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kids and careers?

Elaine Ingham inghame at BCC.ORST.EDU
Thu Aug 26 09:34:38 EST 1993

Kathie Hodge asked about when to have kids, given the academic life-style.
I have some experience with this, since my first child was born just
after I finished my Master's, and child number two just after I finished
my Ph.D. 

There are several important factors to check out AFTER you have decided
you have the patience, tenacity and SUPPORT GROUP to raise a child.  That
support group thing is important.  I myself do not understand how single
mothers manage raising children - I couldn't have done it all by myself. 
Make certain your husband or significant other will actually take over their
half of the parenting responsibilities.  Or you have a live-in nanny. 
Whatever, you have to have someone who can take care of the child when YOU
are sick.

Next, you have to think about working in a place where you can leave during
the day to deal with doctor appointments, phone calls from the day-care
place (Your child just urped up all over and you have to take the child
home...), and other assorted emergencies that crop up with every child.  
Graduate school is perfect for this - you set your own hours, you do your 
own work.  You won't have flexible hours of this kind until you`re a 
professor, and maybe not even then.  

See if you can get an office all your own and bring a travel crib in.  With
my children, I hired a college student to come babysit when I had to be
in class or in the lab.  It was perfect - and inexpensive.  I could breast-
feed and still get my research done.  The baby was on campus and made it
extremely easy to find willing babysitters.  Their classes were one floor

Check out the University day-care center.  Most - but not all - Universities
have one.  But be aware that there may be a year waiting list to get your 
child in, and they may have restrictions on the number of new-borns they
allow.  Check out the Licensed Day-care operators in your city/town; they
too have restrictions and you don't want to wait til the last minute
to make arrangements.

Actually, most people were very understanding about the early days with
babies.  Late night feedings are something most people over 35 have dealt
with themselves so you get alot of sympathy.  The time that gets difficult
is when the children turn nine, ten, eleven and start needing to be taxied
EVERYWHERE!!!!  Make certain you get to know large numbers of other parents
whose children do the same things your children do, so you can share the
taxi-service and after-school "descend on an innocent house" behavior.  A
cleaning person becomes an absolute must once you have herds of teenagers
flocking through your house, devouring everything in site and leaving the
wrappers on the floor.....

Every parent has a million stories.  Find a female professor in your
area of science who has children - just ask, we all like to talk about
our experiences - and find out how she made it through both children and
a career.  Don't ask people who had children and then came back, they don't
really understand.....

Oh, and a last note - you are going to have to become EXTREMELY ORGANIZED!
You may not appear to be organized to anyone else, but when you juggle
children, husband and a career, you have to run three concurrent careers at
the same time.  Organization is the only solution!

And as Nike says - JUST DO IT!

Elaine Ingham

On 25 Aug 1993, Kathie Hodge wrote:

> For a few months now I've been reading this group with interest.  It
> seems like a good place to ask a question that's been bugging me - when
> to have kids?
> It seems like there will never be time.  I'm 26 now, and have three or
> four more years to go on my Ph.D. and then maybe a post-doc or two and if
> I'm lucky enough to actually get a job when I'm done then I'll have to
> work like crazy for five years to get tenure and wow!  I'd like to have a
> family at the same time somehow without spontaneously combusting.
> How do you do it?
> Kathie Hodge
> grad. student in mycology
> Cornell University
> kh11 at cornell.edu

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