Parenting, university and real life!

Photo credit: Huff Post

During February, I took part in an internship as part of my university course.  Now juggling the needs of a very grown up toddler with coursework commitments and so on is tough.  Adding something on top of that showed me what real-life will be like once I’ve graduated.

At the moment, we’re in a great cycle of Lily’s childcare fitting in neatly around my lectures, so we still get half the day to do something together as a family.  During my internship, I learnt how different life is going to be.  We’ll need to practically double our child care, and the days Matt is away working are going to be even more complicated.

Internships are meant to show you what you can expect from a career once you leave university and the expectations that will fall on you.  For me, it felt like a trial run for juggling two careers (Matt’s included), parents’ evenings, household chores and career commitments.  I feel like I need to be similar to a balance artist form the circus.

In light of this, I have come up with three key points that I think will help.


Confirming appointments

Confirm everything at least five days in advance, then again the day before.  This gives you time to not only change childcare arrangements, but also plan ahead with all your commitments.  Knowing where you need to be and when is vital, but if something falls through and you get an extra hour to seize, you can make it really count.  For this, a diary is essential.  We all have them on our phones, but I’ve found a hard copy better.  In my area, signal drops in and out so much that I can’t rely on my phone to keep updated.  An added extra for this can also be writing contact numbers next to appointment entries just in case!


Group chats

I love a good, useful group chat on platforms such as Whatsapp.  At university we have them for group work assignments, but for parents, they can be great between the parents and babysitter.  That way there is no confusion over confused conversations or missed information for everyone.  It’s there for each party to see and respond to.  For example, if Lily is being looked after by a family member or family friend, Matt and I can both keep in touch and see if any plans change without having to be called out of meetings.  Texts are more discreet than phone calls – though both are technically unacceptable in work meetings, but you get the idea.


Pre-prepared meals

At 6pm after long days at work and so on, no one really feels in the mood to cook. Try and take an hour or two on a weekend to pre prepare meals for busy days for the freezer.  Dishes such as lasagne, Shepherd’s pie and pasta bake can all be reheated well and fit perfectly in small takeaway dishes.  If you own a slow cooker, then this can also be a great way to get dinner started early and ready for when everyone gets home and the end of long and lately, very cold day.

With everything else in parenting (and studying) this has been a learning curve.  If you’re studying at university and juggling parenthood, don’t shy away from the possibility of internships.  At university they are marketed as great work experience, but for parent-students, it’s a great opportunity to test timings and childcare arrangements.  Take this trial-run chance if you get an offer – it’s more than valuable.

Sepsis: A catastrophic killer masquerading as the flu

You may have seen reports in the news last month after the tragic death of 12-month old William Mead.

Baby William died from sepsis –- sadly due to GPs and call-handlers at the 111 service misdiagnosing his symptoms.

Sepsis occurs when the body overreacts to an overwhelming infection and can swiftly become a life-threatening condition if not detected and treated appropriately.  Sepsis kills over 37,000 people in the UK each year, and leaves many others with lasting effects.

What is sepsis?

Sepsis is extremely difficult to diagnose, however there will be clear signs that the casualty is becoming seriously unwell.

Sepsis is a life threatening condition that happens when the body’s response to an infection damages its own tissues and organs.  Severe Sepsis leads to shock, the body’s organs fail and the casualty may die. It is vitally important to recognise symptoms early and treat promptly.

The source of the infection could be a minor injury such as a cut, from surgery or following another type of infection such as a chest infection.

Sepsis occurs in stages and if caught early, is treatable using appropriate medications such as antibiotics.

However, if sepsis goes undetected and untreated, it can quickly become life-threatening.

When sepsis becomes very severe, the body responds with a catastrophic drop in blood pressure.  This drop in blood pressure means that vital organs no longer receive a sufficient supply of blood, and therefore cannot function properly.

When this happens, the body has gone into septic shock – a medical emergency requiring immediate, specialist intervention – usually in an intensive care unit.

Sepsis signs

Who is affected by sepsis?

Anybody can develop sepsis, but the very young and the very old are more susceptible to complications from sepsis, so should always be monitored with extra care.

If there is a surgical site or injury, regularly check the wound for signs of infection.  Signs of infected wounds:

  • Red and swollen
  • Hot to touch
  • Presence of pus
  • Offensive odour
  • Excessively or increasingly painful
  • Running a temperature

Sometimes the source of sepsis is an internal infection, such as a respiratory or urinary tract infection that the body has been unable to fight.  Keep monitoring the casualty’s temperature and look out for increased pain and malaise.  Seek medical advice if concerned.

In the initial stages, symptoms of sepsis can appear to be similar to the flu and other more common illnesses and consequently the seriousness of their condition may be missed.

The UK Sepsis Trust have developed some resources highlighting six common signs of sepsis:

The key information in these resources is to be vigilant for these symptoms of a critically-ill sepsis patient:

  • Pale, mottled skin.
  • Muscular pain and rigors (shivering).
  • Slurred speech
  • Breathlessness.
  • Failure to pass urine.
  • A sense of ‘impending doom’ or a feeling that they might die.

When to get help

If you are seriously concerned about someone get help fast. If you remain worried after seeking assistance, trust your instinct and ask for further help.

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