Diatribe | Issue 15
Think university is tough? Try studying while raising kids, despite the complete absence of any support for “study mummies”.
When I was growing up, it was common for mothers and working adults to go to night classes at uni. That allowed people who couldn’t give up their employment or their children to get an education. Where have these night classes gone? I’m not talking about heading to the local high school every Wednesday evening where you learn to cook Thai food. I’m talking formal education, happening outside the 9 – 5 workday. Parents have enough pressures without trying to make daytime lectures. With no night classes, the only option left for those of us trying to achieve academically is day-care, which brings me to my next beef.
The University website boasts that it has four centres available for children of students and staff. Sounds super, except I am told the staff’s children make up most of the numbers, leaving few spaces for the children of students. Childcare is a rare commodity now, and the fact that students who are already struggling with money, workload, and family life can’t even get this just adds to the frustration. Why bother to offer childcare as a service to students if it’s almost impossible for students to utilise it? Having been on the waiting list for a year, I got a call from the centre saying that they had a full-time spot. They could accommodate the childcare needs of one of my children. What about the other two?
In my experience, there is also very little support from lecturers. As childcare was almost impossible to get in my first year, I asked my mother to watch the kids while I attended lectures. She could look after them for me, but only while I was at lectures. It looked like things might work out until I went to one of my first classes, where the teacher informed me that everyone had to attend tutorials. After having calmly explained to three other lecturers why I couldn’t make tutorials, I approached this teacher to do the same. Long story short, she was not so understanding, and I received a substantial grade reduction for failing to attend tutorials.
Isn’t it for the benefit of the whole country that us stay-at-home mums get out there and educate ourselves, so that when our children go to school we can go to work? All we need is support for working twice as hard as single students with half the amount of spare time. We aren’t looking for a free ride through uni. All we ask is that each day does not contain some colossal obstruction to our studying goals!