Being a working mom is hard. Throw in being a college student and you’ve got one hell of a challenge. Keeping the kids and partner happy, the house in order and the chaos under control is all part of the wonderful world of working motherhood.
I’ve been a working mom for the last 18+ years (if I also count the 9 months I was pregnant). It has been an adventure full of highs and lows with lots of growth in between. The biggest challenge for busy working moms is figuring out how to get things done while also accomplishing goals such as getting “me” time, working out, getting ahead in your career or, as in my case, getting a college degree.
The Hack: Maximizing your alone time
My oldest was 4 when I went back to school for my master’s degree. I spent 3 years in grad school while working full-time and being a full-time mom and partner. And I earned a 3.79 GPA by maximizing my alone time.
With my family taking up all of my focus and concentration at home, I quickly realized there was NO way that I’d be able to do any of my assignments. Getting home at 10pm after class to get everything ready for the next work/school day for all of us kept me very busy. In addition to cleaning, prepping meals and family time. I tried squeezing every bit of my time to stay on top of everything.
In my last year of undergrad, I learned to quickly review my schedule (168 hours/week) and get rid of time wasters so I could focus on studying. Stealing my time back. This method came with me to grad school and was the easiest way for me to get everything done for school without sacrificing any more time with my family.
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“Steal Your Time Back: 6 Secrets for Busy Working Moms”
Maximizing my alone time helped me get all of my schoolwork done without sacrificing more time with my family.
The Commute: I took the train everyday for at least two hours a day for work and school. Tuning out the noise to read and write became my expertise. Reading on the train was easy for me because I love to read. Yes, even reading for school. I even bought a portable word processor (this was 2005 y’all) to write on the train. It was even better than a laptop because it was only for writing and didn’t have a screen big enough to enjoy surfing the web (the screen was 2 inches high and 8 inches wide).
- Productivity Tip: Use earplugs to tune out the noise on the train. I didn’t like them, but I noticed other commuters using them. And every little bit helps.
- Relationship Tip: I also used the hour-long gap of time I had after work and before class. I’d meet my partner at his job to spend time with him (since he worked near my school) before heading to class. And then he’d pick up our son from pre-school. Because it’s not just you trying to achieve a goal, your family plays a role in that too.
- Support Tip: Ask your family for help. Yes, I know that’s tough to do, but, if it means getting a happier mom and partner, it’ll be worth it.
The Lunchbreak: I loved using my lunchtime for homework. My word processor and I were BFF’s while I outlined and wrote my papers as I ate. To focus on my schoolwork, I cut back on hanging out with my lunch buddies. And since they all supported me in my goal to graduate, they understood that.
- Productivity Tip: Prep your lunches the night before or on weekends. That way you only have to worry about heating and eating.
- Relationship Tip: Every morning, I spent quality time with him getting him ready and taking him to school. I made sure to call my partner during lunches to stay connected. And on the weekends, it was all about family time.
- Support Tip: Get some cheerleaders. If you’re still reading this and thinking, “Heiddi, this is all fine and good, but I can’t do this.” You know what? There were many times I didn’t think I could do it either. But having the support and encouragement from friends and family REALLY helped me stay on track. I had professors, classmates, family and co-workers cheering me on. So every time I wanted to throw in the towel, they all made sure to help me hold on to it. They reminded me of the people I could help once I got my degree.
It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you’re motivated and get the support you need to get things done. Whether it’s getting your college degree or making more time for self-care. You CAN do it. So go out and MAKE IT HAPPEN!
And if you want someone to cheer you on as you make time for you, book a call so we can chat!
Posted in: Time Management