It’s just over a year since I had the pleasure of writing a post for this wonderful site, a whole year of trying to balance this crazy thing I call my life. For anyone that hasn’t had the luck of reading my first post from last year or the pleasure of following me on social media, here’s a little about me to bring you up to speed. My name is Grace aka The Uni Mummy, 6 years married to The Husband, mother to a beautiful and vibrant, 3 year old who we lovingly refer to as Little Man and currently training to be a Mental Health Nurse. Oh and a small point, The Husband and I have also made the decision to move back in with our respective parents whilst I train?! Genius or Crazy? You decide!
Phew! What a year it’s been since that first post, I was only 6 weeks into the course back then and although I had experienced a couple of moments of doubt in those early days, the rollercoaster ride had hardly begun. I have cried countless tears, sought solace in countless glasses of wine and spent many hours asking myself why this was a good idea?! But it’s not all bad, I promise! I smiled as I read my previous post for Cheltenham Maman, I felt like I had learnt so much up to that point, but it really was just the tip the iceberg.
I wrote back then, about how if you want something bad enough, you will overcome any hurdles you’re faced with. Previously, I believed that this determination came from my desire to do the best by Little Man and it was him that was driving me forward. However, a recent, and chance, encounter with an old school teacher has made me think differently. I brought him up to speed with my current studies, he wasn’t at all surprised by my course choice and he responded “You always were a very determined young lady”. And since then, I’ve thought of his comment a lot and feel proud that he saw something in me as a teenager that even at 30, I hadn’t recognised in myself.
It’s not just chance meetings with old teachers that have made me really question who I am, this whole course is helping me see new sides of myself that I didn’t know were there. It’s a common joke in my family that I am ridiculously impatient and it often drives The Husband bonkers. But it seems that this impatience isn’t universal, ironically when I am working with patients on placement, I have the patience of a saint. I can have the same patient asking me the same question every 5 minutes and I don’t feel the need to rip my own ears off. Sorry The Husband, must try harder at home!
I do feel like maybe some of this patience has come as a result of becoming a mother, you really can’t be impatient when you have a 3 year old who insists on telling you the make of every car you walk past on the way home from nursery! Which leads me onto my next lesson from the past year, being a parent makes you an ideal student! Yes, the non-parents on my course have the luxury of having all the time in the world and the younger members of my cohort definitely have an enthusiastic innocence that I think I lost somewhere in my mid-twenties. But a lack of time and innocence has its advantages too.
It is no disrespect to my younger colleagues, but I have found that having some life experience has been of huge benefit to my studying. It helps me with my perspective and having The Husband and Little Man also enables me to have another focus in life which stops me being all consumed with my studies. And although sometimes, time (or a lack of) can be my arch-nemesis it also forces me to be organised.
Which is another very important lesson I have learnt this year, organisation is key! From fairly early on, I drew out a timetable for the weeks when I am in University. Setting aside two hours of Little Man time and one hour of study each weeknight. It may seem excessive to have it set out as rigidly as that but it is great for two reasons, one, I can keep on top of my assignments therefore reduce my stress levels and two, it removes a heap of guilt. When I am in the throes of the bedtime routine I don’t feel guilty that I haven’t got my head in my books and because I have those two hours entirely dedicated to Little Man each night, I don’t have anything to feel guilty about when I do turn on the laptop. And by keeping on top of things during the week, it means that aside from a couple of hours study on a Sunday, the weekend can be dedicated to Family Time.
Due to our slightly unusual living situation, as a family, time together is a bit of a novelty. We don’t have the luxury of those few hours post-nursery to play together or the weeknight mealtimes where everyone reconvenes and discusses their days. So, when the weekend comes, we have to make the most of it. It doesn’t always mean doing anything extraordinary but, trips to the park, the library and long family walks take on a different significance. A significance that I hope, when we do all get to live under one roof again, will not be forgotten.
The battle of time is no longer just split between my family and my studies, this year, I have also acquired some of that elusive ‘Me Time’. One of my closest friends on the course once asked me, “Grace, what do you do that is just for you?” The question rung in my ears for a while and it really pained me that the truthful answer was, “Nothing”. And for a long while, it remained that way but in the last 6 months I have discovered this wonderful enigma…Exercise. What started off as a run once a week has turned into squeezing in as many sessions at the gym as possible. I cannot shout about the benefits of exercise enough, the time to myself is revitalising, I’ve never had such a positive view of my body and most of all, that post-exercise high is incredible. No matter how hectic our lives are, we have to look after ourselves, body and mind!
So, despite the ups and downs, overall the past 12 months have been pretty brilliant and as you can see, I’ve learnt so much. I started writing my blog to try and show people that although this journey isn’t easy, it is possible. It’s definitely not for the faint-hearted but this determined young lady is not giving up anytime soon!
A Guest Blog from Grace aka The Uni Mummy
Grace has been married to her husband (The Husband) for 6 years married. They have a beautiful and vibrant, 3 year old who they lovingly refer to as Little Man. Grace is currently training to be a Mental Health Nurse and decided to start her blog, The Uni Mummy, so that people could follow her journey and with the hope that her story would inspire others to consider going back to study after they’ve had children. You can follow Grace on Instagram, Facebook or read her blog.
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