Today’s post is a guest article by Alize Cherry on how to juggle work, family and further education.
Many women today are no longer confined to the four corners of their home. Fortune reported that 36% of students in MBA programmes are women, which shows that more women than ever before are not only actively juggling jobs while taking care of their families, there are also those who are also pursuing careers in business.
Admittedly, the juggling act is easier said than done. Nonetheless, there are strategies that can be done to make the process easier. So with that in mind, this article takes a look at some tips that you can employ if you want to pursue further education while managing your own family and career.
Choose the right programme for you
Lots of schools now recognise that many of their students, and not just women, juggle several responsibilities at once, which is why they have developed programmes that can accommodate hectic schedules. For instance, there are schools that offer online degrees so that students will no longer need to spend time commuting to and from the institution to earn credits. There are also those that offer classes at night or over the weekends.
Beyond schedules, The Guardian also advised choosing a school that has a good track record in terms of their students’ careers post-graduation. Taking the time to do your research will allow you to make a projection of where your own profession will be once you get your new degree.
Organisation can go a long way in helping you cut back the time you spend on your tasks. For instance, having storage space for your university books and supplies will mean knowing where exactly you can find these things when you need them, instead of having to search all over the house for them. Organisation can also entail coming up with schedules and sticking to them, so you do not end up worn out because you haven’t got enough time to dedicate to a certain task.
The amount of time you save or spend on these activities might seem negligible, but they can pile up in the long run. Given the number of things you are going to be handling, you will need to plan everything out efficiently.
The Economist wrote an article on mother and MBA student Sari Kaganoff who was studying in Chicago, an example of a woman that had to become organised in order to fulfill her dream of graduating with an MBA. The number of tasks she handled forced her to streamline her responsibilities and layout strict timetables that she needed to stick to so that she would accomplish all of her daily tasks.
It’s all about learning how to bend the rules of time and get more done.
Establish your networks
Classy Career Girl recommends establishing networks even while in studying, because this can already help you land a job or a better position once you graduate. In fact, Menlo Coaching even advised building networks while looking for the right graduate school, because it will help you get an idea of what to expect once you take on your first course.
Build a strong support system
Sometimes, having someone to talk to about the various things that can stress you out can be a big help. College Xpress suggested that you establish a strong support system that you can help you when you feel overwhelmed. You can also look to build friendships with like-minded classmates, some of whom may well be mothers too, because they will be able to provide advice on how they deal with juggling all their responsibilities.
The article cited Laura Gilbert, a PhD graduate and an author, who managed to pursue her schooling while juggling her career and the responsibilities of being a single mother to her four children. She said that her children formed part of her support network, as they learned to become independent so that she could finish her PhD.
Give yourself space
Beyond everything else, you also need to give yourself space. Many women find themselves burned out because of the number of tasks they need to do on their own. One thing you need to realise is that you are not a superhero who can handle a conveyor belt of chores.
In The Guardian article we mentioned earlier, Catrin Carter, a 31-year-old mother who went to law school as well as taking care of her young family, learned to let go of the idea of not being “too house-proud.” This doesn’t mean that she let her home become messy; instead, she learned to prioritise her responsibilities so that she could accomplish the most important issues in a day, instead of trying – and failing – to do everything on her own.
Other mothers also indicated that they first felt guilty about leaving their children with a babysitter so that they could pursue further education. However, many have learned to deal with the guilt, because they know that getting their degree will be more helpful to their family in the long run.
It’s also very important to make sure you set aside time for yourself and your family. Scheduling break times and vacations will help you manage your stress, even if it means taking a day off work to do it. That way, you can recharge your batteries, so you can get the energy to drive forward once again.
Admittedly, doing all of this can be very challenging, but it is by no means impossible, as proven by the many women who have already managed to accomplish this quite common juggling act.