Charlotte, something else to look into is childcare provided by the University. I did my BA in England and the Uni had very high quality childcare on campus available to students and staff. I did further study at two American universities but was not so aware of childcare there.
I hope you pursue your desired career. A note of caution. I abandoned my MA halfway through because after my first child my sleep deprivation was so bad I just could not get through the reading I needed to do. I continued for a year but my GPA fell from a 3.9 to 3.5 or something. I thought I would take a year or two off but had more babies instead! I’m now applying for an MSc at the University of London, England to start this fall. I also am hoping Fordham will accept some of the completed credits of my MA to complete with them long distance, so I think I’ll do that after the MSc.
I would not put off having babies when you’re young as you’ll have much more energy to care for them. It’s much easier to pick up further education at 35 and up than to leave conceiving your children until later (in terms of less chance of conception).
A compromise would be, do your Masters and begin your Phd and then start a family, so you are on track and if you do decide to take time off you will at least have a lot under your belt. Dissertations can take forever anyway so you have more time to complete a Phd.
Much of this will depend on how much help with the children you can expect. If your husband and family can help, if you can afford a mother’s helper and if there is childcare offered by the University it could be doable. Alot depends on your energy level and what kind of personality your child(ren) have! I would not compromise time with your children when they are three and under. These are crucial formative years for them to put down the essentials of a healthy personality. Their ability to trust, to feel secure, loved and wanted and to have confidence in themselves and others. If your children are happy and secure at 3 and above it is much easier for all concerned when they are separated from you to attend preschool and school.
I have kids who are 9, 6.5 and 3.5 and they will be 10,7 and 4 when I start studying again this fall. I have been out of paid work and education for 10 years (31-41). In my case my husband had an intense work schedule and often worked 7 days a week. We had no family within 1500 miles and we also moved 4-5 times. We also homeschooled for a while and built a new house. I guess I could’ve returned earlier but I wanted to have a parent available to the children when they were small and I personally could not take anymore stress than we already had.
Every family is different so there are many factors to take into consideration. If you have a lot of support in terms of practical help then you may be able to take minimal time off.
My mother was a school teacher and it was great to spend all of summer and all the school holidays with her. As well as the fact that she was at home relatively early each day. I know this is somewhat different and she still had plenty of work to mark at home but education as a field is generally friendly to working mothers.