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Babies & Grad School


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Because my wife and I have excellent timing and planning skills, I'll be starting grad school (MPA/MAIR) on June 30th, and our son is due on July 31st. I have been able to arrange to take about a month of leave from school, but then will dive back into my program.


Any tips on surviving? Being a grad student and a parent to a newborn at the same time? Supporting my saintly wife who will be staying home with the baby for awhile?

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Hi Quince,


My daughter was almost a year old when I began my second MA.  Being a parent and a grad student can be very taxing, but is totally manageable once you determine how to negotiate your time.  It was quite the challenge, but here's how I did it:


**Time management is EVERYTHING.  Try to create a schedule for study time, parent/family time and YOU time.  I always used digital calendars (iCal, Google Calendar) as well as my trusty Moleskine planner.  I always managed to stay on top of things with a sound system of time management.  


**Review the syllabus for each course and plug ALL due dates into those time management devices.  This includes weekly readings!  I would also set separate deadlines for assignments.  For example, if you have a 20 page paper due on the last day of class, establish smaller dates for outlines, drafts, etc.  This will help you to progress step by step, instead of becoming overwhelmed with your course load and life in general.


**Make time for YOU.  Try your best to plug a little relaxation into that schedule, even if it's short lived.


**As a mother, I can tell you this is probably most important :) GIVE YOUR WIFE A BREAK!!!  Being a mom is the greatest job I've ever held, but it's also the toughest.  I know you'll be overjoyed to spend time with your little one, but trust me your wife will appreciate that down time as well.  It will help to keep those lines of communication open and it will serve as a support for both of you - as partners, parents and for you as a student.


You won't have a smooth schedule everyday and you will have days that require immediate adjustments, but you won't find yourself completely drowning in projects, deadlines and the like if you have a solid system....even if it seems like your rough days are quite the burden!


Those are the things that immediately come to mind.  I hope this helps!

Edited by Encyclopedia Brown
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I agree. My son was born 3 months before I began my MA program. It was difficult to negotiate the amount of work I had and still finding time for family. I made it. I'll be finishing my MA and heading to a Ph.D. program in the fall. What I can say is that you'll figure it out.


Originally, I had to ask my wife to watch my son while I secluded myself and read like a maniac. I figured out that, for me, this was unsustainable and I now try to read more efficiently while I am in my office and I spend less time screwing around when I can be getting work done. This gives me a lot more time to spend with my son, which I actually do consider my me time. If I really need to get some work done, I take a relaxing day with the kid, nap when he naps, and then stay up late while the house is dead silent. I have a MWF schedule so I watch him Tues/Thurs and the weekends all day, so I like to do this when I know I don't have a whole lot of work on the next school day. I'd also reiterate to break up larger projects into smaller deadlines for yourself. It's really not that difficult to write a paper 4-5 pages at a time and it's a lot more comfortable than cranking out 20 pages on the last day before something is due.


Most of all, just make them a priority. While being paid poorly and being overworked for the next couple years might sound like living the dream, there is nothing more satisfying in this world than watching your kids grow up well.

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Most of all, just make them a priority. While being paid poorly and being overworked for the next couple years might sound like living the dream, there is nothing more satisfying in this world than watching your kids grow up well.



Thanks Meanyus and Encyclopedia Brown! I really appreciate the advice and encouragement.

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It won't be easy, but it's doable. Newborns are kind of tricky because their schedules are so different from ours. My one piece of advice--sleep when the baby sleeps. At least then you'll get some sleep! Also, be patient with yourself and your wife--this is a big change, and it takes a few months (or even years) to feel like life is "normal" again.


On a side note, there are so many threads about pregnanacy, babies, and families--I wonder if it would be worth making a separate forum for those topics (I don't mind seeing them in this forum, I'm just thinking it would be good to consolidate them into one place).

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