Hello again! Welcome back.
I have something different for you this time...tips.
There are many things of which I do not know, but of few things I do know a great deal. “I wear many hats,” or so they say. I have been a full time mom, full time college student, part time employee, and volunteer/intern simultaneously for so long that I can feel the bags under my eyes swelling just thinking about it. 😉
I thrive on chaos, work best under pressure, you know the deal. But I am often asked how I could possibly do all of these things adequately, so I have comprised a list for people like me, or people who aren’t like me, or people who are currently juggling school, or people who are contemplating going back to school but think they can’t do it because they already have too much on their plate.
For those last people in particular, you CAN do it, and you SHOULD. Education is the single most important thing you can buy. If you are a mother, it is my personal belief that nothing but good things could come from a world filled with more educated women. Women now outnumber men in American colleges, they also outnumber men at college graduations (Although, it should be mentioned that these statistics vary for minorities, which is of course, problematic in itself.) Although programs involving Computer Science and Engineering remain as mostly male dominated fields. So if you’re a girl who falls into the “computer nerd” category; go on with your bad self lady, you’re awesome.
For mothers, and young mothers in particular, the statistics change significantly. By age 30, only 1.5% of women who became pregnant as a teenager hold a degree. The daughters of young mothers are 22% more likely than their peers to become teen mothers themselves. Student mothers are more than twice as likely to leave college with no degree than their non-parenting counter parts. I could go on for days about the statistical proof of the hardship that is balancing motherhood and college.
These statistics are heartbreaking for someone like me. I am these statistics, and I see them all around me. My mother was a teen mother, I became pregnant at 19, I have a daughter. But these things are not necessarily negative in and of themselves, and I refuse to fall prey to the life that typically befalls young mothers.
So here I am, in all of my statistically unfortunate glory, Bachelors degree on the horizon, offering up what has made this juggling act work for me.
1. Do your homework AT school.
Well, most of it. Go to the library, the Starbucks, hide in the bathroom and cry because you can’t do algebra…ahem.
Of the many roles I play in my life student and Mommy are the most daunting. Not so much each task on its own, but juggling them concurrently. When I am physically at home, Mommy mode is in full force and my children’s needs always take precedence, as do the rest of my domestic duties. I don’t know about you, but for me there is nothing that says “this paper is not important” like Let It Go on blast while you stare at piles of laundry with your name all over them. For me, it provides my brain with a clear sense of organization. At school, I’m a student. At home, I’m maid, nurse, slave, mommy...you tell me. 😉
2. Be Prepared to Sacrifice.
Anyone who pursues the undertaking that is college must accept this challenge. But motherhood in itself is the most sacrificial role of all. So you can imagine what it is to seek them both. You will likely have zero free time. You will sleep even less (yes, its possible.) And each tiny painful step closer to your goal will be glorious. I have not seen a single episode of the current season of Grey’s Anatomy, people. If that’s not sacrifice, then I don’t know what is.
3. Get Organized
And I don’t mean by straightening up your kitchen cabinets or closets. Although, if you are good at that sort of thing, let me know and I’ll gladly invite you over. 😉
Organize your time. I must plan, down to a very painful level of detail, what assignments I can do and when. I have to manage my work schedule, and the fact that it is basically impossible to get much done with a 2 and 4 year old. Many who know me would not consider me the most organized or well-scheduled person… if only they knew, my friends. 😉
4. Don’t Procrastinate
Now, if I’m being honest I don’t always adhere to this one myself. But it is a good idea none the less. As a mother you learn to expect the unexpected, and this usually means that your kids will more than like thwart the plan that you devised in #3. If you’ve waited until your very last opportunity to do the assignment in the first place…this could be bad.
5. Be Realistic
This might be a little depressing… but of course I don’t nearly as well at any one of responsibilities as I could if there was less on my plate. For me at least, it is just not possible and I have accepted this. I would love to be able to take my kids to the beach,museum, whatever, everyday. But I am busy, and it’s just not possible for me. I would love to pursue a variety of extra curricular activities at my university, but I just can’t spare that kind of time at the expense of my children. It is a delicate balancing act. Be realistic with your aspirations and you will likely achieve them.
6. Be Proud
Mom-guilt is a real thing. It takes many forms and makes you feel that no matter what you do, you’re not doing enough for your children. But you are. You are enough, and you can do this. You will be proud, you will make your children proud, be proud.
Another form of “mom guilt” that specifically affects Student Moms is the social disconnect we feel when we’re AT school. Many Student Mothers cite this feeling as being so overwhelming that is actually contributes to the cause of them leaving school. It might sound weird to people that don’t feel it…but I feel it, and I understand it. There are few things so characteristically defining as motherhood. And there is nothing that can neutralize the feeling of isolation that comes with thinking you’re “different” from everyone else in the room. I could actually write an entire post on this concept… so I’ll stop here.
But know that you are not alone, your undertaking is worthy and noble, and you can do this, momma.
What about you?! Do you have any tips for me?
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