At times I doubted that I would be able to complete my degree which I did. I still had one more year to finish off after I fell pregnant and I really did not know what to expect. The two things that hit me hard were: finance and time.
For me to study and complete my coursework, I needed baby support. The nursery’s price was his weight in gold. Plus space at the nursery for the extra days that I needed were limited. Funding for it was as well, as I was living off of my student loan, a part time temporary job as a Brand Ambassador for a parcel delivery company and help from family.
There were some horrible stories of children being abused by their carers that we heard in the news and through word of mouth. This made it nerve wrecking for us and hard to find a place that we could trust to take good care of our child at such a young age.
However, my baby first attended Northwick Park Nursery in September 2015 when he was three months old. We chose that nursery because firstly, our research showed that they have received awards for exceptional child care and safety. The nursery also had achieved an outstanding grade in its previous inspection by Ofsted.
It was also next door to my university campus which was located in Harrow. Plus we were offered two weeks worth of trial sessions for Scott to settle in. The services and care provided for him were brilliant. The issue was that we were spending around £650 per month for him to only attend it three times a week. This included only one full day and two afternoons, which was when I was attending lectures. Causing me to dig heavily into my overdraft.
The 29th of February 2016 was the last day that he attended that nursery. This was in order for us to cut costs. Once we moved to Southend-on-sea, he started to frequent a different nursery called Elim Day Nursery. What caught our eye about this one is that they have 25 years of experience in taking care of babies as young as six weeks old!
Plus, this nursery has a good Ofsted inspection. In addition, it cost us £46 per day. This is half the price of what we paid towards the previous nursery!
We also discovered that as a student you can get help from Student Finance England. They offer a childcare grant, where you have to fill in a form called ‘CCG1 Application for help with childcare costs’. This helped us a lot! It got me out of my overdraft.
How did I complete my uni work? When my baby was asleep by staying up until 5 am. He’d also often fall asleep on the train during our journey that took two hours each way to and from university. So, I’d take advantage of this time to complete some work. Plus on Sundays, during the last couple of months of my degree, my boyfriend would take our baby out for the day. He works six days per week, so this is the only time off that he gets. This also gave me some more time to finish off my final pieces of work. Thank you!
I felt that the dissertation was the hardest piece of work to complete. What I would suggest for those of you who are due to start their own, is to find out what subject you want to write about and to begin to do the research for it during the summer break which you have before starting it. This is as for me, it seemed like the reading and critical thinking aspects of it were what took up the most amount of time. Once all of my notes were ready, I found that transforming them into the right format was the easiest part.
A tool which I found very useful was this one: http://www.citethisforme.com/
It is a citation tool that helps students create the perfect citations which are required for their work in a fraction of the time, to avoid plagiarism.
The main things that we learned in this process were that the cheaper nurseries are further away from the center of London but they can still offer good quality care. Plus, you can get financial help from Student Finance to cover nursery costs.
Did you complete any form of education while taking care of a child? If yes, how did you find the experience?