Picture this, you’re a sophomore in college and a pregnant girl walks into your lecture. She sits in the front of the class and is literally the most engaged student in the class. She’s witty, she asks all the right questions and she doesn’t seem to be afraid to admit when she’s lost or needs help. That pregnant girl was me. I was taking courses, maintaining a household, building a marriage, raising my children, and obtaining my college degree all at once. People often ask “how did you do it? I am drowning and I don’t even have children or a partner?!”
At the time I already had a daughter who was 4 and I was a bonus mom to my husband’s beautiful daughter. So essentially, I had 2 daughters, a man at home, I was pregnant, and I worked a full-time job.
Sometimes I wondered how I could manage all of this. I also questioned if it was possible to add college to my plate. Fortunately, the answer was yes. After completing my college degree and looking back on what worked and what didn’t, I was able to come up with a list of things other women could easily adopt in a similar situation.
LOTS of planning
Let’s dive right into it. I planned A LOT! To start, I purchased a huge liquid chalk board and I wrote down everything for the month. Then, I planned meals for dinner ahead of time. I always knew what everyone was doing and when they were doing it. By doing this I was able to block out the time I needed to study, hit the library, or take quizzes and exams for my online courses. Don’t be afraid to write things down; that’s the easiest way to keep track of what’s going on. Picture the BET series Being Mary Jane; MJ had so many post it notes all over her place. I had the same. My husband and I lived like that for a good year and a half until I finally got my degree. It’s OK to plan ahead even if it doesn’t go as planned, because you have to at least give yourself the blueprint. So, if you venture off you know what you need to get back to.
Patience, prayer and honesty
Allow yourself time to get there. There was a semester where I just took two courses because I had given birth to a literal human. There was no way I would be able to work full time, pump milk every 4 hours, change diapers, feed my other kids, attend to my husband, have a semi social life, see my therapist and not suffer from postpartum depression ALL at the same time. No way! Give yourself the space to BE some time. I was always honest about when I didn’t feel like doing something or when I needed to cry (because those nights will come). Even if religion isn’t your thing, pray or speak positively to yourself. You have to pour into yourself during all of this because it is so easy to say F it on those nights when you have a paper due and a kid is pulling at your leg asking for “boobie milk” (HA!).
Allow people to help you. You won’t hit the finish line without a push every now and then. Ok so yes, no one can accomplish this for you however, they can take some of the load off every now and then. Balancing a work life, a home life and an educational one is the least bit of easy! So, when someone offers a hand, take it without guilt. The thing is, it is easy to lose focus with so many distractions so in the event you can give some of the responsibility to someone else even if just for a moment, take full advantage.
Lower your expectations some, have honest moments with yourself and be real about your timeline. Having a family, a work life and completing college is possible but you have to be more than willing to do the actual work!
Do you have any tips on how to get through college while raising a family?