There probably doesn’t exist a more daggy cohort than parents who study.
Food stains, maternity bras, and more jeans and runners combos than a Seinfeld episode!
We try our hardest (and thank you Stylish Academic for your inspo and helping us lift our game!) but keeping up with style is just one of the many challenges of being a parent who studies.
If you are reading this, it is because you have at least one child and know to0 well the struggle of juggling parenting with academic deadlines and in many cases, employment demands as well (also known as the holy trinity of guaranteeing to make you age significantly).
It was challenges like these and seeking connection with others experiencing the same that led Nicola and me to the wonderful world of blogging and Instagram.
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Being a mum and a PhD Researcher was tough! – Dr Dudu Ndlovu
Nicola started to blog her experience shortly after returning to a Ph.D. course after maternity leave. And there were a few motivations for this.
First, she was keen to get back into the habit of writing.
Of course, a blog is slightly different to writing for academia as it doesn’t get peer reviewed, but for Nicola, it was about getting her confidence back in her ability – to know that she could actually do what the course demanded.
Secondly, she wanted to connect with other parents.
Upon entering the world of Instagram Nicola “met” a wealth of people such as “instamums”, “phd students”, and people who were a bit of both.
All provided support. All, unknowingly, helped her through some difficult times.
My circumstance was very similar.
Returning from maternity leave was a challenge.
All of a sudden I found myself trying to meet study deadlines whilst balancing work commitments and still being the mum I wanted to be (or figuring out what that even looked like!)
My home was now also my office, which instead of sharing with colleagues (and enjoying adult conversations) I now shared with a little baby.
I didn’t know how I was going to find space- both internally and in my surroundings to get my work done.
Feeling overwhelmed and quite alone, I created an Instagram account where, with a big sigh of relief, I met numerous parents all navigating the challenges (whilst also enjoying the delights) of raising children whilst studying.
All of a sudden I felt connected to a world of people who were sharing the same experiences.
It was enough to keep me progressing through my studies, and even more than that, I felt energised and motivated to do so, just knowing that I wasn’t alone.
What Nicola and I learned from these connections was that it didn’t matter if our support network were doing the same course as us, the stresses parents who study face were exactly the same.
We all worry about finances.
We all worry about writing ability, about finding the time to do the work.
We all worry about parent guilt and balancing it all.
We decided to start a Facebook support group for people like us– parents who study.
We knew there were many of us out there because of the connections we had made on Instagram.
The idea was to create a space where we could all connect, voice our worries and give each other support and advice.
It is a warm and welcoming group with a very active membership, which is growing every day (over 300 members to date).
Our hope is that anyone who has studied, is currently studying or is thinking about studying will be able to join the group and find a welcoming and friendly forum.
Come and say hello!
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