"Why don't you wait until she's at school?"
"Are you sure?"
These were a few of the questions I kept getting asked when I decided to attend university four years ago. I began in October 2009, My princess was born January 2009, making her only 9 months old.
I studied Creative Writing and I loved every second of the course and of being at university, but as I filled in my UCAS form, I did wonder how on earth I would manage.
Where would my baby go while I'm in class?
Is there a creche?
Will the work load be too much?
Yes, I was fretting, when I really shouldn't have.
First of all, I had the best childminder, who looked after my daughter to first class standards, so I never once worried. If I ever had late lectures, my mum and dad were also great supports.
There were nights when princess wouldn't sleep, so I would rock her on my lap, while I wrote an assignment and as I relied on writing while she slept or napped this would often be tiring. Sometimes right there and then I wanted to give up. Quit. But with my family championing me on, my biggest fans and cheerleaders, I battled through.
I never once had an extension and my assignments were always handed in on time. I had a reason to work hard, I had a reason to do well and my little princess definitely spurred me on.
I graduated July 2012, with a 2:1 BA Hons .
I did it!
And so can anyone, whether you have children or not, but more so if you have little ones to make proud.
My top tips for studying when you have a little one are:
- Have a time table- when you have children you have to be realistic and you have to be organised. There is no way you are going to be able to cram in a three hour study session in your university library at seven pm, when you have a little prince or princess waiting to be put to bed at that time. I did my work when princess was in bed, but I did it at home. If I wanted to go to the library, I did it while she was at the childminder or before my lectures.
- Don't feel like you are missing out- Now, if you are going into university as a mature student, you might not be interested in getting drunk and going out dancing to student nights. However, when I started I was still fairly young and there were many others my age, without children who were often out, enjoy cheap drink deals and dancing to the latest chart hits. I only had two student nights; and not because I couldn't get a baby sitter, but because I didn't want to go out. My priorities had changed. I would have rather had an early night sleep and wake up refreshed. I wasn't missing out....Night clubs were there before I started university and well, they are still there now!
- Keep on top of assignments- Is sooo important! You have a little one, you have assignments.It is a juggling act. I found the assignments that I had to hand in just after the Christmas holidays the hardest and I must admit that for the first year I was often in a mad panic come hand in day; because I chose lounging in front of the television with a slice of fruitcake much more appealing than writing up a contextual study. What I did to avoid the panic was to do as much as possible before the holidays, and as my course was a writing one and we had the opportunity to workshop our work to get advice, I did that as often as I could. If you have that option, definitely do it. It helped me out A LOT!
- Enjoy the experience- You've taken the plunge and that in itself is amazing! The three years go by so quick, and if you started when your little one was a baby, by the time you've finished you would have shed the nappies in favor of big girl/boy pants and hopefully just shaken off the terrible twos (fingers crossed). The hard work's paid off and you should be ever so proud!
Best of luck!