This post is dedicated to the warrior inside of every woman who becomes a mom.
The doubt, the guilt, the fear of not being able to cope with all of it and have your kids affected, I know exactly what you feel, and I’m writing right now the words I wanted to read 18 months ago when I was crying for guidance, I needed someone to tell me how to do it and if it was possible.
This post right here is the whole reason why I started my blog.
Is it possible to go back to school and pursue your academic goals after having kids? Yes, here are the first steps I took, and the answer to the million-dollar question when can you go back?
Ignore the negative talk thrown at you
Be aware that this will happen; in 2020 there are still people who believe that once you become a mother you’ll have to devote your entire waking hours to your kids and home. Some will criticize, don’t let anyone make you feel guilty, you’re not selfish for wanting to grow, improve, and learn.
You’re making an act of love, you’re sacrificing precious time you could spend watching your babies grow, to prepare yourself to have better opportunities and give them a better life; this is selfless instead of selfish as they want you to believe.
Nobody knows what are your deepest motivations to do what you want to do right now, they don’t have to know either; and while it may seem obvious that any kind of improvement you make in your life will have a direct effect on your kids, people don’t see the bigger picture, they just see that now you’re taking 2 hours that you could be out in the park with them to study.
It doesn’t matter what people say, in 5 years it will be you, not them, living the life you are cultivating right now. You reap what you sow. It would be a shame that for second-guessing, and listening to others you get stuck in this cycle of being a perfect mom/wife to their eyes, instead of being the best mom you can be for your kids and feeling happy in the process.
Find support in your family and close friends
One word for courage, a couple of hours of babysitting, a mug of hot coffee, or the dinner served when you get home could be everything you need on a particular day to keep going. Keep close to you those people who want to see you succeed, the ones that are happy for your development, and encourage you to reach your goals.
I’ve been so lucky to have my babies’ daddy support me with all his heart and energy, we’re a great team, we share equal responsibilities, and this is the best scenario for us to grow together as a family and as individuals. If you are lucky enough to have your partner support you let them know how to help you, try to improve your family dynamic in order to have a smooth transition into this new phase of your life.
If dad is not available you can always find another family member willing to support you, especially grandmothers they’re a secret weapon for any new mom, they have gone through it all before you, and are most probably willing to help you out when you need them, so don’t hesitate and talk to your mom or mother in law, schedule some hours so they can help you babysit your kids when you’re out for class.
When is it too early?
Is it possible that your babies are too young for you to be out for long periods? It depends on how you deal with the situation. A healthy attachment forms in the first 18 months of life, it will be crucial for your children’s development.
If the attachment figure is not consistent your baby will be affected, this means if you have a new babysitter every couple of months and you stay out for long periods of time it could have a negative impact on their development.
The key is to have a consistent family dynamic for the children, the caregivers are always the same (preferably you and just 1 more person) and your routine is established, the time you spend with them has to be quality time, focus your whole attention on them.
If this is not possible for you, try online classes or wait until your kids are old enough to sign them up on daycare while you’re working or in class.
I can’t go back to school, my baby is still nursing
I think I could make a whole post for this particular topic, but for now, I’ll tell you it is possible. You don’t have to feel stressed about this. I’ve done it, and it’s not hard to pump milk in a clean and private environment even if it’s not at home. Do your research about Lactation spaces on your campus.
If you can’t find any information related, communicate to Human Resources, if there’s a space provided for lactating employees, it could be available for you too. You could also check for a Lactation room near the campus and take a quick break to pump milk between classes, talk to your teachers about your situation in case you could be late for a class.
What to do before you go to class
Set everything up on time, have anything your babysitter/family member could need at sight and ready to use, diapers, milk, water, your phone number in case you have to come back.
And don’t forget to have your outfit and backpack ready! You know how easy it is to forget about our own stuff when we are about to be away from our babies.
Ideally, you should have everything ready and the person who is going to watch your kids at least 30 minutes before you have to go, this way they can get used to seeing this person (in the case is not daddy or a member of your household) and you can have some mommy time with them, talk to them about why you’re leaving and that you’ll come back soon to have fun with them.
Recharge your positive energy with toddlers hugs, this will get you through the class, my biggest motivation to study are my kids, so these moments for me are very important; I have a 60+ minute ride to get to the campus, and some days I ask myself if it is worth it, you’ll have those days, I promise you it will be worth it, just melt in your kids love to remember why are you doing this.
Try to stay focused, trust that they are being taken care of and have your mind completely into the class you’re attending, take notes, record the teacher in case you’ve lost some note-taking skills, and make the best out of these hours.
Find your study group
Is it sharing a classroom with people a decade younger than you daunting? Maybe you’d feel out of date since they already know each other from Facebook groups, Instagram communities, and who knows what else you have missed for changing diapers instead of networking on social media.
Who cares? Don’t let the first day, or week set you up for discomfort, you’ll find your group. You could say I’m an adult, I don’t need to be part of a group to study, I don’t do well in study groups we never really study when we gather anyway, I’m over that, we’re not on High School anymore.
Let me break this to you… at college, you do need groups, maybe you won’t be hanging out together (you probably don’t have time for that) but what if you miss a class? There’ll be someone you can borrow notes from, to tell you about resources the teacher has mentioned, and ultimately, sharing valuable information is what study groups are for, those are the ones you need to be a part of on higher education.
You’re finally home!
Hug them, kiss them, tell them how much you missed them, tell them about your day even if they don’t understand yet, babies love hearing mama’s voice talking about anything. Ask them about their day, how they felt. Let them know that even now that you’ll be out for some hours nothing will change.
Being a working student mom is not easy, but that moment when you come back home makes everything worth it.
Just as you need to have a routine for bedtime, you have to establish a routine for your study sessions while being at home with the kids, here I wrote a full blog post with the insights of what has worked for me to keep my classes up to date.
Also, make sure you start working on your studying schedule, you could download for free this one I created and read on the most effective way to revise and prepare for your exams.
Your kids: your motivation and strength
Do a visualization exercise, how do you see yourself in 5 years? How do you think your life could improve 10 years from now if you keep working on your degree? What image do you want your kids to have of you?
In my case I see myself pursuing specialization, with a well-balanced career and personal life, reaching financial stability, I want to give my kids the best education possible and inculcating in them the value of knowledge.
Once they understand why is studying so important and how lucky we are to have access to every level of education I hope they feel inspired by their mom’s story, have the study habits not as something painful but instead a rewarding action.
When is it too late?
It’s never too late to go back to school. On my first day of class this year, I realized I wasn’t the only mom in the classroom, there were 3 other moms, between the ages of 30 and 50 starting their careers, I was actually the youngest mom (I was 26 at the moment). So, it’s never too late to reinvent yourself, create new habits, learn new things, learn from your failures because it won’t be all a bed of roses, you’ll fail along the way, but you’ll stand up big and tall and keep going.
You are the only person able to decide whether or not you can take the next step now, most probably your kids will follow along with your routine and they’ll adapt, nobody can tell you it’s too early or too late to pursue your dreams and goals, nobody can tell you you won’t be able to fulfill every role you have to take part on your life.
There are no limits for the human mind when it is focused on a goal, take advantage of it. Go back to school mom, do it for you, do it for your kids, it’s never too late.
I’m a medical student and mom of twins, I love to write and I’m sharing my journey in achieving my degree while raising happy kids.