The good news is that if you are embarking on a research degree and are already a parent or carer you are likely to have very high levels of organisation and time management skills. Your additional sense of purpose will stand you in good stead in times when motivation may dwindle.
However, as a parent or carer you are likely to have more demands on your time than other postgraduate researchers. Be upfront with your supervisory team about your additional responsibilities and realistic about how much time they leave you for your research.
Many institutions will offer childcare facilities and different support mechanisms.
You may find that being a parent or carer also has an additional impact on your ability to build relationships with your peers and engage in networking activity. Much of the informal building of a peer group takes place outside “office hours”, in contexts such as going to the pub, after work drinks, evening talks etc. Make the time and effort to build up networks of your own, either with people in a similar situation to you or who are more generally supportive. There are many parental networks outside of your institution such as the National Childbirth Trust, and Mums in Science that can help you meet others in your area or your profession.
If you are about to become a parent during your doctorate it is wise to put any measures which might be necessary in place as early as possible. If you are pregnant and carrying out experiments you will need to contact Health and Safety. See our section on pregnancy.
In “Motherhood: the elephant in the laboratory”, edited by Emily Monosson, female scientists discuss how they balance motherhood and a career in science in a series of essays. Cornell University Press ISBN 978-0801446641