A Guest Blog Post from Grace, AKA The Unimummy
I became accustomed to ‘The Look’, the one I got when I told people my plans. That my husband and I were giving up our beautiful cottage near Cirencester and along with our 18 month old, moving back in with our parents for 3 years, all so that I could complete my training to become a Mental Health Nurse. And on the surface, it does sound a little crazy but I’ve learnt a lot in the past year…Lesson One, if you really want something and I mean REALLY, you will do whatever you can to try and make it happen.
I already did the University thing in traditional fashion, at 18, with missed lectures fuelled by too much ‘socialising’. But, despite a small personal setback, I did in fact graduate with a BSc in Psychology back in 2009. Lesson Two, a Psychology degree, doesn’t equal a Psychology job. This is especially true if you fall in love and follow your boyfriend to a small town with few prospects for a Psychology Graduate. So, I spent a number of years, working in sales, not really enjoying it but not really knowing what else I would do and having no real inkling as to how to investigate a ‘proper career’.
Which leads me to Lesson Three, having a child will change your life. Obvious I know, but when my maternity leave was coming to an end and my request for part-time hours was promptly declined, I had my lightning bolt moment. I realised that if I was going to leave Little Man in the care of someone else, it had to be for a job that I could be passionate about. So this is the moment I finally listened to my Mum’s advice/years of nagging and seriously considered the idea of becoming a Mental Health Nurse. (Lesson Four, Mum’s are always right, even if it takes a while for us to listen!)
So, I investigated what it took to take the first steps into this new career. I am not going to lie to you, when we looked into it, it seemed like there were a LOT of potential hurdles but as I said in Lesson One, if you want something you will find a way. Every hurdle that came up was swept away with a solution or flawed by my stubborn optimism. So I applied and to my surprise, but apparently to no-one else’s, I was accepted on a course beginning in September this year.
And so far, so good. We’re 6 weeks in and I am pretty sure we’re all settled into our new homes and new routines. It’s not always easy. Trying to get myself ready for Uni and Little Man ready for Nursery before 8am can be a challenge, but we do it. And as my husband is staying at his parents back in Cirencester, we’re getting used to making the most of our weekends together when he comes up to stay. The course itself has been amazing so far, it sounds cheesy but I really feel it has made me grow as a person and not just outwards with all the cake/chocolate I’ve been eating!
The parenting-study balance isn’t always easy but I am so determined to do a good job of this degree that I use every available hour when Little Man is in bed/at nursery to get some work done, (except Wednesdays, I’m not missing GBBO for anything!) The thing I have struggled most with so far is the tiredness. As I’m sure you’ll know, toddlers are unpredictable/challenging and it’s only really in those moments of total exhaustion when I’ve had an awful night’s sleep (Lesson Five, do not share a room with a toddler unless it is REALLY necessary) followed by a full day in lectures, that I have questioned my decision. But, as soon as I am caught back up on sleep, the grey clouds lift, life looks clearer and that determination is back driving me to get on with it. I have no doubt that there will be many wobbles over the next 3 years but knowing that there is a career at the end of it and with the support of our amazing family and friends, I know I can do it.
When I first considered the idea of going back to education, I desperately wanted someone to reassure me that it was possible. I know I am not the first person to study whilst bringing up a child but I couldn’t find anyone writing about it, which is why I started my blog The Uni Mummy. I hope that parents who are considering returning to education can follow the ups and downs of my journey and see that if I can do it, so can they!
I’m Grace, wife to The Husband and mother to the Little Man. Currently clinging to the final year of my twenties and embarking on my next adventure in the role of Mature Student. When I decided to apply for a place at University I was desperate for someone to tell me that it was possible to be a wife, mother and student nurse all at the same time. So I decided to start The Uni Mummy so that people can follow my journey and hopefully I’ll inspire others to consider going back to study after they’ve had children.