Living Between Parenting and a PhD…

…by Clarissa / from Indonesia / studies Nursing / 2nd Year of PhD

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I am a proud single mum of a 9-year-old daughter and presently doing my PhD. My decision to continue higher education was not considered lightly. It was a very serious decision for me, and it took me months of self-contemplation and consultation with family and friends before I made that final decision. Reflecting back, I was unsure if I was going to manage my time well enough between studying and taking care of my daughter.

Now, I’m in my second year of my PhD journey and I’m thrilled and amazed at how far I have reached. I must say, the journey is not easy. But in my experience, being a ‘PhD student mum’ is not impossible.

Clarissa Daughter cropped

Are you a parent considering to start a PhD or perhaps you have started your PhD and thinking of having a child? You might think that the idea of doing a PhD and parenting at the same time is daunting. Well, I have had the same thought. Here are some few tips I can offer:

1. Talk to your supervisors
Tell them about your situation in the first place. I’m so fortunate to have supportive supervisors. They allow me to bring my daughter to our supervision meetings if I have to. On top of that, we usually avoid having supervision meetings during school holidays.

2. Find your support system
Being an international student and away from my family, I registered my daughter with an after-school club which is extremely helpful. In this way, I can work from 9 to 5. If I have urgent things to do out of the after-school club working hours, I sometimes ask for a friend’s help to look after my daughter.

3. Be strict with your schedule
My parenthood has taught me to discipline myself. Since I can only work when my daughter is at school/after-school club, I really value my time. I always try to work efficiently when I’m at the office. Good time management is a must, particularly prioritising when there are things to be done.

4. Share your experience with other PhD student parents
There are other PhD student parents out there! Therefore, it is essential to keep in mind that we are not alone. I find it constructive talking to other PhD student mums in my office. We can share the same feelings and support each other.


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