There are a million good reasons to study as an adult – and before you start, there seem to be just as many (not-so good) reasons not to.
Had anyone told me back in my early twenties, when I was working long hours at a demanding job, that I would one day add studying and kids into the mix, I would have told them they were absolutely crazy.
Not a huge fan of studying during my school days, the idea of tertiary education was hugely unattractive. I wanted to get a job, move out of home and live my life! Nope, I was never going to study again. And yet … ten years out of school I suddenly found myself in a career that was not of my choosing and I saw only more of the same in my future.
I finally, finally knew what I wanted to do, but couldn’t make the leap into a new career without going back to study first. Gulp.
Warning: Curve ball ahead!
With the decision made, I applied for a course, got accepted, resigned from my job, and jumped into being a student once more. Easy. Except, of course, it wasn’t.
It was super-terrifying and made even more so by the fact that just as I started, I discovered I was pregnant. This was exciting news for my husband and me, but meant being a student took on a whole new dimension.
It took me five years to complete my three year degree. I gave birth to my son 6 days after I completed my first year; I continued part-time the next year; was pregnant again in year three and gave birth to my daughter four weeks after I completed my course work; and continued on in this way until I finished my degree. I was pregnant with my third child when I graduated.
I never deferred my study – I knew I might never go back if I stopped – but there were times when I did the bare minimum to keep going. I just chipped away at it, keeping my eyes on the prize until I finally got my hands on it.
Having young children at home who needed me all the time made my study journey more challenging, but it also made it much more rewarding. Juggling the two – family and study – made me a better mother, a better wife and ultimately a better person.
Here’s what I learned along the way:
1. I learned how to (really, truly) manage my time
When I was a teenager at school, I remember being put through all these ‘study skills’ seminars – and time management was a big feature of these courses. Of course, I didn’t know then that all you really need to learn to manage your time is to be in possession of two small humans who want to suck up all your time, all day long.
THEN you learn to be truly efficient – to work quickly and neatly, and compartmentalise your tasks. Set aside time for study and when that time is up, it’s up. It’s back to playdoh and tea parties with the kids.
2. I learned not to procrastinate
Procrastination was my enemy at school. I would spend all day long putting off doing what needed to be done. Now, with so many demands on my time, I finally understood what it meant to get stuck into a task. Being responsible for small children who may be unwell tomorrow, I knew that any time I set aside for study had to be used for study. And quickly. And the reverse was true too. Time I had for and with the kids was solely for them. I didn’t try to multi-task study and family duties. Waaay too hard.
3. I showed my children my worth
My kids have grown up knowing what I did – they were too young to actually remember it – that I set myself a goal and achieved it. They understand that it’s never too late to change direction; that taking a risk and backing yourself is never a waste of time. They know they are so loved and valued but they also know that I did this for ME. They know that doing something for yourself because you want to is as good a reason as any other.
4. I taught my kids ambition
I wanted something more than I had, and I worked long and hard to get what I wanted. My kids know the value of working towards something that seems beyond them – they know this doesn’t guarantee success but they also know that the trying is worth something, and that good stuff happens on every journey.
5. I learned to value my time
When you are at home with young children, the days can seem long and the weeks can stretch on forever. But when there are demands on your time outside of the home – work or study – you quickly learn to appreciate the time you have to just hang out with your kids. The bath times, the outdoor play, the singing … all the small, inconsequential moments that pass you by every day. You become mindful of these and always more present in these moments.
Taking that first step to study
Making the commitment to study – to DO something that is more than you and more than your family – takes courage. It takes immense bravery to stand at the bottom of a mountain and promise yourself that one day you will stand at the top and admire the view. But when you do get there, the view is magnificent.
Furthering your studies as a mum is easier than ever with self-paced online options like Ivy College, where you can find a flexible online course designed to suit your lifestyle. Ivy College offers nationally recognised qualifications in Beauty, Events, Business & Management, Health & Wellbeing and Design & Technology. Get qualified on YOUR terms and start kicking those goals you’ve been dreaming about!
(This post is sponsored by Ivy College.)