From the feedback I am getting about the book so far, lots of Mums can relate to the page where the kids are eating toast for dinner! Unfortunately, that is one side-effect of being a Mum who studies: time for meal preparation is limited. As I found myself in that position many, many times I would always search out recipes that could be made quickly and provide the kids with a tasty, wholesome meal and more often than not, these would be thermomix recipes. Again, let me stress I am not affliated in any way, shape or form with any product but I do love the TM for it's time-saving properties...anyway, that is how I came across Bec Allum, aka Thermo Bexta. I noticed in her posts that she was finishing up her studies so was keen to have a chat...I am sure you will enjoy this interview and make sure you check out her recipes, even if you aren't a thermomixer. Also, have a look at her Facebook group to keep updated about the new recipe book.
Can you tell us about your experience of studying whilst having/raising children?
I am a mum of two beautiful girls, who are now 5 and 7 years old. I have just this month finished my Diploma of Enrolled Nursing, after spending a little over two years studying for it. The course was part time - on campus one day a week, with a large study load to complete at home and multiple full time clinical placements throughout. I have applied next year to do the conversion to Registered Nursing, which will be two years full time at uni. Registered Nursing was always my aim, but when I decided it was time to start the study, I thought that using the EN course as a stepping stone would ease me in to study and give me more time with my daughter that was still home with me (she started school this year). I hit the ground running and the Diploma was much more full on than I expected it would be. As well as study and family life, I am also a recipe creator, a blogger and I run a large facebook group. During the break between the Diploma and Degree, I am writing a cookbook. I am very grateful to have an amazing partner, who is very supportive of all of my ventures and is a wonderful parent.
What were some of your biggest challenges?
The biggest challenge for me as a parent of young children studying, is definitely juggling everything, fitting it all in and giving everything the amount of time and focus that it needs. I often worry that the kids are growing so fast and that studying takes me away from them more than I’d like it to, but at the end of the day, it’s only a few years and when I am qualified, we will all benefit. My family is my world and as mothers, I think we all get the mother guilt thing. We all do the best we can with what we have, yet give ourselves a hard time no matter what.
Did you ever feel like giving up and if yes, what did you do to keep motivated and persevere?
The thought crossed my mind multiple times, yes! I did come close to throwing it all in at one point. During my time studying, I would quite regularly wonder why I was doing it - when my house looked like a bomb had hit it weeks prior, or I was feeding my kids pesto pasta for the third night in a row, after spending 3 seconds making a giant batch of it to save myself a few days of cooking, or I had multiple assignments due soon and I was struggling with motivation or the content, all the while burning the candle at both ends and constantly feeling tired. I feel blessed, though, to have a really strong support network, especially my partner and also a very good friend that I met on the first day of the course. I had a lot of help from my mum, mother-in-law and sister whilst on the clinical placements too, so I was able to go to work and not worry what was happening with the kids. Quality family time is also essential and I draw a lot of energy and fulfilment from it. I also found it essential to have time out for me when I felt things were just too hard. Although my list was long, I would take a day off and try to just relax.
What tips or advice can you offer other Mums who are studying with children?
Be organised! Every time I felt that it was all getting too much, I would take a step back and realise that I was trying to play catch up. If I took a day to get organised – do a big house clean, make a few meals and some things for the school lunch box drawer in the freezer, I would find things would start running much more smoothly again. Also, plan your time visually in a diary or calendar. So pencil in your study times and make sure you stick to them. This gives you the time to spend on other things, most importantly that quality time with your family. As busy as you may feel at times, you need that time with your family and also time for yourself – everyone benefits and also it is where your energy and motivation will come from.
You have also managed to develop a brilliant website doing what you love with whole food thermomix cooking – what words of wisdom can you pass on about having dreams and following them through?
If something is important to you, make the time to make it work. When things get hard (because they will) remind yourself of why you embarked on your journey. Like most people, the most important thing in the world to me is my family. Making sure I spend quality time with them and do the best I can for them is so important. Being a Nurse is something I’ve always wanted to do because I want to help and nurture others and see nursing as the perfect career for me. As for my website and facebook group, it started out as a bit of a creative outlet for me but soon grew to be much more than that. Feeding my family healthy meals made from scratch is something that is really important to me, so through my recipes, I help others to do the same. I have replaced all store bought convenience items like sauces, jams, etc with healthy home made alternatives. For example I have created a tomato sauce recipe that is my most popular recipe and heaps of people have switched their families to it from store bought sauce. I also like to create recipes that are quick and easy and can be made ahead and put in the freezer for school lunch boxes, things like cheesy muffins. As I mentioned above, I am in the process of putting together a cookbook filled with healthy meals made in the thermomix (or other thermal cooker). The aim of my book is give busy mums and dads recipes for healthy, delicious meals at their fingertips, so that they can easily plan for and have them on the table for their family after busy days.
Well, I am sure you will agree - quick, delicious and healthy sounds just perfect to me!
Thanks again Bec for sharing your story and I look forward to trying more of your recipes from the up-coming cook book.