Managing motherhood and school; Cavendish University Uganda making higher learning Easier

A mother reading while breastfeeding.
Credit: Internet

My typical day starts at 4:30 Am. I get up to nurse my 4 months old while going through my day’s classes on my phone. I read through what we will be covering for that day’s lectures and also go through what we previously covered just to make sure I’m at par with the rest of the class. Being a student requires a lot of commitment to succeed, however being a student mother is even more challenging because commitment is required on both fronts. Sometimes I come late or am not able to come to school due to demanding circumstances at home. However, being able to have everything the lecturers are going to cover during the semester on my phone allows me to study even when am not on campus.

Last year, I decided to return to school. I always wanted to be a journalist but the thought of going back to school and pursuing that dream always seemed out of reach because of the responsibilities that came with being a wife and a mother. Studying online seemed the most logical way to go as it would allow me to study and still attend to my family. However, I also wanted the classroom experience. 

The learning structures at Cavendish University Uganda have given me the opportunities to experience both worlds at my convenience. Mr. Herbert Mudoola, Head of Department, Journalism and Communication studies elaborates further on the learning structures and policies at the university.

Head of Department, Journalism and Communication studies at Cavendish University Uganda, Mr. Herbert Mudoola, talking about the learning structures and policies at the university

An example of a WhatApp conversation where one of my classmates is informing about an assignment.

The class WhatsApp group further eases the learning process. I can receive updates on what is going on at school from my classmates in real time especially when am not able to come for classes.

Many student moms are benefiting from the university structures. In the video below, Marion and Sandra share their stories about how Cavendish University Uganda has enabled them in their education journey.

Marion and Sandra – student mothers speak out on how Cavendish University is enabling them

After spending over 6 hours at campus…walking around with hard, heavy and full bosoms is torturing! “

Enter Mr. GUILT.

I had my second born, my son in July, so when this semester began on 26th August my boy was barely 8 weeks old. Leaving him with a nanny was one of the most painful experiences I have had to deal with. It also came with a lot of guilt, that fact that I was leaving him yet this was a time he needed his mummy to bond, to comfort him and also slowly teach him about life. The guilt was further heightened when I had to introduce him to formula because pumping enough milk in the morning was becoming more challenging as he grew bigger. (My older boy breastfed exclusively for 6 months) Often I would get home, (especially on days when I have classes in the morning and afternoon) to a crying, hungry baby. Sometimes the nanny would call me when am in the middle of a class to tell me that the milk I had left at home was done. i had to introduce formula – a very expensive option by the way!

Formula solved the problem of little milk for the baby however, i now have to deal with heavy bosoms. After spending over 6 hours at campus, (which is normally the case), walking around with hard, heavy and full bosoms is torturing! I usually rush home to pump or breastfeed my baby just to get some relief.

One of the most fulfilling moments is when I am breasting my son, (I enjoyed nursing my older boy too). It’s normally a time I get to assure him how much I love him and also tell him stories about my day.

However, school eats away many of these moments. I wish there was a way I could attend classes and experience these moments too! 

Breastfeeding rooms, Breastfeeding Rooms!!!!

The notion of not being able breastfeed my boy whenever he wants and the thought of missing out on key milestones stresses me out a lot! Am sure many student mothers get stressed by a number of issues stemming from leaving their babies at home. In the recording below, I asked two mothers at Cavendish Uganda what they would like the university to do to ease some of their stress and they all echoed the same answer…

What student mothers want the University to do to ease their education journey.

I also had a conversation on Facebook which yielded the same results.

Screen shot of a Facebook conversation on how universities and other institutions of higher learning can enable student mothers.

In 2015, the Parliament of Uganda became the first public institution to offer a breastfeeding facility for nursing mothers. Since then, many institutions are (trying to) following in its footsteps. This is however slower in institutions of higher learning. Some people still look at institutions of higher learning as a regular school with regular school facilities, yet in actuality, it’s not. With many mothers going back to school, there should a conversation about setting up breastfeeding and nursery facilities to ensure that more mothers can enroll and finish school without compromising the welfare of their children. Mrs. Catherine Ruhweza, C.E.O of Mama Tendo Foundation, an advocate for breastfeeding, elaborates more on the importance of setting up breastfeeding facilities in institutions of higher learning. 

Catherine Ruhweza explains the importance of providing breastfeeding facilities for student mothers in institutions of higher learning.

Tips for mothers in school

I have been on this path for almost a year now. The night is still young, but these are some of the things that have enabled me to come this far;

  • Make a decision. This was the most important step in my journey. It enabled to condition and focus my thoughts to going back to school.
  • Waking up early. This enables me to catch up on some reading and house chores while the little ones are still sleeping.
  • I spend as much time as possible with my family whenever am not at school. This way, am able to catch up with what is happening in their lives.
  • Classmates are a good resource. As a student mother, there are days when I miss classes. My classmates keep me in the loop on impending tests and other activities at school.
  • Take a break once in a while. A cup of tea with friends or even a nap rejuvenates my energy.

Mrs. Ruhweza gives more tips to help manage the challenges that come with being a student mother.

Catherine Ruhweza giving tips to student mothers on juggling motherhood and school.

I enrolled for a degree in Journalism and communication studies at Cavendish University on the 28th of January this year. With a 4-year-old and another one on the way, i knew it was not going to be a walk in the park. I am taking advantage of what the University has put in place to help students like me, students who cannot attend classes regularly, to pursue my dream of being a journalist. The system is not perfect but it is enabling me to attain an education while full filling my role as a wife and a mom.

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