We’re kicking off our new “Mom Talk” column, where we invite some incredible, real mothers from all walks of life to share their personal experiences and journeys through motherhood, whether it be struggles, triumphs, or anything in-between—nothing’s off limits when it comes to topics. First up is New York City mama Jo Morrison. Here, Jo talks about the balancing act of motherhood and going back to school, and how she’s making it all work. -JKM
If you asked me five years ago what my life would look like now, I would have confidently looked you straight in the eyes and said “I will have a degree in Children and Youth Studies, be working my dream job, living in a house, and working on baby number one.” I was so sure of this series of events, but things did not play out exactly the way I thought that they would.
My main reason for hoping and praying that things would go in my “perfect order” is because of a phrase that I’m sure most moms have all heard before: “Once you have a baby, your life is over.” These words haunted me when I became pregnant. How could I possibly balance being a mother and returning to school? According to all the know-it-alls of the world, this was impossible, and I almost believed it.
Fast forward five years later—I am a 27 year old mom to an amazing 7-month-old, still renting in New York City, and you know that degree in that I knew would be hanging proudly in my living room? Yeah, that is about two years away from even being in reach. Along with all the amazing hats that I wear, I have recently added student to the list. I am a part-time student at Brooklyn College, and I dedicate 7 hours a week to working towards receiving my degree. It took everything in me to push past the voices of doubt, but where there’s a will there’s a way.
I knew that I had to step out in faith and get the ball rolling to go back to school. I had to find confidence and somehow find balance between homework, exams, my 7-month-old, my husband, and keeping up with things at home like groceries, housework, and more. It would be a complete lie if I said that any of this was easy. I also breastfeed my son, and no matter how many times he wakes up throughout the night, the alarm stills goes off every morning at 6 a.m to start my day. I started to think that this was a big mistake, but I’ve lived long enough to know that I must grab those negative thoughts by the throat and throw them out before they plant a seed in my heart.
Instead of throwing in the towel and quitting, I decided that routine would be the key factor to balancing being a mother and a student. As Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” So, I made a schedule. I put a lot of emphasis on nap time. If I knew he was going to sleep, I knew when I would have the time to write papers and take care of things around the house. This change alone freed up 8-10 hours a week for me to get school work done.
Once my son got nap time down to a T, I worked on the bedtime routine. Usually, and I believe we all do this, he would go down for an evening nap super close to his bedtime, and because I am so exhausted by the end of the day, I would just allow it to happen, and take full advantage of that time to myself and relax. But, that meant he was falling asleep for the night later. I had to give it up. Although it was very difficult, I cut out his evening nap. Some nights, I have to do everything humanly possibly to keep my son from falling sleep before bedtime, but skipping that extra-late snooze session works wonders. Now we have two to three naps, and a long gap before bed.
This routine has made my life a heck of a lot easier. For all the people in the world who think that us moms have to give up everything when we have kids, and even for us moms who have doubts and fears about balancing school and motherhood, there is one word that is the key to balancing it all, and that’s planning.
As long as a plan is in place, and as much as my son Jaxen allows me to, I stick to it. I can balance life with my eyes closed. I am confident that I will look back in five years and smile, because this balancing act will all be worth it in the end, and I’ll have my degree hanging proudly in my living room.