We are well aware of the trials and tribulations of a working Mom, but what about a Mom who’s studying? The working mother still contributes to the household kitty and works towards raising the overall standard of living that the family can afford. Does a mom at school do anything that can help her not go on a guilt trip and justify her time away from household chores and responsibilities without bringing home a remunerative salary package? The answer is a resounding YES.
There can be various reasons for going back to school:
Requiring intellectual stimulation – Being a homemaker has its rewards, but can sometimes really be stifling. People need to be satisfied physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually in order to lead satisfactory lives. Your social life with friends and relatives may not fulfill the intellectual stimulation that you desire. Pursuing a course may be just the thing for you.
Having spare time – You gave up your job since the kids were young, now they are growing up and do not require as much of your time. However going back to the same job isn’t an option yet. Consider adding value to your life and future job prospects by joining a course. If you do not address the issue, you will start becoming painful to the very kids for whose well being you had quit your job in the 1st place. Boredom leads to disproportionate reactions. Not having interests of your own could make you too interfering with your kids and too demanding on your spouse.
Dreams – We all have some that we could not pursue for various reasons. Some one may have nurtured the desire to get a PhD, but the folks at home wanted to see you married and well settled. Well, now you are! The kids are at school, the household runs like a well- oiled machinery, how much TV can you watch and parties can you host and attend? Now’s the time to probably to go back to school!
An additional interest – The exposure you have had over the years has got you interested in a new subject of which you know nothing. New courses are being offered in that area...courses that didn’t exist before. Instead of feeling bad that such an option did not exist when you were studying, grab the opportunity now…study again.
Minimise the heartburn
- By chosing to do a course in a subject that really interests you. When learning excites you, it is less painful sacrificing your favorite TV show or missing the kitty party. Plus the joy you feel spills over in all your dealings.
- Pursue one that does not involve travelling too far from home for classes. If you have chosen a distance learning course, fine, but if you are going for a course that involves going for classes physically, then chose one that is not too far from home. In case there is a course with weekend classes near your parents’ house, combine visiting grandparents with your attending classes. Maybe you could enroll the kids at some hobby classes close to their home, so they don’t feel burdened either. Now there’s additional reason to travel to the other side of town!
- Choose a college that offers more flexibility. Some colleges follow the semester system while others have an yearly system. Chose the one that suits you most, given how old your children are and what level of input and stress their education is going to demand/have of/ on you.
The benefits of studying again
Without doubt the greatest benefit of going back to studying is the acknowledgement of the fact that life is all about learning new things. This makes one a more open person per se, not only to the challenges of life but also to different points of view. One grows, hopefully, not just in knowledge but also in patience and perseverance and subsequently compassion.
It is a great chance to Walk the Talk with our children. Everytime the parent puts off the TV or declines an invite to a social gathering to favour studying for college or a test, he/she has set a real example for the child. Teach your children all about discipline, prioritizing and team work through real life examples of your own behaviour.
You can become an inspiration to your children by finding innovative methods of studying. In being disciplined about study time and serious about submitting home work, you are influencing their attitude to these tasks. By caring about your own grades, you are influencing their sense of responsibility about their own grades. When they see you work hard and study for yourself, they shall intuitively understand that they too are doing so for themselves. There’s no need to lecture them about caring for their books. When they see you care for your own, just a gentle reminder to them about keeping their books back in their place will work, if you’ve been doing the same too. When ever possible take your kids along, or invite class mates over to your house, to discuss project work.
Cracking an exam successfully is one of the most empowering things in life. All our lives we women have studied the same courses as the boys in class, pursued the same goals at school and competed with them and even beaten them at it. To suddenly expect our entire sense of self worth to stem out of a well kept house and a well cooked meal, can become extremely frustrating. Studying further is a wonderful way to enrich our self confidence without compromising our primary responsibility as home maker.
Facing the nervousness of taking an exam shall make you more empathetic towards the blues of children faced with exams and also the husband’s stress level before important meetings. Having dealt effectively with the stress through your own unique methods shall make you a more dependant solution provider in such situations. At least you won’t have to deal with the jibe- you don’t know!
It will provide for excellent topics of conversation and provide opportunity to bond between children and you. If you can share an anecdote about some trick a classmate pulled on the class, you would be letting your child know you are open to discussing even naughty things. No moment more gratifying than sharing a laugh with your child and nothing builds trust as much as sharing does.
Yes there are challenges, but they can be overcome.
- The earliest challenge is of going back to a class of young boys and girls, sometimes not much older than your own kids. There may be a possibility that even the Instructor is younger than you. If the subject really interests you, this is easily overcome. Approach the whole situation in a collaborative frame of mind. Instead of thinking of this as a disadvantage, treat it to your advantage. They are as eager to learn about life, as you are to learn about the subject. The mutual sharing can become a win- win for all.
- It is also unsettling to be judged and graded after being out of that grid. But then, don’t office goers face appraisals and attend training sessions? It’s just a matter of opening up and re-wiring your attitude.
Family Support – If you are really passionate about it, be sure you will withstand family pressure if there’s any against it. However, try and enlist family support by sharing openly your need and reasons for embarking on this journey. Express your gratitude for whatever help and understanding that comes your way. Despite an acrimonious divorce, I still confess that I owe a great deal to my ex- husband’s and more so my mother-in-law’s active support in being able to complete my Masters.
Remember, Life is about trade offs.
The primary responsibility is being a parent. Just like extra curricular activities in school had to sometimes be compromised for the sake of the curriculum, there will be times when certain lectures will get missed due to a sick child at home. Do not set yourself unrealistic goals of a certain CGPA or topping the class etc, just because you are the oldest. You are also the one with the maximum responsibilities. Learn to balance the expectations from yourself as an individual and expectations of yourself and others as a parent and a spouse. If you miss the husband’s office party every time because you have to study, don’t crib later about not being involved in his life.
Involve your children too in this aspect of your life. My young son attended college picnics with me. On his birthday I got the idlis and chutney from my college canteen. I took him along to the canteen to place the order, just as I took him along to the cake shop to choose his birthday cake. A friend has fond memories of helping his Mum with tabulation of data that she needed to crunch while pursuing her PhD. He also mentioned that he went along for her Convocation as she got her Scroll.
It is not as if the other students in your class are only studying and not doing anything else. They too have to balance study time with debate club and dramatics society and union activities. So do not be overcome with any sense of inadequacy. They are also making trade-offs, just different ones. However, if you are really missing being part of the drama club, then maybe you should have enrolled yourself in a drama course. Which brings us back to the basics – take up a subject that you are passionate about.
What works for you?
Allow your interest levels to guide you. If you find yourself spending most of your free time in reading fashion magazines, then maybe a Design course is the one you should be looking at, and not a business management course just because you graduated in Commerce. If your greatest kick is redecorating the house, then seek out an Interior Decoration Course. There are a plethora of options available now for people who would like to get back to studies. The Internet has brought the class room right into your neighborhood, if not into your own home. Distance learning and e learning options have progressed to a level where you can find one uniquely suited for your needs.
What may in the short term be pursing an interest for the joy of it, may eventually become something that increases employability or even propels an independent business. For those seeking a sabbatical from work, this can be a perfect excuse. You manage to take a break from the stress of office work, but do not instead get bogged down by boredom. The trick is to allow the opportunity of studying further invigorate you and become a stress buster. If it instead becomes an inferno of stress due to the varying demands of life, postpone it to another point when circumstances can be more conducive.