Making the decision to apply and attend University is a daunting and life changing thing. Being a mature student, with young children made this decision for me even more daunting. Having left education over 10 years ago and working throughout my late teens and early twenties, I always had the regret in the back of my mind for not attending university straight after my 6th year of school. So when I reached the age of 27 and my ten year anniversary of leaving Secondary School came and went, I decided that it was either now or never to take the leap of faith in applying to study at RGU.
This wasn’t a decision that only involved my life however, I had been a stay at home Mum since my oldest was born in the summer of 2018, so it would mean huge changes in our family life. My children would have to go to nursery most of the week, I would have late nights studying and completing coursework and I would have to juggle motherhood alongside everything that comes with being a full time student.
I was considered young when I had my children in my early twenties and so many people from older generations imposed thoughts on me that, in essence my life was ‘over’. In reality, my life has just changed and I could have a passion and an interest of my own, away from motherhood. Finding a course that I love has given me that.
Being a mother and a mature student has given me so many qualities that I can bring to my time at RGU which I wouldn’t have held as a 17 year old who had just left secondary school. I am confident in asking questions, not being sure of an answer, or having to ask for clarification on something. I don’t struggle to talk to people, as I have had a whole decade dealing with people through my working career. I am organised, because I have to be. As a mum you have to be organised, and balance everyone else’s schedules, needs and wants alongside your own. Lectures, tutorials and coursework is something that needs to be fitted into my schedule and balanced alongside all of my other commitments.
The biggest concern that I had when I started my course was having to be away from my children more than I ever had before. If it had a negative impact on them, I would have to give up my dream of studying and go back to being a full time stay at home mum for them. What I’ve found is that the time away from each other, with them being at nursery and me being either at home or university studying has benefited all of us more than I ever could have imagined. Both my children love going to their nursery in the mornings, they get to spend time with their friends and have a chance to develop their own personalities away from our house. The same things has happened with me, I’ve made new friends and rediscovered the individual person that I was before I was a mum. It’s had such a great impact on my mental health to have an identity out-with motherhood again.
I wouldn’t go as far to say that being a full time mum and student is easy going however. Quite often I have had to attend online tutorials while sitting on the floor of the playroom, trying to pay attention to what is being said in class but also making sure that my toddlers are happy and content. The time I have to do coursework or to study is often limited. I either grab a half hour here and there during the day to do tasks, or have to wait until they are asleep at night to begin my studying.
These are sacrifices that I am more than willing to make. Applying to and attending RGU has been a dream come true and I have never enjoyed a time period in my life more than I am right now. Luckily for me, I feel that I have found a balance between student life and motherhood and we are all benefiting from this balance. It is very easy once you enter motherhood and have children to feel like your life and identity is no longer your own, I felt that way for a very long time. Until I realised that it didn’t have to be that way and I could ‘have it all’, as long as I made sure to create and find a balance.