Money, money, money, it’s so funny…or not.


I feel like I should begin this post with an apology, an apology in advance if this blog is a bit of a grumpy one. I’m having a bad week.


I knew it wasn’t going to be the greatest week when on Sunday we had the rug pulled out from under us in terms of finances, all due to a very confusing website and my inability to understand it. A bit of background or you, as I have applied for an NHS funded course, I am very lucky that I get some financial assistance. Before I go any further please do not underestimate how much I appreciate this. I am the penultimate intake whose fees are entirely paid for and who receive a bursary to assist with the day to day life of being a Nursing student. Before you get cross and wag your finger at me, it isn’t entirely free money. Throughout my course, I undertake 6 placements, each of which is 8-12 weeks long and despite them being key to my learning, I will effectively be working full-time, for free. And again, I must say, I am grateful for this money and had it just been me that I had to worry about during the next 3 years, it would be excellent chunk of money that could go towards books and equipment and general studenty things. But alas, I have the little whirlwind in my life that is the Little Man, who isn’t QUITE ready to be left at home by himself. I mean, cars usually occupy him for a good amount of time and he can use a fork and spoon by himself but, I just don’t entirely trust him just yet. So, he requires some sort of childcare and any parents reading this will know, childcare is not cheap!!! As such, we applied for the Childcare Allowance part of the bursary alongside everything else to help with a portion of his fees.

Back to the confusing website. The NHS Bursary team in their infinite wisdom include a whole page of information detailing the costs of your childcare and the ‘Total Net Payable’ which to an idiot like me, would make you believe they were planning to pay you some money. It doesn’t, it’s just for their own internal calculations APPARENTLY. Super helpful to everyone and great that non-internal people can view it, oh wait…

For the last few weeks, the Husband and I have been feeling pretty carefree about money, things were still going to be really tight financially but we could just about manage. So to receive an email this week to say that, no, we weren’t going to get a single penny to assist with the Little Man’s childcare was a tad stressful. Okay, i’m downplaying that a little, I may or may not have had a big meltdown, cried, got cross and considered quitting the course completely, I felt like I had no choice. I was further annoyed to then actually speak to someone at the bursary office on Monday and find out that the only way we would be likely to receive assistance is if the Husband didn’t work and we claimed benefits. What an incentive for the Husband to go and work hard every day, for him to live an hour away from us just so he can continue to work and then be told that if he didn’t, there’d be more help for us. How does that work?! Answers on a postcard please people!

This week also happens to be our ‘practice week’ of our new life as of September. You see, in order for me to complete this course, the Husband and I have given up the beautiful cottage that we were renting and we are splitting our time (and ourselves) between our sets of parents. So this week, as the Little Man has his settling in sessions at his new nursery, the two of us have de-camped to my parents. I have got some Uni homework that needs to be completed before the beginning of term so it’s as if we’re doing a mock-up of what our weeks are going to be like. WELL, if the past few days have been anything to go by, I’m screwed.

On a positive note, the Little Man has been loving his new nursery. He came back absolutely filthy yesterday with the biggest smile on his face. I had to pick him up and carry him out of the nursery otherwise I think he would have happily played on the wooden train in the garden all day long. Which is great, one less thing to worry about, not sure how we’re going to fund his new favourite hangout BUT, its lovely that he likes it.

When he hasn’t been at nursery though, the Little Man has been a nightmare. Of course, he’s chosen this rubbish week to dabble with the Terrible Two’s a couple of months early. Imagine a Screaming Banshee who’s learnt a few Kung Fu slaps and really, REALLY doesn’t want to get changed out of his stinking nappy and you’re halfway there. This week I have spent more time sat on the floor of the bathroom crying than I’d care to admit! I am also planning to share a room with the Little Man initially so we’ve been trialling that this week too, which has also not been great. For a small person, he makes a hell of a lot of noise during the night (must buy earplugs) and he was very excited to find me in his room one morning which would have been a lovely thing to wake up to had it not been 4.50am!!! That one’s a work in progress.


Skype…when it works it’s the best, when it doesn’t I want to stamp on my phone!

And probably the hardest thing of all, and i’m sorry to get a little soppy, but I miss the Husband. And not just because it would be lovely for him to help out with the Little Man because, shout out to my parents, they’ve been amazing. I miss having him to chat with about my day and what’s on my mind, the Little Man just doesn’t take too kindly to having the phone camera taken off him during a Skype call! I also miss listening to Just a Minute or I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue or some other hilarious radio show with Russell before bed because we are OLD. Since having the Little Man I have realised what a great team the Husband and I are, being only one half of the team just isn’t as fun. I imagine it’s what Sharky would have felt like if George had moved out of Seacago and set up his own Private Detective agency.

I know that in 3 years time, this will all be a distant memory. I’ll be putting this course to good use and doing something really valuable with my life but right now I just want to wallow in chocolate, coffee and some really terrible Australian Telly. Instead, homework calls! Thanks as always for reading and for all of your support, it means so much knowing that people are following this journey along with me. Oh and if any of you lot win the lottery any time soon and fancy winging over a few thousand, that would be GREAT!


A request to the rest of the world.

So far my blog has very much focused on my impending life as a student but of course, a major part of my life is taken up being ‘Mummy’ or “My Mummy” as the Little Man has started referring to me as. And on that note, today I have a simple request for you all…please be kind to mothers. I am fortunate to have a wonderful family, some fantastic friends and am also very lucky to be a part of an online community of amazing mothers. One thing that I have seen time and again through all of my interactions with other Mummies is that sometimes, we’re like swans. No, not aggressive and territorial, (okay maybe a little of the last one). To all viewing us from above the surface, we glide (usually with a glass of wine in hand, but still gliding.) Some days though, those legs are kicking so flipping hard under the water, just to keep us, our families and our sanity, upright! And that is where everyone else comes in.

No matter how together we may seem to you, we’re all winging this. We’re making decisions all the waking day about how to bring/drag up our children. Sometimes we may get it wrong and that’s okay. So, please, if you’re reading this and you have a wife, daughter, sister, friend who looks like they may be struggling or making a wrong decision, please think before you offer your sage wisdom. We know it comes from a good place, we know you’re just trying to help but unless we ask for it, it may not be as helpful as you intend it to be. In fact, it may end up making us question ourselves and our decisions. And one thing I have learnt on this rollercoaster ride so far, is that our instinct is there for a reason and usually, it’s right. So, unless you’re truly concerned about a child’s welfare, please let us trust it.

Instead of advice, what really helps a mother or any parent for that matter, is reminding them what a great job they are doing. I’m not saying to shout it from the rooftops or a big heartfelt Facebook status necessarily, but a quick txt or a word in their ear to remind them that they have got this. That, when their child was kicking and screaming in the supermarket because they REALLY wanted that chocolate eclair, you were proud of how they handled it. Or when they’re a parent in the throes of getting very little sleep and they still remembered to post your birthday card (late, but still), that you appreciated the effort. Parenting is bloody hard work and often it is a thankless job, so please do your bit to remind your loved ones how brilliant they are for doing what they do.


Two guesses what my vice is, I’ll give you a clue, it’s not bread sticks!

And for any parents who are reading this, you really have got this. You sacrifice so much every day, your time, your space, your ability to drink a hot caffeinated beverage and for that you are brilliant. Even when you feel like you’re not, you are. The fact that you haven’t given up, even when it’s really, really bloody hard, shows that. A very lovely lady who I have gotten to know, totally hit the nail on the head recently when she said to someone having a bad day, “be kind to yourself”. Please don’t beat yourself up if it’s all going tits up. Go get that chocolate bar, that bag of crisps, that glass of wine, wherever it is you find your comfort, accept that today isn’t the greatest and put your faith in the fact that tomorrow is a new day and it may be a better one. And if it isn’t, head back out to the shops, restock and be kind to yourself some more.

Sorry for the slightly emotional ramblings but I know a few Mummies right now who could do with reminding of their greatness and this seemed like a good opportunity for me to do it.



Getting Personal.

UCAS Apply

Ahh the Personal Statement aka “The *insert name here* Advertisement Pitch”. At 17, I do not remember having any problem bragging about how brilliant I was but at 28 I was a little more self conscious and a LOT more self-aware so tasked with bigging myself up, seemed like a mammoth job. Where on earth to start?! Well, I have a small confession, I sort of had a little help…well kind of anyways. In Nursing, there is a huge emphasis on the 6 C’s (6 Traits and Characteristics that NHS staff should embody), so I used that to guide the writing of my statement. However, below I have tried to provide a more general framework and given some pointers to try to help anyone writing their personal statement as a mature student.

So, here goes:

  1. Why are you applying? What is your drive?
    Are you doing this for progression in your current career or like me, are you hoping to change your career completely? Are you driven by your family, your current/potential career or maybe you have hopes of making your first million?!
  2. What are your previous experiences of study?
    This doesn’t have to be formal qualifications, it could be an online course you’ve undertaken or an informative and excellent training course that your company have sent you on (who doesn’t love work related role play and discovering which ‘colour’ represents you?!)


    My Mum getting in some early practice as a Nurse!

  3. What relevant work experience do you have?
    This could be voluntary or paid work. And if like me, you’re going for a total career overhaul don’t panic! As you know, I worked in Sales for 6 years, what experience could I possibly offer up as a nursing student? Okay, so I hadn’t got any direct experience (playing Nurses aged 4 unfortunately doesn’t count) but in any job there are transferable skills you just need to draw focus to them. Have a think about general skills, good communication, being a team-player, commitment etc. and run with those. And, if you do have relevant experience, well this bit should be a doddle!
  4. What do you hope to get out of the course? Where do you see this taking you in your career?
    So the shiny certificate, the letters after your name and the bragging rights are all fantastic but they’re not usually the only things we hope to gain from a degree! What are you aiming for when you graduate? Is there a particular area that interests you and is there any specific jobs that take your fancy? You’re not committing yourself to anything but it does show you have thought about the future and your drive for success in your chosen career.
  5. What life experience makes you right for the course and makes you stand out against the next person?
    As I have mentioned, being a parent really is worth bringing up, there is a reason they say being a parent is the hardest job in the world! Plus think of all of the skills you’ve gained, no-one multi-tasks like a parent or handles non-stop pressure like a parent! Also, if you have the space, it may be worth mentioning if you have any hobbies outside of parenting, (if you do, hats off to you, you are a superhero!) Finally, even seemingly bad life experiences can be a positive, they show your determination and your resilience. So to the lovely girls who bullied me at University, good attempt at putting me off but not only did I complete my first degree, I’m now going back for round 2!! RESILIENCE!
  6. Finally, please resist the urge to be modest! The only person who can convince the admissions team that you deserve a place at their University is you, so if you don’t brag and write like you’re the Queen/King of everything great, why would they want you over someone who will? As a grown up, it’s so easy to be self-deprecating but this is one time you can’t be. Plus, unless you’re planning on sharing it with the world and his wife, your statement is aimed at a very small audience so no-one’s going to call you up on your excellent ability to lead your co-workers into battle whilst balancing an elephant on your head.

This is by no means a definitive guide to writing your personal statement but I hope it gets you thinking and gives you a couple of nudges in the right direction. Below I’ve included a couple of links to other (definitely more professional) guides specifically aimed at Mature Students too. If you would like to ask me any specific questions/want more guidance please feel free to email me on The Uni Mummy Email address and I will do my best to help!

The more professional versions of the above: (Page 12)

And so the journey began.

And so, I had made the decision that I’d like to become a Mental Health Nurse. Now I just needed to complete 3 years of study, 6 placements and keep my husband & child happy. But of course, before any of that could happen, I actually needed to be accepted on a University course and before I could do THAT, my old friend UCAS would need to be revisited.

When I was at college, I remember the many hours that were put aside in our timetables for the UCAS application and all of the help given to us by our tutors and I scoffed, nay MOANED about their constant nagging, (okay, advice!)


17 year old me, aka The Idiot.

At 17, I am happy to admit, I was somewhat of an idiot. Looking back, I’d like to grab hold of my teenage self and tell me to listen up and take note of all of the guidance I was being offered. Because, this time round, I was having to be a grown up and apply for Uni ALL.BY.MYSELF!! Not so easy. I admit, a lot of it is just providing your personal details, digging out all of your previous qualifications…”I got a A in GCSE French? Quelle surprise!” and noting every job you have ever had, all of which is fairly straight forward. However there are two things that make the whole thing less of an admin exercise. 1. Obtaining a Reference and 2. the Personal Statement *shudders*.

So back to my days at college, obtaining a reference meant my tutor (who hardly knew me), speaking to my teachers (who did) and then pulling all of their exceptionally high praise (mais oui) into a beautiful reference. This is part of their ‘job’, they do it every year, many times over, so are well practiced in the art of UCAS and all I had to do is say “Thanks Mrs Tutor” and go on my merry way. This time round was different, if you have read my previous post, you will know I left my job of 6 years at the end of my maternity leave and along with it, left my boss of 6 years too. I had rejoined the company on a temporary contract but in a different department with a different boss, (who I will later refer to as “The Saviour”). But, in the meantime, it made sense to me to ask the one who had known me since I arrived aged 22 and fresh-faced out of University to write some words of my greatness. To cut a long story short, it didn’t happen. In her defence, she is a very busy lady, I know that, but at the time my waking hours revolved around the Little Man and my seemingly mad plan to join Uni, so I was STRESSED!

Enter, The Saviour, who blocked out a whole day of her diary so we could sit and get it done together because she is The Saviour and that, my friends, is what Saviours do! So my advice to anyone in my predicament would be to firstly, make sure you ask a reliable source, someone who knows you and will be able to take the time to do it. Secondly, make their lives as easy as possible so that it doesn’t take up an inordinate amount of their time. I provided my referee with a copy of my personal statement, so she could understand all of my reasons for applying and why I thought I was right for the course. This gave her a good base to build upon and give the University reasons why she thought I was right for the course too. And thirdly, sounds obvious but make sure you let them know it is appreciated. Unlike my college tutor, this wasn’t my boss’ job and I know she had a ton of other things she could and should have been doing instead. So Saviour, if you’re reading this, for the 100th time, THANK-YOU!

tonis photos 007

Extra-curricular activites at 17 included fox-trotting in the bowling alley (again, Idiot!)

And then there’s the thing that you actually do have control over, the Personal Statement. I don’t remember what I wrote at 17 but I can hazard a guess that it was not great, it would have been mostly about my A-levels and about my extra-curricular activities, and I’m not entirely sure what I did with my free time at 17?! This time round, as a mature student, although finding the time to write it wasn’t easy, the actual content was much easier. At 28 I was a proper grown up, with experiences, both in real jobs and real life. I also made great use of the internet. There are so many companies offering courses online which meant I could fatten up my Statement with lots of knowledge, all obtained when the Little Man was napping/in bed/playing by himself (this last one rarely happened and if it did, it was for approximately 5 minutes at a time!) I also signed up to newsletters in areas that were relevant to my course so I could keep up to date with current information. Again this helped fill the void of 6 years in Sales and was also a great help when I had my interview. My final bit of advice when it comes to the Statement is to really draw upon your maturity (still can’t believe you only have to be 21 to be considered a Mature Student!) You have so much to offer a University, things that your average 18 year old can’t and if like me you’re a parent, talk about it. I felt silly at first, being a mother didn’t seem like much of an achievement on the surface, but it is. At that point, I’d kept another human alive for a whole year!! If nothing else, it was 12 months of real responsibility and the biggest learning curve of my life.

So, that was that, with the completion of my reference and personal statement I was ready to hit submit, send my application out into the world and hope that it was enough to convince someone that I was ready to do this whole mature, parent, student thing.

I found a couple of websites through Google that provide helpful guides to writing a personal statement as a mature student but hope that in my next blog I can give another option for a potential format.


Thanks for reading!

Starting at the very beginning…

Okay, so it may be a month until Uni starts so technically I am not a student just yet BUT I feel that in order for you to be able follow my time as a student, it’s important that you understand how I got to where I am today.

A confession, this isn’t my first time.

I have already worn the mortar board, already experienced fresher’s week and, last time, missed too many lectures with a hangover.


Does anyone look good in one of these?!

In 2009 I graduated with a BSc in Psychology, a course that I thoroughly enjoyed but which, in hindsight, only scratched the surface of the mind and what it was capable of. As a result, you are a very lucky person if you manage to walk straight into a Psychology job once you have that certificate in your hands! During this first stint as an undergraduate I met a crazy-haired friend who has since sorted out his locks and become my husband.

Falling in love makes you do crazy, unexpected things and in this instance, it made me move to a town in which we knew no-one and had only visited once properly before we moved! So off we trotted, a loved up pair, to the beautiful Cotswolds in order for (the now) Husband to pursue an amazing opportunity working as a resident Ceramicst. I’m sure it will  come as no surprise that dream jobs such as these, don’t tend to pay the bills and so my degree and all the knowledge I gained had to be put on the shelf and I took up a job in Sales.

Oh Sales, what a love/hate relationship I had with you. It was a lot of fun when things went well but a bad day could leave you in tears, reaching for the nearest alcoholic beverage. And yet, it took the arrival of ‘Hurricane Little Man’ 6 YEARS LATER for me to finally cut ties with the industry.

So that brings me to the most recent turn in my tale, The Little Man. My beautiful and totally bonkers, son. It’s definitely been an interesting rollercoaster ride so far. However, becoming a mother has helped me define who I am and who I want to become. Sounds dramatic but I promised this blog would be honest and that is the (dramatic) truth.

Holding hands

As my maternity leave was drawing to an end I attempted to return to my job in Sales part-time, a request that was swiftly declined. Unless we won the lottery before my SMP was up, I knew I had to get another job. I got offered an interview for a part-time Sales position at a different firm, I knew that I should be feeling relieved (after all, money makes the world go round right?) Instead, I cried. And that was my lightening bolt moment, I knew that if I was going to leave the Little Man and put him into the care of someone else it HAD to be a job that I was going to enjoy and have some sense of fulfilment. So I declined the interview and finally listened to my Mum (the cliché is true, they are always right!) Having worked as a nurse herself since she left school and knowing how much I enjoyed psychology she had mentioned on several occasions that I should look into a career as a mental health nurse. So this time, I did.

The Husband and I looked into what the course would entail, finances and how it would work from the practical ‘living’ side of things. Despite there being a number of obstacles in the way, none of them put me off. And I came to the conclusion that if you really, really want something, you WILL find a way to jump over those hurdles, (or walk around them if you’re as unfit as me!) So on that profound note, I shall end my first blog entry.

If you’ve stuck this out to this point, thank-you!  I hope you’ve enjoyed the hop, skip and a jump through my life so far.

Next time the joys of the UCAS application process and how we’re planning to make our way around those hurdles!