Young mum Maddie, author of The Speed Bump blog, talks about how she’s challenging young mum stereotypes and why being a mum has changed her for the better as part of the amazing Young Mums Collective.
Here’s what Maddie says in the video if you can’t watch it…
Hi, my name’s Maddie and I became a mum at 19. When I found out I was pregnant, I was just starting the second year of my theatre degree so for a while it felt like this is the end of everything — all my ambitions, my hopes and dreams have just gone.
When I told people I was pregnant, the assumption was that I’d drop out of uni.
I want to challenge the idea that once you become a mum, that’s it.
And especially if you become a young mum, you can’t achieve anything worthwhile. Because after my daughter was born I submitted two essays when she was two weeks old and got a 2:1 for them.
And then I went straight on, did my third year, and graduated with a first.
It’s not the end — you can carry on, and the support is there but you have to work hard for it as well.
When I was pregnant, the pregnancy guide Emma’s Diary just wasn’t relevant in the slightest. She was off on exotic babymoons, and stressing about not being able to eat soft cheese, whereas I was more focused on getting my essays done, and where are we going to live?
I didn’t have a maternity leave to speak of, it was just luck that my daughter was born at the start of the summer holidays.
I wanted my blog to be an antidote to that.
Something that young parents and young parents-to-be can read and think, ‘This is more relatable for me — this is my life.’ So hopefully that’s what I’ve managed to do.
That’s where the name came from — I was telling my parents this pregnancy isn’t a stop sign, it’s just a speed bump. And the name stuck, and I’ve now been blogging as The Speed Bump for the last three and a half years, which is terrifying!
What I try and do is use my blog to motivate young parents, hopefully to inspire them but more than anything to show them that they’re not alone.
I’m also passionate about defending young mums because there’s enough to be dealing with.
You don’t need people’s judgement. And people do judge, and people will judge and they always will.
But I think that young mums need to know that there are women who have been in their situations who’ve got their back.
And that’s what I try to do is to step in and defend young mums and to the stereotypes are wrong and to show that the stereotypes aren’t accurate.
But also to challenge the notion that I’m the exception to the rule because I’ve got a degree.
I’m not the exception to the rule — there is no rule!
There’s no rulebook for being a young mum that says you will live on benefits, you will do this, that and the other.
If people do need to rely on benefits, that’s what they need and they need support — they deserve support for that.
If people can go and get their education and get careers, fantastic. What we should be doing is encouraging every young mum to achieve her potential and to achieve what she wants.
Graduating from university, I’ve been adjusting to adulthood.
It’s a little bit more complicated doing it with a toddler, but it’s also been an adventure — I [also] got married. Now I have Celyn who’ll be three in a couple of months.
I think being a young mum has changed me for the better.
At 18 I was drifting through everything — through life, through education, through my social life, my relationship. Just giving everything just 70%.
Finding out I was pregnant gave me that kick-start to say, ‘OK there’s someone else now that relies on me completely — I have to start trying my hardest. I can’t let this little person down.
So from then on, I have been a 110% kind of person…
If I’m going to do something then I’m going to throw myself into it entirely and do my best.
I think you have to grow up very quickly, even if you’re still a young adult when you find out you’re pregnant, you still have a lot of growing up to do and it happens very quickly when you find out you’re pregnant.
It has been a massive learning curve but it’s also been a lot of fun.
If I could send a message to myself when I was pregnant, I’d say: “Relax — everything is gonna work out fine.”
People are going to judge — they’re always going to judge. It’s human nature and you can’t do anything about that but what you can do is change how you react to it.
I was quite sensitive to criticism before I got pregnant and if someone had told me ‘you’re going to drop out’ I would have dropped out.
Once I was pregnant, when people told me ‘you’re going to drop out’ that became my motivation to be even more determined to prove them wrong.
If someone said to me, ‘you can’t do this’, my attitude became, ‘I’m going to do it twice as well just to show you that I can’.
I think that’s a really important attitude to have and that’s also one of the ways that being a young mum has changed me for the better, because I am now a more determined, focussed, motivated person.
I would say to myself, if you feel like you can’t relate to the pregnancy guides and the books and the magazines, there are young parent bloggers who share the day-in, day-out of their lives that you will be able to relate to and it’s proof that you’re not alone.
And that’s another really important thing that I tell myself is, never feel like you’re going through it alone.
So take all the help you can get, take all the advice.
Also relax, enjoy it. You’re either a new mum or you’re going to be a new mum. Sit back and enjoy it — it’s like a rollercoaster ride but it is the biggest and the best adventure you’ll ever go on.
And I think to grow up alongside your child is a privilege.
Just as you’re reaching that late teens, early 20s when you’re starting to see the world in a more cynical light, this little person comes along and they’re seeing it for the first time.
The tiniest things can make their eyes light up — they’re so full of wonder and you’ll start to rediscover the magic in things.
So it is amazing — there are difficult times, there are hard bits, there are so many sleepless nights when you’ll wonder ‘what the heck am I doing?’ But every mum goes through those regardless of her age.
The highs are so worth the lows that you encounter.
More advice on being a student parent from young mums like Maddie
Within 6 weeks of giving birth to her daughter at 17, Harriet started university and now has a degree (plus a lot of lessons learned) to show for it. Here’s her advice on achieving your dreams and staying true to yourself.
Here’s what Harriet says in the video if you can’t watch it…
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.