Army wife Kayleigh Griffin shares her story of how by studying through distance learning, she has altered her career path to suit the juggling act of military life…
Based in Kinloss, Morayshire, Kayleigh has been married to David for ten years and has three boys aged six, eight and ten. Prior to the posting to Scotland she worked in human resources as a technician within a busy payroll department.
“I was offered a promotion, which was fantastic for my professional development and kept me motivated during David’s tours in Afghanistan,” explains Kayleigh.
After David’s return and with three children under five, something ignited in Kayleigh to reconsider her ambitions.
“I felt I was missing precious moments with my boys and found it really difficult to find flexible childcare that met our needs. At one stage I had the boys split between childcare in three different locations.”
After a couple of years trying to hold down a job and witnessing the struggles of other families, Kayleigh decided to set up a childminding service of her own.
“I started to look at undergraduate courses, which would enhance my knowledge of child development and educational practices,” she says. “I decided to study for a degree in Childhood and Youth Studies through the University of Highlands and Islands.
“The content of the programme was geared towards Scottish legislation and curriculum, but we’d decided quite soon into this posting that we ultimately wanted to settle here permanently, so it made sense to study with a local university.”
“I had the flexibility of devising my own timetables to fit alongside childminding hours, parenting and all my other commitments.”
Studying entirely through distance learning meant Kayleigh didn’t have to find the childcare that she would have needed for a traditional ‘on campus’ degree.
“The learning platforms were accessible 24-hours a day, which meant I had the flexibility of devising my own timetables to fit alongside childminding hours, parenting and all my other commitments,” explains Kayleigh.
Her biggest challenge was juggling work, family, and academic life, particularly during long deployments.
“The majority of my study hours were at night whilst everyone was sleeping, which was far from ideal,” says Kayleigh. “The emotional battle of trying to reserve time for reconnecting as a family whilst my thoughts were occupied by impending deadlines and childminding commitments, was at times quite overwhelming.”
Hard work and determination
Despite the challenges, Kayleigh passed with flying colours and would thoroughly recommend distance learning to other military spouses.
“Whilst it required me to be creative in my approach and incredibly self-motivated and disciplined throughout, the sense of achievement at the end was indescribable.
“The impeccable grades I attained were a testament to the hard work and determination that I ploughed into my studies, and to have achieved those with all the added pressures of military family life makes me really proud.”