What YOU need to know before becoming a Grad Mom
Thinking about becoming a Grad Mom?
Seriously, you are amazing.
Few people even consider graduate school a possibility after children enter the picture.
Maybe I'll do it someday, or I just don't have the time.
My dreams matter, I want to inspire my children, set an example, and do this for me and for them.
That's an awesome thing.
While they could be too young now to understand, someday your children will understand just how amazing you are for doing this.
Before you take the plunge and become a Grad Mom.
Understand, taking on Grad School, while parenting full time and maybe even working...it's a lot.
That's an understatement, but seriously.
It's a lot.
So there are a few things you should know.
Your kids will always come first
Never try to convince yourself otherwise.
This is important, to you and to them.
destroying your relationships with your children is not worth it.
You will always be a mom. No job, no degree program..nothing will ever change that.
Don’t question that you are a mom first.
I’m 99.9% confident that you would not trade your children for a degree.
Promise…you don’t have to.
You know how important your education is, and I encourage you to never lose sight of that.
You aren’t going to miss your baby's first birthday party or your kids high school graduation over it. I’m pretty confident about that too.
Getting into the mindset that your REAL life doesn’t matter is not the way to succeed in grad school.
You’ll be miserable, you’ll want to quit….and realistically, you probably will.
Your life is still, your life. Your kids are still the most important thing in the world.
The good news
There is a pretty good chance that the people around you understand that.
Many of your professors are likely parents themselves, even if parenthood is not their current life.
Many of them remember the time vividly. Give them the chance to understand, and to relate to you on that level.
It’s essential that the people around you are aware that you are a mom.
You don’t have to chase them around with your precious bundles baby pictures.
You don’t even need to share family much information if you don’t feel comfortable, but they need to know that parenthood is a factor in your life.
My approach to this was to make my children a part of my self-introduction in every class.
You know when you go around the room and say your name and something about yourself.
I always mention my kids.
I don’t say,
“Oh, this is so hard because I have kids and I’m going to need you to understand and give me a break, and I need an extension on every assignment by the way”.
“ I have two kids, a four year old and a six-month-old.”
I don’t make it a scene, it isn’t the focus of my entire intro, but the professor makes a mental note.
This way if my real life impacts my education, the conversation goes a bit smoother.
My reaction from professors has been nothing but positive.
I once feared they might feel that I would be an inconvenience because of my Mom status.
That has not been remotely true.
In fact, numerous professors have been impressed by my ability and willingness to juggle parenthood and grad school.
I feel it’s earned their respect and support.
2. Except when they don’t come first….
Well, okay sometimes they aren’t first. In tiny little spurts….
Example: Paper due to be submitted online at 11: 59. It’s 11:51 your final edits are not done and your baby is crying.
I’m never a believer in cry it out….well maybe just this once.
Your child wants to go to Chuck E Cheese (yuck) but you have a final to attend.
Your child wants a glass of water but you are on a ROLL with this paragraph, 5 more minutes please….I’m begging you kid.
These things will happen.
They do not make you a bad parent.
You are a parent, the need for some flexibility is pretty much a given.
But, there will be boundaries.
Abusing the “but I’m a parent” card will get you nowhere.
Oh, I can’t find a babysitter is not an excuse for missing an exam.
Oh, my child is in the ER, that is an excuse.
If that were to occur, be prepared to prove it.
Making up injuries and illnesses is so not okay, and it’s not going to fly.
I’ve known people to do this, personally I think it’s absolutely terrible.
Calling out of work because you are “sick” is one thing, claiming your kid is in the ER…not cool.
SO if your kid gets a broken arm and understandably needs mommy....get documentation.
3. There will be moments when you say F*** it and spend the whole day on the playground.
SO you have a final to study for, research to do, or an email to write.
There will be moments when you just can’t.
You cannot gather the will power to get your kid off the playground.
You can’t emotionally handle the look of disappointment when you won’t play a game or spend all day watching Mickey Mouse with them.
These days will happen.
You will feel guilty about them, and you will love them.
Your child is growing up. Don’t get so caught up in your goals that you stop paying attention to your muse.
4. You will have YOUR moments.
Moments when you just can’t deal.
You might yell or cry, or have a mini break down.
You may close your computer and take a nap, or drink too much with friends.
Maybe you devour a few more brownies, or just decide that project will be late and I don’t care,
I’ll take a letter grade reduction.
You will have moments when you just can’t take it.
They will happen,
what matters is how you handle them.
5. Support isn’t optional
If you do not have a support system, get one.
You cannot do this by yourself.
If you are a single parent with no family or friends in the area,
you need to find a way to build a community.
The quickest way to fail is to be unreliable,
and you cannot be reliable when you are at the mercy of
You need someone who can have your back if the worst case scenario hits.
The baby sitter is sick and you have a career altering meeting, final, or a dissertation to defend?
You need to have a plan, a plan B, and preferably C or D.
If you do have family or friends around, you need them on board.
At least some of them.
Through my grad school journey my husband has had his moments of completely supportive dream guy and his moments of
“But I want to go snowmobiling and it isn’t fair….. :’( “
like a whiny teenager.
When he’s having his bad moments, it’s harder for me.
Even when he is there with the children, the perception that I do not have him supporting me in that moment is awful.
It actually saps my productivity and brings stress and self-doubt.
Of course being a bad-ass grad mom, I get through it.
But having support from the people in your life will make everything better.
6. It will not be easy
If you thought that following my advice was going to make this a super easy path, I’m sorry to disappoint.
Grad school will never be easy.
Grad school as a parent will really never be easy.
Do not make the mistake of
expecting this to be an easy win.
It won’t be.
I can’t make it easy.
Don’t devalue the process by thinking it’s simple.
7. You will amaze yourself
You will be absolutely shocked at what you can accomplish.
It is truly an amazing feeling to look at your life and see how much you are managing.
When your raising awesome kids, reaching educational and career goals, and not losing your mind.
It’s an accomplishment that you can be so very proud of.
8. It will be worth it
It will be worth the work and the stress
on graduation day with you children in tow,
you will know you made it.
So will they.
They will know what they are capable of because they can see what you’ve done.
Call me biased but I have immense respect for parents who build their lives while raising children.
Do not take it lightly and tell it proudly.
You’ve got this.
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