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Interview with a young mother: Studying with a toddler – how does it work?!

What does everyday life look like when you start studying as a young mother? If you think about the many obligations and appointments such as lectures, course work, the part-time job and much more, then everyone can easily imagine that this can quickly become overwhelming and very tedious. But what if you have another child during your studies – can you still study sensibly at all? That’s exactly what we in the team of women’s representatives asked ourselves

Christa Sprengard and her daughter Valeria; Image: Hof University of Applied Sciences

With Christa Sprengard, we met with a young woman who recently experienced exactly that and who talked to us about this topic. She is studying business psychology. Here is her experience:

1. What is it like to study with a child – can you focus on your studies?

My daughter Valeria was born on 9/25/20 and the new semester started shortly after on 10/5/20, so no real routine has settled in yet. Between breastfeeding, diapering, comforting and carrying the baby around, there is also the household chores to do and the tiredness – due to the still short nights. As a result, sometimes I don’t even get half of the live virtual lectures or can’t dial into Zoom meetings on time because, for example, I’m still cleaning up the mishap that didn’t end up in the diaper and changing the baby. However, I am confident that it will all settle in better. I try to catch up as much as possible when my husband or our big daughter can check on the little one.

The older the kids get and the more you learn from your own mistakes, the easier it gets.

Christa Sprengard, young mother and student

Speaking of which – my big daughter is already 13 years old, I myself am 30. Early practice makes perfect, haha…. So I can also say something about what it’s like to attend school or study with an older child. When she was three years old, I went to the FOS. That was absolutely unproblematic, because I didn’t have to invest much time in learning outside of school. When I then started my first attempt at studying, I clearly underestimated the effort involved and failed miserably! However, the older the kids get and the more you learn from your own mistakes, the easier it gets. I think that the flexibility given makes it much easier to have children while studying than when you are already in the middle of your working life. But that certainly depends on the job, one’s own wishes and social circumstances, and time management.

Valeria is Christa Sprengard’s second child; Image: Hof University of Applied Sciences

2. Do the professors know about the special circumstances and do they take them into consideration?

I first asked the women’s representative how it would be if I wanted to go to lectures with the baby. She said that I would have to clarify this with each teacher separately. So far, however, it has not come to that, since all lectures can be attended online. I only told one professor that I wanted to change groups, because this exercise class takes place at a time that is more convenient for me as a mom – that was no problem at all!

3. Do you find online lectures beneficial or do you prefer presence?

I find the online lectures much less stressful and currently cannot imagine attending a face-to-face event with such a small child in tow or even at home

However, in order not to lose the social connection, I think it definitely makes sense to also be on site at the university. I would also like to be able to take my baby with me occasionally.

Christa Sprengard

Even without children, I find the option of online teaching exciting and would prefer to use it.

4. What advice would you give to other female students?

By all means, accept as much help as possible in order to be able to create enough free space for yourself, not just for studying! And don’t expect too much of yourself! Good planning for everyday life – which you can always optimize – and good time management can be very helpful. But the most important thing for me is that you are doing well yourself, because only then can you adequately take care of your children, studies and whatever else comes up. For me personally, my children have absolute priority and therefore, in the “worst case”, one semester more or less would not matter. Nevertheless, I try to continue my studies regularly, to take all exams and of course to pass them well. Everybody should find the best solution for him/herself, not put (let) him/herself under pressure and not compare oneself with other people.

Contact the women’s representative

If you have any questions about “Studying with a child”, you can contact the Women’s Representative of Hof University, Prof. Dr. Margarete Blank-Bewersdorff and her team at the following e-mail address:frauenbeauftragte@hof-university.de. Here one receives much useful information. For example, there are so-called breastfeeding rooms at the university especially for mothers – both in Hof and in Münchberg.

Anna Krukova

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