As a senior in high school, I found out I was going to be a mom. Yes, I was hauling around my tiny human filled belly at prom (and working it might I add)! From the moment my daughter came into my life, I was forced to completely rearrange and adjust my life to ensure that my princess had everything she needed to be a shining star.
Today, my daughter Carmen is 3 years old and attending PreK3 at one of the best preschools in the District of Columbia. She is an excellent student (takes after her mom *wink*). However, with both of us starting school at the same time, each having our own homework to do and our own demanding schedules (yes folks, 3 year olds have demanding schedules lol), I am often posed with the question, how do you do it?
Today, I’m going to share with you my hidden gems on being a mom first and a student strongly second and how not to completely lose it when trying to juggle both!
Tip 1: Plan, Plan, Plan
I’ve found the best way to juggle being a mom and student is to have a schedule! I go around raving to EVERYONE about the joy that is Google Calendar. At the start of my week, I sit down in front of my laptop and add events to each day of my week. My schedule will be full with events surrounding both Carmen’s and my schedule. For myself, I make sure I enter my class schedule, designated homework time, and recreational time (which is very scarce). Since college is for strugglers, I often have to remind myself to shower. As for Carmen, I make sure her time at school, homework time, snack time, time away with dad or other family members are documented each week. I personally account for every minute of the day that I can; however, I know most people have more availability than myself, so a minute by minute schedule might be tedious. The great thing about Google Calendar is you can download the app to your phone and receive alerts whenever it’s time to transition into a new event on your schedule. It really keeps me on track and on top of both myself and Carmen – now more than ever!
Here’s a link to help you get started with Google Calendar: https://support.google.com/calendar/answer/2465776?co=GENIE.Platform%3DDesktop&hl=en
Tip 2: Daily Routines and Visual Aids
When Carmen started school, and I began the fall semester at the same time. It was a very hard adjustment period for her. There were many tantrums and tears… from me.. not her. What I found that helped Carmen the most was having her on a specific routine. I know you’re probably thinking, how can you put a little tater tot on an actual routine? My creative side led me to start making visual aids!
My main struggle with Carmen was getting her to want to go to bed on time so that I could get school work done. I created a “Bed Time Checklist” for Carmen to visually see what her tasks were as she got ready for bed. I took it a step further and got the paper laminated so that Carmen could physically check off her tasks as she got them done with a dry erase marker. She loved being so involved in her nighttime routine and before I knew it, she had her schedule down pat without needing the checklist to guide her. Checking off her tasks are still her favorite part of the night!
Here’s a download of my visual aid to hopefully inspire yours: Bedtime Checklist
Tip 3: Have Quality Time
The semester seems to drag on and on for most people. After a while you wake up on Monday, and suddenly it’s Friday before you could even blink. With the days going by so quickly, I often feel like I’m missing time with my kid. Instead of actually spending the quality time with her that I love, I find myself taking her to school, going about my day, picking her up from school, doing homework, having dinner and getting her to bed so I can do my own work. I feel like a robot and not a loving, nurturing mother. This is why I find it super important to designate one day a week to give your child the quality time they deserve. For Carmen and I, this may be Friday night movie nights with lots of junk food, glorified DIY (do it yourself) spa time filled with toe painting and organic facial masks, making or baking yummy treats and licking the batter together! I enjoy this time with my daughter, and I feel amazing when I know she’s getting all the parts of her mom she deserves, even though my schedule is tiring.
Tip 4: SUPPORT
My very first semester at Montgomery College I was trying to do it ALL on my own. I realized that in order to be successful, it’s okay to lean on others for help. Though I am Carmen’s primary source of…well everything lol, I am grateful that I can depend on her father, our family, friends, mentors and my MOM SQUAD whenever I feel I can’t handle it all on my own. As a parent, we are advocates for our children. As advocates it means we have to make the easy choices, the wise choices and even some tough choices. Parenting comes with a lot of sacrifice, but with the right support system it won’t seem like it. Lean on whomever you can.
To all the moms and dads out there juggling parenting and school, be encouraged! I hope these tips help and you can use them in your lives to be both the best parent and student you can be!