Welcome to my spring blog. It’s a new term, a new season, a new organised me. Ok, maybe not, but in terms of being an organised mummy fitting in children, placement, studying, running, a crazy cocker spaniel oh, and my husband of course, I’ve learnt how not to do things along the way. At Open Days it’s the question I’m always asked, “how do you fit it all in?” Young, free and single students, you do not need to read any further, you can go back to dawdling, procrastinating, meandering or just looking young and fabulous basically. Although if you would like to join us on this organisational spring clean, please do. Let me just say before we begin, if I can, anyone can. When I started this course, organised was not in my vocabulary. You just needed one look in my handbag to know this. My children were scared to peer inside in case they fell in, never to be found .
24 hours in a day.
We all have 24 hours, it’s what we do with it that counts. The biggest lesson is what I shall call the “shoe horn”. I break up large pieces of study and stuff them into every available space. For example this term is Complicated Maternities. One of the complexities we are studying is diabetes. I watch internet clips whilst I’m having a bath in peace. I’ve had a lot of baths this week as it’s a topic I find difficult to grasp. So there we are, multi-task, clean and learn. I download audio information and listen to it as I fall asleep, although be warned, I think if I listen to the hypnobirthing podcast one more time, I may start eating for two, definitely not a time saver. I also think I may start using earphones as my other half is displaying nesting behaviour.
The facilities at the university are fabulously suited to this shoe horn lifestyle. I can often be found stalking the midwifery shelves at midnight, parking is free in the evening and I can get done what I need to after being present at home.
Your Mentor during your placement is a great source of information, your very own tutor. If there is something which I know may be coming up in an exam and it is an appropriate time, I ask to be taught. Midwifery mentors are brilliant as teachers and like students to be proactive.
Childcare, childcare, childcare
Now I won’t lie, this has been a learning curve. I have children ranging from 10 to two. If the organisation of childcare was my degree I would get a good grade. My tip is to have lots of choices. I have one main child minder for the baby as he requires consistency. The older children usually require short spells during school runs. I do school runs for the other mums when I am off and they return the favour. I use the breakfast club and after school clubs, they are flexible and reasonably priced. I also have two lovely students who are studying at the university who will provide flexible school runs for me when I’m on placement. There are Ofsted rules and regulations to abide by, so just do your homework first. Childcare is also expensive so if family can help that’s amazing! Take it graciously. Important tip from a friend, set your alarm when you are sleeping after a night shift around the time your children finish school. Or said friend’s husband may get a tad grumpy when he unexpectedly is required to do the school run.
You are not alone, we are a small cohort and those of us with children offload regularly about the challenges we face. The university hosts events for mature students and those with children so you can involve your family. This year we were invited to a pancake festival, my children were more than obliging and I didn’t have to cook. Result. Talking of cooking my slow cooker is now my best friend, my family have had to get used to me being a lot less available but can be kept sweet with a savoury dish of an evening. They are easily pleased.
Phone off, emails hidden, quality family time during annual leave. This allows me to really enjoy my children and lessen my guilt during term time. As I have said before, Yorkshire is a beautiful place to explore and unwind. This photograph is from behind the university where I regularly take my baby for a buggy run. If you see a crazy lady running with a pram trying to read a textbook……….
My top tip so far, something has got to give, my house is on the verge of disarray or as I like to put it, like a museum, where everything is out for your enjoyment on permanent display. There is a pile of ironing taking on its own personality (I actually thought it was my husband the other day and asked if it wanted a ham sandwich). However, we are all happy in the chaos. I’m not superwoman nor am I married to the suburban version of Clark Kent. Life happens when you are busy making plans according to my Dad.
For the other 55 tips on how to look after a family whilst on a midwifery degree, buy my book – the one I don’t have time to write.