It’s that time of week again; time for Part 4 of The Daddy Diaries! People seem to be enjoying the feature so far, which is great, as there’s more to come! This week, Daf talks about the trials and tribulations of studying with a young baby, and has some advice for anyone who thinks they can’t go to university because of their parenting commitments.
How did it feel, going back to university the September after SB was born?
It felt surreal. Everything had changed, and we’d had all summer to adjust to our lives being totally different – and then suddenly we were going back to normality, even if it was just for a few hours a day.
Were you nervous putting SB into nursery for the first time? Was there any guilt?
We were definitely very nervous. There was some guilt, but at the same time, I know that what we did was for the best. I think the guilt came more from the way putting your baby into nursery at a young age is perceived socially, rather than us actually needing to feel guilty about it.
How did you cope if SB was poorly during the week and couldn’t go to nursery? Who would look after her?
If she couldn’t go into nursery, we’d just discuss the situation, and find out whose lecture was the most vital that day. Sometimes I’d be doing essay preparation while Maddy would just be reading a play, or vice versa, so the person who needed to be in university less would take the day off and stay with her. We just made it work – we had to, for SB’s sake.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in terms of studying last year?
Tiredness, but only because we’d be up doing feeds in the middle of the night, and trying to get her to sleep, and we were having to work our studying around that. Often we couldn’t even start our essays until late at night, so then we’d stay up even later and be tired.
What help did you need from the university, if any? And were Glyndwr university understanding?
They were very understanding, and gave me a lot of leeway. I was so tired I fell asleep in one lecture. My lecturer woke me up, and he was very understanding about it.
Do you think universities in general are supportive enough of student parents?
From my experience at Glyndwr, yes. I think some universities need to advertise it more, as it may put students off if they think that they are not welcome because of their family commitments, whereas other universities like Glyndwr make it clear that student parents are supported. I think there are more young people becoming parents and continuing their education, and more mature students with families too, and universities are adjusting to that.
What are the most important things that universities can do to support student parents?
Be understanding. Don’t give student parents special treatment, because chances are they don’t want it, and their peers may start to resent them, but understand that they may need extensions on essays, and they may be tired or struggle to concentrate in some lectures. Also, forms like student finance are so confusing for student finance, so it eases a lot of stress when universities can offer help with filling in the forms.
What advice do you have for other student parents?
You can do it. It might feel like you can’t at times, but remember that you’re doing it for a great reason, and it will lead to a better life for you and your family.
What about to parents who think they can’t go to university because of their parenting responsibilities?
Don’t worry that university is all about ‘student life’ and partying. Not only will you get so much support with studying, but you can still have a great student experience and social life – even if all you can manage is activities during the opening hours of childcare or school; you can join societies and sports teams and get involved with student life that way.