Back to School, Back to WorkWritten by Aicha Lasfar
Many mothers decide to go back to work or school when their children are still young. Their reasons for doing so are as numerous and varied as the women themselves.
Some mothers do not think twice about going back on the work force after the maternity leave is over. As fulfilling as being a stay-at-home-mother can be, many mothers consider their careers just as important or satisfying.
Whereas for other mothers, finishing school is something they’d rather get out of the way as soon as possible in order to be at home with their children when they are older and need more attention.
For many mothers, staying at home is a luxury and they must rejoin the workforce in order to provide for their family.
Whatever the reason may be, when a mother decides to go back to work or school, she encounters a whole new set of challenges.
Since I am not a working or student mother myself, I took to interviewing a few other moms who chose to go back to school or work while their children were still young. Here is what they had to share:
Before having kids, was going back to school something you always knew you wanted to do?
“I didn’t know I would be going back to school later in life because I already had a good job with the government before I had kids,” says Lina*, “I went back to work 3 months after having my first because we needed the money. It never occurred to me not to. After having my second child, I did not go back to work because childcare for 2 babies was too expensive, and I also knew deep down inside that I needed to stay at home; we had to make it work. I stayed home for 10 years and eventually went back to school to fulfill my lifetime dream of being an esthetician.”
Did you have any concerns about going back to school while being a mom? What were they?
“My main concern was my family’s disagreement because they were more traditional than me,” says Fatima* who just finished her first year of nursing, “For them, going back to school was not only unimportant in their eyes but also was equal to abandoning my kids.”
What are some challenges of being a mom and student at the same time?
“The main challenge is not having the ‘luxury’ to put in enough hours to your readings,” Fatima says, “I only read what I feel is important. I try to spend as much quality time with my kids. Financially it was a bit challenging because, in my first year back, my youngest required full day care and it was a big monthly expense for us.”
Marwa Rezgui, a new mother to a 10 month old says, “Breastfeeding and pumping was hard to do and missing my baby while I’m in class was not easy.”
Did you have a good support system to help you juggle your school work and your kid(s)?
“Yes I had a support system. Most people encouraged me but when I stopped going to school they also made me feel OK about that too,” says Marwa.
“My mom was with me at the time,” said Fatima, “Having someone there just to be with the kids or pick them up on time from school or the babysitter made a huge difference.”
What advice would you give to a mother who plans to go back to school or work?
“If you do so make sure you are ready and you are doing it because you want to, not because others tell you that is what you should do.” Lina says with conviction.
Make sure you look at the whole picture and decide what is more important to you.
I believe you can have it all but not all at once. Be patient with yourself.”
“Get fit and clean up your eating habits.” said Fatima. “Build good habits of routine now- that will be your strength later. Be flexible with your routine. Brace yourself for flu season, and be ready for the whole family being sick at same time!” ■
*Names have been changed
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