It can be quite busy and tiring when you’re a student and a mom. The juggling of assignments, children and fatigue (just to name a few) is hard. Our life becomes so consumed in making dead-lines, running errands and cooking dinner that there is no room for self-motivation and rest. It’s HARD! I know. So, how do we stay motivated at Uni and still be a mom?
Firstly, let me tell you a story… a true story… my experience of being a student.
I attended University for four years and graduated with a Bachelor of Law (LLB). I started my journey as a curious but sure teenager and finished as a wife and an expectant mother. All within 4 years… Yea, life can change with the flick of a light switch. Luckily, I fell pregnant in my final year of completing my degree. Submitting my last assignment was a dream come true but it wasn’t the most joyful experience. To be more exact, my heart was jumping for joy and my body was spewing it all out, literally.
After my 4 years, I went on a hiatus (to be a stay at home mom) for a year and a half before I undertook a Professional Legal Studies course (a requirement if you’re pursuing a career in law). I was then pregnant with my second daughter and my oldest girl was 18 months old. Surprisingly, my second pregnancy was more enjoyable and filled with energy. I was a little nervous to attend the course because I didn’t want to get up in a moot (mocking trial) and stand before a trial judge with my mountainous pregnant stomach. But guess what? I had another mommy friend turn up to the course pregnant too 🙂 We had to face off on trial, which would’ve been an unusual view for the judge. Go Mommas!
So let me ask the question again, how do we stay motivated at Uni and still be a mom? Well…
1. Purpose: The idea of quitting crossed my mind quadruple times. But it wasn’t an option because I had a PURPOSE. My goal was to study Law and one day become a Lawyer. But my purpose was to increase knowledge, seize opportunity and find my potential. I realized that setting goals and planning were empty without a purpose. Staying in line with a purpose allowed me to tune in to a deeper desire to achieve my goal in gaining a higher education. Find your purpose of wanting to attend University, remember it and work towards it.
2. Study something you enjoy: This is crucial! “study something you enjoy”. What are some topics and subjects you enjoyed as a child or teen? or ambitions and dreams you’ve accumulated as an adult? Research occupations that house such subjects and ambitions and find an education system that allows you to study a relatable qualification. This will surely keep you motivated.
3. Be patient: Some of the classes/lectures are tedious and sometimes appear irrelevant. Relax and don’t freak out, you’re not losing interest. Sometimes you just got to be patient and ride it out. Or be like me and blame the monotone lecturer (lol don’t be like me). I had to endure two years of it as a law student, it was painful. There were also times where I felt tired and exhausted, especially being pregnant. I would have little series of melt downs to my husband and sometimes by myself (uncontrolled emotions)… but an hour later or so I would be fine. It’s good to cry out your frustrations. Be patient, the end result is far more glorious.
4. Balance: Family, study, spirituality, exercise, employment, friends, hobbies… It’s okay to juggle. but only juggle the amount of balls you can catch. If you’re gonna drop a ball, don’t keep juggling till your arms give way because you might drop something valuable or important. Make a conscious decision to drop one. Like your house chores or your exercises… let it go for the day so you can comfortably tend to your studies and children. You know what I mean?
5. Prioritize: Know what’s important and what’s not. Make a list of all the things that matter to you and then give it a number from 1 to 10 to determine its value in your life. #1 being unimportant and #10 being important.
6. Discipline: I quickly learnt that discipline was a big factor in determining my success as a student. This included having excellent time-management skills. If you want to stay on top of things… manage your time properly. Buy a diary and plan your day allocating a specific time of the day for your studies. Stick to it. Always try and complete assignments early. Being a procrastinator as a mom is utter chaos. Trust me, I’m speaking from past experience. Many of my assignments were last minute as a single student and it worked well for me. Not any more.
7. Pre-study rituals: This is when you have to study on your own. Meditate, nap or exercise. Do something that sends a clear message to your brain and body that you’re getting ready to concentrate and study. For myself, whether I’m working on an assignment or catching up on my readings, I always say a prayer and read a verse or so from my scriptures. I did this from day 1 of becoming a University student. It reminded me of what was important, my purpose, my goals and who I was as an individual. Do you see how effective pre-study rituals are? It helped me tap back into remembering my purpose which gave me a good push to focus and stay in line with my future plans.
8. Reward yourself: This is my favorite part! Grab a supply of goodies and treat yourself or plan a family outing. Whatever it is you enjoy, plan it for a weekend or evening when you’ve completed an assignment and reward yourself once you’ve hit that submit button. I used to get my husband to buy munchies and set up a movie for me, ready for when I’m done. It was a very happy time for me! This worked as an incentive to finish my work early as well.
9. Make a decision and stick with it – It’s pretty easy, you need to make the decision now if you want to study and finish it. Make no room for other options to invade that decision. Stick with it and don’t stray from it.
10. You’re a good mother: Yes you are! I can still remember my first day going into my course and waving goodbye to my daughter. The amount of time I spent away from her made me question whether I was fulfilling my motherly duties to raise my daughter. Sometimes guilt sat across my shoulder like a heavy beam. But I knew she was okay. Every time I went back home she would come running calling “mama! mama!”. And that to me was motivation in its self that I was a good mother. Don’t feel bad about seeking progression and wanting to show your children potential. You’re the beginning of their future.
My overall experience of being a mom and student was very empowering. I felt very accomplished. Every mother has the potential to do and acquire any education they desire.
What are some things you do to keep you motivated at Uni and still be a mom?