Being a good student and a good parent is tough but doable

Megan Goldman-Roberts 28 November 2013

For many of the people whom I have met since starting at Cambridge two years ago, my life seems unfathomable. I have been called brave, crazy and superwoman by friends and new acquaintances alike. For me, however, this is simply life. Proud parent of a cheeky five year old, my daily life consists of the constant battle to balance Tripos work with looking after my son and running our home. Some days I succeed. Some days I don’t.

In many ways my experiences here are similar to the majority of the student body: I attend lectures, write essays, have supervisions, hang out with friends and am a brilliant procrastinator. However, I have never lived in college, I work around my son, attend Parents’ Evenings, and have to plan nights out weeks in advance to arrange childcare and make sure I have enough time to work. I hardly ever work during the day at the weekends.

Most of the time I see my life split into two halves: my life as a student, when I’m at lectures or studying in the library or out with friends, my life as a parent, when I’m helping my son with his reading or talking to other parents at the school gate or rushing to get back for pick-up time. What’s great is when I can share my experiences as a student with my son; friends often come round for dinner and there have been countless games of Ludo and film afternoons curled up on the sofa. I am often at my happiest and most relaxed when I get to spend time with my friends and my son together.

As an undergraduate and a single parent, I could not have survived the past two years without the help of my friends, who are awesome people and also very willing babysitters. They are a positive influence on my son and I hope all of their experiences and beliefs can contribute to making my son a well-rounded and knowledgeable individual.  I am fairly independent and a massive planner, so have never needed lots of support from my college but that said, I think I was very lucky to end up at Newnham.

My son and I often go to college which means we are less isolated and have been welcomed by staff and students alike. I had conversations with college very early on about what support they could offer me and it reassured me hugely that there was
help available if it were needed.

Since starting at Cambridge, I have helped establish, and since run for, the position of Student Parent Representative for CUSU. This role is aimed at providing a stronger community for student parents, whose circumstances can often lead to quite isolating experiences, and to provide support and advice tailored to student parents, both before and after applying. I hope this role will develop a go to for student parents who are not getting access to the right welfare provision and advice and support colleges  that may not have the knowledge or resources to offer helpful information.