A young family of adventurers living by the sea

Friday, 16 August 2013

Fri-Dad

I love this time of the week, not only do I get a break from writing the lovely man in my life gets to put across his experiences too. 


Hi there everyone. It’s Friday and by popular demand (or just Laura said so) I’m posting 
again for the Friday special. This week’s topic is being a student and a parent. I want to talk a little about the life I had being one then see if I can offer a little confidence to anyone going into education with a child or has a child whilst in education.

Most students when first arriving at either College or University have the plan to experience life away from home, feel the weight of responsibility and learn to manage it, they focus hard at their course, look to think of the future and chase their prime goal, independence…and of course party like it’s going out of style. However, they DO NOT plan parenthood.

Neither had I when I went to University. I wanted to be a famous scriptwriter; I wanted to be free and adult for once. That road had to stop because I came down with a serious case of parent at the year of my first year.

My plans for living needed to change, my aspect on writing needed changing and I needed to grow up (I couldn’t even manage that).

Fortunately I had Laura as my partner. Together, we deferred a year of university to structure our lives a bit, we found a place to live as a family, we got jobs, we agreed to finish the courses we started and chase the dreams we have.

To conclude quickly, I left University with a 2i which is miles better than before, I made a bunch of contacts and friends that I still stay in touch with, I know what I want to do with my degree now…didn’t grow up, but I became less incompetent.

After the four years I had, here are the few things I’d suggest while in education as parent, be you a parent now or soon to be:

Childcare - We organised childcare for the Sprog while we were at University which was supportedby Student Finance and funding varies if you don’t or can’t get a job in the meantime. It’s a serious pain to organise and keep on top of, but it helps out. We were lucky to have such a wonderful nursery on University campus that was a fantastic environment for Max to grow up in. Childcare, in any form is needed because it was so crucial to me finding enough time to study and network whilst at Uni. Look it up early so get those spaces, in case that fills up.

Stay connected - Life did change a bit socially afterwards, most of my year was super excited to have the first and only course baby (not an achievement that’s too big to celebrate…but screw it someone’s gotta’ come first, WEEEEEEEEE!). However, they got to carry on whilst I stayed back and focussed on other things, which did suck because I missed the nights together. However, when Max was born, I was never short of visitors and people asking about the family, which did sweeten things. My course friends were also very kind to introduce me to my soon to be year group, which helped me throughout the rest of my course. It’s always good to stay sociable, okay you can’t go out constantly, but keeping in touch and hanging out when you can will save you feeling alone, lost for a good while it was table for one at the lonely table for I.

Don’t give up - Stay the course if you’re serious and passionate about your studies. It is hard, it comes with having more than one responsibility whilst balancing studies and deadlines and exams. With the course, a job and It pays off so much to keep trying hard and balancing everything, I promise.

Take support if you need it – I have been SUPER SUPER lucky to have Laura with me whilst studying, especially in my final year when I was the last one to finish their course. I really am forever indebted to this woman for her giving me the love and support I needed when I was on the floor crying, saying ‘I can’t do it, I suck’. She picked me up, got me back on my laptop and kept me going. However, if you don’t have that luxury of your partner being there, time to look to your course coordinators. Most lecturers understand and will help you when you ask for it. If you need a deadline extension because things aren’t going swimmingly and lack of sleep is ruining study time…time to take a timeout and request for mitigating circumstances. This will extend a deadline for you to catch up without failing. I did have to use one at one point just so I could stay on board, it paid off just so I could keep things going.

Don’t use parenting as an excuse not to – Whilst at Uni. the family helped organise a festival event on campus, I went to London for a big screenwriting festival, I helped out with other peoples projects, I underwent work experience over months and contacted other writers and producers within my area for advice. Just because you’re a parent, doesn’t mean you should excuse yourself from trying to get involved. Parenting is not a burden, for me, it helped me talk to other parent writers and learn from those who went through what I did (yes, I know! We’re not alone!). Get stuck in, love it and don’t let anyone say you can’t (unless really, it’s just not going to work).

And finally… 

Embrace it – Thing is, parenting isn’t too distant from student life anyways. You’ll find that you turn up to early morning lectures like most students. Tired, headache and broke. You’ve just not slept, because baby says so, the rhythm told them to stay out. Your broke from nappy purchasing, not the bottle and you’re so tired anyway you pick up the wrong bottle and ruin your night. Ever tasted baby milk? It’s not gonna’ replace the shit I use on my cereal and coffee that’s for sure. Regardless, it all leads to a happy end.

I’ve covered most of the life I’ve just lived. If you too have great advice please share it, it’s not a secret. If you have more questions to ask, contact me if you like on twitter @SJCastle_ (I know, I made this account pre FriDad and Writing-Dad) I’d be more than happy to help.

If you’re currently thinking of applying for college or university with a child(ren) or you are expecting and are thinking of going back. I urge you to do it, it’s the greatest experience I ever had and I wish you all the luck in the world with it.

That concludes FriDad, have yourself a wonderful weekend, ‘till next time!
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