Toddler on the Tenure Track: It Begins!

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I vividly remember my first official day on the tenure track. I was sitting in a colleague’s office, trying my best to make it seem like I had it all together, while on the inside I was 100% convinced my brain had been replaced with mush. I was four months postpartum, living in a new city that was over 2000 miles away from family and friends, and it felt like a herculean effort to hold an ordinary conversation with new co-workers. How the hell was I going to function in front of a room full of students? Or in a room full of colleagues? Or for that matter, in a room full of anyone who wasn’t an infant? Good thing this job I just landed requires minimal brain power, ha!

Fast forward 2.5 years, the fog of new parenting has (mostly) lifted and I’m in the process of putting together my materials for my third year review. As I prep for the review, I’ve been reflecting on what I wanted/needed, in terms of support, during those first two years (and what I currently want and need!). More than anything I wanted to connect with other parents going through the same thing, learn about how they were making it work, and laugh at the ridiculousness of life with young kids. I joined way too many new moms groups and scoured the internet for resources on balancing being a new parent, with a new job, in a new city. What did their schedules look like? How did they plan out their weeks? How did they build a support system out of thin air? I didn’t want to hear vague stories about how it was really hard but everything worked out in the end... I wanted to know exactly how people were living their lives, day in and day out, making it work (or at least trying to) on a daily basis.

That’s where this space comes in! Although I most certainly do not have all the answers, it’s my hope that sharing my experiences, both past and present, of stumbling through parenthood and the tenure track, will serve as a resource for other parents with young kids in academia. That’s not to say that there aren’t other resources out there - I’ve particularly appreciated Get a Life, PhD for highlighting some of the realities of parenting in academia. And while not parent related (although he is an academic with young(ish) kids), the Study Hacks Blog (and Deep Work book), have also been helpful resources over the years. My aim isn't to compete or replace anything else that’s out there, but rather to add to the ever expanding resource that is the internet, with the hopes that at least one other person might benefit or relate to my experiences so far.

Given my preoccupation with planning, scheduling, organizing, and understanding the how of life, that’s what I’ll focus on here. While these things certainly won’t solve any of the world’s larger problems, they do (in my opinion) reduce some of the burden of parenthood, the tenure track, and life in general... leaving you to tackle all those larger issues with a little more ease. Some things I have in the works are: my quarter, weekly, and daily planning strategies, new faculty logistics (e.g., moving across the country with an infant and two cats, finding housing, pumping/nursing while back at work), being on the job market while pregnant, how we plan our meals, navigating stay at home dad-ing, finances, and lots more.

Thanks for reading, I hope you stick around!