PhDeaf vlogcast episode 4: PhD mamas

with Maija Koivisto, Marta Morgado and Mette Sommer

In this vlogcast Marta Morgado, Maija Koivisto and Mette Sommer discuss their experiences of being PhD researchers who also have parental responsibilities. 

When they started their PhD studies, Marta, Maija and Mette all had children under the age of 10. Doing a PhD research in combination with caring responsibilties, meant operating in very organised schedules. But it also meant being flexible with their time and space, for example working in the morning and again in the evening, and working from home if necessary, with the children around. Fortunately their PhD studies mostly allowed for this flexibility.

Marta and Mette moved to a new country to do their PhD, and found it challenging to balance family life and studying. The children had to adapt to a new way of life; a new country, a new language and in addition homeschooling during the pandemic. Both Marta and Mette accepted that in their first year, they inevitably could work less on their PhD to allow their children time to settle in and adapt to these changes. For Mette, this meant she spent additional time on her PhD at the end which wasn’t allocated for in the funding. She anticipated though that this would happen, and it helped with feeling less anxiety, pressure and feelings of guilt in the process of PhD submission. Marta however applied for some additional funding for the PhD as a result of COVID and Maija completed some other work throughout. Unlike Marta and Mette, Maija got into an university that is based in her hometown and was the first deaf PhD researcher at that university. The university does not have a deaf or sign language related program; this was challenging in the beginning.  

They all have supportive partners who looked after the children during periods of the PhD when they had to attend conferences abroad or meet deadlines. 

A final important tip is to find space to write without any distractions and children around, a good example would be a writing retreat with other PhD researchers such as the Dr Deaf writing retreats. It’s crucial to have head space in order to be creative and find inspiration.

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