Balancing Family Life and Academic Work

This academic year was a time of change for me: I suddenly became a guardian of my two younger brothers. I moved them to Bloomington with me because I knew they would have a better opportunity here than where they lived. However, I didn’t know how hard it would be to raise them while also continuing my academic career as a PhD student.

Before the boys moved in with me I had planned on being ABD (all but dissertation) by now, but I decided to take things a little slower. I knew raising two boys would be a lot of work but I figured I could easily continue on with my studies without any significant changes… I was wrong. Almost everything changed… I had to wake up earlier than before, I had to prepare twice as much food for the week, and I had to learn to balance school, home, family, and personal life. Oh and did I mention I live with my two friends (who are wonderful) and a dog? Yea, to say that things are different is an understatement.

I had to learn how to be a parent, take care of a dog, and maintain a good relationship with my roommates while being a PhD student.I had to play different roles everyday. It is exhausting! However, I did find a very supportive community to help me balance all of these things. After I got accustomed to waking up early and no longer sleeping while reading, I took advantage of the time I had when the boys were in school. I also accepted the fact that once the boys did return home, my time was no longer solely mine. With the help of my roommates, mentors, and friends I created a schedule that worked for me as a student and that complemented my other roles.

One struggle I continue to have is finding time to write. When the boys are in school I am prepping for class and studying for exams but my research and my writing time does not fit in here. Luckily, there are opportunities to write with a community of scholars on campus. The Graduate Mentoring Center holds a weekly Drop in, Write on session. Although they are in the evening, they work to accommodate people with children. I definitely will be using this resource soon!

If there is anything I want you guys to take from this post is that balancing your different roles as a graduate student is hard, but with the help of your community and a little more faith in yourself, it is definitely doable!