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Mothers' Day Special: A Day in a Life of a UK Nurse Mama

It’s that special day of the year where we celebrate the dedication and hard work of our beloved mothers. Whatever we call them: Mama, Mommy, Mi, Mom, Nanay, Inay, ‘Nay, Inang, Nanang - they are the pillar of strength in any family. We Filipinos call them, “ilaw ng tahanan” because they bring warmth and comfort to every member of the family.

As we celebrate the “Mothering Sunday” in the UK, let us share with you a day in a life of a Filipino UK nurse mom.

Nurse Arsie, happily married to Eric, mom of 2 amazing boys and an awesome Theatre Scrub Nurse at one of the NHS Trusts in England.

If you’re wondering how Arsie manages to juggle her role as a wife, mother and nurse, read on to know a day in her life as a Filipino UK nurse mom.

My UK Nurse journey started when…

I came to the UK under the dependent spouse visa in February 2012. I applied as a healthcare - assistant (HCA) initially at Luton and Dunstable Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (L&D) . I started working at the Respiratory Ward as a HCA and endured the back-breaking job for almost a year and half which did not entice me at all to become a Registered nurse in that field when I saw how the ward nurses in that particular department worked beyond they're finishing time just to complete the patient's notes, answer to complaining relatives, attend to demanding doctors adding the stress of non stop buzzing for patient call bells and on top of that they do everything that their HCA's do apart from medications and everything else too.

I was glad when my husband found an opening job as HCA in theatres, in the same hospital. I got the job and started mid 2013 , I was happy and contented cleaning equipment in the corridors, supporting the team by setting up the theatre for each cases and mainly cleaning up after each list. I met such good friends in the team where I worked with and they became like a family to me. That's how I started enjoying and loving the job I do in theatres.

My husband then encouraged me to pursue an Overseas Nurses' Programme (ONP) to become a Registered Nurse in the UK that time, since I was a qualified nurse as well in the Philippines. When the management of the hospital I am working with, learnt that I was also a qualified Nurse in the Philippines, they supported me and sponsored me to take the ONP. It was such a great blessing as I get paid to work and study at the same time. As I was doing my course, I got pregnant with my first child and managed to get my Registration as a Nurse just in time before I had him.

I have been working as a Theatre Scrub Nurse ever since then and still enjoying it up to present.

My typical day as a working nurse Mom…

… is quite tough. I am lucky to have a loving and supportive husband. We have to juggle the time between work and family. To make this possible, I have to do night shifts because his work requires day shifts. Monday is usually our busiest day of the week as I come home from my first night shift. Here’s how a day in my life looks like:

I come home from my first night shift around 8:15-8:20 AM while my husband waits to leave the little one to me before he takes the elder to school. Because he starts work late around 12 at noon he would let me catch some sleep and would try to put the little one to nap first just before he leaves for work so that I can sleep longer usually until 1:00-2:00 PM.

But more often than not, I woke up to see my husband leave and take advantage of the time while the little one is still asleep. As soon as I wake up (lucky if the little one is still asleep) I take my first coffee while prepping food for dinner and even the breakfast and lunch for tomorrow. As soon as the little one woke up he would ask for dede (mom's milk) then we play a little bit and offer him lunch.

We then have to get ready around 2:30 PM and leave the house at 2:50 PM to pick up his brother at school . Sometimes, they play at the school yard with his brother's classmates for 10-15 mins ( a little bit of socializing with the other parents while I watch them play) then we drive back home.

As soon as we get home, I would make snacks for the two and play with them. I will sometimes ask my older son to look after the little one or let them watch so that I can carry on doing the other household chores . Around 5:30-6:00 PM, I get them ready for dinner . I would wait for my husband to come home before I can get ready for work. He comes home usually after the kids had dinner just in time for him to give them a bath and then put them to sleep while I get ready for work. I usually leave the house around quarter to 8:00 PM so that I won't be late for the 8:30 PM start of the shift but sometimes things don't go well according to plans , there are times that the little one won't settle to sleep not until I breastfeed him. Those were the times that I got late for work (lucky if we don't have a case but if there is, then I just have to apologise). These are my daily grind every Monday and Tuesday and only get to rest more during Wednesday coming from my last night shift when my husband is on a day off.

That’s a day in my life as a Filipino UK nurse mom. I don't know how I'm actually managing it but it just happens. Big factor I guess is the support I get from my husband as we share the load together and we keep lifting up each other's spirits all the time. I am blessed to have a very reliable partner in life.

My advice to other Filipino UK Nurse moms out there…

It's tough to fulfil your career as a working mom in the UK but it is possible. You have to learn how to manage your time well and prioritise. Also, there will come a time that you have to compromise when things don't go according to your plans , you might not be ready but you just have to learn how to accept things and find a solution rather than beat yourself up.

Do not forget to look after yourself more and try to eat and live healthier by sleeping more as much as you can while you still can. Because the moment you become a mom you will need a lot of energy and you will say hello to sleepless nights for at least a couple of years (might be just me). I can't think of anything else to advise because there is no tailored-book to be a perfect mom for parenting but you just take it as it goes and just enjoy every moment of it .

Looking back on my journey as a Filipino UK Nurse mom, I am proud of…

…myself for so many things. Firstly, I have started from a humble beginning as a HCA before I became a Registered Nurse. Secondly, I have completed both my ONP (1st pregnancy) and Surgical First Assistant training (2nd pregnancy) even when I was pregnant . Thirdly and the most part I am proud of is managing well the time I guess I have for work and most of it for my family especially with my boys who I love spending my precious moments with. I love cooking for them, playing and bonding with them and traveling to places with them.

A love note to your hubby…

Thank you hon for everything. I love you. You are the best.

A love note to your children…

You are my precious. You could have been someone else's kids but I am blessed you are mine.

A love note to your Mom…

Salamat po mi sa lahat , ang hirap po pala maging nanay . Salamat po sa lahat ng pagkalinga at pagmamahal.

Being a working mom, either in the Philippines or in the UK is a challenging job. Managing the time for family and career is not easy but mothers seem to have superpowers to make it happen. Happy Mothers' Day! To all moms out there, treat yourself with something special this mothers' day - you deserve it! We are proud of your hard work, keep up the GREAT job that you are doing at work or at home and cheers to an amazing mothers' day celebration!

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