Before I delve into our how of academic life with a toddler, I think it’s important to give you some context about what life looks like for us (so you can decide whether or not our experiences are similar to your situation).
We are a family of three: Jill, Mike, and Ellie. As you’ve likely gathered, I work in academia (at an R2 - according to Carnegie Classifications). More specifically, I’m an assistant professor in my third year on the tenure track, which is either the most or least stressful job, depending on who you’re asking. Mike is a stay at home dad, which has been a lifesaver for us so far. I have another post brewing about how we made that decision, but I thought it was important to mention, as I imagine our day to day looks pretty different from academic families with other configurations (e.g., single parents, two working parents, families with more kids, etc.). In terms of household roles, I’m the planner and Mike is the implementer. He takes the lead on all things child care, food, and cat stuff. I take the lead on finances, scheduling, and behind the scenes planning. We both partake in household chores like laundry, cleaning, and minimizing the chaos that is life with a toddler, although Mike certainly carries more of the load here. This setup has been working for us so far and there’s definitely an ebb and flow that corresponds to the academic calendar. Ellie lives up to her 2 year old role. She’s super inquisitive (What’s this? What’s that? What you say mama? What you doin’ dada?), can go through a roller coaster of emotions in a matter of seconds, loves being a helper (usually), knows how to stall at bedtime/naptime like a champ and can throw a perfectly executed tantrum. Never a dull moment! While naps have never been her forte (although knock on wood, she’s been pretty good lately), she does sleep through the night. As of Dec 2018 she’s typically sleeping for about 10 hours at night and taking one 1.5 to 2 hour nap in the afternoon.
Because the how of life is often intertwined with finances, I’ll share that I make just over 71,000 a year (yup, just shared my salary with you... pretty sure you can look up public university employee salaries anyway), so that’s our combined household income since MIke is at home with Ellie. Add 100K in student loan debts (from both of our master’s degrees), a mortgage, a city that’s growing more expensive by the day, and some avocado toast, and Mike and I are just your average debt-laden millennials. While we’re not struggling by any means, we are definitely not rolling in it... because I’m sure you assumed academia was a lucrative field, ha!
The final thing that I think is important to note is that both of our families are ~2,800 miles away. Unless we want to take a cross country road trip, we can’t hop in the car and head out to see the grandparents. Plane rides are a must if we want to see family (and flying is expensive, especially now that Ellie can’t ride on our laps). Living far from family can be tough, especially with a young kid... which has made building a local support system that much more important. We’ve been busting our butts to foster relationships with people and so far I’d say we’re doing pretty well... we have a handful of friends and neighbors we’d feel comfortable calling in a bind (and simply enjoy spending time with). So... for now, there’s a bit of context to help you get a better picture of life in the Toddler on the Tenure Track household!