“My mum sweeps the floor, bakes cupcakes and goes to the Fremantle Arts Centre”. According to a portrait by my then 4-year-old daughter, my mum life was a juggle! She wasn’t wrong. Home, family life, occasional work and part-time study – it’s a lot! And as I brushed the crafting glitter off my assignment cover sheet after another late night, I had to wonder: Was I being a good parent in the middle of all this?
Every mum’s balancing act is different but here are some things I learned while I studied and parented.
Know your why.
Why are you increasing or decreasing your work hours, starting to study, or trying to finish that degree? Is it financial, for your mental health, because you love it, because it’s a necessary stepping stone, because…? Whatever your why is, define it. Understand it. Share it. When you know your ‘why’ you can remind yourself, in those exhausting moments, of the end goal.
There was no perfect way to study and parent, in spite of my best intentions to be fully invested in both. Deep breath. The kids need your love, not a perfectly tidy house.
Ask for help.
We all need help sometimes. I had a sister-in-law who would babysit. I got extensions on my assignments. My mum was the one I called to download my parenting inadequacies. Asking for help was hard for me, but so necessary.
Know what fills your bucket and get yourself some of it.
What makes your heart full? If you know your love language, get around people who speak your language. My husband started cooking family breakfast on Saturday mornings and that kept me going for a week until the next batch of pancakes was ready. Receiving love empowers you to give love, and that Saturday morning sleep-in made me a better mum!
Everyone’s parenting journey is different, but I hope I’ve taught my girls (who are now young adults) that a normal, imperfect mum who aims to love well, can also follow their study or career dreams.
Simona is a mentor at Devonport Mops in Tasmania, a Kids Ministry Leader, a parent of young adults, a coffee drinker and part time writer.