Sharing the caring: a marine biologist’s story*

Photo by K.Toming

*This time you can read an anonymous story where a marine biologist shares his experience.

What is the nature of your work?

I have a background in marine biology working with plankton.

Career as a researcher.

I finished a PhD in marine biology and continued as a postdoc. After obtaining a fellowship, I was offered a permanent position as a scientist.

Please describe briefly your family commitments.

I have a wife (female) and we have three children aged 6, 14 and 16.

How do you balance your work and family commitments?

I can have periods with lots of work or when I am travelling for longer durations (weeks to months) and during those periods I am focusing on work. When I am home, I take care of the transportation to and from kindergarten and also make shorter days if needed to take care of family commitments. My wife (not a scientist) has a hectic job and travels more often than me, but normally only 1-2 nights away, and then I am solely responsible for family commitments.

Photo by K. Toming

What has helped you?

Flexible working hours is a must for balancing work and family. Personally, we are getting a lot of help from the grandparents with everyday tasks if needed (e.g. transportation of the kids).

What has hindered you?

Nothing systematically, but important deadlines will take a lot of time away from family commitments. It is important to be able to relax a bit and focus on the family after a big deadline has passed.

What have been the most difficult moments in your career considering family and work-life balance?

That was when the children were small and I was at the same time on time-limited contracts trying to work to get a permanent position, which is often not that easy in science.

What are your experiences of sharing family-care: (a) in your everyday life and (b) during field works?

(a) With flexible working hours, I think this works fine for us. When I am at home, my wife has the opportunity to work longer days if needed.

(b) Being longer periods away is, of course, difficult, but we are fortunate to get a lot of help from grandparents during those periods.