Full time work, study and motherhood

Posted 3 October 2017

Naomi is 34 and a single mum to six year-old Tobey. She recently made the decision to complete a PGCE in higher education while working full time and raising her son.

Splitting up

Tobey’s dad and I split up nearly four years ago. Our marriage just fell apart. Sometimes you take it for granted when there are two of you, and then all of a sudden you have to cope by yourself.

When we first split up, Tobey’s dad was still living nearby to help with childcare, but despite having this support I had to deal with the majority of the childcare, maintaining a home and dealing with tantrums while working.

Making choices for the future

Initially I was working part time, but I had to increase my working hours for financial reasons so now have to work full time. Earlier this year I had the opportunity through work to go back to university to complete a PGCE in higher education.

It was a big decision to do the course, but I have to think about my options for when I’m older, for my life and for my career. This will open another door for me, and it will be nine months of a lot of work but worth it in the long run.

“Sometimes I wonder how I manage”

Sometimes I wonder how I manage – I don’t know how I balance my life so well. Routine is really important and Monday through to Friday is a similar cycle. I get up at 6am, wake Tobey up at 6:30, we leave the house by 7am and then I drop him off at the childminder so I can go to work.

As soon as I get home from work it’s non-stop until Tobey goes to bed, and then out comes the laptop and books and I’m doing assignment work for my university course, until I go to bed at around 11:30pm.

The weekends that I do get to myself, when Tobey goes to his dad’s house, have recently been spent at the library, because I don’t have the time to go during the week and I can’t take Tobey with me, (although I have been known to in the past if I’ve had no other choice).

Constantly balancing

Just because I’m working full-time doesn’t mean I have lots of disposable income. I have a mortgage and domestic bills to pay; so budgeting and being wise with my money is very important.

I’m constantly having to balance my life and I still face challenges with managing time, but I’m fortunate that Tobey is a really good boy and I don’t have many challenges with him.

Sometimes just having time to myself is difficult. I’ve recently thought about joining the gym, but you try and find a reasonably priced gym where you can take your child and that’s really hard. A lot of the places and events that cater to mums seem to happen between 9am and 5pm, which doesn’t really help if you’re working full time.

Being a single parent is challenging, however even more so if you have your own career, goals and aspirations and no family around to help you. I do sometimes get tired and down with everything I do, but at present that’s just the way my life is and I need to accept that and get on with it. If I didn’t keep to some kind of routine then everything would fall apart.

Some people criticise single parents and say it’s going to affect their kids, but I don’t think it has affected Tobey. Sometimes he’s sad that his father and I aren’t together, but overall he’s a happy, well mannered boy and we always try and have fun together.

Working together as a team

Tobey understands that I have to work, and that we need to work together as a team in every possible way. For example if I had an accident at home we’ve had to talk about what he would have to do to help me, because I don’t have anyone nearby he can run to. So I’ve made him a child friendly emergency card which has info on about how to call 999 if mummy hurts herself and how to unlock the door when help arrives, it also has all the numbers of all the people who I would want contacted if there was some kind of catastrophe and I was unable to help him or tell him what to do….it’s things like that which you just assume will never happen, but who knows and you need to be prepared as a single mum.

I am really proud of my achievements that I have attained while being a single mum and also the fact that I have been able to balance it with giving my son a fun, loving and educational upbringing.

I’d like to think that he thinks I’m a good role model and he aspires to work hard like his mummy has. I already drill it in to him that if he wants to do well then he has to work hard to achieve it.

What do you think of Naomi’s story? Tell us in the comments below.

Interested in getting a degree or certificate? Check out our factsheets on Money for higher education students and Tax credits when your circumstances change.