Friday, October 14, 2011

Hopes and Fears of a Mommy Post-doc

Mike had found me an article recently that detailed some of the pitfalls of science today, specifically those in a post-doc position. I read it and kept saying "oh yeah, that's me, totally!"...aside from the part about the person writing the article didn't appear to have kids (and if memory serves, was a man...which is neither here nor there...but just of note :) ).

Once again, I'll get around to posting/quoting some of it, but first I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on being a post-doc mommy.

Topic number one...Hours: OK, so I have a very understanding boss. She's awesome. Having said that, I go to great lengths to really put in the "required" working hours with face time in the lab, while doing many of the "extra" hours outside of work.

What the heck am I on about? As a graduate student, and even before that, I worked some pretty unconventional hours. I worked a lot. I'm not trying to brag, pat my own back, or even garner some sort of sympathy. I really enjoyed it...and I could do it at the time, seeing as how I wasn't tied down with children. I lived closer to the university (less than 5 miles...a 15 minute drive, tops, even in traffic) so it was easy to go home for a few hours, veg, and come back to finish an experiment. If I started an experiment late in the day, it wasn't a big deal and I could easily finish at whatever hour it needed to finish.

Fast forward to today. Daycare is open from 6am to 6:30pm. Is it sad that I really appreciate that last half hour? In any case, I'm limited by having to get the kids from daycare before it closes. Then there's the matter of not living within 5 miles of work. THAT is a real bummer, but it also complicates things when I need to just "run in" to finish up something.

In the end, I need to carefully plan my time, think things through, and get things done correctly on my first tries. I need to make the most of my time in the lab. It also makes me quite clever when it comes to planning time-course experiments. I avoid 12 hour time points at all costs. To avoid many hours on weekends, typically experiments need to be set up on Monday in order to get up to 96 hours in. If I plan to do a later time point, I set it up to go over the weekend.

But, I ramble on...the point is, I've learned to plan my work around the kids, and the kids around work. They have to co-exist, don't they?

In the end, do I work as much as other post-docs? I like to think so. Do I post crazy hours in the It might make me less competitive than others that don't have to worry about kids or otherwise, but I like to think that it makes me more efficient.

And so ends the first installment of "Hopes and Fears"...I will continue this later :)

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