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My wife and I just found out that we're having our first child. While this is a wonderful thing, it also concerns us a bit. Particularly because we're on limited funds (TA & RA combined salary) and we're still 1.5-2 years away from graduating together. Also, since our academic careers are so demanding, we're also concerned about balancing time taking care of our newborn.

I read the responses in this post, but I'd like to ask for more specific advice for new parents in graduate school. What strategies have you used to enable you to handle having a newborn while both parents are finishing their PhD? Both in terms of time management and making ends meet, financially.

Any personal anecdotes, experience, advice, and tips are welcome! :)

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    Also related: academia.stackexchange.com/q/9589/2700 – F'x Jul 26 '13 at 21:04
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    Should this be CW since it will involve no single right answer ? – Suresh Jul 26 '13 at 21:15
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    Step 1: After you tell your family and friends, tell your advisors. – JeffE Jul 26 '13 at 22:01
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    Congratulations to you both! I had a graduate student who had two kids and saw his wife go through med school while finishing his PhD. The key was (for both) to be highly organized and maintain a strict work schedule helping each other out. He finished with flying colours; she is a medical doctor. – Peter Jansson Jul 26 '13 at 22:03
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    Advice? look for a daycare (do not forget to register in your university's daycare waiting list ASAP) – seteropere Jul 27 '13 at 3:56
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Congratulations! First of all, you are in for a wonderful and life-changing experience.

However, your life is going to change quite drastically - so try to be prepared.

Some things that come to mind in no specific order (some of these are not specific to academia):

  1. On the personal side, you must first realize that you will have much less time to work. Get used to the idea. The way to deal with this is to organize your time and stick to your schedules. No more random web browsing during work hours - use your time with your child as time for brain rest. As a scientist you may know that it is not always easy to be creative/focused on cue, but you will learn to get used to it with practice.
  2. As JeffE commented, if your advisors don't know yet, notify them. A supportive advisor can make a huge difference in terms of flexible-work time, working from home, and even moral support. I would also try to gently ask if they increase your salary or offer some other kind of financial benefits. Also, your graduation will most likely get delayed, hopefully not too much - try to see that your supervisors are ok with that.
  3. If possible, have your family help as much as possible.
  4. The first year with a child is a huge change and can be quite difficult, especially in your situation. Help each other and be understanding towards each other.
  5. Your school's HR can give you information about benefits you could get for children (healthcare, day care).
  6. You can find tons of used baby/child stuff (toys, clothes) for free or very cheap, because they are often useful only for a short time.
  • I'm defending in may and my daughter was just born 3 weeks ago. This is all great advice. I just want to add that you have to finish the dissertation as quickly as possible. Tell your advisor this: "Look, I have a kid, here's my plan to finish in 18 months. I'll give you this chapter on jan 1 and I need comments by Feb 28. . ." etc – shane Feb 28 '14 at 14:37
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The first 3 (or even 6) months, it's your fun time. There is not much to worry about.

If there is something I want to recommend is to find a spot for your infant at your university day care ASAP. Most of them give students/faculty members priority. Unfortunately they are always full and have +years of waiting list (specially for infants <2 years old). Register your infant ASAP. Of course, after making sure its a good place to put your child in. Then, you will enjoy visiting the baby during the day hours (12-1pm is a nice time to get your lunch nearby your kid). I went through a nightmare when my kid was at day care far away from my university. This becomes worse in Winter because of the weather conditions.

  • I think you need to clarify your first sentence. Do you mean the first 3 months of pregnancy, or the first 3 months after birth? – Joel Reyes Noche Jul 27 '13 at 6:19
  • @JoelReyesNoche after birth. – seteropere Jul 27 '13 at 6:26
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    In my experience, the first 3 (or 6) months after birth are the most worrisome, especially if this is your first child. – Joel Reyes Noche Jul 27 '13 at 6:54
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    @JoelReyesNoche - I think what seteropere meant was that having an official maternity or paternity leave can be very helpful. – aparente001 Jan 13 '18 at 5:31

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