I am often asked how I cope being a full time student and a mum and as I have discussed in previous blogs, its not always easy and sometimes putting studies on the back burner is a must to ensure a balanced family/Uni life. But what if work is thrown into that ever-churning mixer?
Although some students have the privilege of being able to study full time and use every bit of non-lecture time to either socialise with friends and fellow students, or get their head down into journals and books, some, if not most of us will have to work alongside our studies. This can vary from part time work, weekend work and also volunteering.
This is not often a choice we make but a necessity to enable us to do things with our families outside of the university bubble. This doesn’t mean that everything will go smoothly. You’ll feel tired and overwhelmed at times and mothers like myself will be balancing it all whilst trying to ensure everyone is happy and childcare is sorted, even if that means begging family to rise up to the babysitting challenge.
Occasionally, I do some promotional work at the NEC in Birmingham, promoting different brands at well known exhibitions. I’ve worked the National Wedding Show and this weekend I worked at the BBC Good Food Show. I can honestly tell you this kind of work is a great laugh and I get to pick and choose which ones I work depending on whether I have any other commitments. If any of you get the chance to go to the next one in the summer… please do! There is every type of food and drink you can think of, great gift ideas and loads of FREE samples. (I love a freebie!) You could leave there a little merry, with a full stomach after tasting all the mini samples of food and drink. My personal highlights were chocolate flavoured wine and a scotch egg that still had a runny yolk – Both were quite literally what dreams are made of!
So, apart from sampling everything on offer I worked all weekend promoting a beer company and my god was it tiring. Four days of being on my feet, I had smile on my face and engaged with members of the public about which beer brands we had on offer on our stand. I got to try a few of the beers but I felt like a connoisseurby close of play on Sunday. Take a look at this short link to see what we got up to this weekend and some of the stalls featured at the BBC Good Food Show. https://flipagram.com/f/1JgYQxnwQtu
Come Sunday I was glad it was all over! I was exhausted. I came home, back to my usual home duties ready for a fresh week of study, remembering that on Wednesday, it was my turn to present to the class about a particular historical politician.
In a nutshell, being a mature student with other commitments alongside studies and children is not easy. But whoever said it was going to be. In fact, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Anyone who knows me well knows sitting still has never been me, and boredom is my idea of hell. It may sometimes feel never ending but don’t give up. Remember why you made the decision to go back to university. To enable a better future if not just yourself but like me, for your families too.
Here are a few tips that I use to make life a little easier for those studying and working or volunteering.
1. Keep a diary to hand with every lecture, work day and activity on. Whether this is paper or electronic its easier to see when written down which days you have free and stops you double booking and having to remember everything.
2. Use the facilities on campus while you are there. This could be the gym, the shops or even the library.
3. Be savvy when your cooking. For those of you whos days are particularly long, invest in a slow cooker and come home to a warm nutritional meal for you and your family.
4. Don’t ignore your social life. We all need to see some light at the end of a hectic week and even if that is just an hour catch up with friends or family away from everything else… it helps!
5. Ask for help! I know we all hate doing it but asking family for help and speaking to people at university who’s job is to give advice is a must. Even if it’s just to rant it makes you feel better.
6. And finally…. Get some sleep! Burning the candle at both ends isn’t good for anyone.
Speak soon xx