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PhD Watch - Time Minus 3 Months

For those new to joining me on my PhD journey, I now have 3 months left until my Doctorate thesis submission deadline (November 30th).

It’s been a tough month. Trying to create time to write when there is no time. Needing to fine tune my level of work output. I have been my own worst enemy. Huge self doubt has plagued me every day often to the point when even if I have managed to squeeze in time to write, I can’t because I just keep thinking of the mountain which is ahead of me. This is all part of the journey unfortunately and I have to keep fighting against it – I know the hardest part is yet to come.

In the face of all this, however small miracles have happened. I got my first research article published. I literally started writing this when our first son was just 6 weeks old and I had to rework this so many times to lift my standard of writing (while very sleep deprived!). I finally submitted it for review days before our second son was born and nearly 3 years in, after being rejected twice it is now going to be published (!!!!). I need three of these published by the time my thesis is approved and a total of five written, so this is a huge stepping stone.

I also have you all to thank. Following my last blog post I received numerous comments, messages of support and very practical suggestions all of which made a huge difference. It has helped me to trust those around me and to let go of some tasks I have been trying to do all on my own. I no longer am able to do everything on my ‘to do list’ each day. I realised that I need to delegate, and I need to prioritise. I am yet to master this one. In a day where I am at my capacity for working in terms of hours, I need to prioritise. I find this hard as it means that some things which I still feel are important need to be put on the back burner or potentially not happen at all. I am needing to tell people I am sorry it will need to wait and then let go of feeling like I am disappointing them.

I want to take this time to really thank my husband. He is making huge sacrifices and carrying more of the load at home to enable me to fulfil my dreams right now. On top of that he is emotionally supporting me, standing for me when I don’t believe in myself, and I know that is no easy task – I suspect at times it is like trying to encourage a very (exhausted) grizzy bear.

The other breakthrough I have had is in accepting my circumstances and not hoping that somehow the problem (of time) will just go away. My husband and I made a choice to try for children, knowing that this will most likely be very difficult for us. We were gifted our first baby 8 weeks into my PhD journey. 18 months later, following a miscarriage and the reality of us conceiving naturally again being almost non-existent we again made the choice last year to try assisted reproductive therapy. We knew that if I did get pregnant the journey to finish my PhD would potentially be harder and longer than we ever imagined – but honestly in the bottom of our hearts we just had to try, nothing to us was more important than our children.

Although we made the choice it does not mean it has been easy. When I have been particularly struggling I have authentically wanted someone to just take the problem of time away. It is very rare to complete a Doctoral thesis with young children. Your typical PhD student takes 6 months of leave to finish their thesis. The jigsaw pieces I am trying to juggle are far beyond this and giving up often seems like the only way out.

It was when I was talking with my son’s daycare teacher that it clicked. We were discussing about the importance of teaching our children problem solving skills and that they would be solving problems far beyond what we could even dream of right now. I thought about if one of my son’s came to me with what I am facing now and what would I tell them? How would I help them?

I know that I would not take the problem away, I would want them to keep trying, to keep taking action even in the face of something seeming impossible. And that was my answer. I just have to keep doing a little bit each day, I have to keep putting the puzzle piece down and see if it fits. If I get stuck I need to move on to something I can do.

I realise now this journey is not just about me completing my PhD, it is about what I learn along the way…that is what I would want my son’s to discover. It is my boys, it is always my boys who are my greatest inspiration, my source of courage and it is for them that I will keep pushing to the end, even though my chance of failure is greater than my chance of success – this is what I would want them to keep doing.

And so, on with the puzzle we go!


xxx The New Mum’s Nutritionist

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