Being a student parent: how I balance college, work AND motherhood!

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Young student parent Richelle is studying midwifery, works in retail and is a full-time mum to one-year-old Zac! Here she tells us about the ups and downs of her journey and gives her advice on how to manage your priorities.

Hiya, I’m Richelle – I had Zac when I was 18. I started working again in just a normal retail job and soon after that — the September — I started to do my midwifery course.

By that time Zac was just turning one so he was already in a routine-ish, so I just had to get him into a strict routine so I could go about doing my stuff during the day while he’s still playing or doing what he does within that timeframe.

So I kind of had to adjust, ’cause I’d work in the night and during the day I’d be in my class.

It is tiring, I’m not gonna lie.

I’m not gonna say, ‘yeah it’s all good and it’s worth it’. Obviously it’s worth it, but you’re tired.

Richelle and Zac

And then you have to go home and your baby’s there so obviously you don’t really get time to sleep, or eat, or have a bath until your baby’s sleeping.

And then even after all of that you have to do your work, and then in the midst of all of that you have to find time to have a social life!

But after about a month of me doing it and going to class every day and work on the days that I’m working, I think I got a way of handling it. Zac got used to it, so it was a kind of… we’ve balanced it out.

I can’t just sit at home.

I have to do something ’cause I think I was getting a bit crazy sitting at home – Zac’s there, crying, milk, poo… I was doing that consistently for 6 months.

I know that’s part of being a mum but I did need something outside of that. So I think that’s why I turned to working.

I feel that you should inform your college or uni that you have a child.

Because they can kind of adjust everything for you. So if your child is ill, you can inform them and they can set up your work for the week and send it to you. And then there are some understanding form tutors or lecturers that do help you.

Zac, son of young mum Richelle

At work, they didn’t know that I had a child. But I did mention it but I think they kind of just [makes zipping motion]… They wasn’t really lenient with my hours, but when I did tell them that I had a child they were very lenient.

You just have to make them aware of your circumstances because being a mum is a responsibility and it is your top priority.

So telling them that ‘I have a child so I do have him or her as my priority’ so if something has gone wrong, you can call out and they’ll be like, ‘OK that’s fine because you’ve told us this’ etc.

So I think that’s something that’s important because they do need to know.

I feel that, at the end of the 3 years of my course, I think I’ll look back at it and I’ll have a 4-year-old Zac, I think it will all be worth it.

Like, all the nights that I don’t sleep, because I have to do work, and then I have to wake up already to make Zac’s breakfast and stuff, and the nights that Zac doesn’t get as much attention from me because I have to focus on my work… I think I’ll be kind of proud of it looking back at it and I think it’ll be worth it… hopefully!

More advice on college and work from young mums like Richelle

Ask Richelle anything about being a young mum in our Community! Register here and then click below to ask your question.

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