Since earlier this year I was advised to work on my international visibility in my field, I have been responding regularly to calls for papers from conferences at which I might usefully present and discuss my research. Especially at the beginning of my maternity leave, when the dissertation chapter I was working on was somewhat stuck (as it still is…), and I didn’t technically have to work anymore anyway, I had an intense bout of proposal production. Because I’m always keen to talk about my research, and because there were many potentially very interesting conferences coming up, and also because I thought I’d probably be rejected anyway, I was perhaps with hindsight somewhat overactive. With the result that I am now presenting at three conferences in Liverpool (UK), Atlantic City (NJ, USA) and Madrid (in that order) in the first two weeks I am officially back to work.
Just now, the problem is not that I have to prepare three papers during my leave. I’m sure I’ll be complaining about that too in due course, but as it is, that seems like the least challenge. The hard part is the logistics of doing all this with two small children, one so small he still needs to be breastfed what feels like every other minute (in reality: every three hours). Part of the problem is solved by my extremely supportive husband who is coming along to the US in November to look after the children when I’m at this conference, and bring the baby during breaks. An exciting experiment, and hopefully it will also at least for some of the time feel like our first family holiday. And the idea is then to stop by Madrid for the conference there on the way back.
The first one, though, is in Liverpool at the end of October. Liverpool is close enough to travel to the day before the conference and return the next evening, so no need to take along the entire clan, but I’d still prefer bringing the baby. I’m currently in the process of trying to bully old friends who live near Liverpool to come there for the day to take the baby, at least during my own presentation. But how do other people do this? Or do they just not try to (like me, after having nr. 1)? What is normal/common/acceptable as regards having a baby with you at a conference? Can it be there with you as long as it doesn’t disturb the presentations with loud screaming? Or does its mere presence disturb the spirit of concentration and seriousness even when quiet? Do you raise the matter with the conference organizers, or will that make them regret having invited you in the first place? (and if so, should you care?) Or is it better altogether to work around having to take the baby with you?
Next time more about the content of these presentations. For now: do please let me know you opinions and experiences on this matter! No matter whether you do or don’t have kids, are male or female or working inside or outside of academia. Thank you!