Kids, Work, and Graduate School – Oh My!

You may be wondering where I’ve been, or you may not care, but either way let me tell you where I have been the last few months. I decided after having my first son that I would start graduate school. Pursuing higher education has always been in the back of my mind since the day I grabbed my undergraduate diploma from my department head.

I was burned out by the end of my undergraduate career. I went from being the care-free teen in high school to a tightly wound, slightly OCD college student. To say I needed a break was an understatement. So naturally, I ended my break from school after having a child and being a fulltime employee. It makes perfect sense right (she said sarcastically)?

Now with two kids, an awesome husband, and a career, I’m trying to make it all work. When it comes to pursuing higher education as a mom, here are few things I’ve learned:

  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Honestly, it’s not worth it. Have I fully taken my own advice? No, but I’m working on it.
  2. Have a calendar…or two. I can’t document my day enough! Without a calendar we would all be lost in my household.
  3. Make a list. There is nothing quite as satisfying as marking off assignments from your list. When you’re staying up late at night, writing lengthy papers, completely exhausted from the day, there is nothing like aggressively crossing the assignment off your list. Oh, the sweet gratification!
  4. Join a flexible graduate or undergraduate school program. When you decide to take on graduate school as a parent, make sure you find a program that is going to work with your lifestyle. You should never sacrifice your family life to meet the needs of a program.
  5. Keep the lines of communication open. I learned quickly to keep my husband and support system aware of where I was mentally and emotionally regarding school. When it came to finals, I put out my mommy call – it sounds something like, HELP! – and brought in the troops for support. Communicating my needs has been key throughout this process.
  6. Take a break. There is nothing quite like stopping everything and grabbing a hug from the little ones. I will always pause (except during a live class) to play dress-up and assume the role of Captain Mommy Hook with my kiddos. I mean, I am the greatest swashbuckling pirate around.
  7. You’ve got this! If you’re far behind on homework and finals or just entirely overwhelmed, remember you are a Rockstar!

As I get closer to completing my degree, I feel more empowered. I feel empowered not only as a professional, but as a mom. I want my kids to know they can do anything (within limits – you know what I’m saying) and be successful in their dreams at any age.

Now, I am going to sit back, relax, and enjoy the added free time (as parents do we really have free time?) I have during summer break. If you need me, I will be fighting off evil pirates with my lightsaber, alongside my crew that consists of a three-year-old and a one-year-old. Argh!

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