Episode 6

#6 Returning to Study during Motherhood The Matrescence Podcast

In this episode Bree and Kel talk about their experiences studying during motherhood. Originally recorded in late 2020 Bree reflects on her first year as a student midwife and highlights some of the unique challenges of juggling university, work and motherhood.   Kel discusses her experience studying to be a doula and how she is utilizing the self-paced online learning approach to complete her studies alongside a full-time thriving corporate career. Together they discuss some of the challenges, benefits and logistics of each of these avenues of formal education as well as how to find what you are passionate about, feeling worthy and making yourself a priority. If you are considering undertaking study as a new mum or even a well-seasoned mum, then this episode is a great place to start.Key themes: Online study, university, student midwife, student doula, finding your passion, volunteering, studying while pregnant

Transcript

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Kelly: [00:00:00] The birth of a baby is a defining moment in a woman’s life.

[00:00:16]Bree: [00:00:16] But what about the birth of the mother?

[00:00:18]Kelly: [00:00:18] That’s right. When a baby is born. So two is a mother. 

[00:00:22] Bree: [00:00:22] This transition from woman to mother has a name it’s called Matrescence. 

[00:00:27] Kelly: [00:00:27] This developmental state is as powerful and irreversible as adolescents, and yet few women have ever heard of it.

[00:00:33] Bree: [00:00:33] So let’s talk about it. 

[00:00:35] Kelly: [00:00:35] Let’s talk about it. Each episode, we will bring you honest and thought provoking conversations, evidence-based research and knowledgeable guests in order to help you emerge a more powerful and aligned version of yourself. 

[00:00:48] Bree: [00:00:48] So join us, your hosts, Kelly and Bree. As we attempt to make sense of  our Matrescence journey and to help you make sense of yours.

[00:01:03] Kelly: [00:01:03] welcome back to the Matrescence podcast. You’re here today with Kelly and Bree. Well to start off with, let’s do a check-in on where we’re at. How many weeks pregnant are you now, Bree?

[00:01:15]Bree: [00:01:15] So I am just shy of 16 weeks, which means I am willing to my second trimester, which is exciting because for me, uh, the nausea and fatigue of trimester one has.

[00:01:27] Subsided. , so I’m feeling much better now. 

[00:01:31] Brilliant. And where are on the cusp of smer in Brisbane? So we were just having a bit of a laugh about, , the heat and recording without a fan. And, uh, so just contextually, we are here today to chat about something that we do whilst where are performing many of the roles that mothers do.

[00:01:51] Yeah, we’re going to talk about studying. And this conversation kind of came to light because over the past month I’ve been approached four times by different people in my life. Uh, just through my own Instagram and networks, , of women and moms specifically asking me about studying. And I thought that it would be helpful to put together an episode where that information can be compiled into one place, , for people to refer back to if they’re curious.

[00:02:21] , yeah. Great. 

[00:02:23] Kelly: [00:02:23] And for those of you who haven’t tuned in before, uh, I’m currently studying to be a doula. So an online course through the Australian doula college and Brie, you are. 

[00:02:35] Bree: [00:02:35] Studying to be a midwife. So I mean, my first year, uh, and so while we are both studying in similar industries, very different, , commitments to study very different requirements of, , time and energy and, uh, that kind of thing.

[00:02:53] So I think we’ve got two different approaches to this subject, which is really cool. Yeah, 

[00:02:57] Kelly: [00:02:57] absolutely. And also the context, because. We all have different commitments in our lives. So I currently work full time in, in a fairly intense job. Have two children try to be a mother. A wife, a daughter, uh, and, and all those different roles, as well as studying, but I’m able to do something that’s very, very self paced.

[00:03:16] But the other thing is it’s not in any way related to my day job. So it’s quite a context switch intellectually. And so being able to shut down the thoughts of the day and then move into a totally different phase that will allow me to have a different future, , is, you know, one of the challenges. But also opportunities of studying at this time of my life that I want to talk about, but the university is quite a different structure to a wholly online self-paced course, which the course load is pretty light to be fair in my course, as opposed to, you know, a university degree like yourself.

[00:03:51] Yeah, 

[00:03:52] Bree: [00:03:52] for sure. And I think that, so you, this has been in a way though, still demanding a bit of a passion project for you. , which has kind of fit in around your main day job and your main commitments. Where for me, this has been kind of my, one of my more, , one of my priorities throughout the year that I’ve had to then fit other things around.

[00:04:11] So quite different in that regard. But do you want to start by telling us a little bit about what’s led you to study to be a Doula and have you studied in the past? What’s your journey with it? Feather education being like, yeah, 

[00:04:26] Kelly: [00:04:26] it’s been an interesting, I’d say it’s been a tenuous journey with further education.

[00:04:30] , when I finished high school and I think this relates slightly to yours, I got quite good marks at school. And so there was a lot of pressure to say, you’ve got good marks. You should go and do something in business. You should, you know, you should pursue that because you’ve got the marks to do it where others missed out.

[00:04:47] And I actually. Quite, which is a whole different story. I actually went into the Australian defense force academy. So I was at university studying through that. Uh, and, but I, to be fair, it really wasn’t in an area that I was passionate about. It, it really felt like a chore, a secondary thing. And the reason that I went into the defense forces was because I wanted to help people.

[00:05:10] So I had this idea that I wanted to be a peacekeeper that I wanted to help people. , I was very naive and obviously it didn’t turn out to be that, which is why I then moved on, came out of the army and naturally went well, I need to continue my studies because I don’t really want, know what I want to do with my life.

[00:05:28] Check myself straight into university. And after literally six weeks went, wow, I have no idea why I’m doing this because I have no passion for doing business marketing at all, or as much as I love and respect marketing now. There was that penny drop moment where I was like, I’m doing this because the world expects me to do this as opposed to what I wanted to do.

[00:05:48] Yeah. And from then on have been very lucky to be offered the opportunity to go back and study a multitude of times, but never really in something that I desperately wanted to do. So I have now let’s just say formalized study and self-learning two entirely different things. 

[00:06:04] Bree: [00:06:04] And I think that we are both incredibly passionate about doing our own learning in different areas.

[00:06:09] Kelly: [00:06:09] Absolutely. And so, you know, we share a book list, we have hundreds of books on it. You know, I’m reading all the time. I’m learning all the time, sharing 

[00:06:16] Bree: [00:06:16] articles and things like 

[00:06:18] Kelly: [00:06:18] that. Absolutely. And because I work in 19 business, you know, in terms of corporate learning and access to learning resources, there’s a huge amount of that.

[00:06:25] But what we’re talking about here is formal structured learning, where you get a diploma. Or a certificate or a degree at the end of it. For me, I never really had that passion about something. I cared about enough to spend that much of my time in, to be honest with you, because I’m very much a learn on the job, a kinesthetic learner.

[00:06:45] I wanted to be in it. And I knew that I had an, a nber of commitments in my life. So if I wanted to do something, I had to really want it enough that I was willing to actually give out something else. Until such time as I came across this concept of a doula and this whole discussion that we’re having on the Matrescence podcast is really about us finding something that gave us a language to wrap around what we felt already.

[00:07:09] And so having had this great desire throughout my life to help people, I really did resources that would learn elements of how do I actually develop myself? How do I evolve myself so that I can help others and give other people. And this realization about being a doula was actually about being able to sit with people during intense.

[00:07:29] Times of their life. And so I felt like I had this emotional, psychological ability to handle situations, but I didn’t actually have the formalized research background around those processes. And the skill 

[00:07:43] Bree: [00:07:43] set come really natural to you, but you’d never formalized with a course or a degree or anything like that, but something that’s really interesting.

[00:07:50] Is that I think it would be fair to say that being a doula never crossed your mind until about a month before you enrolled. That’s true. Yeah, absolutely. Which is really cool because I think that that is so rare to have a really established career, which in the eyes of society it’s really successful and everything’s going right for you.

[00:08:08] And to then carve out space to do something that probably doesn’t make a lot of sense. , And you’re not sure where it’s going to lead or what it’s going to look like, but it just felt right for you. And to prioritize that and make time for that with no expectation of what it will lead to is a really cool thing to do.

[00:08:27] Kelly: [00:08:27] Yeah, it is. And I’ll, I’ll go into your journey in a moment. One other anecdote. So, so my beautiful cousin is. As she went back to study as a mature student to become a nurse. , she was lucky enough to be in a situation where she didn’t have to work financially. Uh, her children were coming towards the end of high school and she wanted to go back and become a nurse, which she did, but to see the way that my family were wondering, like, why would you do that?

[00:08:54] Like, you’ve got the whole life here to be you couldn’t lunch with it. And when I speak to her about it, And, you know, we have this conversation about, we’ve spent a lot of our lives being there as provider support as for everyone else. And then suddenly when you wake up and you realize that you find what you know will actually fill your cup and that you’re passionate about, and that you want to learn about the background skills and experience so that you can actually go out and then feel confident to offer those services to other people.

[00:09:23] That’s that moment. Where I sort of have this concept of when my head and my heart align. So that short distance between finding out that there was this thing called a doula, which I had experienced, but didn’t know what it was called. Yeah. As much as I don’t really like the word, the concept is the mother’s advocate.

[00:09:40] It, it was, it made sense to me. It was like everything I’d done in my life up until that moment prepared me for doing that. So the learning is not a chore because it’s interesting. And I can, I still have all the same challenges of fitting it in amongst the rest, but it, because I’m passionate enough about it, I make time and space.

[00:09:56] Yeah. 

[00:09:56] Bree: [00:09:56] And two things come to mind that for me, firstly, , I think that. It’s a very real conversation in terms of finances around the choice to study again, in terms of, , I am, I believe that you had to outlay for your course, and even for me acquiring a large Hexter to study. , but also the fact that often many people will have to compromise on work to be able to fit in study.

[00:10:21] So I think that that is a very real consideration for a lot of people. , another thing that kind of popped into my head was that. What started you on this journey? I think was me asking you to be my doula at my birth, which seems like a real left of center choice. Considering you had no experience with birth except for birth and going to children, , which is very real experience, but even not in the birth world at all, but as you say, it made perfect sense to me.

[00:10:48] I felt like you were completely prepared and the right person for this role, you just hadn’t done the training. 

[00:10:56] Kelly: [00:10:56] Yeah. Yeah. And I remember when you did ask me, part of me was like, well, I do feel like that would be a really natural thing to do, and I wanted to be there and be all those things. And what came after that was well, for me to feel confident, to step into that role, what is the background research and learning that I need to do.

[00:11:13] And as I went down that path and I realized that there was this structured approach and learning, it just made total sense to me that. Those skills and resources that I acquire now would be then useful to be help others and give me that confidence because I am very much someone who I’ve, if I don’t know the answer, I will say, I don’t know the answer, but I can go and find out and I’m quite happy to do that.

[00:11:32] So it, it was a very natural progression. Uh, and I think we’ll the compromises that we have to make along the way, because you know, carving out time to do this, carving out the finances and. I think financial is a really important thing because university education actually has a significant cost attached to it.

[00:11:52] Although we can delay that cost in Australia, which is great. It is a real consideration, particularly if you want to go on and have a family or realizing that, you know, your pay packet for however many years afterwards is going to be dipped into. Grateful that we have a system in Australia where we can do that, but it’s certainly 

[00:12:09] Bree: [00:12:09] not free.

[00:12:10] It’s 

[00:12:10] Kelly: [00:12:10] real money. Yeah. Real money. And it’s your delaying gratification in order to get an education and making sure that the choices that, and that’s why I think it is such a big, big decision because. Especially if you’re making those decisions very young, you’re taking on a debt when you may not even be sure that that is what you’re passionate about, because it takes us a long time to get to know ourselves, which I think is a good segue into the fact that this is not the first time you’ve started.

[00:12:36] Bree: [00:12:36] It’s not even the second or the third. It’s actually the fourth. , and so I think there are a lot of similarities with our journey. So I graduated high school with a no P four. So for those that are familiar, that is. That was enough to get me into courses at the time, such as physiotherapy psychology. So it didn’t get me into med school, but it was, it was pretty high.

[00:12:59] , and I’d worked really hard for that. , I wouldn’t say that I was naturally academic. It was a lot of sacrifice. So when I graduated, , I thought about doing midwife midwifery, but it was quite a new course, actually as a standalone, not a, , nurse Smith kind of thing. So. Pretty consistently the people in my life felt like that was not a good choice, being that at the time, I believe it was an O P 16.

[00:13:26] So worlds away from what I had achieved. , and also I think people were really unfamiliar with what a midwife was at the time. They didn’t have an understanding and. I was easily persuaded because I was feeling like I’d worked so hard and I wanted to make good use of that. So I decided to enroll in a bachelor of exercise and nutrition science with, , uh, thought of transferring after one year into dietetics.

[00:13:52] I didn’t make it through that year. , I straight away knew that it wasn’t for me. So I. Quit, , and return the next year to do a bachelor of education primary specifically. , at the time I was working as a nanny for you guys, I think. , and I liked kids. I’m very maternal, so that felt like a natural choice.

[00:14:14] I got a gear into that when I’m prac and straight away knew that it was not for me, , at all. And so again, left that one. And by that point I was feeling pretty disheartened. Honestly, I, from a very young age have been the type of person who finishes what I started. So that was really tough for me, but deep down, I knew that if I hated it after one year, how was I going to do it for 30?

[00:14:38] Like that thought just depressed me honestly. , so I worked for a little bit returned and did, , a year in political sciences, which I loved. But by that time I was kind of. Thinking about and chatting to my husband about wanting to have a family in the foreseeable future. He’s 10 years older than me.

[00:14:59] So by that point, he would have been barely thirties. , and I had to do a year compulsory exchange overseas, too. Meet the requirements of that degree. And then many of the job prospects were international and I just couldn’t see how that fit into my picture of the future. So again, left, got it. By 

[00:15:21] Kelly: [00:15:21] the age of oh, 

[00:15:23] Bree: [00:15:23] 22.

[00:15:25] , and people gave me such a hard time, but no one more than myself. Like I just felt like I couldn’t see anything through. , and so it really rocked my confidence and made it really hard for me to return to uni this time, because each time I’d felt so sure that this was for me only to find out that it wasn’t.

[00:15:46] So by this point I had acquired $17,000 in hex debt, ouch, three years at uni and I had nothing to show for it in my mind. , so from there I went and had a baby. And what, and I think as for so many ms, so many midwives having your first child really like opens your eyes to that birthing world. And I knew pretty much instantly, like, this is what I want to do.

[00:16:14] And I still had that kind of feeling of like, oh, am I just going to follow the same path this time and get a year and then quit. And the stakes felt high this time being that. It was a whole family decision. It was one that was going to affect, not just me, but my husband and my child. , and I think I really also struggled with the thought that I wouldn’t be contributing as much financially for quite awhile, , to get my study done.

[00:16:43] And also that. You know, I was worthy of putting time into this. , so it’s a trigger decision, but around this time, last year I enrolled, , after a lot of thought, a lot of conversations with, , staff at the uni, a lot of phone calls, , and I’m now a year into my degree. So, uh, I can only speak to my first year of, , midwifery, but I think it’s been really interesting because I’ve studied as a.

[00:17:12] Singlish young person, like a high school leaver. And now I’m considered at 24. I’m a mature age student and I’m a mom and have a family. And, , I’m not, I wouldn’t say that. One of those is harder than the others, but then the other, but there’s definitely unique challenges that come with being, , a moment returning.

[00:17:35] Kelly: [00:17:35] Yeah. And, and I think the whole thing is realizing and recognizing that we do have competing priorities in our life all of the time. And. You know, one of the things that, especially at the time we were recording this it’s coming, what the end of a calendar year and what has been a notoriously interesting year?

[00:17:54] I mean, 

[00:17:55] Bree: [00:17:55] yeah, that’s quite a year to do your first year of uni. Yeah, absolutely. 

[00:17:59] Kelly: [00:17:59] God, I don’t want to see. Label it with any particular terms, because for some people it’s been a wonderful year for some people, it’s been a very tough year. Let’s just say it has been a year that I don’t think anyone expected, but what I’m finding is that it’s really easy at the moment because it’s, there’s such an intensity of emotion and time that’s happening right at this time of the year.

[00:18:18] As we go into that data up to Christmas is trying to say to people it’s not about saying I’m too busy to do that in my mind. I have to ask myself, is this a priority? Do I care about this enough to allocate time to it? When can I do that? Is that now is that next week is that next month? Because, but when you are in a formalized study, there are timelines that you don’t have control over.

[00:18:41] And that’s, I think one of the big differences in the different styles of study. 

[00:18:45] Bree: [00:18:45] Absolutely. And I think that when I was studying as a school leader, my only real competing priority was work. Now there are so many, like if you have a sick child or a sick parent or. A nber of things I’m pregnant and have had a really nauseous, fatigued, first trimester.

[00:19:04] It’s not going to change the due date of your assignments or the dates of your exams. There’s not a lot of flexibility around that. And, , so as you said, there’s definitely been a lot of competing priorities. , But if you’re happy to, I think it would be handy to talk through like the logistics of what uni has looked like for me as a m this year.

[00:19:24] Kelly: [00:19:24] Yeah, I think so, because there’s two different, well, there’s multiple parts of this conversation, but one is how do I find something I care about enough to commit to. Right. And that’s that passion and that’s different for everyone. And I think we’ve kind of both talked about that a little bit in terms of.

[00:19:40] When we knew we’ve, might’ve tried lots of things along the way, but when you know, and you know, and, and yeah, the way I describe it as men in my head and my heart align, how do I feel when I’m learning new things? How do I feel when I’m having the conversations with you about, you know, what it feels like to be with someone during the birth process, , and that whole learning and that passion side, once you’ve made up your mind, what you want to do, there’s a whole different set of things, which is okay.

[00:20:05] Yeah. What are the commitments that I have to make? What do I have to restructure in my life? How do I logistically have to manage that and also meet the expectations of the people we have in our life? Because, you know, it’s, it’s easy to say that, and that will often be something that is a very common theme in mother would conversations, which is, well, you deserve it.

[00:20:27] You should prioritize yourself. You know, You know, you, you should, everyone else would find this point. It’s easy to say, but it’s actually quite a difficult conversation. Setting realistic expectations with people in your life and with yourself. 

[00:20:44] Bree: [00:20:44] Yeah. I think we’re often the gatekeeper to our own happiness.

[00:20:47] Like we are the ones that are holding ourselves back from feeling we are worthy of this time or, you know, this endeavor. And I think that that’s actually a really good place to start because, , That, that why’s so important. And I think for me, it was realizing that I felt like I had lost so much to motherhood and motherhood in itself was really rewarding and I loved it, but that was, I felt like that was all I had left in my life and everything else had been crowded out.

[00:21:15] And so I actually started with volunteering, which is an incredible privilege that not everyone has the time or. Finances to do, but volunteering in the, in the birth of motherhood kind of space through my local hospital. And 

[00:21:29] Kelly: [00:21:29] the interesting thing about that though, is that it’s not like you actually could afford to do it.

[00:21:34] And that’s, I think that’s an interesting point because for context, it’s not like you are financially independent and so therefore you could volunteer. You actually just decided it was enough of a priority to you to dedicate those hours per week to stand whether this is something you wanted to do and be, and that was a financial decision where you could choose to either work to earn income or volunteer.

[00:21:58] So it wasn’t a decision about, oh, gee, I’ve all this free time because I’m a financially independent person. It’s like, yeah, I care about it enough to try this through volunteering rather than taking incoming those two hours 

[00:22:10] Bree: [00:22:10] also desperation, I felt so desperate to have something for myself that it required a lot of sacrifice, especially on my husband’s behalf, having to hop up early after night shift and things like that, but I needed it so badly.

[00:22:23] And as soon as I started doing that, I realized how fulfilled I felt. Being able to use my brain again and learn and talk to other adults and have a passion that was mine, separate to motherhood. And I don’t think I realized at the time just how much I needed those things. But as soon as I kind of dipped my toe in, I was like, this is what I need to be the best version of myself.

[00:22:45] As a mom and I spoke about this with someone just yesterday in the, and it might’ve been you that told me actually it was, maybe you shouldn’t share it, but, , that every mom has a different nber of hours. They need to be away from their child to be the best version of themselves as a m. And for some moms that might be two hours a week, they might love being a stay at home mom, and that might make them the best version of themselves and other, other women it’s working 40 hours a week and really prioritizing and enjoying that quality time they have around their 

[00:23:17] Kelly: [00:23:17] career.

[00:23:18] Yeah. And it changes over time, I think. And look, some of the things that we’ll say on here, People will find really controversial, but it’s just our view of the world. And my version of that after becoming a parent, was that the only way I could feel like myself and part of that was about me grappling with my identity.

[00:23:34] I mean, I had my first child at 30, so by 30, I thought I knew stuff. I had an identity. People knew me for certain things. I went to work every day and people asked my opinion and you had to do stuff. Then I had this baby and you are back to zero ground zero. You know, nothing, you feel completely incompetent.

[00:23:51] You don’t know. And you know, some people would look through that lens of saying, oh, well, that’s your own. Limitations holding you back from not leaning into being a fully mother. But for me, the answer was that when I worked, I could actually find that version of myself, which allowed me a bridge to motherhood.

[00:24:09] Now with a 10 and a 12 year old. Now I feel completely at ease that I don’t have to have my work as my full identity, but for that period of my life, that was really important to me, that identity. As at work where I could go and it had nothing to do with motherhood was part of what helped me through that, my, with my own mental health at that time.

[00:24:33] And that’s another topic for another day, but that, that dirty little secret of everybody’s saying, oh, isn’t it wonderful. And you’re sitting there thinking, well, you do it then because 

[00:24:44] Bree: [00:24:44] yeah. Yeah. So, but it’s so much in motherhood is shared. Like you share your body, you share your face. Food, like they’re taking food from you.

[00:24:53] Every decision you make is like taking consideration of other hans. And I just wanted something where I didn’t have to worry about anyone, but myself. And I think that that can be portrayed as selfishness, but to me it felt really selfless. Like that was what my family needed me to do for them, you know?

[00:25:11] Cause it came back to them in 

[00:25:13] Kelly: [00:25:13] space. Yeah. And I think we’ve, we’ve got some of our stories wrong because in. You know, historical times and tribal communities, the mother wasn’t expected to be attached to the baby all the time. I mean, there were groups of children and groups of mothers that looked after children and which gave independence for different things, whether it would be hunting or gathering or what have you.

[00:25:33] So our society has been very polarizing about those decisions and. I just think it’s it’s when you listen to yourself and it’s really hard because we have not been taught in our society to actually understand what makes us, we’re actually quite bad at knowing what makes us happy. We’re quite bad at what makes us fulfilled.

[00:25:54] And so finding pieces, you know, becoming a mother is like taking a. A a thousand piece puzzle and crunching it up and spreading it all apart. And then trying to slowly put the pieces back together and realizing that when you put the puzzle back together, the picture looks different, but it’s still as beautiful.

[00:26:11] Bree: [00:26:11] Absolutely. And I think that this is an ongoing process and I think that it is really important to be clear on your why, because there are so many times you’re going to question that if you choose to go down, the university route is. Especially because, you know, there was beautiful Saturday mornings when my husband was taking my little boy out to something fun and I was super grateful to have that time to study, but I was at home studying and I was missing out.

[00:26:35] And if you’re not clear on that, why it can feel really tough. And so I had to keep bringing that back to a place of gratitude. Like I chose to do this. I know why I want to do it. And I’m grateful to have this time. But if you kind of wishy washy, it’s going to be a tricky thing because there is sacrifices and you need to know why you’re making them.

[00:26:53] , so Cal and I did say we’d make this a shorter, so, but inevitably it’s getting long, but we might put a little disclaimer in at the start saying if you want the practical stuff, skip ahead. , so in terms of the practicality, what my year has looked like, I guess generally when you enroll in uni full time, what you’ll do is two semesters.

[00:27:15] And four subjects each semester. So throughout the year you complete eight subjects. The way I’ve done it this year is to complete what I would call probably a 60% workload. So I did two subjects in the first semester. I did an intensive over the holidays, one subject, and then I did another two in the second semester.

[00:27:35] So I did five out of eight. And that meant that I could own, I could manage being at uni just one day a week, which was really important because we only had one day of daycare. , and I passed, I couldn’t have possibly done more than that with the way our life looked. , what that means is that my three immigrant.

[00:27:57] Midwifery degree at this stage is going to take me probably the best part of five years. And that can be super overwhelming to think about. , but a couple of things make it easier for me. The first one is knowing that while I’m there, it doesn’t feel like a chore, like there’s hard days. Absolutely. But as I said, at the end of the day, I’m super grateful to be there.

[00:28:18] I know that this is what I want to do. I know why I’m doing it. And it’s completely filling my cup as a mom and as a woman. , so it’s one of the few areas in my life where I’m more processed. Focused like there is the end goal of graduating, but I am enjoying the process. , the second thing is just realizing that most people will spend a decent amount of time building up their career, interrupted to have kids return and keep building.

[00:28:48] I think that that’s quite a common pathway. Not everyone goes down that route, but it is quite common and I’m kind of just switching it all into one. So, , from, from. 21 to 29, I will have got married, had my babies studied and hopefully emerge around 30, you know, having completed my family and my education.

[00:29:12] So when I think about it that way, it doesn’t feel like I’m behind, I’m just doing it slightly differently. , and so I think if you were considering how many subjects was right for you, there’s a lot of considerations, things like how much, uh, access to daycare and other support do you have? Cause my parents have definitely helped, , in terms of babysitting when I had extra work to do, , and also just.

[00:29:39] Working out what you’re willing to sacrifice. So for me, there were certain things such as, , every Sunday we do family barbecue with my parents and my siblings and their children. , and that was something that I wasn’t willing to compromise on. And I wasn’t willing to compromise by putting my little boy in daycare more than two days a week.

[00:30:01] Uh, so we, we upped from one to two throughout the year, but that’s, that’s the limit of what we’re comfortable with personally. So everyone will sit kind of different on that scale. Some people may be really comfortable, too. Put that child in daycare full time and study more units. But for me, that, that felt some of that I was really comfortable.

[00:30:21] And I think that I’ve learned from past experience that if I just like go hard, I go home. Like I burned myself out. I’m not happy to be there. I feel like I’m not doing a good job and I lose that passion. So yeah. I want it to be really tentative about making this something sustainable so that I didn’t get overwhelmed.

[00:30:39] Kelly: [00:30:39] , yeah. And this comes back to the whole, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. I do remember the conversation because you can do intensives. I think one of the listening to yourself and listening to the signs of some of the things we’ve talked about is when we were coming up to the end of the year, there was an option on the table for you to do an intensive, but you really listened and went.

[00:30:59] I don’t think this is healthy for me to do this intensive. Yes. I could slip in an extra subject, which will bring it down by maybe a semester. But what what’s the, the consequence of that is actually just pushing too hard, I think. Yeah. And 

[00:31:14] Bree: [00:31:14] I mean, this year has, we’ve been dealing with COVID, which has, which has meant that we’ve studied almost, , completely online.

[00:31:22] And that’s really challenging for me, that is not how I learn best. And also it’s meant that I’ve had a toddler running around while I’m like in zoom meetings and completing exams. So there’s been that level of chaos. , I also lost a family member in the middle of the year and. I have another one. Who’s my has currently got a broken arm and leg, so needing some additional care.

[00:31:44] And I also am aware that next year I will be starting my first semester, 29 weeks pregnant. Having a baby in the middle of it and taking my exams when I have a newborn between the ages of one week and six weeks. And so I know that to be able to do that, I need to really have some like deep rest at this time.

[00:32:07] And long-term, it would not be beneficial for me to get in this one extra subject. , and I think that that’s just a process of getting to know yourself better as you get slightly older. , and. Knowing when to push through and knowing when to pull back. And this is a time when I just knew intuitively that I needed to pull back and also have time to catch up on things that I felt I’ve missed all year, because I hadn’t had a break from study since February.

[00:32:35] , and. Just like deep cleaning the house and going on a family holiday. Like I need those things now before our family changes again. And, , yeah. 

[00:32:48] Kelly: [00:32:48] Yeah. And one thing we haven’t really we talked about is, is the relationship element, whether you’re married or in a de facto relationship, or if you are on your own as a single mother, what is your strive and your support network?

[00:33:00] Because when. One of the things that I found is when you find out, when, you know, in your heart, in your mind, what you want to do, when you try to explain that to the other people in your life, you have to get blank, looks like you want to do what. Yeah. And that was one of the things, you know, my husband and I had been in it in business, our whole careers, you know, and as much as he’s incredibly supportive, there was a bit of a moment when he was like, yeah, You want to be a birth support person.

[00:33:25] Yeah. And I think the moment he realizes when he looked over and there were birth books on the side of the bed and he was like, is there something I need to know? Like, are we going to have another baby because I am quite over 40? And I was like, no, this is my passion. And then being able to engage him constructively, and this is my passion and this is what it means to our family.

[00:33:44] And this is where I need your support in these parts, because one of the things is with our partners is. And they want to support us, but they don’t know what it means either. So what does it mean? And, and w you know, you mentioned that one of the things you weren’t willing to compromise almost said family barbecue, but the reality is your spouse.

[00:34:01] When you got together, he was, it was like, you marry me. You’re married my family, because that is your family dynamic. And to some extent, that’s the same with me. Like, I have commitments that I want to make to my parents as well. And. Having we struggle sometimes to have those conversations with our partners or even with our families about, you know, sorry, I can’t make that because I’m studying.

[00:34:22] Yeah. So being able to actually get clear in your mind logistics. So when I do this. I’m going to need this time carved out. And I need you to look after the children at this time, and I’m going to be having to study for exams in this block. So we’re going to have to work around and no, we can’t have that family holiday that we usually do at that time because that’s in the middle of exam block and being able to.

[00:34:44] Almost set expectations early and clear, which is a life skill. Right. But it really gets under the microscope when you make a commitment to it. 

[00:34:53] Bree: [00:34:53] Absolutely. And I think in two regards, firstly, expectations of myself and of my husband have been two big themes this year. And the first one of myself was realizing that.

[00:35:04] I could achieve much higher grades if I wasn’t a m and I couldn’t expect myself to maintain the grades I have in the past when I didn’t have, you know, a child and all these other commitments and letting go of that. And just trying to accept that this is my best right now. And that, that was good enough.

[00:35:24] And that at the end of the day, my employer probably wasn’t gonna look back through my transcript and I, I’m still very motivated to be high achieving. I haven’t let go of it completely. But just trying to take some of that pressure off myself and being realistic that, okay. Maybe I could achieve a high distinction from instead of a distinction, but the sacrifices required to get me there, do not align with my values.

[00:35:48] , and the other one has been navigating expectations of my husband. And I think this has been a real unintended benefit of returning to study is. It’s put me in a position where I can’t do everything, even if I want to, I absolutely cannot. And it’s forced me to take a step back and let him in. And I’m very lucky to have a husband who is ready and willing and very capable of helping.

[00:36:15] But I think when I became a mom, I just, for I’m sure a multitude of reasons just got used to doing everything myself and no, no, I can do this. No, no, it’s fine. I can do this. And. , really running the home and making most of the parenting decisions and most of our family decisions, honestly. , so I think this has been a really cool year of stepping back and letting go and him proving to himself.

[00:36:38] And to me that, you know, I’ve got this, I can make a shopping list and come up with meals and cook them. And. That’s the way it had to be like some nights I was studying till 9:00 PM and I was the parent going what’s for dinner. Like what have you planned? , and feeling really grateful that I have that kind of, that type of husband, but also, , Yeah, giving him the space to step into that role.

[00:37:02] , has been really a really nice thing 

[00:37:05] Kelly: [00:37:05] for us this year. I think. No, absolutely. And every time we have these conversations, I think of so many other themes, I mean, relationships and expectation setting and all of those things are so important and recognizing you don’t get it right all the time and you never forget those most of the 

[00:37:21] Bree: [00:37:21] time.

[00:37:24] Kelly: [00:37:24] Absolutely. And even with, , You know, because now my children are of an age where they can ask questions about, you know, and all the conversations around being on devices. And we having device free time and being able to say to them, no, I’m actually not working at the moment I’m studying because this is for me and my future.

[00:37:42] And then being able to distinguish the difference between that because they, you know, I have worked a lot. Probably too much over the course of my children’s, , time growing up and so big theme when I returned to Australia after a stint overseas was making more commitment to be there for them and carving out specific times.

[00:38:02] And so now when they see me at night on a computer, Having a conversation with them to say, I’m not reverting back to working all the time. Although I probably still do work too much, but that’s my, you know, that’s on me, but saying, this is actually a time that I’ve carved out for myself for my own growth and development learning, and hopefully setting good expectations for them around that as well.

[00:38:20] Yeah. 

[00:38:20] Bree: [00:38:20] And I think it’s also, you know, a role modeling thing. I think that often we’ve really value and reward and, , Just glamorize ms, giving, giving, giving, and being incredibly selfless. And I think that that was on my mind when I was thinking about. Deciding to study and I had to step back and think, you know what?

[00:38:44] I actually think that my child, my children will be really proud that I did this for myself. And when their parents, I would want them to do the same thing. I wouldn’t want them to sacrifice and settle to meet their child’s needs there’s times for that. But there’s also times where it’s like, no, no, this is for me, it’s for our family.

[00:39:01] And that’s a good thing. And, you know, kind of role modeling, prioritizing yourself. In that regard. 

[00:39:06] Kelly: [00:39:06] Yeah. And to be fair, I think one of the things about my self paced course is I have had to be less structured, but I think that’s actually to the detriment of myself. So one of my commitments is once I.

[00:39:22] Unlike everyone I’m doing that thing. If I can just survive to Christmas, I can get enough mind space to reset my life and my rhythm. And I’m really looking forward to having more time for that. But my lesson of that was, I think I need to be more structured about carving out and setting expectations to say on Tuesday nights from seven to nine.

[00:39:37] That’s my study time, because I actually haven’t done that. I have used this last few months to sprinkle bits of study throughout my existing commitments. And part of that was because I felt that I had already over committed in other parts of my life. And then when I made the decision to add the study onto the top, I knew that that was I’d already, I needed to fulfill those other commitments.

[00:40:00] Whereas beyond the Christmas period is me taking that back and saying, I’m not going to over-commit in the other areas of my life. So I can actually make more commitments to my study. , because sometimes yeah, the reality is you ask squeezing things in and you are trading off things and. You 

[00:40:15] Bree: [00:40:15] know, and often the things that are important to us are the ones that we sacrifice, like, ah, I’ll exercise when I have time or I’ll do that once I’ve put the dishes away.

[00:40:24] And sometimes that time never comes. So actually carving it out and, you know, keeping to it is a challenge, but a really important thing, a skill to learn 

[00:40:33] Kelly: [00:40:33] and, and giving. So for break when you, because we, you know, there’s all the hacks that are online about, you know, if you just cut out Netflix and if you just don’t do social media, you have so much more time 

[00:40:45] Bree: [00:40:45] on your phone and 

[00:40:46] Kelly: [00:40:46] things like that.

[00:40:47] Yeah. Yep. All completely valid. But sometimes when I wake up in the morning and I know I should be doing yoga and I’m just lying there and I’m like scanning something and I’m reading trash. And I think right now I need this because I’m the intensity with which we work is we to give ourselves no space to just.

[00:41:05] B 

[00:41:05] Bree: [00:41:05] B. Yeah. And I think that that is something else that I’ve learned about myself this year. I’m studying. As a mom is that in the past, I’ve said terrible procrastinator at uni. And I’m not sure if that’s because I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing or just because I had kind of endless free time to use how I wanted.

[00:41:25] And now if my husband’s like, alright, you’ve got two hours. I am laser focused. Like I don’t eat, I don’t, we, I don’t do anything. I’m just like, In get shit done mode. , so that’s been something really cool. That’s come from studying with a child, 

[00:41:41] Kelly: [00:41:41] , waiting for inspiration. There’s waiting for a time gap and then yeah.

[00:41:47] Bree: [00:41:47] And not knowing when you’ll get it later. , so you really make the most of that. But the other thing that came to mind when you were just chatting them was also knowing what stage of life you’re in. So one of the people that reached out to me about a month ago, , she has from memory to two babies under two, and she wanted to know about studying.

[00:42:09] And I wanted to walk that line between freely encouraging her. Like, you can prioritize yourself, you can make this work, but also be realistic about the season you’re in because motherhood is seasons and potentially this isn’t the exact right time for you to launch into formal education. , and I think if you ignore that, you’re probably gonna.

[00:42:32] Just have a bad encounter with it and you’re going to go, oh, this isn’t for me. It’s too much. I’m overwhelmed. And so just, you know, making time, but yeah. So being realistic about your circstances and, , Yeah, navigating it in that way. 

[00:42:48] Kelly: [00:42:48] And he’s probably wrap that thought up with something you mentioned about, you know, you, what was actually a three-year degree, we’ll probably end up looking like more like five years for you.

[00:42:58] And when you decide, when you really know what you’re passionate about, you, you get in a real hurry, right? Yeah. I know what I want now. And I just want to get there. I 

[00:43:05] Bree: [00:43:05] just want to deliver those babies. 

[00:43:08] Kelly: [00:43:08] Exactly. And so one of the, when I speak in corporate circles, because I do some corporate speaking in that front.

[00:43:15] One of the things I say to people is, you know, you actually have more time than you think, especially in, and this happens in careers, particularly women is we, we need to be, you know, a director by 30, or I want to be an executive by 35 or, you know, we set these nbers on ourselves, but actually, you know, enjoying the process and every step of the way, as well as having goals and holding those two ideas in your head at the same time.

[00:43:39] We actually have a lot of time. So being able to say, okay, it’s great that I know what I want now, what actually is the right thing in this season? And sometimes the answer is read a few books, borrows and books from the library, listened to podcasts, do a short course, do a short course, get some grounding.

[00:43:55] There’s so much amazing free content online in massive open online courses like Coursera and etiquette. 

[00:44:02] Bree: [00:44:02] So underrated, you know, that work on yourself is so undervalued, I think, in our society. But yeah. It’s not, , it’s not useless. It’s not, you know, just an exercise. It absolutely prepares you. Uh, for whatever career you 

[00:44:17] Kelly: [00:44:17] choose, I think exactly.

[00:44:18] And if you are not already a core across what we call MOOCs, massive open online courses, these came to, , to light around just over 10 years ago, I’m going to say about 12 years ago, because I remember I had Angus and he was a baby and I was working, , teaching a tape then in the education sector. And there was this massive disruption that started back then and it actually started with, , MIT Massachusetts Institute of technology, , shocked the education market by putting their entire courseware online for free.

[00:44:48] And the, you know, the, if you know anything about the university sector in the United States has an incredible amounts of money tied up in this sector. And MIT broke all of the unwritten rules about that, and they put their entire coursework up for free and, you know, they were saying, oh, this is going to break the system.

[00:45:05] And you know, we’ll lose all our money. What actually happened was enrollments went up and the reason it went up is because if you want to go to MIT, you are talking hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of investment. So what was holding people back is can I actually do it? Will I be successful? I don’t want to pay the money and fail what will look like.

[00:45:21] So by actually giving people access to it, people go on, do a course, not get a certificate, not get a degree, but do the course where first and think I actually am passionate about this. I love this try before you buy. Yeah. So now 10 years on. There are amazing platforms and there are universities creating content specifically for that platform with rights certification and an incredibly low cost.

[00:45:46] I encourage almost everyone. I know who’s saying, I don’t know what I want to do with my life. Go onto course, Eric, go on to ed X, go onto Udemy book a course, do a free one. Try it. If it’s boring, stop. It doesn’t matter. There are literally. Thousands of courses on there. There is no limit to the learning capability that you can get online at your fingertips right now for free try it.

[00:46:10] So there’s a time and a place for a university degree, a diploma, a certification, and even my choice about the doula college, about what was it. You can be a doula without being certified. I could have chosen a different path, a lower cost path, but the reasons that I chose that was. For, you know, I had a decision matrix around that.

[00:46:31] I encourage everyone to try different avenues of learning because learning doesn’t come in one form and it’s lifelong. 

[00:46:38] Bree: [00:46:38] And I think also in terms of it taking five years for me to study, as you said, I felt this huge hurry. Like I’m so passionate about it. I’ve got all this passion and know where to challenge it, channel it.

[00:46:50] And I think that that is kind of what led us to do this to a degree was, you know, I want to be. In this space, adding value, sharing my passion and midwifery is it is a career choice where you can’t do that without formalized education with that certificate. And so I think that that can also be an interesting thing to think about is how can I work in this space, be in this space.

[00:47:15] While I’m still getting there. , and that can look different for everybody, 

[00:47:20] Kelly: [00:47:20] right? Exactly. And that’s part of this passion processes, how you know us doing the podcast, starting the Instagram, getting these resources up and running as two women on a journey to become. Is about being involved in the process of learning and growth whilst we go towards that, because otherwise you do come out and you’re like, Ray, I’ve got a degree.

[00:47:41] I can go practice in it now, but we’re we wanted to start living partially in that world as part of our transition. Yeah. 

[00:47:48] Bree: [00:47:48] And something that I’ve said to my husband a couple of times is that we. Uh, for me, at least I have no expectations of this. And if at the end of the day, no one listened to our podcast, no one followed us on Instagram.

[00:48:00] I would still feel like it was a really important part of my journey. And I would be so glad that I had done it. And I think that that kind of takes the pressure off succeeding. And it’s a really cool place to be in where you’re just, you know, emerging yourself in something you’re passionate about and letting it take its course to a degree.

[00:48:17] Kelly: [00:48:17] Absolutely. Totally agree. You know, w we have that luxury of having that time together to talk and share and not be attached to the outcome and hope that something that we say does resonate, that people feel validated in their own feelings and emotion that they get some information and communication and spark ideas.

[00:48:34] And. Hopefully over time, our listeners will send us messages saying, Hey, what about a session discussion about this idea? Or we heard you say something about that. Can we go deeper in that? So it becomes a conversation and it is about language and about having a conversation. And I’m lucky enough to do that with you.

[00:48:50] Yeah. So, thanks everyone. We’re going to wrap up and we’ll see you next time.

[00:49:00] Thanks for joining us for today’s conversation. If you want to hear more like this, don’t forget to hit subscribe. So you don’t miss an episode. If you’d like to know more about anything we talked about or be heard on the podcast today, check out our website, http://www.birthofamother.com. You can find us on Instagram at Matrescence dot podcast.

[00:49:20] Or send us an email to info@birthofanother.com that 

[00:49:23] Bree: [00:49:23] I use. If you think others could benefit from this podcast, take a screenshot of you listening to this episode, to post on your social media and tag us. Alternatively, consider leaving a review with your favorite things in the trust. This really helps us to increase our visibility and ensure we are reaching as many women as possible as always thank you for spending your time with us.

[00:49:45] We hope you will tune in next time.

Kelly and Bree


kelly@birthofamother.com.au
brianna@birthofamother.com.au

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