PhD research and babies don’t seem an ideal combination at first sight. But there is never a perfect time to start a family anyway, says Jordi Boshoven. And after a frustrating day in the lab, nothing helps give you a sense of perspective more than two tiny arms around your neck.
Jordi Boshoven graduated with a PhD on 10 November for his study of the resistance of tomato plants to the fungus Verticillium dahliae.
Proposition: Raising a child during a PhD creates a healthy balance between time spent on work and private life.
‘My eldest son was born about halfway through my PhD research. My wife and I deliberately decided not to wait. She’s five years older than me and of course we didn’t know how long exactly my PhD would take.
On the one hand you could say that doing a PhD becomes more difficult once you have kids. But on the other hand children really help you switch off as soon as you get home. Then you don’t have time anymore to worry about your research. I saw fellow scientists working up to 60 hours a week, including in the evenings and weekends. That wasn’t an option for me. But this also made me more focused during the hours that I did spend on my study.
Children also put everything into perspective. When you come home to your family, you immediately see the day’s problems in a different light. Then you think: what’s it really all about? There are more important things in life.
I would advise other people facing this choice to not let yourself be influenced too much by rules such as “you have to finish everything first before you start a family”. It’s really never quite the right time. So if you want children, don’t let your career get in the way.
No, my sons won’t be at my PhD ceremony on Friday. We didn’t want to put them through the ordeal of an entire day surrounded by talking adults.’