How I survived at university with two babies
I was seven months pregnant with my first baby when I started university. I went to university straight from college. I didn’t want to take a break because I was afraid I will get too used to being a stay at home mum and will never want to go back to studying, therefore I just wanted to get my degree, with kids or not. Started university late September, have birth 2 months after, in December, and thank God Christmas was just around the corner so all assignments needed to be pretty much done before the holiday. We only started again late January, so I had more than a month to just enjoy the status of being a new mum. By the time I started year 2, I got pregnant again, but this time I gave birth in June so I had the whole summer just for my babies. How did I survive it all? Keep reading!
1. I took advantage of all the help I could get to help me survive university
I want to mention this first because I couldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for the people around me that helped a lot. There is no way I would’ve survived at university if family didn’t help. My mother in law looked after the baby for the first two years. I would drop him off to her place and then pick him up when I came home from uni. I also lived with my family and sisters and sometimes I would ask them to look after the baby while I cooked or took a shower, or even if I just needed a break. Even if they couldn’t babysit for a whole day because people do work and go to school too, little things like that make a difference and I was so grateful for them.
On my third year, because I had two small children under 2, I just didn’t want to make it harder for my mother in law and I knew she really wanted to go back to her home country but it was us keeping her here, I took both kids to nursery. I applied for the Childcare Grant from Student Finance and I was so blessed to have my application approved. If it wasn’t for that, I think I would have asked my mother in law to stay for one more year. There was no way I could afford to pay for nursery; they are super expensive. I still paid a precent with my own money, but way less because Student Finance covered quite a lot.
Although I studied full time, my timetable wasn’t full of lectures and seminars. Some days I would have to be there from 9am to 7pm; some days it was only for 4-5 hours, but even then, I would stay in the library to do more work. That’s how I managed to get a lot done and make sure I don’t miss any deadlines. I used to do work from home too, but when at home, I was in the ‘mum mood’ most of the times. Everybody just needs you! The baby is hungry, the husband can’t find his T-shirt until I look for it and it’s just where I told him it was; my brain just couldn’t work in a messy environment so I obviously had to wash dishes, do the laundry and we had to eat too and food doesn’t make itself. Doing my coursework at home was just impossible at times and that’s why if I wanted to do anything, I had to do it at night which leads me to my second point:
2. Sleepless nights were the way to go
I don’t remember when was the last time I had a good night’s sleep in the last 3 years. I used to stay up late a lot of nights and catch up on work. When the children were at home with me, I couldn’t even open my laptop without my eldest asking for Peppa Pig or nursery songs. The house chores never ended also and children needed food on the table. I also spent around 2-3 hours during weekends sometimes doing university work, but I preferred spending it with the family instead. I felt guilty not making time for my husband and children and going places with them, or playing together as a family even. We only saw my husband at weekends, so that was our only family time.
3. Prioritise what’s the most important each day
I did what I could, when I could. Sometimes I had to skip a class or even a whole day from uni because the baby was ill and needed me to take him to hospital. There have been weeks when I couldn’t do any coursework at all so I just put it aside and took care of my family and our home. was conscious that the next week I will have to be in the library for most of the days and stay up late at home; even give up on family time at weekends because uni work needed to be done, so I prioritised that and didn’t care about laundry not being done, or dishes not being washed.
4. I was ambitious and I don’t give up easily on my dreams
I wanted to give up on uni so many times. It is hard being a student on your own, let alone having a family with two kids to look after. However, I wanted to finish because I wanted my family to be proud of me; I wanted to be a role model for my children and learn from me, I wanted to finish it so that I could feel proud of myself too – feel that I’ve achieved one more thing in life. Also, as soon as I start something, I really do want to complete the task no matter how difficult it gets, because of two reasons:
- If I don’t continue, it will mean I’ve just wasted precious time of my life for no reason so far
- If I give up, I will never know what I could’ve achieved and where this could’ve taken me
This motivated me all throughout my journey; because of these reasons I kept going and survived university.
5. Take a break
This is so important; the workload was overwhelming at times so I needed a break. I would often ask my sisters to look after the kids while I joined my husband for a walk to the local park, or have my husband take care of them while I went out with the girls for a coffee. Do something that doesn’t involve university work or children and house chores. Something that takes your mind off it for a bit and helps you relax and recharge your batteries.
Going to university with children is definitely possible, especially if you have help and support around you!