Being a Bright Young Mama has so many blessings, but one challenge that many young mums face is an interruption to their education.
In this two-part series, I’ll be sharing my experience of returning to study as a young mum, and I’ll be exploring the most important things to consider before you take the leap like I did!
Babies and study don’t mix… or do they?
When I found out that I was pregnant the first time, I was studying Business Administration at TAFE. I had originally planned to complete the Diploma over the next six months, but it wasn’t meant to be. My due date fell just before the end of the final term, so I made the decision to postpone the course until after Jack was born.
Dealing with the challenges of new motherhood, and recovering from Post Natal Depression and Anxiety, meant that I didn’t finish my Diploma until Jack was 18 months old. That was my first experience of studying via distance education, with a child in tow. I like to think of that time as my trial-run for the next big chapter in my life, which was going to university.
I had briefly gone to uni after high school. I was enrolled in a Science degree, which just wasn’t my thing. After a year of skipping lectures and barely passing my units, I dropped out. I always hoped that one day I would return to uni, but it took me years to figure out what I wanted to study. After my successful trial-run with the Diploma, I decided that I was ready to take my education further, and this time I enrolled in something that I was really passionate about: writing.
The challenges of studying as a young mum (AKA The Con’s)
I started my uni degree in 2012, two months before our wedding (what was I thinking?!)
Since then, I also fell pregnant for the second time, moved house, had a baby, recovered from PND (again), parented solo for six months, started this blog, and raised two kids. Phew!
Studying has been a big commitment – not just for me, but for Zane and the boys too. Many nights when I’ve had a deadline looming, Zane has taken over the dinner/bath/bed routine. Some weekends, the three boys have gone on adventures, while I’ve stayed home to write an essay.
I’m very lucky to have a supportive partner, but I know that many young mums are raising their kids by themselves (you’re my heroes). Because we are a Defence family, I’ve also experienced what it’s like to manage study and kids on my own while Zane has been deployed. Having a solid support network is vital if you’re considering a return to study.
As I’m studying part-time, my course will take at least 6 years to complete. This means that I’ll be returning to work before I finish my degree.
As a former childless uni student, I can guarantee that studying as a mama is vastly different from going to uni after high school. But despite the challenges that come with being a student-mama, this time around I have been far more committed, engaged and responsible than I was at 18.
The advantages of returning to study (AKA The Pro’s)
Yes, being a student-mama has been challenging, but it has also been immeasurably worthwhile.
Before I started my degree, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. All I knew was that I didn’t want to put Jack into childcare to go off to a soul-sucking day job. I thought really hard about what I was good at, and what I was interested in. I loved to write, so I decided to find an Arts degree that I could study online.
I researched the different courses and educational institutions. When I discovered my course, I instantly knew that it was everything I was looking for. I wasn’t exactly sure what career path it would lead me to, but I decided to take a chance and commit to something that actually lit a fire in my belly. Taking that risk, and voicing my desires, was new and scary to me, but it helped me to take control of my future.
A couple of years after I started my degree, I decided that I wanted to put what I was learning into practice, and I started Sunny Mondays. I don’t know if I ever would have started blogging if I hadn’t decided to enrol at uni, and I’m stoked that I did!
I’ve grown in confidence over the last three years, not just as a writer, but as a person. I have direction and purpose in my days, which has made me a happier and healthier mother.
Returning to study as a young mum has been both a rewarding and challenging experience (much like motherhood itself). I’m so proud of the work that I’ve put into my degree so far, and I truly believe that I’m setting a positive example for my children.
So that’s my return to study experience in a nutshell! In Part 2, I’ll break down all the important questions that you should ask before deciding to return to study as a young mum.
Over to you!
Are you thinking of going back to study now that you’re a mum? Or have you been through your own student-mama experience? Please share your thoughts with me in the comments 🙂