Life is often a juggling act. But, how many balls can you juggle before one falls to the ground? I started an intensive 2-year MBA program when I was 32 weeks pregnant with my first child and working a full-time job. My life quickly became very busy, and I had to learn to master the balancing act in order to succeed.
In this article, I will share with you how I learned to excel at work while being a mother and furthering my education. These tips helped me finish my MBA program top of my class, get promoted at work, and become a mother, not just once but twice, in two years.
Top Tips To Excel at Work, School, and Motherhood
Share your aspirations with your workplace
People are often afraid of being open with their superiors and coworkers. As a woman, we may fear having to leave work a bit earlier than others to pick up our kids or not being available to work at all hours.
The best thing to do is to be honest and open with your manager about your life situation. For example, ducking out early to pick up a child from daycare might look bad if no one knows why you left early. However, if you make your schedule known to your coworkers and managers, the mystery of why you left early dissipates, and others can respect that you are a good parent.
Many companies support an employee’s decision to go back to school and will often help pay a portion of the tuition. Reach out to your HR and understand your company’s policy. Let your manager know your decision to return to school and keep your manager informed of your progress.
Ask for the help you need. If you will have to leave work early two nights a week, find a compromise with your manager. You can suggest coming in early those two days, working longer on days you don’t have classes, or being available later in the evenings or on the weekend.
You may be surprised how supportive your manager is of your dedication to furthering your education. Find ways to apply what you are learning in the workplace; this can help elevate your reputation at work.
Discuss and divide household priorities with your partner
Motherhood is tough. Even without a full-time outside job, managing a household can feel overwhelming. Divide and conquer is the key to juggling and excelling at different roles.
At the start of each week, have a discussion with your partner on what needs to get done. Include everything from laundry, dishes, doctor’s appointments, kids activities, school work, meal planning, and cooking. Then, realistically split up the tasks based on availability.
It is not a woman’s job to do all the housework! Remember this! Your partner may have to pick up the lion’s share of household chores while you focus on your other priorities. But let your partner understand that this balance will not last indefinitely. Once you have more time available, you can renegotiate the household chores.
Yes, you, mom, might need more time to complete your school assignments while your partner has some free time to help. Be open with your partner on why you need the extra time and, show gratitude for the combined effort you both play in managing the household.
There will be a time in the future when you have more time, and your partner is occupied. During that time, you might pull more of the household weight. Be fair to each other and work as a team identifying those situations as they occur.
Outsource any help you can get
Going to school and having a full-time job is a lot. Add on motherhood to that, and there are not enough hours in a day. Outsourcing can help you gain back some time.
Cleaning services, grocery delivery, and landscaping are common services you can outsource. It is often difficult to pay for a service you can easily do yourself, but this won’t last forever. While life is busy and your time is limited, you want to focus your energy on the most important things; your child/children, career, and education.
Once your life calms down, you can always end these services. Paying the extra amount during the thick of life is okay. It is an investment for your future you are working hard to build.
Time box school assignments
Going back to school in your adult life is a huge commitment, one that affects you not only timewise but also financially. The decision to return to school should not be taken lightly. You and your partner must be aware of the time and energy it will require and agree it will be worth it. Once the decision is made, you must remain determined to make it all worthwhile.
Obtaining an additional degree will require lots of homework, study time, and often group work. You, however, don’t have endless time. In fact, time will become your most limited resource. One solution will be to timebox assignments.
If you have a paper due, schedule when you will have time to work on it. During your scheduled time, stay focused on your assignment and remove any distractions, such as social media or television. Start understanding how long assignments should take and find the appropriate time in which to complete them.
Once in a while, you might not have the desired amount of time to complete an assignment. You could discuss an extension with your professor, take a vacation day if available from work, or adjust expectations of the end product.
Excelling in multiple areas of life is knowing not every task can be perfect!
Schedule 1:1 time with your child
Being a mom is the most rewarding experience. You don’t want to feel like you are missing your kid’s childhood. The best way to ensure you are present for your child is to schedule 1 on 1 time.
During your scheduled time with your child or children, leave work and school behind. Focus on spending quality time and engage with them. This is your time with your family and the best thing you can do is to be present.
These moments might be less often than before you started a school program, so make them count. No one will benefit, not you or your child, if you are worried the entire time about the paper you need to write.
You might not be able to schedule hours of time, but make each moment count. If you mentally schedule even 10 minutes every night to read with your child, that is quality time they will cherish. Prioritize those times!
Prioritize your mental health
Burnout is a real thing! Checking in with yourself along the way is crucial. Everyone has their way of dealing with stress, but finding a healthy outlet is the goal.
For me, I find peace in nature and while exercising. On top of scheduling my school work and family time I ensure I also have a couple of “me moments.” Sometimes the best time to unwind is to take my baby on a hike and other times it is going for a run.
Find ways that allow you to unwind and take your mind off of your growing to-do lists. Schedule a couple a week. If life is starting to get too hectic, take a moment to address it and come up with a solution.
Use your free time wisely, even at work
Time is your most scarce resource. Achieving work, school, and family while trying to excel is not easy. You won’t have hours a day to read leisurely or scroll through social media.
Any available time needs to be used to accomplish your goals. For example, if you get a 45 minute lunch break at work and are often behind on your school work, use some lunch time for school work.
Take advantage of any school breaks you get between semesters. When the pressure lessens, plan a trip to spend more time with your family or take more “you time” to decompress before the next semester begins. Don’t have enough time to go away? I even did backyard camping for some family fun.
Raise your hand for help when needed
There will be times when the weight of all your goals feels too heavy. You momentarily lack the motivation and fear you can’t get everything done. This is the time to speak up, don’t let that feeling linger.
The sooner you ask for help, the sooner help will arrive.
From whom should you be asking for help? Your family, friends, maybe even hiring a babysitter to get more school work done on the weekends. Ask for more help around the house.
If you’re in group projects, let your schoolmates know if the workload has to shift because of a child’s birthday or a special event. Just make sure to help out when you have more time than the others.
Juggling school is temporary. Once you graduate, you will have more time again. You have to push through this temporary crunch time.
You can excel at work and go back to school, all while being a mother. Women are amazing, and our ability to juggle multiple priorities at once is impressive, but also know you don’t have to do it all alone, and one of your biggest strengths is in asking for help!
I am, Kristina, a momma of three, two boys and a baby girl. My goal is to inspire others to stay active during the different phases of mom life, as well as grow the love of the outdoors to the new generation. I have my MBA in strategic management and creator of AllAboutMomma.com
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