Fall is just around the corner and with it comes the start of a brand new school year. Kids everywhere are anxiously awaiting new teachers, old friends, and the resumption of fall sports. Each new school year brings a chance for a fresh start and a completely different world of learning. But kids aren’t the only ones dusting off their backpacks and sharpening brand new pencils. Moms everywhere are also looking down the barrel of the fresh start which comes with starting a new academic journey. Maybe you’re considering going back to school but are worried about juggling #studentlife and #momlife? As someone who’s juggled both for 4 out of 7 years of motherhood, I can assure you that your concerns are valid!
I had my first baby in the midst of my second year of nursing school. Prior to nursing school, I had graduated with a fine arts degree from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. I can say with confidence that finishing an associates degree with a newborn was infinitely more challenging than the bachelor’s degree. When my daughter was born, there were 1.5 semesters standing between me and graduation. Gone were the days of taking time (or sleep) for granted as was pushing assignments off until the last minute. Three days after her birth, I had to drive three hours round trip to make-up a test that I had missed while in labor. To say that I felt overwhelmed at that point in my life was a gross understatement!
Those 1.5 semesters were a blur of sleepless nights, clinicals, and hastily finished assignments. It’s funny how when you are challenged to the max, you only remember bits and pieces of daily life. My biggest memory of that final semester was pumping in the bathroom between classes. Not exactly motivational stuff but hey, this is #reallife! Somehow, May finally rolled around and I graduated from the nursing program with honors. I can’t even begin to describe how incredible it felt to finally be done with school! Despite the driving (at the time, I lived an hour and a half from campus), the crazy challenges of new motherhood, and tough classes, I had triumphed!
Never Give Up … Never Surrender!
My graduation triumph was primarily due to my extremely stubborn nature. The decision to pursue nursing school at that point in my life stemmed from my desire to help others while earning a decent income. Finding a job with a fine arts degree in the geographical location in which I found myself at the time was basically impossible and I needed something to pay the bills. Although tough, I knew that the key to a brighter future was juggling #studentlife and #momlife. There was no other option so I needed to find a way to make it work.
For some moms, juggling #studentlife and #momlife may not be worth it and that’s ok. I can completely understand wanting to just enjoy your kids while they’re young instead of worrying about your own classes, papers, and tests. But for others, school is the key to a better life and more opportunities for you and your family. Those are the moms I want to encourage with this post. If you are that mom, I want to tell you that you absolutely have what it takes and that it will be hard but you should never give up! Rise up and meet the challenges of juggling #studentlife and #momlife and you won’t even believe how spectacular you will feel on graduation day!
#StudentLife and #MomLife Requires a Team Effort
I am currently less than a year from graduating with my doctor of nursing practice degree and can say that it’s been a team effort. My husband is my biggest cheerleader and source of strength through the challenges of this degree. Pursuing a graduate nursing degree while raising three children has been immensely difficult. Needless to say, I wouldn’t be this close to done without his love and support. I also feel that it’s brought us closer together as a couple and for that, I am thankful!
Although a challenge, juggling #studentlife and #momlife can strengthen relationships with your spouse like no other experience can. The balancing act has taught me so much about marriage and has fostered an even greater appreciation for my family. For those moms thinking about school, embrace the opportunity to reinvent your relationship in ways that are hard to imagine. Lean into your spouse during the tough times and together, celebrate the triumphs!
Learn to Say “No”
Sometimes we need to learn to say “no” to others to say “yes” to ourselves. I think I may have mentioned this before, but school is hard! Make it easier on yourself by paring down on the number of obligations you have. The world won’t end if you don’t volunteer to bring in bars for the bake sale at work. It also won’t end if you have take-out for supper tonight instead of slaving for hours over a hot stove. Saying no is really challenging for me because I always want to take more on. I also have a false sense of how much I can actually accomplish in a day. If I’m not careful, taking on more and more quickly leads to burnout for me.
When going after a huge goal such as a new career path or even one online class, it sometimes becomes necessary to hone in on that one goal. You may have 50 other goals on your plate but you will accomplish nothing if you’re spread too thin. Being a mom in itself is a challenge without the complexities of APA format and horrendous reading assignments thrown in. Give yourself some grace and start saying “no” to those activities which not only take time but also will not advance you toward your main goal. Distractions are everywhere so enlist the help of your spouse to assist you in determining whether the activity is in line with your larger goal. Be open to their feedback! My hubby is only too happy to remind me that the additional things I put on my plate are not part of the larger goal.
In this, as in many things in my life, my imagination tends to get the best of me. My imaginings of how difficult something will be are usually far worse than reality. Start working on your mindset now and learn to take one day at a time. Do what you need to do in order to get through the day and forget about the rest. If you spend time thinking about how hard it will be, you’ll never do it! Take it from me, things are never as hard as you imagine they will be! Likewise, you’ll never be able to imagine just how fabulous the feeling of accomplishment at the end of the tunnel will be. So enjoy each and every moment and take what you can from both life and academic lessons.
For the moms thinking about pursuing school at this point in their lives, I sincerely hope this has inspired you to go for it! I’m not going to pretend that my journey has been all sunshine and flowers but it certainly hasn’t been rain and swamps either. Think about all the tough things you’ve already conquered in your life. If school will get you where you ultimately want to be, it can hardly be any worse than those, right? Embrace the joyful moments, be open to change, and most of all, never give up on your dreams! I’d love to hear about your thoughts on this post. Are you thinking about going back to school? If so, what’s holding you back? If you’re going after a new career right now, what has been your biggest lesson learned?