Yesterday I was perusing my Twitter feed when I noticed some debate about something Kirstie Allsopp said. Not unusual as Kirstie does seem prone to starting debate, and as a woman with lots of big opinions I absolute approve of that. Further investigation revealed that the discussion was centred around an interview Kirstie did with The Telegraph during which she said

“I don’t have a girl, but if I did I’d be saying ‘Darling, do you know what? Don’t go to university. Start work straight after school, stay at home, save up your deposit – I’ll help you, let’s get you into a flat. And then we can find you a nice boyfriend and you can have a baby by the time you’re 27.”

Taken out of context this is obviously a fairly ludicrous statement, and I do wonder how many of the haters have actually read the full article.  Actually I think that what Kirstie is saying is that going to university, immediately after school for the ‘experience’ is possibly less valuable than going later in life when you might have more of an idea of your career aspirations, and more motivation to study. Rather than party.  That our window of fertility is relatively so short that perhaps having babies earlier, then concentrating on career would be a more logical approach. Actually I agree.

I went to university to study dance straight out of school. I was a young (August born) 18, naive about the realities of adult life. Even studying something which I was, and am, passionate about I was fairly slack. I was more interested in pints and pool than knuckling down to write essays. I didn’t ‘get’ the longevity of life, the importance of finding something I wanted to do which would also pay the bills. Basically I wasn’t ready,

I didn’t get the most of out of my time there, from an academic point of view. The life lessons I was learning were important, but they could have been learned whilst I worked and made some money. Then, as Kirstie recommends, I could have gone to university older, wiser and more ready to study. I could have a career now. I don’t.

I honestly don’t know where babies fit in with all of this. I was lucky and had my three children all between the ages of 27 and 33. I’m not sure that its all that easy to plan the timing of babies, but certainly I agree that a culture of having babies younger would be a good idea in terms of fertility and ease of transition into motherhood.

I’m also aware that as with all things it’s personal. There are young women who are focussed and ready at 18 to study.  There are women who do not want to have a family, and want to focus on career entirely, I’m not sure they’d enjoy their mothers trying to put them in a nice flat with Mr Right. I think perhaps as with most topics about personal choice this comes down to just that, personal choices. Kirstie was expressing her viewpoint on this topic, coming from a place of best intentions I’m sure.  No doubt her fictional daughter would just ignore her and follow her own path anyway.

To conclude university or not, stay at home or not, these are topics which cause a stir because they cause us to evaluate our own situations. They can make us feel judged. I’m confident that whatever your situation it is what was meant to be for you, so try to sit strong with that and let conflicting opinions flow over you taking only what is useful. Obviously I was meant to slack my way through university, meet a man, marry young, run away with the circus, have babies and end up writing this blog, and that is that.