Jess: How being a mum helped me become a better student

Jessica is currently studying a Bachelor of Human Services, majoring in counselling, and lives in Hervey Bay. Her hobbies are yoga, fitness and healthy eating. She loves bike rides with her family along the esplanade and loves teaching her kids how to do headstands.


I kissed them both on the lips and waved goodbye. Aaleah and Lucas ran down the hill towards the kindergarten sandpit. I felt guilty that both kids were in educational care so I could study. The idea of becoming a counsellor was always a dream of mine. After overcoming many personal humps throughout my life, helping others less fortunate or in circumstances beyond their control sat deep within, but becoming a young mum made it difficult to pursue.

After several hours of study, the need for a break washed over me. I walked to the kitchen to make a cup of tea and looked at the housework (yes I’m a little OCD, so letting the house go is hard). I looked at the toys on the floor and at my desk piled with uni work. I broke down. I sat on the kitchen floor, sobbing. Why do I have this dream? I felt guilty for having a dream and felt my kids, husband and house were suffering for it. I decided to pick the kids up early and clear my head.

As we drove to the beach, Aaleah looked at me with a huge smile and said ‘I almost forgot mummy, how was uni today?’ I giggled and replied, ‘It was great, and it means a lot that you asked me.’ She looked at me in the rear vision mirror and said ‘that’s ok mum, when I’m bigger, I’m going to uni… like you.’

It hit me hard… like a punch in the stomach. It was as if someone pushed a button that enabled fireworks to explode throughout my body. They aren’t suffering, they are proud of me. My family is proud of me for chasing my dream. I'm teaching my children that it's ok to follow theirs. The only person suffering is me because of the voices in my head. We walked for over an hour, laughing and doing handstands. Watching them laugh and play made me think, my children are happy, but am I?

It was that afternoon that I started thinking about my decision to pursue a uni degree from a different perspective. I realised that by pursuing my education, I am teaching my children to follow their dreams and that dreams do come true if you really want them and work hard. I’m setting an example for them, showing them that education is possible, even if you have young children. It was that afternoon that I realised I would finish my degree, even if it meant I had to work harder than I had ever worked before. I was going to show my children and myself that I COULD DO IT.

Regardless of my light bulb moment, I was still stressed and decided I would need to find strategies to cope with being a mother, a wife and a uni student if I wanted to succeed:

  • I set myself weekly study schedules, with set days and hours to study. Knowing which days my children would be in kindergarten made me strict with how I used those hours.
  • I planned my semester at the beginning. Highlighting due dates, printing out all assessments and course content. I planned each week accordingly.
  • I adopted yoga and healthy eating practices to ensure we all looked after ourselves.
  • I sat down with my husband regularly to help him understand my study load and home load, and agreed on ways he could help.
  • I also set up motivational walls to ensure I always remember that having a dream is ok

As a result of these strategies, I became more conscientious of my study time and my free time. Working hard made play time with my children so much more fun, because I didn’t feel guilty and I wasn’t stressed. I balanced everything in my life (although some would say I juggle everything) to accommodate for my dream to become a reality.

Being a young mum with young children inspired me to work hard and strive against all odds to do the best I can to finish my degree for myself and also my children. So you can do it too.

   

Are you a young mother studying your way to success? How do you balance family and uni work? If you feel like you need to share your story with someone who understands, email social.media@usq.edu.au and tell us all about it. You can also find more blogs written by our student mums by visiting the 'Mum' tag on Social Hub.


Related:

Lisa: How to overcome guilt as a studying parent

Bekki: Studying with children... with helpful ecards!

What type of studying mum are you?