I’ve been balancing motherhood and school life for over a month now and it is one of those things that I’ve never considered until it was time to actually do it. I now think about how women are encouraged to have this plan (you know the one), where you get an education followed by a career, then pursue marriage and the family last.
Well, true to form, my millennial ass didn’t do that. I went for the first degree, hopped on the marriage train before that was even finished, went on to the intricacies of family life and now, I’m in postgraduate studies and getting ready for the career trek. No one really prepares you for life mother and a student.
Why? Mostly because life doesn’t care about our carefully laid life scripts. But also because clearly, I love to torture myself by piling heaps of things on my to-do list at a time. Other times, it’s because things are better for our individual situations if we build our own life schedules and/or respond to the spontaneity of life, its blessings and opportunities.
Life Doesn’t Stop For You
So here I am at four in the morning, wide awake I’m writing a blog post at this hour (you got it later and you’re reading it now) after going to bed at midnight. Why? Because one of my courses offers this amazing communications collaboration with a European school and one of the outcomes I’d collaborating across four time zones. That means it’s always the middle of the night for someone, today is just my turn.
I’d be mad, but I am truly, immensely enjoying my program. Thus, we move. So even though the three assignments I have due today have already been submitted, I have a full day of school ahead of me and more deadlines barreling in my direction to work on, I haven’t yet posted on the blog this week (before this post I mean) and it needs to be done. Just colour me inspired, writing about my life in the moment.
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It’s not enough that my course is particularly demanding with assignments and a full weekly class schedule, though. For most mature women who decide to go back to school, their family life does not stop, slow down or even respect the new demand. That means, my SAHM schedule is still fully operational as well as other commitments.
My bedtime these days is promptly at nine. After that, only by obligation.
Five Tips for Balancing Motherhood and School Life
Motherhood is hard enough, but balancing it with schools life and possibly a career is not for the faint of heart. Here are few tips to help you weather the challenge.
1. Prioritize and Shift
Some things can wait, some things cannot. That is a given. You must be intentional about what is a must and what is not on your to-do list. As women, we sometimes can become single-focused on how our lives are structured. A clean kitchen and tidied house every night without fail. Cooking six days a week. Keeping the laundry basket low. Ma’am, if you don’t get that take, rest your body and go do your assignments!
Perhaps a particular piece of laundry needs to be clean on a particular day. It may mean you have to do laundry at least on the day before or have someone else do laundry that week or day. Maybe you don’t have as many assignments next week and you can do all the laundry in one day. It’s a balancing act, so don’t be afraid to shift things around and change priorities.
2. Have a Schedule
Your classes will be on a schedule. Your home-life is likely to be on one as well. You’re going to be left with a very limited window to fit the rest into. Once you have your classes assigned your should have your own schedule centres around that. If you have work, you will need to schedule time for assignments and maybe even some time for the kiddos.
3. Make Time for the Kiddos
Lately, I have had to delay my attention to little Pepperseed more than I would like. She understands that I am busy, but it can be hurtful to her when she is excitedly sharing what she has learned in the day when she gets home and I am unable to look at it right then. So, I try to make sure I am deliberate and going back to her and asking her to show me again, even if she isn’t as enthusiastic by then. She will still show me and we can have that few minutes together.
I never want her to feel like Mommy is ever too busy for her, so it’s important to me to make it up if I am busy and ensure that even though I can’t always give her my attention when she wants it, she will shortly thereafter. However, brief.
I also try to get in my snuggle time every morning. It’s five or ten minutes just the two of us cuddling, ‘loving’ on each other and chit-chatting before the day begins.
4. Create Your Own Due Dates
One thing I know about myself for sure is that while I do well under pressure, pressurized chaos is not it. I’m taking seven courses in a semester. If you can imagine, seven different courses at the postgraduate level mean more often than not seven separate, often stackable individual and group assignments each week. What I’ve learned to do is to create my own due dates several days before they are actually due.
Also, I am prone to remembering things right up until the appointed time, I forget. No dice. I’d rather complete and submit as soon as I have all the information about deliverables.
5. Create a List of Assignment on the Weekend
Each week, I round up what’s due in the week ahead. I analyze them for the order of priority and complexity and begin to chip away at them in blocks of time over the weekend. The simpler the assignment, the more likely I am to finish it off and submit it days in advance. Why? It’s become perfectly acceptable at assignments and exercises turn up in class that are due on the same day. It means that these assignments and tasks would gain priority.
6. Get Help
Just because you are balancing motherhood and school, it doesn’t mean you have to do it on your own. Whether it’s help from family or professional help if you can identify areas where you can receive assistance, do so without shame. If you need a family member or a nanny to help you with the kids, do that. If you can afford to get a housekeeper to lighten the domestic chores, do that. Don’t be fooled into thinking that feining omnipresence and superpowers are flexes. I absolutely believe women can do it, just not at the same time.
7. Dedicated School Work Days/Nights
If you have ‘free’ days you can dedicate to school work weekly and it works, you can take that day to complete assignments in the majority or in their entirety. This will give you a set time each week for school work and will ease the burden throughout the week. Some people can pull all-nighters and still be functional the next day (I most certainly cannot at this point in my life. Yes, I am a certified granny.) If you can, that’s an option you can consider as well.
Can you multi-task? If yes, then do it. School is online for me right now. You can most certainly bet that I often have one half of the screen with the class up and another half working on an assignment. If one or the other requires more focus, I give it. But, it’s not for everyone. Some people can only focus on one thing at a time productively. That’s okay too. It’s certainly better than trying to focus on two things and not really being productive anything.
You’ve Got This!
So, these are my tips, guys. I hope they will help a fellow millennial powerhouse to get her boss on as much as they have helped me these past few weeks. I can testify to often feeling like I am drowning in the fray, but as I try to remind myself that so far, regardless of what it seems like, I am actually doing it. Remember, nothing worth having ever comes easy, and if it were easy, everyone would do it. Just hang in there and focus on the end goal. You will get there.
Have you or are you considering going back to school after starting your family? What are some tips you can share with mom balancing motherhood and school life? Comment below!
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