I really wish I could write blogs more frequently than I do but as I have so little down-time during the semester it’s hard to find time to write even though writing consumes so much of my thoughts – I love it! So here’s where my life is up to at the moment as a student and a mum.
So I’m half way through my first semester back at university after having had my beautiful baby girl last August. I was always concerned how I’d manage with three children and it looks like my fears were justified – I am finding it tough. However some of that is due to my kids and I being rather isolated here in Brisbane. This year my hubby (DH) is away on business for half of every week so it’s just me managing a baby, a 4 year old, and an 8 year old. Ok, so I’m not totally isolated – I have made one friend, a very lovely woman who is the mother of one of my son’s friends and I have my brother and sister in law with their gorgeous 3 year old boy but they live on the other side of Brisbane and have very full lives of their own. But I am feeling the lack of family and friends who live within a 15 min drive very keenly.
In order to get my studies done I have a nanny come two days a week (14hrs) to mind our two daughters. I chose this option for a few reasons: 1) We don’t have any family available or capable to manage two kids two days/week, 2) it’s cheaper than the $360 I’d have to pay for 2 days/week at a long day care centre (and no, we can’t get the family tax benefit to help pay for it), 3) when we first arrived Brisbane in late January last year the day care centres had no vacancies at such short term notice (they usually try to lock in that year’s placements by the previous October in my experience) 4) as we have had introverted and shy children they find the noise and sheer number of children in day care centre to be unsettling and stressful.
So I decided to just keep using a nanny this year which means the girls are happy & relaxed in their own home and I can devote myself to my studies without having to worry about them. My four year old also attends a preschool another 2 days each week to help her prepare for school next year. However, this is an emotional ordeal every time I take her. Also as my baby seems to get sick fairly frequently, and as my body is still having some problems from the pregnancy last year, these preschool days are not used for my study but instead to just focus on my baby and to try to get on top of the finances, paperwork, and housework at an unhurried pace so I don’t wear myself out and get myself sick (if you’re not familiar with my health problems read this post ‘Mature Age Renaissance’).
I am only studying one unit (1/4 load) this semester. I had really hoped to do two but I eventually realised it would just be too much for me to manage when I am still getting up every night to feed my baby, actually sometimes two or three times at night if she’s not 100% – which happens fairly often. The lack of sleep is a killer – so I decided my own health and well-being had to take priority over trying to get my degree finished in the next 3 years.
Now this brings me to a point that bothers me sometimes. When I’ve half-heartedly complained about the difficulties in trying to manage studying and my family I’ve had lecturers tell me that all the students are working too – “you’re all trying to manage your studies with work or your families…you’re all very busy”. However, generally young students can get a good night sleep IF THEY CHOOSE TO. If they want to stay out to 3am having a good time that’s fine. But at least they can sleep in sometimes – they don’t have the school run to do in the morning. So it’s their own fault if they’ve not gone to bed early enough! Yes, I am generalising I know, obviously there will be some students who have difficulties at home or with their health that they have to manage. But it’s a different kettle of fish when you are losing sleep because you are taking care of sick children or you are sick yourself and need to use those dedicated study days to spend sleeping off your own illness. Because of the lack of sleep I find I can’t study in the evenings anymore. When I just had two children who slept through the night it wasn’t a problem but now that I have a baby who still wakes at least once every night I find I’m just too tired to study, I cannot concentrate and would just fall asleep if I tried to study at night. If I lose my dedicated study days the only way I can catch up is a few hours on a Saturday or Sunday when hubby can take all the kids off my hands but as he’s in a senior role he needs to do some work on the weekends as well. So that’s where occasionally I have to request extensions for assignments which I detest doing but sometimes it’s necessary. So please excuse my seething anger when I hear a teacher say “oh but you’re all working, nobody’s got it harder than anybody else”! If you disagree with me I’d love to hear why!
So yes, I am finding it tough but I do love my study, especially when I’m doing subjects that really interest me (this current semester not so much!). It gives me that break from being a mother 24/7 when I can reclaim myself from my children and remember who I am again for a little while each week and to help recharge my batteries so I can keep on keeping on! I’m certainly a much happier mother doing this. I could not be a full time mother – I find it just too hard!