Reflection · Self care

An Open Letter to the Student Parent

Dear Student Parent,

I’m not writing this to try and paint us to be the group of students who have the hardest journey. Because, the more I speak to and get to know other students, I realise that each and every one of our journeys are hard. So hard. But we all have this one thing in common: determination to complete our training and become those sparkly Newly Qualified Nurses that dreams are made of.

I’m writing this because of late that horrid #MumGuilt has been creeping up on me, and if I’m feeling it then I’m sure you may feel the same or have done so previously. There seems to be a constant stream on social media of the new parenting trends, whether to breastfeed or not, how much tech time will have a detrimental effect on your child’s future career prospects, or even how being a Mum is the equivalent of two full time jobs to name just a few. If you take the time to stop and read some of these articles, it’s inevitable that some form of guilt will creep up on you.

On top of these every day parenting worries, we have the added guilt because we’ve made a decision and a pretty huge decision at that. We’ve decided that we’re going to return to education and start at what feels like the very beginning again. But we aren’t carefree, we have responsibilities, mouths to feed. I’m very fortunate with my situation, my husband is able to keep us afloat while I embark on this journey and take him and our two under 10’s with us – but I know that not everyone is in this position. You may have to work a least 15 hours a week on top of your Student Nurse hours (be it theory or practice) just to stay afloat, heck you may have to work even more than that. But you do it, and you do it well. Some days the shifts speed by, but others you find yourself in the staff toilet looking at pictures of your little ones reminding yourself that you’re doing this not only for yourself, but for them. You’re an inspiration to them, and they probably won’t remember each missed bedtime while you’re on shift, they’ll remember seeing you work your god damned hardest to make it through this degree and get to where you want to be.

You’re teaching them how to set goals, work toward them, and reach them. You’re teaching them that it’s ok to not know ‘what you want to be when you grow up’ straight away from school. You’re teaching them that going the long way round is ok too.

You may have seen the #18Summers hashtag and meme’s floating around on social media, telling us that our littles only have 18 summers with us before they embark upon their own adventures. I’ll be honest, the first time I saw one of these it made me sad. It made me feel guilty. But now I see it as a lovely reminder to make the most of not only each summer you have with your children while they’re small, but each day, each little thing. Because before you know it they’ll be grown and have priorities which may not always involve you. Enjoy the small things, because they won’t be there forever. Above all, keep powering through – your littles will thank you for it in years to come.

Jessica Sainsbury (@JessLSainsbury)

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