Tackling a PhD with three young children was never going to be easy but, by far the biggest obstacle I have had to face (and am still facing) is finding a place to study. In the first few years after my twins were born we employed a babysitter to come and look after them a few mornings a week. This worked out fine for them but for me it meant that I always had to go out to get some serious studying done – and no, there are no quiet spaces in a small flat with two babies. The obvious choice was the library but this was easier said than done. I remember once needing to urgently finish a piece of work for my supervisor and asking the babysitter to come for an extra 2-hour session. I carried my laptop and all the books to our local library only to find it unexpectedly closed for a staff meeting. With the clock ticking, I caught the bus into town to the next nearest library but there were no seats left, not even one. By the time I had found a place to perch in a third library it was about time to pack up and go home – 20 euros poorer and nothing but frustration to show for it.
Now, with all three children at school things are a little easier but I still have serious office-envy when I see some of the lovely offices that are around! My desk is an old table which is quite nice-looking but, as my shoulders will testify, is actually completely the wrong height ergonomically. It is also in the corner of our lounge/dining room/playroom so I frequently have to work with a background noise of Paw Patrol and (shudder) Dora the Explorer. I also have very little space and everything has to be packed away when the children come home or it gets scribbled on/stolen/made into an aeroplane. I would love to say that this means that as a consequence I have become extremely organized but alas, that is not the case. Looking around my desk today I can see several items that really should not be here including a Horrible Histories magazine, some lesson plans and part of a box of toy soldiers.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Next month I start a new job closer to home where I will have an office! It is shared with two colleagues, has no computer and a lot of horrible furniture. Nevertheless I am hoping to give it a makeover and hopefully it will be a place where I can feel at home.