Friday, December 7, 2012

Working from home with an Infant, Take 2

Here I am, again. A 3 month old (is that still a newborn?), a dissertation to write, and no childcare help. Is it 2009 all over again? Pretty much. (See this post for a little background on what life was like when Q was a baby.) I will say that this time is easier as I am at the end of my project, not the beginning. I had a massive burst of writing energy after returning from a research trip/conference last Spring and managed to put finger to keyboard before Z's birth and can now say I am the proud owner of 170+ pages of dissertation (not counting tables/charts/appendices/what have you).

Also, Z is a little easier to handle than Q (but that's a post for another time).

Z helps me edit a chapter

I continue, however, to bite off more than I can chew.  Like many other families, it is difficult to live off of one income, especially when you add in costs for Q's preschool and the fact that I have used up all my graduate funding, so now we need to pay a one credit fee per semester.  Neither of these costs are excessive, but I definitely feel like a drain. I was extremely fortunate to land an online teaching gig, but this means that my limited time (besides caring for Z full time and Q when she isn't in school - which thanks to viruses going around is most of the time) is now further taken up with teaching and grading, not dissertating.  My dad is going to come to help for a few weeks and I dream of getting a baby-sitter  starting in the Spring for 1-2 days a week, but then I'm sad that at least 1 day would be devoted to grading. I tell myself that I'll wake up at 6am every morning and get in an hour of work, but can't seem to get it together.  I spend a good deal of time dreaming about childcare.  By the way, Z is refusing the bottle, like Q did, so I can't go far even when I get help.

To be constructive for a moment (and see if anyone has suggestions), this is how I have scheduled my week.  It mostly revolves around the schedule for the university at which I teach because each week is a unit and students have weekly assignments which must be submitted by Sunday nights and, as per my job requirements, graded by each Wednesday - so within 72 hours - as well as give a one hour lecture each week for the two classes I teach. (I also respond daily to posts on the discussion board and try to ask each student a question or offer a comment. That rarely takes more than 30 minutes a day, however. I am required to also hold two office hours during class, but I try to be available to students at all times, so this doesn't usually take up too much time, though I am always logged in just in case. I check email daily and always respond in under 24 hrs.)

Monday - grade students' discussion board posts during nap times and give a one hour lecture via the internet during the evening.
Tuesday - grade students' personal essays during nap times and give a one hour lecture via the internet during the evening. (I have been known to finish grading at 4am after Rory wakes up for an early morning meal.)
Wednesday - dissertation work during nap time (in an ideal world)
Thursday - dissertation work during nap time (in an ideal world)
Friday - dissertation work during nap time (in an ideal world)
Saturday - hit the library for 1-2 hrs (no more, because, as mentioned, Z refuses the bottle) to get some books/check some references (in an ideal world)
Sunday - start grading discussion board posts in the late afternoon to get a jumpstart on the marathon grading for the next two days

In this way, I manage to limit my teaching to 2 or so days a week for the most part. Now I just need to motivate myself to accomplish my goals for the dissertation.

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