The Busy Mom – How to Survive Grad School

When I started on my Master’s about 18 months ago I was terrified. I’ve said before how I did not even sign myself up, my assistant principal did it for me. I was not confident enough in myself that I could do this, but she had enough confidence in me for the both of us. And I made it! I start my last five weeks at the end of January where I finish all of my logs and Action Research Project, and then I walk in May. I am a completely different person from when I started on this journey. I am confident that I can do anything I set my mind to (with prayer and God’s will). Did I mention I am going to graduate with honors? Was this easy? Nope. I whined the entire time. I cried. I prayed, and I missed out on stuff. But I did it. And you can, too. Since I am now an expert (joking) here are a few tips to get any busy mom through this stressful yet exciting journey.

1. Get a house cleaner:
Not even joking. My husband and I paid for someone to clean my house once a week for the first year I was in school. Are we rich? Am I spoiled? Not even. I am a teacher, remember! But we knew for my sanity, and his, this was a must. So, I traded in pedicures and manicures for some extra help in the “homemaker” duties. After the first year I finally figured out how to manage my time, my classes, and I had chilled out a little. I also let go of some of the self inflicted pressure to make a one hundred on every single assignment. So, we let our wonderful house cleaner go (I will be forever grateful to her), and we are managing to maintain this beast by ourselves now.
2. Make a plan:
Seriously. On Sundays I looked at everything I needed to complete for the week, and then I set my own timeline. I knew if I did not stick with the timeline I set that I would be extremely overwhelmed. A lot of my classmates would go ahead to the next week’s work, but I just could not mentally do that. I had to make my plan and stick with just one week at a time.
3. Learn to say no:
It’s the hardest part of this journey. You are going to miss out on stuff you normally would not. You are also going to want to just rest when you get a chance. So, you learn to say no. This may be one of the best lessons that I learned during school because I have always been a “yes” girl. You somehow grow-up and realize that you don’t have to make everyone else happy all the time, and that if they truly are your friend they understand anyway. Prioritize. For me I never missed church because I was tired or had homework. God first. I never missed anything for my kids. Absolutely no way. I cut back on TV and even long phone calls with my baby sister. Luckily, she understands the end goal. I did not do my school work at work (huge pet peeve of mine) because that would mean that my students would suffer. If I am working on my stuff, then how am I teaching them any thing?
4. Form a great support system:
Number one is my husband. I only freaked out on him once. (Sorry!) He has his MBA, so he understands the work that is put into this. He also (thank God) is extremely independent, which takes a lot of pressure off of me. Also, he likes cereal for dinner. He does not care if there is a pile(s) of laundry that needs to be folded. He will help the kids with homework. He will give them their baths if needed. He also would take the kids out to do fun activities when I had huge deadlines, which was good and bad. Good because I could work. Bad because I wanted to be with them. The struggle. I have smart friends surrounding me that helped me answer questions all the time. I know I drove them insane. I also formed strong relationships with three other ladies in my classes from the first month. We have walked through this together from the start. We have cried, whined, prayed, and just been there for each other.
5. Be ready to flip out:
Go ahead and know that you will flip out. You will fall apart. No matter what type of facade you want to keep up of yourself it’s going to happen. You will crack. You will think that you should just quit. You’re a failure. Guess what….you’re not. You are just human. So call your sister or your best friend and scream and cry. Hit your knees and pray for God to give you strength, and then pick yourself up and move on. All the work will get finished. You will make a good grade. And before you know it you will be walking across that stage with your diploma in hand. This is life. It’s not easy, but it’s so worth it.
6. Put the books down:
You have to walk away from it all, or it will make you crazy. You have to have fun. You need to have fun. Life is good, and you don’t want to miss it. Have movie nights with your babies. Snuggle on the couch with them. Just CHILL! And smile. 🙂
7. Never stop praying:
The most important part of this whole journey is to never stop praying. I don’t know how else I would make it through anything without a strong faith in God. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. It just means that I can rest easy because God will carry the load. He keeps my mind focused on what’s most important. He never lets me down. He is my best friend. He makes me happy.

I hope that this helps someone. Someone out there that is doubting. Someone that thinks there is no way possible that they can do this. You can, and I am proof. I started off very afraid and without confidence in myself. I am finishing strong with faith and confidence that with God’s help I can do anything. I know that God is going to use me (and my new degree) for His glory, and in the end that’s all that matters.

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