Balancing Life as a Student Midwife

I’ve had a few questions recently about how I’m managing my time while being a student. The honest answer is… I have absolutely no idea!

Mostly, I panic that I’m overloaded and swamped with things to do. Then, I panic some more because I don’t know how to tick things off my to-do list while I’m working 37.5 hours a week on placement. And then there’s even MORE panic when I feel like I’m letting my friends, family and boyfriend down when I have zero free time. But really, in the chaos of all of this panic, I am constantly reminded that this degree is incredible and is preparing me for a career that I will adore.

I guess the answer is, there is no right way to manage time. It’s one of those buzzword skills that we all mention in our interviews; “yes, I’m fab at time management and I really feel like that will help me on the course”. You would have been right – you’re juggling academic work, placement shifts, reflective work about the placement shifts, keeping up with friends, making time to see family and spending some time on yourself. I seem to have only made this harder for myself by setting up a business in my first year as a student!

So how do I balance everything?

A lot of the time I don’t really feel like I am balancing life with midwifery. So probably a better example to talk about would be when I was revising for 4 A-levels. Time management was a big thing for me at this time. I was working two jobs alongside this and I knew I had to put something in place so that I could get the best grades I could possibly get. I was a huge fan of revision timetables (and of course, they were all colour-coded):

- I drew a huge grid which had days of the week along the top and the times of day down the side in hour intervals.

- I gave each subject a specific coloured sticky note which went together with a key at the bottom – if you follow my Instagram, you’ll know how crazy I am for organisation and stationery!

- This meant that each week I could tailor the timetable with subjects I was struggling with or hadn’t revised much.

- I blocked off time for Sixth Form, dinner (very important), lunch dates at the weekend, shifts at the restaurant or any other commitments I had.

I LOVED this way of working and getting through my weeks when I felt like everything was too much, but somehow, I haven’t yet been this organised for midwifery – maybe I could learn something from my past self!

I do feel like prioritisation is crucial when studying. At the moment, placement is top of my list which means I can put as much effort into it as I can. Back in January, I pretty much went into hibernation when we had about a million assignments due in – it’s usually a case of managing whatever is most important to you at the time.

I’m also a massive fan of a to-do list. Usually it involves writing things on the list that I have already done, just so that I can tick them off and make myself feel better, but nonetheless it is a to-do list all the same. They are great to visualise everything that you need to do and helps you to feel organised by getting all of your floating thoughts down on paper. There is also no better feeling than when you tick that final thing off the list!

Managing my personal life?

This is a tough one, I won’t lie.

I’ve got such a wonderful family and they are so supportive about all of the work the course entails. I really don’t know if I could be doing the course without them, mainly for the emotional support and hug when I finish a tough shift.

Ollie (boyfriend) is also amazing considering we don’t see each other loads; he is studying Film at uni at the moment so we both have pretty big workloads. I think it’s all about having good communication and being understanding about what the other person is going through – if either of us are having a stressful week we first of all see if we can help (not that I’m much use at Film!), we give the other person some time to work and sometimes plan a date where we can get out and away from everything for a while.

It’s very important that among all of the uni work and shifts, you make time for these people that mean the most to you. It’s so easy to get caught up in everything and give your all to the course, but taking time for yourself is equally as important. I usually spend a couple of evenings a week with my family and try to see Ollie at least once a week. This means I can get a break from doing work and spend some time with people who make me happy.

There are lots of ladies in my cohort who have children and jobs and their way of working is mesmerizing - I definitely could learn a thing or two from them. Please don’t let having children put you off the course, as there is lots of help out there and I find you are more determined and organised if you do! I’m pretty sure all of the time management is worthwhile to do a degree you could love so much.

Please don’t be scared of the work that these healthcare courses involve. It is definitely manageable and sooo worth it in the end!

Imogen x

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