to fund me (no fault of his - I wouldn't even fund me - ugh!) . I told him another prof has offered to let me help him on some research tasks as a light RA. He insisted I needed to work on my dissertation, but I said if I didn't work for the other prof, I would have to teach, so I figured a light RA (finding papers, proofreading MS, etc.), would be less emotionally exhausting than teaching. Well he changed his mind and said he still had a little money left over and that I need to be working on my diss FT so I can graduate sometime soon. :

Holy 180 Batman!!!

Now how do I finally live up to his expectations? I am working on some new ADHD coping techniques, but I am still worried. Really worried! How can I get somethign wonderful out of this blob of research that has so far gone no-where?!

Advice??

~ Professor Mama to Gabito (July '07) & Danita (April '10) ~
A PhD = + +
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Old 12-16-2008, 01:29 AM
 
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Carita - no advice, but big congrats! That's great news.

You mentioned that you were seeing someone earlier, have you thought about accessing services through your center for students with disabilities?

Often, they have people who can coach you, recommend appropriate resources, etc. Sometimes they may even have money set aside for tutoring students that you might be able to convince them to let you use to get someone who could tutor you in coping strategies. They might also have support groups.

I found their services invaluable as an undergrad, but at my last two grad schools since then, they've been really unapproachable and hard to acess. I'm not sure if it's because I'm a grad student or because they just have different priorities at research schools.

Do you think you'd respond to a little bit of micromanagement? Like, getting your advisor's help in structuring weekly to-do lists, and then setting yourself a schedule?

I've found it useful to not think of my calendar as being "lots of free space" but to block out chunks of "work time" at times I know are my best times of day (long, uninterupted stretches from 8:00 AM - 2:00 PM, say) and then I wirte down exactly what I want to be working on, in some detail - i.e. go through paper, check citations. Do reading for X, write short response paper for Y. That sort of thing.

I also write down "low brain power" tasks that I can do in the evenings, when my brain is mostly fried, but I'm still able to put in library requests, or find articles, or respond to student e-mails, or grade papers.

The trick for me is to not get distracted by each e-mail that comes in - I don't need to stop what I'm doing to reply to a student who doesn't need and answer right now, but can wait 12 hours, or to get up, go to the library, get that book, if I put a request in, I can pick it up tomorrow morning.

Hope that helps a bit! Let me know what strategies you've been working on!

SPBC Finally a Papa! Elise Ember Soleil - 10/3/10 - 4:09 AM - 6 lbs 8 oz My daughter eats donor milk! Human milk for human babies!
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Old 12-16-2008, 01:28 PM
 
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Carita - no advice, but big congrats! That's great news.

You mentioned that you were seeing someone earlier, have you thought about accessing services through your center for students with disabilities?
yup - I have been seeing someone through my student counseling ctr. ODS only services the test taking time, etc., types of things. The SCC works on coping techniques, etc.

Quote:
Do you think you'd respond to a little bit of micromanagement? Like, getting your advisor's help in structuring weekly to-do lists, and then setting yourself a schedule?
I would, but he wouldn't. He has always taken a firm stance that I need to be more independent and he shouldn't have to babysit me. I get that, but I would do much better with babysitting

Quote:
I've found it useful to not think of my calendar as being "lots of free space" but to block out chunks of "work time" at times I know are my best times of day (long, uninterupted stretches from 8:00 AM - 2:00 PM, say) and then I wirte down exactly what I want to be working on, in some detail - i.e. go through paper, check citations. Do reading for X, write short response paper for Y. That sort of thing.
I am so looking forward to being able to do this. last semester I only had small chunks of time, and I couldn't get involved in anything. I would have a 1 hr break between class and teaching, then 1.5 hrs between office hours and picking up my son.

A couple of things I am working on:
1) Making a self-reward chart with my officemate. We make lists of what we have to accomplish that is school related and we earn stars. Then when we get to a certain quota, the other person has to bring in a treat for the office.
2) Not spending so much time surfing the www. I was working on a timer system where I work for 20min, then play for 5 min. I think I need to go back to that.
3) Breaking big research tasks into smaller goals and writing up my to-do lists accordingly. (like what you mentioned) Also goes with #1.
4) Sending Weekly updates to my advisor
5) Working on my research for 1 hr/day on days off so I don't lose track of where I am and what I was doing.
6) Better communication with my advisor. Necessary, but difficult.
7) Dang, I am forgetting something...

Thank you - that has been very theraputic!

~ Professor Mama to Gabito (July '07) & Danita (April '10) ~
A PhD = + +
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Old 12-16-2008, 09:20 PM
 
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yippie on the good funding news Carita!

very good suggestions from FtMPapa. helpful for me as well. thanks!
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Old 12-18-2008, 12:37 PM
 
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Carita: no advice but lots of Congrats! Thanks for the awe, but really there are days I wonder if I have totally lost my mind. My oldest 2 also have ASD & so it can be a really interesting some days

Also, thanks FTM for the suggestions/ideas on time management! I need them

I am also excited, all my classes are graded & done! I have my syllabi & course work for next semester pretty much ready to go, just need to make copies. Got 2 presentations accepted to a regional conference, getting submissions ready for several national (I should get at 2 accepted), & still working on the endless papers. My transcribing is set to get attention over break & I only need a handful of interviews to be completed before I am done with data collection. Then it's off to complete writing, revisions, & move toward defense. Plus meetings, appts, & therapy sessions starting for the kids...life...and oh yah I am sure I forgot about a million other little things. Man, I just realized that somehow I have to get a whole lot done in the next 3 months before baby gets here So much for my break

--lots of love from one busy momma of 4 & loving wife of 1--
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Old 12-18-2008, 01:05 PM
 
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GL much peace - still in awe - how do you do it? I want some of what ever you are on

There is never enough time, is there? - I have 2 days before my son is on break, then 2 weeks with him, then school starts again. I want a longer break... can I throw a tantrum now?

SO I orginally had that light RA and now I have my own time, well I am thinking my prof feels a bit threatened by the other prof that offered me the "light" RA. He has done this in the past to help another student in our lab out, and I think my prof was also upset that he was working on someone else's project and not his thesis. My advisor doesn't seem to understand that if it wasn't someone else's research that it would be teaching - you don't get paid for doing nothing. I wrote to the other prof and let him know the situation as tactfully as I could, but he wrote back curtly. I think he is upset at my advisor for being so territorial - there are not many people in my area that he can use his RA money for, and he is a new prof himself without any students of his own yet. My advisor is upset I didn't talk to him first - I think I have gotten myself involved in a little internal fight. oops! I hope no one holds it against me - they won't will they? ugh. now i feel guilty when instead I should feel motivated and happy. grr..

okay - must stop procrastinating!

~ Professor Mama to Gabito (July '07) & Danita (April '10) ~
A PhD = + +
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Old 12-19-2008, 02:15 AM
 
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Just popping in to say I successfully defended today. :

Lisa  caffix.gif and her wonderful girls: R (9) violin.gif &  J (3-3/4) coolshine.gif 
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Old 12-19-2008, 12:11 PM
 
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whoo hooo

i guess you can go hang out on the professor mamas thread now

congrats!

any words of wisdom?

~ Professor Mama to Gabito (July '07) & Danita (April '10) ~
A PhD = + +
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Old 12-19-2008, 10:25 PM
 
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Take it a day at a time. Try to work on it every day, especially if you're like me and the longer you're away, the harder it is to start again. If you don't have large chunks of time, do it in small chunks ("I'll write two sentences today" or "I'll just read for 15 minutes"). Remember that every little bit adds up and every little bit moves your forward. A writing group can be helpful, even (or if strapped for time, especially) if you only send what you've done over the last two weeks to other people via email because it establishes a deadline to meet (and allows you to see you are making progress).

Also, here are these from the ABD Moms group on Yahoo. These are not mine, but I kept them on a sticky note on my computer and used them for inspiration and support.

Quote:
FOCUS AND FINISH

a done dissertation is better than a perfect or even practical dissertation

"A good thesis is a done thesis. Good=done. Done=good."

Learn to respectfully but firmly demand what I need without feeling compelled to justify myself

But, you CAN do it. With the self-doubt and the guilt and the anger nipping at your heels.
FWIW, it took me five years from the time I became ABD to defend. DD just turned 4 on Monday.

Lisa  caffix.gif and her wonderful girls: R (9) violin.gif &  J (3-3/4) coolshine.gif 
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Old 12-20-2008, 06:08 PM
 
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Just popping in to say I successfully defended today. :
big huge congrads to you!!!!!
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