Growing up, I dreamed of becoming a mother. It’s mostly all I wanted to do. And when I actually became one, it was truly one of the best things in my life. My husband was very supportive of my dreams, so I was able to become a stay-at-home mom when my oldest was 4 months old. He is 16 now, and aside from a few part time jobs, I have made it my life’s purpose to stay at home and take care of my boys. But I do realize that at some point, kids grow up and move away. That means in a few short years, a new chapter of my life will begin. I wanted to be at least somewhat prepared for that, so a few years ago, I decided to start working toward my degree. And let me tell you, it was a very big change in the life of our family!
We are a homeschooling family, and at the time that I enrolled, I also worked part time at our local grocery store. It didn’t take long to realize that something had to go, so I quit my part time job and focused only on our studies. Of course, there was still the normal day to day stuff that had to be done as well, so I was a busy mama!
Two years ago, I finally earned my degree in Business Administration. I was so proud of my accomplishment, but mostly it made me happy to see my boys proud of what I had done! They had seen the hard work that went into earning a college degree, and having them see the reward was a great experience. Along the way, we learned some things; things that we wouldn’t have learned without my college experience. So today, I want to share those with you.
1. You have to let some things go! When I was in school, “Let it Go” became my motto. I learned during those days that my husband and kids are just as capable as me, so if I truly didn’t have time for something, I let it go. I will never forget the day, at the end of a hectic semester, when I sat down to catch up on matching socks. I had three baskets full!! It took me a WHILE to match up all of those socks! The point here though, is that letting socks pile up is not the end of the world. When you have to choose between cooking dinner and matching socks, dinner wins every time.
2. School is hard! Okay, yeah I already knew that. But it had been a long time, and I had forgotten just how hard it really is. This realization has been good for my kids too. We homeschool, so it’s my job to prepare my kids for college. Whether or not they choose to go is a different matter, but either way, I want them to be prepared for it. When I tell them they need to be prepared because college is hard, they know exactly what I mean. They have seen it first hand!
3. Balancing school and family can be tricky, but it can be done! Taking classes online instead of on campus was a tremendous help in this area. Yes, I had deadlines, but I didn’t have to attend any class at any particular time. I could work at 8am, 3pm, or even 2am. This helped with scheduling things for my family, and making sure I could be available for them when they needed me. The most difficult thing for me to manage is time, so I had my work cut out for me. I had to learn which activities were wasting time, and which ones were necessary, and plan accordingly. One thing I made sure to do was make time to spend with my boys. Touching base with each of them is super important to me. So I would take time to hear them tell their silly stories or just to sit in their rooms at night for a little while and build a Lego house. You would be surprised what your kids will tell you when you’re just hanging out. Keeping an open line of communication means making sure they know you are there for them, and that you hear them.
4. Sleep when you can! When I was in school, sleep was scarce. I was up each night until 2 or 3am, then back up again by 7, so I learned to take advantage of opportunities to sleep. I would sneak in a 15 minute cat nap each afternoon, as this was a life saver! I don’t know how sleeping for 15 minutes can rejuvenate a person, but after a short nap, I felt new again. Sunday afternoons were the best times for me. My husband was always home on Sundays, so he could take care of house and home while I slept for a few hours. Actually, I’m not sure what I would have done without him!
5. Families work together! I am so thankful for my guys! My husband worked so hard to help me while I was in school. He would go to work each day, then come home to cook dinner and handle the kids for the night while I studied. Some nights I didn’t have as much work to do, so I was able to help him. The kids helped pick up some slack too, helping with house chores like cleaning bathrooms and taking care of the dogs. It is true that so many things went undone during that time, but we would always manage to find a day each week for catching up. In between semesters, I would use my spare time to do things that I had let go. One time, during spring break, I spent part of the week cleaning and reorganizing the attic! I would use these times to groom the dogs and clean carpet stains, or deep clean the bathrooms and kitchen.
I don’t regret my choice to go back to school and complete my education, but those years went by like a whirlwind! I truly enjoyed my classes and my professors, and even made a few new friends! Our family learned a lot along the way, mostly about time management and helping each other. And at the end, when I walked across the stage to get my degree, it was truly worth all the effort.