Being a parent as well as a PhD student means that sometimes the two spheres of your life overlap. This happens for me when I need to attend supervision meetings at the university campus. As it is a long journey for me from home to campus (I live in Cambridge), and the most practical childcare solution is to simply bring my son with me. This adds an extra dimension to planning for supervisions!
Getting out of the house on time is my first challenge. However, once on campus, I have found that the welcoming environment and variety of available spaces make coping with an active, energetic toddler easier than it may otherwise be.
I am a member of Derwent College. This is great for also being part of the Department of Education, which is also situated in Derwent College. I have found plenty of comfy spots to sit and have a snack or drink with my son. This ranges from the cosy sofas in the Derwent College reception area to the Derwent Bar and Café.
The sofas in the reception area are usually my first port of call after a long train journey. These are perfect for dropping all my bags and just having a sit down. My son usually doesn’t share my enthusiasm for having a rest and spends the time exploring the Derwent reception area.
The Derwent Bar and Café serves lovely food and we often have our lunch here when visiting the campus.
PhD student supervision
When it is time for my supervision meeting, we make the short journey through Derwent College to my supervisor’s office in the Department of Education. By this point, if all has gone to plan, my mum (who lives locally) usually joins us to provide a much-needed babysitting service while I talk with my supervisor. We usually sit in the Department Common Room, which has comfy chairs for my mum and lots of space for a little bundle of energy to charge around without disturbing anyone at work.
At Christmas time, my son loves to see the Christmas tree in the Department. In the summer, the gorgeous outdoor spaces of the university campus are lovely to stroll around. During the warmer months, my son enjoys being taken on a walk around the campus lake to see all the ducks and geese. He particularly finds it funny when the geese come up to see him in his pushchair.
The campus environment at York has a great selection of spaces where I feel it is safe for my toddler to explore (always with supervision, of course). We have always felt welcome on the campus and have found that there are excellent facilities for baby changing. My favourite discovery was the lovely nursing room in the Spring Lane Building, complete with a cosy rocking chair!