Going back to school after having kids, when is it too late or too early?

 

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.

During class

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.

How to study for an exam when you have no time










That frightening moment when you get a reminder of the date of an exam and it’s only 6 days from now… you start panicking because you’ve only studied the first 3 lessons! I really hope you don’t have to go through this, but if you do…

 

What to do? Well, I’ve been there, I’m not going to lie, here’s a piece of advice to get the best possible results with the little time you have, use your time wisely and promise yourself to use a study schedule next time to have your mind at ease the last week before the exam.


Stay in your comfort zone 

What a weird advice, nowadays the trend for everything is stepping out of your comfort zone, right? But this is an emergency! Fight or flight! And we’re fighting here, the best way to do this is doing what has worked before for you. Are you a night owl? Don’t try to become a morning person for the sake of an effective study routine, not at the last minute, it won’t work.

 

If you need to stay up late to get through the most information possible and you work best at night then do it.

 

Be smart when choosing your learning resources

If you’re struggling to understand a single paragraph of a textbook, and you go over and over it, more than 4 times, skip it, if you find it hard to get the whole concept of a page or a chapter consider finding an easier, more digested source of information; is there a reliable Youtube channel you know about where you can find this topic shortly and with a simpler explanation? Go and look for it.

 

Don’t waste time trying to understand something complicated when someone else has already made a simple explanation, you’ll get frustrated by digging into the textbook’s words, I’m not saying you should do this for every exam, just right now you have to use your time and energy the smartest way to get the most of your study.

 

Do you have friends years ahead that could help you out? Reach out to them, ask them what to focus on, how did they study, borrow their notes, this is a shortcut you shouldn’t always rely on, making your own notes and getting the information from recommended textbooks will give you better results, but, just for this one time, we need to use everything on hand to make it through the exam.

 

Don’t break the flow

Once you’re in the mood and started to study, you’re losing track of time, don’t stop unless it’s necessary or your body is asking you to do so. Turn off distractions… put that phone away… in another room… of another house… locked in a safe cage… and lose the freaking key! Sorry, I panicked a little here, but you get the point.

 

Try to avoid distractions as much as possible, don’t stop unless you’re tired, or your brain needs a break. If you are used to studying in short breaks then stick to 4 but instead of watching a YouTube video on your 5-minute break do some physical activity, get that blood pumping to stay alert, and be able to continue studying. 

 

Scrolling through social media, or a quick tv break is a no-no in this situation, this will take your mind away from the study mood, too many distractions will make it harder to get in the flow again after your short break.

 

Reward yourself

Cramming isn’t fun guys… You’re doing a really hard work, you managed a 6 hours study session and still, your nerves are wrecking! Stressing over the exam and feeling guilty you didn’t study before, it’s okay, I’ve been there.

 

Only after you’ve accomplished a decent amount of study. Now you can take your phone… finally! If that is a reward for you; if you were actually craving going for a run to free your thoughts a little bit that’s up to you. Reward yourself with whatever makes you happy.

 

Try to have a nice rest the night before

Time’s up, you made the best you could with the time you had. Now we don’t want a fatigued brain, that won’t get you anywhere even if you understood everything you managed to study.

 

Take a warm shower, get a nice meal (not too heavy), and go to bed on time, you’re probably very tired for overworking anyways, so hopefully, after you relax you’ll be able to sleep all night. Don’t forget to turn on the alarm!

 

During the exam

The moment of freaking out is over, now you have to be as confident as possible with the information you managed to digest. Skip through the questions and answer the ones you already know, if you’ve got any essay questions included write on the side the crucial words that come to your mind and expand on those later.

 

Focus on the questions of the topics you managed to study. Don’t waste time trying to guess over a question you might have read somewhere. Instead, try to make sure you got right the ones you understand. 

 

After the exam

We both know that cramming wasn’t the best learning experience you had. So, take responsibility and go through the topics again, with the exam questions still fresh in your head, write down as many as you can remember, and reinforce the topics that need reinforcement. 

 

Study the topics you didn’t get the chance to even read, and being honest if you failed that exam this reinforcement could be helpful if you need to repeat it, or to get a higher grade on the finals and step up from this little slip.

 

Break the vicious cycle

Cramming is exhausting, stressful, and painful, nobody wants to deal with this situation on every exam of the career. Besides, is like playing Russian roulette with your grades, you might pass 1 or 2 exams, but you won’t always be lucky, someday the lessons you didn’t get to study could be most of the exam’s questions and you’d fail.

 

Commit yourself to study on time for the next exam, you deserve better than average grades. If you’re a serial procrastinator try starting even before the semester begins. What do I mean by this? If there are no exams to study? I mean start building the habit of studying every day, even if it’s only 30 minutes, pick a topic of a subject you love and read about it, make notes, every day.

 

If you’re not familiar with creating long term habits you could find the book Atomic Habits really helpful, here I go over 15 great advice from it to help you build any habit you’d like to conquer.

How to revise more effectively + FREE Spaced Repetition Study Schedule









This is it, you decided to study ahead of time for that big exam, no more cramming in the last 3 days to get an average or below average grade. Besides, a week later it’s like you did a wipe on your disc and all the information is gone.

Not this time, you will knock it out of the park, you’ll remember everything because you’ll study with enough time to revise and polish your weak points. So, how do you start? How much is enough time to study for a test? How often do you have to revise your notes? How can you be able to memorize everything?

Around 140 years ago Hermann Ebbinghaus, a German psychologist was dealing with these same issues, well, maybe not the same, but he was wondering, how much we forget in a lapse of time; he experimented on himself, and the results opened a door to many more investigations around memory and human learning.

What is the forgetting curve

He attempted to discover the rate of forgetting meaningless material and also significant (meaningful) material during the first thirty days after it had been learned.  Determining the amount of information that had been forgotten during the following intervals: 19 minutes, 65 minutes, 8 hours, 1 day, 2 days, 6 days, 30 days.

This can be graphically represented in a curve as the percentage of information lost over time when there’s no reviewing process involved.

Have you ever wondered how long does it take to forget something we just learned? Ebbinghaus had the same question and answered it.

 

What describes the typical forgetting curve

We start forgetting newly learned information around 20 minutes after reading it, and more than half of the material is forgotten during the first hour. After that, the curve tends to lower at a slower rate.

What?! There´s no way! How can I stop this?

It is pretty doable, by getting ahead and revising the materials before we completely forget them.

So, if you are the kind of student that stocks on huge piles of information and goes class after class, taking the first one for granted, let me show you a more effective way to study without having to spend much more time.

 

Why is the forgetting curve important

If we take advantage of how our brains work, we can use this forgetting curve in our favor.

Turns out, that forgetting is part of learning, if we don’t forget, and feel the need to get that piece of information back, our brains don’t take it as relevant.

If we get our efforts back on the subject we learned yesterday, the path to get it in front of our heads will easier.

Think of it as a path that hasn’t been transited enough and it’s on the other edge of the grass, the more often you go through it, the easier it will be to get there. That’s kind of how our memory works.

 

How to overcome forgetting

It is not about forgetting, it is about remembering before we forget the whole thing, and by doing so build stronger learning.

There is a method called spaced repetition, taking as a base the forgetting curve to work for us. Keeping in mind the amount of time in which the data in our brains gets lost, we can actively revise our knowledge, if we need to use it, we will remember it.

The spacing means that on crescent time intervals we will have to study again, 1 day after, 3 days after, 6 days after, and then 25 days after the first time we studied the material.

 

How to remember newly learned information

Make sure you understand the piece of info laying in front of you, a mechanical memorizing of terms won’t do the work. Try and recognize where it comes from and how do the parts of it stick together.

Take concise notes of your material, and make questions to work with in future revision sessions. This is a habit that some students don’t have, prepare for the exam since the first study session.

Make possible exam questions, this gets your brain to work by reconstructing the information into questions.

 

When to review and how to do it

The day after your first study session on that subject, before you jump to the next one, do a quick review of what you’ve learned yesterday, take a quick read to your notes.

After reading your notes, answer the questions made by yourself on that first study session and get a couple more questions to work with, this is active learning.

Think about a problem you could solve with this knowledge you have, recite step by step how would you solve the problem with what you’ve learned.

For example, while learning about the knee ligaments, our professor mentioned the clinical application to it and how the soccer players were prone to have lesions in this specific area.

So, in my head, I would have to examine a patient and with the anatomy knowledge I have, decide whether a certain movement on the knee is natural (based on the disposition of the ligaments) or if it’s a sign of lesion.

This is how spaced repetition works, you should practice this active review 1 day, 3 days, 6 days, and 25 days after your initial study session.

 

How to study with flashcards and implement spaced repetition

The first time I ever heard of the Ebbinghaus curve and spaced repetition was on a Youtube video by my favorite study guru Thomas Frank, he explains in a very simple way how to get the best out of flashcards with a system that works.

Putting on different boxes the cards you have successfully remembered, and the ones you failed to remember. Therefore focusing your efforts on the cards you didn’t get right. You’ll need around 5 boxes to have different intervals of time to revise each group of flashcards.

Best apps for spaced repetition system

If you like to study with flashcards, there are plenty of apps really helpful to create your flashcards and have them with you to review anywhere and anytime.

– Anki: the best feature of this app, is that it comes integrated with your forgetting curve system, it shows you the material you need to review based on the last time you revised each flashcard successfully, you just have to create your flashcards, review them and let the app do its magic.

– Memrise: it has a more attractive design than Anki and you can customize better your flashcards, plus there is a wide variety of Memrise cards that other users have created and are available for you to use.

– Quizlet: the process of creating flashcards with this app is the easiest, you got definitions included for a wide variety of subjects, and by simply typing a term you can choose content that is already on the app for the back of the card.

 

How to apply spaced repetition in college

It all comes down to time management, make a list of all the topics you need to study, then calculate how much time will it take you to study each one, if you have 20 topics to cover for an exam and it will take you 3 hours each one you’ll need 60 hours to study everything for the first time.

If you add 2 hours of revision (half an hour for every day you need to review) that sums up to 100 hours of total study for this exam,

3 hours of a first study session  

 

 

X 20 topics = 100 hours

30 minutes the day after
30 minutes 3 days after
30 minutes 6 days after
30 minutes 25 days after
Total study time per topic = 5 hours

 

You can use your study time however works best for you, take notes of the date you studied each topic the first time, and from there calculate when will you have to review it next time.

I’ll make it easier for you, you can download my free study schedule based on spaced repetition, this is by far the most effective way to remember everything to study.


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Just set the date you should study each topic counting the days from the first lecture, and write it down on the grid, check off when you’ve successfully reviewed on time and keep track of your study sessions.

If you like this kind of resources let me know and I’ll come up with more ideas. Enjoy your learning!

8 Tips to Successfully Study with your Kids Around









 

As challenging as getting a degree can be, nothing is more demanding than a baby, when these 2 come together it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and think about leaving your career to focus on raising your kids.

But if you organize your time wisely and train your kids so they understand your study sessions your academic goals are reachable. It is possible to study and raise your kids, many women have done it, you wouldn’t be the first nor the last to do it.

Here I’ll show you simple tips you can implement in your daily routine to be able to study with your kids at home.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I’ll earn a small commission if you buy an item from one of my links, at no cost to you.

 

1. Have your kids’ needs fulfilled first.

Let’s face it, if your toddler is bored he’ll come right away to your legs when you grab the books and pens, those boring stuff can’t get all of mommy’s attention!

So, make sure your babies are fed, clean, not tired, and have their favorite toys around to keep them entertained while you are up to your study sessions.

Also, you’ll have to study in small bricks of time, and give attention to your kids in the breaks. Talk to them and let them know that you’ll have to go back to study and will play with them again in a little while.

This could be a really good thing for both of you, they’ll later understand that you were studying, and it’s a beautiful example to give them.

 

2. Take advantage of Naptime

Ah, the sweet sound of toddlers’ dreams. You’ll have to use these moments of calm to get your best study performance, don’t dwell on planning what to study at this moment, don’t procrastinate “I’ll just check Instagram for 5 minutes” you know they won’t be 5 minutes.

Naptime is your moment to study without interruptions, if you can skip breaks or make them super short it’ll be better, maximize your productive time.

I used to take naptime to clean and thought I’d be able to study after cleaning, but guess what… You’ll always find something else to do!

And when you finally get to sit on the desk naptime is over, and they have energy for hours on!

 

3. Set a schedule and stick to it

As a student and as a mom having a steady routine is essential to achieve your academic goals and have your home in balance.

If you have a big test coming next month don’t wait until the last week to cram up on information! Study a little bit every day, get little study goals to come along the way, as a mom you can’t afford those cramming sessions of 12 hours straight of study!

Plan ahead all the topics you’ll need to cover and tackle each one at small study sessions through the day, it could be 90 minutes before the kids are awake, 60 minutes during naptime, and 90 minutes after they go to bed.

If you are consistent you’ll reach your desired results, play along with the time until you find the most convenient to your family dynamic.

 

4. Make it a habit

Kids love routines, this gives them a sense of safety, make sure they know exactly what to expect from you when you are in a study session. If you always study at the same hour in the same place, having your kids at a safe sight they’ll eventually get used to this habit of yours.

They’ll know that if needed you’ll be there for them and that you are giving your attention to something else for a few hours but between breaks mommy can play along.

5. Set up your almost perfect study environment

Have your desk with everything you need at reach, you have a really small department and don’t actually have a study space? Check out these ideas that could be helpful.

Can’t focus on your study with them running around, laughing, and yelling? You have 2 options, cancel the noise while staying in the room with them at sight, or go to another room and use a baby monitor.

  • Headphones: This is a great alternative if you can study with music, you can control the volume so it is loud enough to blur the noise but soft enough to hear a ‘something’s wrong yell’. My favorites have always been Skullcandy, these are wireless, have a battery life of 24 hours, also are noise canceling, and right now they’re 50% off!

  • Earplugs: you can use these to completely cancel the noise, but you’ll have to make sure to check up on the children with a quick look every once in a while, preferably have someone else at home, to be aware of the kids while playing. Mack’s Dreamgirl are specially designed for women, they’re super soft and at a very low price for the high quality you’ll get.

(image source: amazon.com)

  • Baby Monitor: this is the best option for your kids’ safety when you’re not around, you can have the babies and toddlers at sight from anywhere in your house while focusing on studying. This one is very high quality, what I like the most about it is the 2-way talkback option, you can talk to them if they need something while you’re busy; it’s also very helpful if you’re training your baby to sleep in his room.

6. Have people around to help

You can ask dad to have a day out in the park with the kids once a week, this will give you at least 3 extra hours to focus on studying, if going to the park is not an option, ask him to just play with the kids around the house for a couple of hours so you can study.

If daddy is not available can someone else babysit your kids for 2 hours? A family member? A friend? Or hire a nanny. Make sure you trust this person enough to take the time and unplug from house chores for a bit and just focus on studying.

 

7. Put in some extra work

You knew from day one this wasn’t going to be easy! But I know you have what it takes to achieve it, the simple fact that you’re looking for ways to be able to study with your kids at home is a hint that you have the motivation to do it.

You have to put in the effort, be disciplined; if you used to wake up at 7, now wake up at 5 and have 2 extra hours to study, change the Netflix binge for a study binge when the kids are asleep.

Think about the big picture, you want your degree and this is worth it, you’ll be tired and it will be hard just for 4 years at most, does it look like a lot? Break it down to seasons, 3 months of hard work, and then it is winter break you’ll get some rest.

 

8. Don’t be so hard on yourself

You didn’t get the grade you wanted? It’s fine, the fact that you made it to the exam being a mom/wife plus having a part-time job is a huge victory!

Focus on learning, not on the grades, take this opportunity to prove yourself that you can achieve goals that to others may seem impossible.

People will unintentionally discourage you, I’ve been told I was insane to even try to study, raise my kids and have a part-time job at the same time, that I’d get sick, that I should better wait until the twins were at school to continue my career.

Don’t listen to negative people, only you know your limits and your strengths. Only you know how disciplined you can be.

Be your own cheerleader! Cover your walls with motivational quotes, surround yourself with positive people, listen to inspiring podcasts, whatever ignites your energy to study, stand up when you fall, and keep going.