Graduate school (especially a PhD program) overlaps with many of the child bearing years. In general, most of your 20’s will go to the pursuit. For this reason, the debate frequently comes up whether or not a student should have a child during graduate school. Personally, when I started graduate school, I didn’t need to consider this issue because I already had one child and had concrete plans of having more. Though many of my fellow students did not understand my decision to go back to school when I already had a busy life, I found that having a child before I started graduate school was the right decision for me. Here are some of the pros I found to starting graduate school with baby in tow:
1) You already know how to manage your time.
Every parent has to have at least minimal time management skills. We wouldn’t be able to get everything done in the day if we didn’t. I know my own time management skills sky-rocketed when I had my first child. Graduate school is one big test in time and stress management. You have a leg up from the other students before you even start.
2) You have a grasp on your priorities.
When you have a child, your priorities change. For some people, this means they would like to stay home with their child full time. For others, this means they desire the simulation of workplace while raising their child. You cannot grasp how your priorities will change with parenthood until you make the leap.
3) You already know how you react to parenthood.
Before I had my first child, I could not even imagine what life as a mom would be like. When I started graduate school, I was already accustomed to the parent life and knew how I dealt with the stress of having a child and working. I also knew I wanted to maintain a professional life outside of the home. Parenthood changes you. I have met many moms who insisted they would continue working after having a child and simply had a desire to stay home and vice versa. You really cannot say how you will respond to being a mom until you are there. It would be much more difficult to reconcile the desire to stay home with your child if you are already 3 years into a PhD program.
Did you start graduate school with a child or did you have a child during graduate school? What do you think the pros or cons are?