After graduating high school I envisioned my life events played out in a specific order. Becoming a mom in college was never in my plans. My plan was to finish college, start my career and not become a mom till my late twenties.
But things do not always go according to plan.
My first child was definitely a surprise baby! After seeing those two lines on a pregnancy test my mind was a whirlwind. I cried and questioned how I would ever get through college while taking care of a child. At that time I allowed fear to take over, but today as a mom still in college, I can say everything has turned out to be okay! Motherhood has slowed down the process, but what matters is that I’m still getting through it one step at a time.
If you’re a mom who desires to attend college or complete college, I want to encourage you that it is not impossible.
A few tips and lessons I’ve learned along the way:
Work on assignments during nap time, after bed time or while your child is in school
I know this one can be hard. I’m sure you have heard, “nap when the baby naps.” After hearing that advice I have said, “No way. I have too many things to get done around the house” or “That is my me time.” I totally get the feeling of fear for finding time. Getting organized in this area is key. Pick certain days and times your child sleeps or goes to school to focus on assignments you need to complete. Writing down your assignments due dates in a planner or up on the fridge can help you determine which days and times work best. By doing this you can reserve other times to get things done around the house or relax with a good book or Netflix.
How to work on assignments if your child does not nap
You may be thinking the previous tips are great for someone with a child who naps. Maybe your child grew out of taking naps. I have days where my daughter will just not want to sleep as much as I try to get her to go down. It’s difficult when all she wants to do is climb me like a human jungle gym and ask for a new snack every 10 minutes. I’ve had to find ways to keep her preoccupied. Turning on her favorite TV show, coloring, free playing and snacks have helped distract her. Even if it only keeps her preoccupied for 15-30 minutes I am still getting something done. Find what works best for your child. Set them up with things you know they love.
Finding help from others
There have been days where I just need help because of my lack of focus. Those are the days I usually wait for my husband to get home. He will take over parenting duties, so all I need to stress over is completing assignments. I know not everyone has a significant other to switch off parenting duties with. Since my husbands has traveled with his job, I also know what it’s like to not always have someone to come home to take over. This is when I would find someone who could babysit. Doing this can give you a chance to work quietly in another room at home or go to a local coffee shop or library. Sometimes it’s refreshing to put yourself in a different environment. It’s okay to reach out to people you are close with when you need help. Chances are they will understand and want to be apart of helping you succeed.
You learn to get in the swing of things
You will get in the swing of managing college and mom life. It starts to come natural as you form new habits. You will see what works best for you.
Look into online classes
I have taken some online class when they are available. As a mom I find them to be easier because it saves me from finding extra days for a babysitter.
Don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s
When I see people younger than me graduate, I automatically feel like a failure. There have been semesters when I could only take 1 or 2 classes while other students were able to take up to 4 or 6. It’s okay if you cannot take as many classes a semester as your fellow peers. I would also see people with degrees who were doing things I wish I could be doing already. Then again felt like a failure. There are many times I have had to stop the comparing game and remind myself that each of us have a unique story. After going back to college from taking a semester off to be with my newborn I realized something. I am not alone in this. I have meet many women in college who also live the mom life. Seeing them on campus encouraged, inspired and reminded me that we all have our own thing going on. Nobody’s journey will look the same while on the way to accomplishment.
Yes, the days can be hectic
Juggling college and motherhood may be one of the hardest times in your life. But it is so worth it. College will not last forever. The semesters may seem long and never ending. But the day will come when you have that one semester left. The day will come when you walk across that stage. Remember you are showing your child what hard work looks like and that the hard work pays off.
Around the time my daughter turned 2 years old I received my Associates in Arts Degree from Valencia College. Holding that AA degree in my hand opened my eyes to the fact that nothing is impossible. If I could work my way to an AA Degree then I can get my Bachelors Degree from the University of Central Florida where I am currently attending.
Moms who want to get through college, you got this! Have grace for yourself while on this journey. You can do anything you set your mind to!