I haven’t posted in a while…
It’s felt like I’ve continuously had a thousand things to do but I think as a Mum I will always have a never ending to do list so it’s a pretty poor excuse. A never ending supply of caffeine is needed and I don’t know how people who don’t like coffee survive.
I saw a post this morning on a Facebook page about a student who had to take his baby to class with him because of childcare problems and his professor helped him by wearing the baby in a chest carrier whilst he taught. I’m reasonably certain it was an American news story but the point remains – it was a lovely and very human gesture. It made me think about my own experience as a mother and a student.
I’m currently in third year at uni and I work part time whilst juggling running a household and raising my beautiful toddler – she’s nearly two where has the time gone? – and trying to remember my partner and I are adults (easier said that done when you know the theme songs to every CBeebies cartoon off by heart).
My first year personal tutor was really kind and compassionate, if a little clueless. I was pregnant from the start of first year and he apologised straight away for not knowing what to do because as a young male he had never himself experienced pregnancy or raised a baby and as a tutor had never before had a pregnant student.
But he tried his best. He arranged for me to have an unlimited number of 7 day extensions without requiring evidence and made sure I wouldn’t be chased about my attendance if I couldn’t manage to get to lectures. He filled in all the right risk assessments and offered to find a female member of staff with children when it came to questions like breast feeding and midwife appointments if it made me more comfortable. It didn’t bother me at all talking to him, but it was kind of him to offer (I think in all honesty he felt slightly out of his depth and was thinking a tutor who had had a baby would be more helpful). Amelia’s due date was around the time of my final assessments but she arrived well before that so I even managed to get all the work completed for the final dead lines. Much to my surprise I passed first year.
I went into second year with a baby the size of a newborn – she was 3 months old and around 8lbs when my new class schedule came through – and as I was breast feeding her it wasn’t easy leaving her for long periods of time. (Think loads of pumping to leave a supply of milk and continued pumping while away from her.) I was also recovering from a csection which anyone whose had one will know can take a long time. There is a reason the people who work in the costa near my house know my coffee order without asking.
Second year was not easy. They also changed my personal tutor in second year and I didn’t see this tutor once. In fact until I started third year I wasn’t even certain of my tutors name.
Add to the work/uni/baby balance that I have a rare medical condition and my whole third year experience is really not like most secondary school students would envision.
My dissertation is due in the next few months along with a list of other assignments and group presentations and honestly it’s more luck than design that I’ve managed to hand things in on time and turn up to the right lecture hall.
It’s all worth the effort though when you have this little face waiting for you when you come home.
The Reality of Work and a Degree with an 11 Month Old
It sounds like a real juggling act doesn’t it? Working, studying and ensuring this little human is fed and clothed at the same time? Well it sounds like it because it is.
If you look at my Instagram or my uni hand ins which are all neat and on time and the fact that I’m never late for work and always in clean uniform you’d think I’ve got it all well and truly organised. But the reality is more often than not I’m typing essays on my phone and eating a cereal bar for breakfast in the car.
If I’m having a particularly good day then by half past eight when rob gets home Amelia and I will both be dressed, have had breakfast and both our lunches will be made and in the fridge – mine to take to uni or work and hers to have while I’m gone so that her daddy knows exactly what to give her. If Amelia’s in a happy mood – which thankfully is 99% of the time – I might even have done the washing up and the laundry.
However if I’ve manage to do all that in the few short hours I’ve been awake then the chances are I haven’t turned my laptop on or even considered looking at a text book. The required reading list is all well and good until you have to work all weekend and can’t put your teething tot down to have a wee because she’s clingy and in pain.
And when my lecturer casually mentioned last week that we should all know what our dissertation question is going to be by now so that we can get started over the summer I nearly laughed out loud. The laughter gave way to concern when at least half of the other students raised their hands and began chatting out various ideas and research proposals. The concern was promptly forgotten as I walked back down the high street and remembered that Amelia had run out of her favourite snack – goodies date and banana bars – and there wasn’t enough soya left to make a cup of tea.
Don’t get me wrong I work hard on my essays and have every intention of passing uni. But for me it’s not a life style the way it is for so many students. I don’t live in a house with other students, I don’t go out clubbing – haven’t stepped foot in a club in nearly two years – and I have not spent one whole day in the library in the two years I’ve been doing my degree. The last time I read one of my text books was in my car outside our flat because Amelia had fallen asleep on the way home. Id love to sit in costa with my head phones in and type out my essays in peace but it just isn’t going to happen.
And I don’t see a problem with that. At the end of my course I’ll still have a degree, regardless of whether I completed my course work in a coffee shop or with Amelia sitting on my lap trying to grab the my phone whilst I try and type my essay up one handed on notes.
I’m getting everything done and I’d like to think that’s what really counts.
The Easy But Challenging Life as a Mum
Maybe it’s because I had a rather awful and unhealthy pregnancy and Amelia’s first few weeks were hospital ones but everything since then hasn’t been particularly hard. A few people – ones that didn’t have children I might point out – were quick to tell me that I had no idea how hard I was going to find it. And I can happily say they were wrong.
I didn’t have any baby weight to lose, my tummy was almost flat the day after Amelia was born and within a week I was back in my size 8 jeans and nobody would believe I’d just had a baby. (I am well aware that I was very lucky with this and fully appreciate that other mums may struggle with this. Please bare in mind my diet has always been healthy with fruit as snacks and three balanced meals a day. If I lived on take aways I doubt I would have skimmed down so quickly.) I waited for the dreaded csection pouch but it never arrived – unless you see the scar and the two, 1cm long stretch marks under my belly button my tummy has been completely unchanged by the experience.
I was and still am extremely grateful for my body springing back so quickly – with my HG sickness, SPD and obstetric choleostasis my pregnancy was spent in a lot of hospitals. A struggle with my weight was not one I was looking forward to.
Amelia is one of the happiest babies. Everyone we encounter comments on how she never seems to cry. She doesn’t sleep through the night but there’s something so cute about her cuddling into me in the middle of the night. The lack of sleep can be easily forgiven. I am not a fan of cry it out or sleep training so am more than happy to cuddle her all night if that’s what she needs.
For us the biggest challenge – health problems aside – was the breast feeding. For us it just wasn’t working well enough to continue so at just past four months we swapped to formula and we are both happier for it. Expressing was incredibly time consuming for me returning to uni so we made the switch to formula and haven’t looked back.
Balancing uni, a clean flat, work and Amelia should be extremely difficult. But somehow it isn’t. I have days where it seems like I’ve given myself way too much to do but they pass and I get everything done.
If you’re reading this and worrying about your to do list, stop and take a few minutes to have a cup of tea and appreciate the things you have already done. If all you’ve achieved so far that day is a clean and fed baby then you are doing brilliantly already. If you’ve been trying to loose a few pounds and you manage half a pound last week when you wanted to be minus three then that’s still really good too! Every little bit adds up towards your overall goals.
Often we are our own worst enemy, piling on the pressure. There will always be someone who you can’t please but that’s okay. Your life is yours. If you need help ask. If you need a break take it. Judgemental people aren’t worthy of your time.
Balancing Baby, Uni and Work
Not so long ago, when our parents were younger, when our grandparents were having babies it was the normal thing to have the Mum stay at home and look after the babies.
Now that’s not so common. People are having babies younger and money is a lot tighter. Our parents were buying houses in their twenties, my generation will be lucky if they can ever leave rented properties. Whatever the reason a lot of mums and dads are now balancing family life with work and studying.
I am a full time student and will be returning to work part time very soon. It’s important to be organised to make this work. What do I do to try and make it easier?
1- pack Amelia’s changing bag and lay out her clothes the night before
2- check my timetable for the week and save the dates on my phone
3- take advantage of any help offered. My mum said when I was pregnant that she’d be happy to look after Amelia if needed so we have a standing arrangement that she has Amelia one morning a week whilst I’m at uni.
4- my university has a policy for extending dead lines. If you need an extension and your uni will allow it then ask! It is not a weakness to ask for extra time.
5- I always cook too much. Instead of throwing it away I make up extra meals and freeze them. When I’m late back from uni we can just stick them in the microwave which makes life a lot easier.
6- keep a text book in each room – this way if Amelia falls asleep on me I have a book I can reach and can catchup on reading whilst she naps.
7- make time for a five minute break even if all you do is sit and have a mug of hot chocolate!
I’m always looking for other ways to make student Mum and work life easier so if you have any tips please comment!
I’ve been a little absent on the blog recently. Christmas was extremely busy, Amelia has been waking more often through the night and this week and next week I have three essays due and an exam. I’ve been surrounded by text books and resources and still have a pile of 10 academic books that I haven’t even begun reading. Amelia, housework and coursework require more hands and brain cells than I have available.
Am I the only person who still has their Christmas decorations up?
Our flat isn’t as tidy as it should be, Amelia’s Christmas presents still don’t have proper homes and I’ve been drying the washing on the radiators as I haven’t had chance to put the clothes away that are on the airer. I still haven’t purchased an iron so our clothes are all a bit wrinkly and my steamer is still at my mums as I leant it to her for cooking Christmas dinner. I’m just not organised enough to have collected it yet. I go back to work in a few weeks and I’m back at uni too so free time is extremely limited.
But we are all fed and clean and Amelia is happy so everything else will get done when I have chance.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and new year.
Nearly all of my friends are at university. I am too but unlike most of the girls I went to school with I chose to study from home. I go to university in Canterbury so can commute instead of moving. This is a decision I made months before I found out I was pregnant but it’s so fortunate I did. Studying miles away from my boyfriend whilst carrying his baby wouldn’t have been ideal.
One of my closest friends, Mollie, is studying at Bournemouth. She is in her third year as she didn’t take a year out like I did. We saw Mollie today and she came bearing Christmas presents. She got Amelia the most gorgeous fluffy dressing gown and pyjamas with a little teddy bear. (There were bits for me too but any excuse to talk about baby clothes and I am going to take it.)
They are so soft and will look adorable on Amelia. I can’t wait to snuggle her up in them. Amelia adores her auntie Mollie and happily posed for photos with her.
Posting every day throughout December is proving challenging. Anyone else running out of ideas to write about?
This week I have a very poorly bubba. She has her first cold and her poor little face is so pale and sad. Her nose is streaming, her cheeks and nose are all red and she has the cutest little cough.
But she’s still a smiley little baby and her little face lights up when her daddy walks in.
Yesterday was the worst day for her cold, although Friday and Saturday she was sneezing a lot and doing her cute, tongue sticking out cough. Last night she didn’t fall asleep until half past eleven, when she normally goes to bed around half past seven, and she’s been napping every half an hour or so today.
I’ve taken the day off of uni to look after my poorly little lady and we are snuggled up on the sofa. Amelia is dosed up on calpol and has her softest trousers and jumper on. She’s had her lunch and her breakfast so thankfully I know she’s not hungry or dehydrated but she’s very sniffly and her breathing is very loud when she’s asleep. She’s dribbling like a tap and her top two teeth have nearly cut her gums so she’s not having a good time of it at the moment.
I’m hoping she will sleep it off and her horrible cold will be gone as quickly as it appeared. She still smiles for the camera, please excuse all the dribble down her top.
Doing the simplest of daily tasks with a little one is difficult. Amelia is five months old now and if she is in a particularly clingy mood then I can’t even go to the bathroom without carrying the little pickle with me.
And I can forget showering or bathing alone. Amelia’s bouncy chair now lives in the bathroom so that she can sit and talk to me whilst I’m in the shower. For some reason turning on the water is really entertaining and she will giggle until I turn the taps off.
Aside from being Amelia’s mummy, I am also back at uni full time, I return to my part time job in February and I am currently doing my best to maintain my blog. As I write this Amelia is bouncing in her jumperoo, mesmerised by the birds that are dangling from it. To keep up with my coursework and to post regularly I just make the most of the time that Amelia is occupied. Nap time is housework time and then if she’s still asleep I get my laptop out.
How do any of you make time to write?
So it’s 1st October which means one thing….
Post 1 for blogtober
My Life as Steve Keller is a novel written by Zach Baynes. The author himself describes the book as a coming of age fiction.
As a university student I am open to reading novels from all genres, fiction or non fiction, long or short. I received a copy of this particular novel at 4:30pm and finished it before I went to bed the same day, despite it being nearly 600 pages long (the paper version is actually around 300 but I read it electronically on my phone). It is one of those books that once begun is impossible to put down.
The narrative is well written, from the perspective of the main character. Whilst it uses a very adult standard vocabulary it is still an easy read, nothing too strenuous or difficult to follow.
Steve, the man whose life the novel follows, demonstrates an attitude and life style that could be considered promiscuous, unable to commit. However there is something about the way he lives his life that is impossible to judge; though it could be seen as selfish there is something very refreshing about someone making decisions purely for their own happiness.
The sociologists and psychologists amongst us would appreciate the nod to their fields in Steve’s conversations about relationships, love and motivation. Much time is spent describing the way people live their lives, conforming to societies unspoken rules of settling down in a monogamous childbearing relationship.
Each chapter begins with an outline of what’s going on in that year; any prominent political stances, changes to the climate, medical advances, new laws. Much of the book is set in the future and shows a rather bleak outlook, including many droughts, floods, heat waves and various other disasters that have a detrimental effect of the food sources of the human race. It’s almost fatalistic in its approach to the future.
It’s available to purchase on Amazon and I would certainly recommend it if you are looking for a thrilling read.
Canterbury food and drink festival is an annual event that’s staged in Dane John gardens and runs for an entire weekend at the end of September each year.
I went last year for the first time, having found out about it since starting uni in Canterbury. Although children are welcome we decided it wasn’t really the best place to be taking Amelia – gardens and pushchairs aren’t a great mix and with a lot of alcohol on sale we weren’t sure it was the right environment for a five month old – so little lady spent the afternoon with her nanny.
There were so many food stalls to chose from, even as a vegetarian, and the array of local produce and ciders to select from was almost overwhelming. The food is cooked at the stalls and the aromas coming from some of the tents were amazing. My one complaint about this was it was extremely hard to identify which delicious smell was coming from which stall due to the number of dishes available.
I’d heard a lot of people talking about how good the vegan burger stall was so this year I decided to try it for myself. It didn’t disappoint. Having never had vegan cheese before I wasn’t sure what to expect from my cheeseburger, but honestly it didn’t taste much different to the cheese I normally use at home. Rob had a kebab type thing but instead of the long strips of unidentifiable meat from the takeaway this had slices of chorizo, pork and pieces of chicken in it.
We found a really good cherry cider – home brewed and nothing like what you’d buy in a supermarket. It tasted lovely but felt so much stronger than what we usually drink. I had half a pint and had to leave it another three hours, a burger and some popcorn later before I was happy to drive. We did however buy a carton to bring home. Last year we kept saying we wished we’d got some to bring home so this year we made sure to.
We completed the day with a trip to the shops – we couldn’t return home without something for our little princess. We found her the cutest pair of pyjamas in primark, perfect for the winter.
It was lovely to spend the afternoon and evening together as a couple and Amelia had a lovely time with her nanny. As nice as the day together was, it was wonderful going home to cuddles with our titchy princess.