So, at 28 weeks pregnant, I had my PhD Confirmation seminar. A milestone to be celebrated, from the sounds of things. (I’m celebrating the successful completion of all the form-filling, report-writing and general bureaucratic paperwork). The weeks leading up to confirmation were frantic, with a major re-write of my 10,000 word report required. My draft report came back with thousands of tiny multi-coloured comments from my three supervisors. It took a day to read the comments alone, and removing them also removed 5000 words from my report! Somehow, with daily use of the good old Pomodoro technique (usually early in the morning) I got it done. The seminar went smoothly, the panel meeting less intimidating than I expected, and paperwork was eventually all signed off. I am now a confirmed PhD candidate, and off “probation”. It was a fantastic way to start maternity leave.

Confirmation - the day Carolyn became a confirmed geek
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While idly surfing the web on my iPhone during a Graduate Research orientation day I came across some great blogs including this wonderful blog by a fellow PhD Mum. In it she talks about blogging while her child sleeps in the car, doing the “baby dance” with her child in the baby carrier… how familiar this sounds! And I decided to finally publish this post, written five months ago while I was in the car with a sleeping baby. Here it is…

I’m a working, studying mum. This calls for what i call extreme multitasking. as i write this i am holding my 16 mth old, who is fast asleep, with my left arm. we are in the car and have been here for the last hour. When she fell asleep on the way home from a meeting at the university (my work/study place) I pulled into our garage, parked the car, left the radio on and climbed into the back seat with my laptop. I’ve read two papers. When she stirred after half an hr, which i was anticipating, i unclipped her from the car seat, popped her over my shoulder and patted her bottom, a surefire way to get her back to sleep. She’s a poor sleeper and needs all the help she can get.

I worked from home for six months before I officially started my PhD. In reality this meant i spent all her waking hours with the laptop open, grabbing the opportunity to do a tiny packet of work whenever she was distracted by a cardboard box, the tv, or lunch. Each day as i crept out of her room after she finally went down for a nap, I’d make a cup of tea and work frantically for 29 minutes before she woke up. (One day though i just decided to lie on the couch. I felt guilty but I didn’t care). Each night, at 8:30pm, my workday really started. As can be expected i found this absolutely exhausting and threw in the towel after 6 months.

I’ve run meetings while she slept in the baby carrier. I’ve typed emails while singing nursery rhymes. I’ve used children’s tv a whole lot more than I ever thought I would. and there have been many occasions like this where the car has turned into a makeshift office while I wait for her to finish soaking up her precious sleep. Life might have been a little easier if she had been a better sleeper. L imagine other mums carrying their toddlers, still asleep, into the house after falling asleep in the car. Mine would have just woken up and been ready to play. but gosh dang it, life would have been so boring and I wouldnt have been able to recall such priceless hours of my favourite sport – extreme multitasking.

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