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Student nurse blog: How I juggle motherhood and nursing

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Student nurse Katy Michelle Rowan on the joys and challenges of being a student nurse and mother

I am a 1st year student at the University of Central Lancashire. I am nine months into my course undertaking the Adult Branch. You are joining me as I embark on two huge tasks in my life. I am learning how to be a student nurse while also learning how to be a mum.

I’ve come to realise that what I learn in one can be transferred to the other. It’s a fabulous, exhausting, frustrating and funny learning cycle.

Trying to find a balance where my children don’t miss out because I’m on placement or studying, or my university work doesn’t suffer because my kids need my attention, is a struggle. But I’m getting better at it.

I have two children. My little girl is three. Her favourite word is “NO!”, her favourite sentence is “I don’t want to!”, both are usually accompanied by feet stamping, crying, throwing herself on the floor, clothes being ripped off and a considerable amount of time on the naughty step.

My friends assure me this is normal as they are going through the same thing with their children. My little boy is 20 months. We’ve nicknamed him Klingon. He spends the majority of his time wrapped around my leg, looking up at me with his big blue eyes, arms outstretched & pleading “Mummy cuddle”. He is excellent at resorting to this tactic in the supermarket.

My children have helped prepare me for life as a nurse - the patience I have learnt with dealing with my kid’s tantrums, funny little quirks, and bad behaviour has stood me in good stead for my time on the wards.

The frustration I see in my little girl as she struggles to learn to write is mirrored in the frustration I see from the lady who has had a stroke that has left her with a right sided weakness.

The art of negotiation, diplomacy and distraction tactics have come in useful as well. The experience of encouraging a stubborn toddler that she really does want to eat vegetables will stay with me forever.

I have my children to thank for giving me the ability to not flinch no matter what bodily fluids, food, or medication that they and the patients manage to cover me in. I have found I am pretty unshockable as to the amazing places I can find food and excrement.

I have discovered many similarities in children and patients. Both have the best timing, and it’s always when bodily functions are involved and you are in a hurry, late or just about to finish your shift.

Being a mother while training to be a nurse has been a huge learning curve. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes totally wrong.

The lessons my children and the patients teach me have enabled me to grow as an individual and my children have given me greater strength and ambition to get through my training. When they are older, I want them to be proud of me and respect what I do.

Thankfully, patients have not yet put cat food in my washing machine, or stuffed my favourite boots with four pieces of toast and yoghurt. That is solely the privilege of my children.

  • 5 Comments

Readers' comments (5)

  • I was so glad to read Katy's story. I too am a student mental health nurse and a mother. I started my training when my oldest was 18 months old and found out I was pregnant again towards the end of my 1st year. I was single at the time and I thought I'd never be able to cope with a full-time degree and 2 children on my own. But I struggled through, going onto maternity leave only 3 days before giving birth!! My daughters are now 4 and 18 months and I have returned to nursing, and am just reaching the end of the 2nd year.I was lucky enough to meet a wonderful man, who I married last year and he is incredibly supportive.Without him I dont think I could have managed to carry on with my studies.

    Being a mum gives you a whole different perspective on life, I can still appreciate the little things but also recognise what's really important. When I'm feeling overwhelmed with studying, it's my children who give me the strength to keep going; it's them who inspire me to be a better person. I look at them and cant believe I created such beautiful, amazing children - and this enables me to see the positive in everyone, something that can be difficult to do when working on an acute mental health ward.

    Thank you Katy for your inspiring story, I totally agree with you that skills can be interchangable between parenting and nursing - something I'd never really thought of before!



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  • Thanks for the article Tracy, I am also a first year nursing Student (Adult Branch)only 5 months into my training and I am finding it extremley difficult!!!
    I am a single mother of two boys, 4 & 2, reading your message has actually made me realsise that Im not alone and that the struggle is worth it.
    The biggest challenge for me is motivation, once I get home I just want to chill out, I dont want to study and I can just about play with the boys but some how I manage.
    With lectures, placement, assignments & placement documents I dont know whether Im coming or going and I've been told that 2nd & 3rd year is ten times worse.
    But I know that when I make it to my graduation day, all my efforts wont have been in vain.

    Thanks Again x

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  • thank you so much. just what i needed to read.
    i am a mother of 2, daughter is 3 and half and son is 10 month. i desperately want a career in nursing but do not want my children to miss out on anything because of that.
    you made some wonderful points that I'd never considered and now i think i have the confidence to pursue my dream. thank you

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  • Hi , Im a returning student and just started my third year . Have just read your blog and comments others have read and totally can relate . I have two Daughters one of ten who i have to say has been great in my previous two years and one now of ten months . As i have had a year out i have returned to uni with a bang and sometimes find it a struggle . Reading about others in the same boat makes me feel i will eventualy balance the bot and qualify

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  • Well thank you all for what has been said in the main blog and comments, you all make my problems look small, being a single parent, father of one twelve year old going on 18 boy, who is getting into trouble at school and i am being phoned by the school to tell me about what he has been up to while in a lecture or when I am suppose to be studying. I started my nursing course in september 08 and my sons mum (my ex wife) passed away in October 08 a week into the course, leaving me reeling with shock, and my son who to this day still has not mourned for her, but his way of coping I find, is to play up, I was offered the opportunity to refer, but I felt that my mind would be better off being busy rather than mulling things over, and now i have come to the end of my first year (almost) i have a sence of pride in myself, It was hard work and I know the next two years are gonna be harder, but reading some of your comments fills me with confidence that I can do this.
    Thank you

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