If you were like me after graduating high school, you had your whole life mapped out. It may have gone something like this: go to college, get married, begin motherhood. While life happened, college got rearranged in my life plan, but it was something that was important for me to go back and finish.
I knew I wanted to finish my bachelor’s once I had my daughter to show her the importance of getting an education no matter your circumstances. The next semester after giving birth to her, I signed up for an online class at the local community college to get back into the swing of things.
Now that I’m entering my last year of my bachelor’s program, I’ve found some helpful tips for trying to balance college and motherhood.
Tips for Balancing College and Motherhood:
Ask For Help
This is my number one tip: don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s not a one-woman-show. When you have days that you are completely overwhelmed, it’ll be necessary to help keep your sanity. Seek out those you can ask for help, whether it’s your spouse, a friend, or your parent. I would even recommend having a back-up to a back-up. Whether it’s to help you watch your children, have someone to vent to when the semester gets crazy, keep you accountable, or cheer you on, you’re going to need the help along the way!
Invest in a Planner or Calendar
I’m a visual learner, and so I like to write everything out. The calendar app on your phone works, too! What’s most important is to find what works for you. At the beginning of each semester, write due dates, school schedules, practices, appointments, and prior commitments so that you don’t overbook yourself. If there is one thing I’ve learned after having a child, it is that I have a terrible memory. Due to my terrible memory, my planner has been my saving grace from running around like my head was cut off.
Ease back into it
Don’t take more than you can handle–I can’t stress this enough. I took one class the first semester, two the second semester, and gradually increased as I felt more comfortable. I knew I didn’t have room to make any mistakes because I am a mom with a daughter who is depending on me. Don’t rush, since it would be awful to have to repeat a class and spend more money than necessary.
Identify Your ‘Why’
Something about new beginnings makes it easy to be motivated at the start of the semester. But come mid-term time, you just want to throw in the towel when everything seems impossible. You may even cry at times. I’ll admit I’ve had my fair share of cries when I thought I was in over my head. Just remember the end goal of why you started in the first place. I know my ‘why’ at the beginning was to be an example to my daughter, but the real ‘why’ was I wanted a better future for my family. Just remember your ‘why,’ have a good cry if needed, and pick yourself back up.
Set a Study Schedule
Find a regular time to study, whether it is in the morning, night, or somewhere in-between. Since I run early in the morning, it’s easier to study after working out. I’ve found having a regular study schedule helps minimize procrastination and allows me to have family time.
Use your resources
There is so much available help, so don’t be afraid to use it! Utilize the tutoring office at your school. It’s free, and it’s nice to have a second set of eyes to look over your work before handing it in.
My favorite app, Quizlet, creates flashcards that allows you to study anywhere. If you need to study before a mid-term, it offers a quiz and a matching game over the flashcards you’ve made.
Youtube is another great resource, with videos to explain topics you may be struggling with.
Most importantly don’t forget your professors as a resource. Communicate where you are struggling and they can help guide you to be successful.
To all you mamas who are pursuing your own goals and dreams while raising your babies to do the same, we salute you!