Studying and being a parent: Hannah's story

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Ping member Hannah on being a parent and a student.

I've always been very academic and knew that I wanted to go into further study after school. Around 15 I decided to pursue teaching as a career and fell in love with the University of Stirling. No-one in my family has been to Uni and I was keen to be the first.

 

Getting the opportunity to study and work on assignments is very difficult; you don't have the freedom of other students to do an all-nighter when your baby wakes up every four hours! If your child is ill or their childcare is unable to take them, you are faced with the possibility of having your grade capped for not attending class. My tutors have actually been very considerate, and they understand that I am not staying home because I am hungover from clubbing. One thing I have found very difficult is that lack of social interactions and ability to BE a student. You can't dawdle around campus and decide to go on a night out, if you want to go to a society you have to arrange childcare which is difficult in the evenings and expensive. You probably won't live on campus which socially puts you at a disadvantage, and you are a lot worse off financially as you have the expenses of a baby. If you only see people in class, it is difficult to make friends. I miss 95% of university events and my friends’ parties/birthdays/celebrations because of the nature of the events and the fact that they aren't baby compatible. 

 

I had Mariah over the summer, so had 8 weeks at home with her before I went back to uni. That first semester was tough as my partner and I didn't have childcare, we had to either juggle looking after her around classes or take her to lectures (which has happened a few times). This soon became clear it that it was not sustainable, so we looked into childcare. My parents live far away, and all our friends were young with no baby experience. We settled on a nursery near the university that offered a student discount. Despite having a part time job, we have a very low income, with over half of it going on nursery, and the rest on rent and utilities. We had the option of paying a childminder, but I felt more comfortable sending her to a nursery. Some universities run toddler groups, but mine only caters for over 3s. This year, we have started claiming universal credit to support our income and pay for some nursery days. 

 

If you complete a teacher training degree, the Scottish government guarantees you a one-year probation job, so I don't have the same worries about jobs that other graduates have. I've actually been considering having another baby, as I would like to have my children close together. This would fit in nicely with my job as I could defer my probation for one year then enter teaching when I am ready. My long-term goal is to make the switch from English teaching into pupil support and guidance (I'd love to work supporting young parents in schools or helping them re-enter education). I also want to have a happy, loving family.