What does life insurance and college education have in common? Well, for us it became a matter of needing to provide for my family after my husband is gone. Where does obtaining college education fit in all this? Well, I knew I couldn’t squeeze the budget any more to add in life insurance monthly costs. There is nowhere else to cut. I could, however, get a certificate in a field that I think would help my family most, and begin educating myself through the community college courses available. This might seem overzealous right? It’s not like I don’t have my hands full already with four children, being a stay-at-home mom, and homeschooling said children.
So, here are the four things I have learned with going back to school.
1. It is always a good idea to have a support system. Are you supported? I am so blessed in having family and friends step up to help. I am still trying to be super woman and do it all myself but knowing that I have a call to fall back on, is so amazing and so encouraging. It keeps me going when I feel like I should quit classes and just do it at a later date.
2. Take time for your children. This is my first semester that I am physically at the college while my kids are elsewhere for three hours a day, four days a week. Summer school is more intense because it is shorter and therefore needs to put as much in as possible. It is not easy to divorce school life and home/mom life. Sometimes they can be intertwined but I am learning that it is better to keep them separate from each other. Once I pick up the kids from Grandma’s house, I focus my time on them. This is an adjustment for us, I have never done anything like this so consistently. Once here and there-yes but daily-no. So I turn my focus on them once they get back into my welcoming arms. School begins after bedtime. This has worked so far for all 3 semesters I have taken.
3. Have a plan. Having a plan is the first advice I would give anyone. It may simple. It may seem unseeingly common but it is crucial for me. Having a plan for the kids and how I would keep our family values during this time is such a good reference point for me when times are getting tough. Knowing midterms are coming up, knowing finals and needing to study for that, knowing papers are due, knowing what is expected of me—all these things add up and when you have an idea of how you are going to fit them in your schedule is vital. Another plan is my cleaning and how I am going to stay at top of things and maintain an organized and clean home. I use the FlyLady method but I also have a secret…Youtube videos. I am not kidding. I stealthily put on a “clean with me” video from a few of my favorite channels and the crazy thing happens! My seven and six year old and even my two year old all watch and then want to create their own “channel”. So I will start cleaning my areas but I listen. What I hear is children talking about how they clean as they deep clean their room, the living room, and the school area. Score one for mom! My meals are also all planned out. Even if I do not have a menu plan, I have an idea for what I can make on the fly and throw together. So far we have managed not to change our grocery budget for this time in our life.
4. Have a goal, be consistent, and work hard. The hardest thing I have found is having adequate time for studying. I can put together an A project, but that doesn’t mean I am learning the work or getting the best out of the education. It is a waste of my time and my teacher’s time not to put a good effort into the course. There have been times, many times actually, where I have wondered if I should give up. Different thoughts like “Maybe this isn’t the right time” or “I’m not good at this” keep coming foremost in my thoughts. This is a great time to assess the situation. Usually, I think all these thoughts when I am lack confidence in my work that I am turning in or see a less than perfect grade. When the stress is high because my kids are sick that week and my sleep level is dangerously low. When I first started my journey through college I sat down and wrote out why I want to go and what my goal was. I often reference this little journal entry and then am encouraged to continue on pressing towards the prize. Do I believe that I can never just set aside what I am doing for a time? No! Again, I assess each situation and see what needs to be cut. I am not afraid of cutting out my college classes if needed but I know that for me it will be harder to pick up again later on so I want to make sure that I make a wise decision in regards to both keeping the course or stop and taking a break by the way side. Another really good thought is to talk to someone that is not swayed by either side. If I am contemplating setting aside college for now it may not be the best time to talk to my friends that didn’t support going to college in the first place. On the other hand, it may not be the best time to talk to the other side that says you should go to college no matter the cost. A true friend will look at the entire picture and walk you through the process of seeing what the current situation is and what it could look like both ways and then helping you go the right way.
As the Lord says, “In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths” Proverbs 3:6 and that has really helped me. I prayed for a solution for our future and found an area that I would love to work in and still be able to stay at home with the children. And then in order to have the full benefits of that, it would be necessary to further my education in a field pertaining to the desired occupation and then yet another answered prayer was when everything started falling into place with finances and time schedules. I pray so often, “Lord, not my will but Thy will be done.” Those words are so hard to utter when you have a plan all lay out and His way may not go according to the plan you had set forth. If anyone would have told my eighteen year old self that I would be a mom of four going back to college, I would have laughed at them. That was not my vision then. I was going to be the next Duggar family and raise lots of children and love them and be a stay at home mom and wife for all the years to come without a college education. But, here I am, helping my family, not by working but by learning. I just wished I would have told my younger self to start then and enjoy more now.