Friday, October 5, 2012

Marriage, Motherhood and College - How a Mum Juggled All Three and Made it Out On Top

A guest post from Patricia Garza..

These days, there's no denying just how busy we've all become. We've got places to go, people to see and seemingly not enough time to stay on top of all of it. My own personal world seems to be a whirlwind of meetings, soccer practice, anniversaries and everything else that comes with living a full life, which is why I half thought I was crazy and out of my mind when I started toying with the idea of going back to school to get another degree a few years back. But something in me just said to go for it.

An idea I had had in my mind for quite some time, going back for an environmental science degree kind of got put on the back burner with the birth of my children. I wanted to be able to give them my undivided attention as a mother during their most formative years and knew that I couldn't put that stress on my husband and me, so I let it lie. My husband and I discussed it at length. His main concern was that he didn't want me to feel unfulfilled and possibly even resentful by not going through with it. After much thought and many conversations (and LOTS of reassurance for him), I told him I'd wait 5 years or so and then revisit the notion. By then our youngest would be kindergarten bound and I would hopefully have this whole "motherhood" thing down—haha, little did I realize just how ongoing THAT process is, but that's a whole other story.

Anyway, the five-year mark came and sure enough, the itch was still there. So my husband and I reassessed every aspect of our lives—personal, financial, professional—to see how this would fit into the big picture. Aside from the fact that it might be a hectic of a schedule it seemed definitely doable, so I went for it. And, I can honestly say, the things listed below made it a much easier endeavour  So, if you're finding yourself in a similar situation to mine, read on, you never know what you might learn!

Searched for Scholarships

First and foremost before starting anything I searched for scholarships relevant to my situation. I remember from my days as an undergrad that they really have financial aid and support for people from all sorts of backgrounds and walks of life.

There's assistance specific to part-time students with full-time jobs, scholarships for the kid that's an avid volunteer in his community, even returning students had their own niche. And, luckily for me, I even found a couple for mothers.

So, while I wasn't qualified for all of them, I did my homework to find some that did. They might not have all given a fortune, but every little bit helps—especially when you are trying to raise a family at the same time. I will never turn down partially or completely free education.


Made a Schedule and Stuck to It

Once I took the plunge and enrolled, I knew I needed to be smart about how I spent my time. I didn't have the luxury I did years ago to procrastinate my days away and put off assignments. I had children I needed to raise, a husband I needed to see when I could and a multitude of other things that come with grown up responsibility. Sure, things would come up and I had to make changes and be flexible, but you making up my school work was always first priority to ensure I stayed on track and didn't have to resort to missing out on that all-too-important family time we never seem to get enough of.


I Relied on My Support System

As you can guess, it got sort of stressful trying to keep up with everything. To keep myself sane and focused on the task at hand I learned to rely heavily on my support system. I listened when my mother offered to watch the children so my husband and I could have a night alone. I vented to my husband about my assignments and how stupid of a decision I thought I had made, and he was always there to reassure me it would get better.

So, if you're considering going back to school, be warned that you will struggle. You will get overwhelmed. It's important that you first accept this, and then put aside your pride and realize it's OK to be weak and rely on those around you. After all, that's what loved ones are for, right? So grab a ladder and get over it, they just want to help.

These are my main suggestions for surviving an endeavour such as this. However, one final thought? Try to remember that things could always be worse. For instance, during my studies, I met students who had way more things on their plate—some were single mothers who had to work on top of everything. Being a freelancer with an employed husband, I had greater control and flexibility in my schedule which I am eternally grateful for. But, their situations were inspiring. Because, if they could do it, so could I. I had ZERO excuses compared to them.

Finally, just remember that this is something you WANT and with all things we desire we should fight for them. So push yourself and make it happen—I promise you'll survive it and you won't regret it one bit.

Patricia Garza is freelance writer and blogger for many sites, including She contributes research and expertise on online college accreditation to, and she is passionate about helping students discover the right educational program for them. She also writes about trends in education and personal finance. Please leave comments for Patricia below.