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Last Post 3/30/2017 11:48 AM by  Sabrina Savage
work and family
 2 Replies
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Author Messages

April B.


3/30/2017 6:06 AM
    I want to have four kids when I grow up and I also want to be a scientist. I love science! Is it hard to be a scientist and have to work really hard and go to a lot of conferences and have kids too?
    Tags: scientist, science, family, work, balance, kids, conference

    Christina Cohen

    Basic Member

    Basic Member

    3/30/2017 8:11 AM
    Hi April,

    First of all - good for you for wanting to 'have it all'!

    I have two kids and while it isn't easy to balance kids, work and travel it can be done. The main thing is to have some help, whether that's from your spouse, your parents/siblings, or really good friends. They can help out with the kids when you have to be at work or out of town or just pick them up from school if you can't.

    The great thing about being a scientist in many institutions (particularly academia) is often your working hours (and location) are really flexible. When my kids were little I split my time between working at the office and working at home. I was also able to work at home when they were home sick. As my kids got older, my flexible work hours allowed me to go to their school sports games in the afternoons and be available to pick them up early if it was needed.

    I have also taken my kids with me to various conferences. Usually I try to have someone else (who isn't attending the conference) with me to take care of the kids while I'm at the meeting. But, some larger conferences, like the fall AGU meeting each year in San Francisco (usually) has on-site daycare! I used that many times when my kids were young.

    Good luck!

    Sabrina Savage

    New Member

    New Member

    3/30/2017 11:48 AM
    Hi April,

    I actually do have 4 children and am an active scientist. Hard? Yes! Impossible? Nope. The key for me has been to be organized and have a very structured set of expectations and plans at home and at work. As Christina said, it helps that being a scientist provides a lot of flexibility with regards to time. The pressure for our careers are primarily to get these things done by such and such day, not necessarily to get things done between the hours of 9-5. It's a blessing and a curse because it means that we tend to work any hour of the day (I've pulled *many* an all-nighter), but it has also meant that I've been able to enjoy a lot of time with my children as they've grown. My spouse is a scientist also, so that has afforded us additional flexibility (and he's pulled those all-nighters too!). Flexibility helps to reduce daycare cost pressure too since we all know that we don't go into science for the pay. :) We both travel quite a bit as well, but rarely together. It can be tough, but we've set up the household so that it runs smoothly whether or not both parents are home.

    So if you're willing to put the hours in, have a strong independently-motivated work ethic, and have decent organization and time management skills, then certainly don't let wanting a family hold yourself back. Family keeps me balanced and grounded when my head is in the clouds.

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