Mother’s Day: Flowers, sweets, and perfectly wonky homemade cards celebrating all the wonderful things about motherhood. But being a mother is just one of my roles – I’m also an employee, a wife, friend, and MBA candidate.
When I tell people that in addition to working and mothering two young children (ages 7 and 4), I am pursuing an MBA, I almost always hear this response, “I don’t know HOW you do it.” I never exactly know what to say back. That I have a good support system? That I’ve got a clear goal (completion!) in mind? That I have multiple super powers, including speed reading and bending the space-time continuum to my will?* Here’s the thing: I’m not the only parent in this program—by a long shot. I’m also not the only mother (or father) who regularly hears, “I don’t know how you do it.”
With this in mind, I reached out to other parents in my current class (MBA 6250, Accounting for Managers) to learn more about what’s working for other people. Collectively, we’ve got some good advice! This is how we balance school with the rest of our lives:
- Have clear priorities. We’re clear with our reasons for pursuing an MBA. We know that outside of work, family, and kids, we’re not going to have a lot of free time. I’ve seen a noticeable dip in my time available to see my friends, which is the pits. Thankfully, I know this is temporary.**
- Line up support. We have spouses, partners, or other family members and friends lined up to help. These VIPs have picked up chores, spent extra time with the kids, and more. For those without family support nearby, hiring some extra babysitting for class nights and studying can be an option. St. Kate’s also has several resources available for student-parents through the Access and Success
- Be a time ninja. We find pockets of time when we can work on school work, like naptime, after the kids go to bed, over lunch at work, etc. I’ve been known to sneak some reading in while my kids are in the bathtub. (I can still hear them if something goes awry.) I also negotiated an 80% schedule with my employer, which gives me incredibly valuable time to focus on homework while my kids are at school.
- Make time for fun and self-care. We make a point of planning fun time and activities with our kids, even when it’s busy. By giving kids some of our attention and energy we can earn some grace later… usually. Personally, healthy food and working in trips to the park, walking, and jogging help my focus.
- Keep your eyes on the prize. We know this is a temporary “season” in our lives. We also know we’re setting a good example for our children and demonstrating the value of education, hard work, and going after what we want. My mom returned to college to finish her degree when I was a kid, and graduated from college a semester after I graduated from high school. Watching her work hard and achieve her goals had a huge impact on me, and I hope my kids learn the same lessons I did.
So, this is how we do it. It’s not easy, but it’s also not impossible. There are downsides to having to juggle classes and academic work on top of a career and a family, but there are also upsides — don’t let being a parent hold you back from pursuing an advanced degree. If we can do this (and we can!), you can too.
* I wish. I would also wish for being able be healthy with five hours of sleep a night (that would give me so much time!) and a magical house fairy to cook and make my children sleep by 8 p.m.
** Hey friends! Thank you for your patience!
Written by Lindsey Dickinson
Lindsey is pursuing her MBA (x-19) with a concentration in Integrated Marketing Communications, and works in communications in the medical technology industry. In addition to her family, Lindsey loves hiking in sunshine, stiff margaritas on the rocks, and reading.