Jennifer Mitchelson has a five-year-old daughter. She also works 30 hours a week as a planning and finance co-ordinator at the University of Sunderland. That’s enough to keep most people extremely busy, but Jennifer is also studying for her ACCA Qualification
When I sat my first exam my daughter was 18 months old and now she’s nearly six, and I have got one exam remaining to complete.
It’s not an easy task and I think it’s been much harder than I anticipated in terms of juggling the time commitments.
I have worked at the University of Sutherland for eight years in various roles, and I started my ACCA studies with them as my sponsor in 2011.
I think the hardest thing is that I try to study outside the time I would normally spend with my daughter, so that I’m not taking anything away from her while trying to minimise any guilt on my part!
I think it’s hard to talk about a typical day for me. All I can say is it’s pretty much always busy.
I’m generally up around 6am every morning, getting myself and my daughter Mia ready. I work all day on Monday and Tuesday and then mornings only on Wednesday to Friday. These afternoons are spent doing a combination of the following: playing with Mia, shopping, studying, housework, helping Mia with her homework, preparing meals, taking her to dancing and chilling. Weekends are again a combination of all the above, but with longer stretches of uninterrupted studying and family time.
The hardest thing when you are juggling so much is that one tiny unplanned event, like getting the chicken pox (yes, that was during the study and preparation period running up to a June session!) can really put huge pressure on you. It’s not like you can just clear the social calendar and make up the time later – there usually isn’t any extra time later.
I’m a person who naturally has drive and determination, so I know that’s a big part of how I keep going with it – studying on top of working and being a mum. I never admit defeat, even if it can sometimes feel tempting. I know that any sacrifices I make now are going to help me achieve my aspiration of being a qualified accountant.
I think I’m a good role model for my daughter, she sees how hard my husband and I work, and she sees that I’m studying as well. She understands the concept of studying and sitting exams and knows that if you don’t work hard enough, you won’t succeed.
I want her to grow up with aspirations and the belief that she can be whatever she wants to be – and for her to know how to get there, wherever there may be!