Studying while you have a young family can be the best time to retrain, re-skill or to simply fulfil a personal goal. Sure, it’s not for everyone, but if you’re even thinking of it, it pays to do some homework so you’ll be better prepared for what lies ahead.
That’s what I should have done when at the age of 18, I took a leap of faith, left part time work, enrolled in a three-year degree and became a full-time student. All great except after two years I started working part time again.
And so began my rather extended life as a mother-student. I completed my first year full-time.the next year and juggled baby and study. In my third year, I continued full time and whilst juggling my daughter. Onwards I went, completing my two years full-time with my toddler. When I finally graduated, I was ever so pleased and happy within myself that I completed my degree
It took me three years to complete my degree. I just kept plugging away because I knew that if I ever stopped, I would never go back to it.
I won’t lie. Studying like this was hard. Some days it felt way too hard. There were days I cried. But then there were fabulous days too – when assignments and exams were completed and I got the reward for the effort. And that fantastic end-of-year feeling when everything was handed in and you were totally done? Priceless.
And beyond me achieving my goals – getting my degree and resetting my career – I really DID something for myself with my little one on my side. Looking back, studying when I did was actually the best thing I have ever done for myself. And I have just recently completed my masters degree 🙂
So with this in mind, here are my top tips to make studying and motherhood work.
Don’t put off till tomorrow what can done today
Procrastination is what got me my very, very average HSC marks when I was at school. I always delayed getting started until the very last minute, but when you’re a mum, you just can’t do that. There will be a million legitimate reasons why life gets in the way of study: you have a sick child; you were up 10 times in the night tending to a crying baby; you want to go to playgroup – so when you have the opportunity to do your work, take it! You never know what is coming round the corner, so take the chance NOW and put your head in your books.
Be practical about the elective subjects you choose
Most courses have compulsory subjects and you’ll have no choice about what they are or when they are timetabled. But when it comes to elective subjects, do some research and have a really good think about what you can manage, what the study load will be through the semester, how much reading there will be versus how much coursework you will have to complete. You’ll be surprised how much variation there can be between subjects and what might have once worked, may not work now.
Part-time studying mum vs full-time studying mum
When you’re a busy mum, making the decision to return to study – or study for the first time – feels epic. And that’s because it is. You’re investing a lot of energy and effort into something outside you, your family and your home. You want to make sure it’s a success. Before you begin, think about what’s practical in terms of the hours you can commit to study, and don’t forget that there will be plenty of homework to get through too. For a lot of busy mums, part-time study is a more practical solution even if it does take you twice as long to complete your course. Part-time study gives you more wriggle room to fit in the rest of your life.
Do the reading!
I won’t lie. The course reading is a killer. And if you are an exhausted mother, the course reading is like some kind of magical double-strength sleeping pill. I would dutifully make time to do my reading – usually at night once the kids had gone to bed – and then promptly slip into a coma five minutes later. If you possibly can, try and prepare for classes when you’re not dog-tired and do try to get the reading done. Without doing the reading, you only get value from the turning-up-to-class part of the course, which is a real lost opportunity. AND without doing the reading, your job come exam time will be way, way harder.
Don’t apologise for studying
This one is a biggie. Undertaking a course of study is not the same as regularly going to book club with your girlfriends. Sure, it takes you out of the house and away from your family but for ongoing study to be a success and sustainable, you and your loved ones, cannot consider it as an extracurricular activity, something that can be squeezed into a busy life and then dropped when things get hectic. To study successfully, you will have to make room for it in your life. Every single week. You may need to rearrange your schedule and that may inconvenience others a little bit. But if you want to commit to studying, then you have to commit to studying.
Keep on truckin’
Applying for any course – whether it’s a three-year degree or a one-year diploma – can feel super-daunting. But the one thing that motherhood teaches us all is that time goes by so quickly and before you know it, you’ll be done. Don’t think of it as three long years of scary commitment: instead break it down to THIS semester, THIS term, THIS month, THIS week … whatever makes it feel more manageable for you. Because I studied when my kids were babies, my study goals were really modest. I just went from week to week and assignment to assignment. Any day that an assignment was completed, was a good day. And I concentrated on celebrating the good days. And that got me through.
Most of us have read “He’s Just Not That Into You,” or at least seen the movie. We know the rules. We know the score. We can weigh in on our friends’ love lives with perfect clarity, giving them advice, showing them the error of their ways; but yet, when it comes to our own lives…and to that ONE guy…the one that makes us weak in the knees…the one that can pluck at our heart strings with both hands tied behind his back…the one that we hear the opening chords of “Take My Breath Away” every time he’s within a 50 mile radius…our girl power goes out the window faster than you can say “I am woman, hear me roar.” This guy is our blind spot. Our strongest weakness. Our kryptonite. Our Justin Case.
Justin Case (more commonly known as “Just In Case”) is a smooth operator. He knows how to push our buttons. He knows how to get under our skin. He knows how to offer just enough of himself to keep us hooked, sometimes for months and even years at a time. He doesn’t really want us to stay, but he doesn’t really want us to go. He doesn’t ever come out and say yes, but he also doesn’t ever say no. No matter how black or how white we need the terms of our relationship to be, we are willing to stay in a perpetual state of gray just to keep him around.
We quite obligingly allow ourselves to take up residence in Relationship Purgatory because we’re not willing to give up the ghost and move on, but we’re also not willing to give up the most and sign on for what could be a life of always being second place. And therein lies the crazy, tragic, sometimes almost magic conundrum of Justin Case.
Here’s the bad news: Justin Case will be perfectly content to keep you around, indefinitely, JUST IN CASE something “better” never comes along. And here’s the real kicker: his definition of “something better” usually involves someone that is clearly inferior to the fabulousness that is YOU. For whatever reason, somewhere along the way, he started to see you as the “safe” choice, the in-between girl, the backup plan. Not because you are any of those things but because he is incapable of seeing you clearly enough to realise the diamond he has standing right in front of him.
Perhaps his blinders are there out of fear, or immaturity, or (as much as we hate to admit this) maybe he simply prefers Jello to Crème Brulee and no matter how many times you hand him the menu, he’s going to keep choosing Jello. Whatever his reasoning, do you really want to spend another second waiting around for him to realize how incredible you are? Or do you want to make today the day you move on to someone who wants to rock your world, and wants to blow your mind, and will never hand your glass slipper to the wicked stepsister when he has Cinderella standing right in front of him?
Here’s the good news: You’re not a “just in case” girl. You’re a first place girl. When you realize you’re worth so much more, it won’t be so hard to finally close that door! You have to know when to say when to what might have been and get in line with what can still be. The hardest part is realizing his part in your story is over. Yes, you were crazy about him. No, you can’t just make your feelings disappear like magic. And yes, it’s probably going to hurt for awhile. But here’s the best part: You are stronger than even your strongest weakness. Know your power, lady! There is no one that you are not strong enough to walk away from, so put on your best stilettos and start walking! If he can’t say yes, it’s time for you to say no and GO. The time for hesitation is over.
The Future is waiting; and it will never fight with the Past to get your attention. And once you’ve made the decision to move on, don’t look back. You will never find your Future in the rearview mirror.
Ultimately, Justin Case might have been one of those fun tunes to hum along to for awhile, but you can only sing the chorus over and over for so long before you realize the record is skipping; never moving back but also never moving forward. It’s time to stop singing the chorus and start rewriting the verses. Remember: Mr. Right will recognize the music of your heart and sing along to a tune that could never be heard by Mr. Wrong. So go ahead, First Place Girl. Rock his world. In life and in love, there are no points for second place. Mark this night as the night you moved on from Justin Case.
Last weekend I posted something on my personal twitter page that a lot of people disagreed with. I got hate tweets for two days about it, which was baffling to me, because when did having a differing opinion become so offensive to people? Are we all supposed to be cookie cutter versions of one another, never having or voicing a contrasting idea or thought or viewpoint or opinion? How boring would life be if that was the case?
I’ve been going through a personal metamorphosis as of late…one I plan to tell you guys more about in the days and weeks to come…one that hasn’t been easy and has stripped me of many of my long-held ways of thinking and has left me standing rather bare, yet also rather unafraid, in my truth. I’ve discovered that I have a habit of spending way too much time of apologizing for myself, if not always to other people, then in my own mind. Apologizing and excusing and deflecting and feeling embarrassed by my choices and my opinions and at times, even the things that make me happy…rather than just standing boldly and unapologetically and unflinchingly in my truth. However imperfect or embarrassing or wrong that truth may seem to other people.
Almost on cue the other night, I was watching my latest Netflix obsession, Hart of Dixie, and this scene stopped me in my tracks. No, Hart of Dixie isn’t exactly a deep, award-winning, academic show…but there is truth to be found everywhere, even in the simplest places, if you stop judging the source long enough to hear the message.
Wade: Sometimes I just think you’re just the saddest person in the world. You’re always looking over your shoulder wondering what life should be instead of taking it for what it is. You’re not honest about what makes you happy. You what I’m going to do tonight, I’m going to go home and play video games for two or three hours. What I’m not going to do is beat myself up for playing video games instead of saving the world. If I wanted to save the world, hell, I’ll do it tomorrow.
Erls: If you have time between video games.
Wade: EXACTLY! Cause it’s my choice. Just like it was your choice to stay in Bluebell, just like it was your choice to be a G.P. instead of a super sonic space surgeon or whatever. And it was your choice to go to bed with me. Clearly and something about every one of those choices make you happy. The problem is they don’t match up with the picture you have in your head about what your life should be.
Erls: You don’t know as much about me as you think.
Wade: You know what? Maybe you’re right. Maybe I don’t. But I do know this: You wanna be happy, Doc? Change your picture. Or change your life.
Just call me Erls Hart, because I have allowed the picture of who I SHOULD be and what I SHOULD be doing and what my life SHOULD look like to literally blind me to the joyful reality of what my life really is. I’ve been apologizing for so long for who I’m NOT that I haven’t allowed myself to celebrate who I AM. And I’m done. Finished. Absolutely through with walking through my life feeling embarrassed or inadequate or apologetic because I’m not anything other than what I am. In the spirit of this newfound freedom to just be ME…I decided to make out my list of all things about me that I am no longer apologizing for. So here goes…
1) That I’m single.
2) That I’m a woman.
3) That I’m a Christian.
4) That I’m a Democrat.
5) That I’m a feminist. (Or, a “Jesus Feminist,” as coined in one of my favorite books by Sarah Bessey.)
6) That as a writer, I haven’t read many classic books and I don’t care for them very much. (They bore me, in all honesty.)
7) That I can’t cook.
8) That as a movie lover, I haven’t seen many classic films (Again, in all honesty…they bore me. I mean, have you ever tried to watch Citizen Kane? I’d rather watch paint dry.)
9) That I’d rather stay in and read or watch movies or hang with a small group of friends than go out.
10) That I enjoy coloring and eating Cookie Crisp. Sometimes simultaneously. I have a childlike heart that loves childlike things and I’m tired of feeling like I should be embarrassed about it.
11) That I don’t yet own my own home (or much of anything, sans my beloved VW Beetle.)
12) That I’m a TV nerd and I get way too emotionally attached to shows and characters.
These are just the first twelve things I could think of. I’m sure I’ll add more to the list. And I encourage you to make your own list of things about you and your life that you’re no longer apologizing for. This is not to say that because I’m not apologizing for these things about myself, I don’t want to continue to grow and improve and evolve as a person. I do. I want to learn to cook. I hope to be married someday. And I’m even open to watching and reading the classics. I want to be as well-rounded and open-minded and developed person as I can be. I’m not going to stop growing and changing and learning and maturing and getting better. But in the meantime between who I am and who I hope to be…I’m going to let myself off the hook a little and just enjoy the moment.
And I’m not going to apologize for it.
Modern-day dating can be extremely tricky. And by “tricky” I mean often infuriating, frustrating, and unclear. It’s ironic that with all the texting and Facebooking and Snapchatting and oodles of other ways to send messages back and forth nowadays, never has communication felt more…non-communicative.
No one’s dating anymore, they’re “hanging out.” And in the midst of all this super casual “hanging out,” signals and wires and intentions seem to have gotten crossed. Instead of the men pursuing the women, a lot of men seem to be sitting back waiting on the women to pursue THEM. Now, please don’t make me launch into some diatribe about how men are natural hunters and gatherers and were born to be the initiators of relationships (because it’s true, but I don’t feel like doing the research to prove it).
And please don’t misunderstand me, either. I’m not suggesting we, as women, sit around sniffing our smelling salts like Scarlett O’Hara and play the helpless female in need of a big, strong man to come and rescue us. That’s not my point here at all. My point is this: Men seem to have forgotten how to pursue women. And women seem to have picked up that slack by becoming the pursuers.
And in my humble opinion, a relationship that begins as a result of a woman chasing a man doesn’t tend to have a happy ending. I know this because I’m 36 years old and I can say in full confidence with years of dating experience under my belt that anytime I have chased a man, the relationship has gone nowhere fast. But when I sit back and relax and stay open and receptive to the relationship without openly pursuing it, it has always, always, always worked out better. (And b-t-dubs: I consider myself a feminist.
But part of being an empowered woman is knowing your heart, your time, and your company is worth being wooed and pursued.) Perhaps you have a different opinion or have had a different experience, and that’s okay. That’s why this is my blog and not yours – LOL! If you do connect with this concept, however, and if you’ve lost months or years of your life to endlessly chasing a man who always seems to stay one step ahead…here are five reasons why chasing a man is the actual worst:
1 It’s humiliating, exhausting, and downright bad for your self-esteem. It’s impossible to feel good about yourself if you’re willing to trade in your dignity for a pair of running shoes in order to chase after any man. And your dignity and self-esteem are never worth surrendering, for anyone or anything.
2 If you have to chase him, ladies, here’s the cold, hard truth: He doesn’t want to be caught. A man who wants to be with a woman will always be running TOWARD her, not away from her.
3 He’s clearly not that great of a guy. Why? Because a man of character would stop dodging and evading and being shady and would sit down with you face-to-face to tell you honestly that he doesn’t want to be with you. He wouldn’t keep playing games with your heart or keep you hanging around as his backup plan.
4 You are missing out on the things and people and relationships that are meant for you by wasting all your time and energy and emotions on the things that are not. When you stop chasing the things that aren’t for you, you give the things that ARE a chance to catch up to you. But as long as you’re caught up in the drama of an on-again, off-again endless pursuit, you literally have blinders to all the amazing things already staring you right in the face.
5 Even if you catch him, you won’t really ever HAVE him. I’ve learned this firsthand, the hard way. You can catch someone’s body and still not capture their heart. (And no, I’m not talking about sex here.) You can have someone’s physical presence there with you and their heart can still be light years away. On the bright side, the really amazing thing that sometimes happens by catching someone you’ve been chasing after for so long is it finally opens your eyes to why God never intended for you to catch him at all. Because sometimes it takes getting everything you ever thought you wanted to fully understand it’s nothing you need, and far from what you deserve.
I hope wherever you are in your journey today, you’ll realize that you are worth being pursued. You deserve a man who is willing to do whatever it takes to capture your heart. Take off those running shoes and give your legs and your heart a break.
What would you add to this list? Sound off in the comments below!
Are You Self-Confident?
“Self confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.” – Samuel Johnson
For the next minute, think about how you see yourself. On the whole, how much self-confidence do you have? How confident do you feel regarding your work? How about when you are with friends? Your partner if you have one? Your family? How confident do you feel when it comes to your finances? How about other things, such as making a presentation at work or talking to a stranger? Do you feel fully confident in all of the above situations? Do you feel confident regardless of the situation you are in?
What Is Self-Confidence?
Self-confidence means being assured in your own worth, ability, and power, regardless of the situation you are in. Someone who is self-confident has a strong sense of self-belief and certainty in him/herself. He/she exudes calmness, composure, and is self-aware.
Self-confidence is often linked with having certain knowledge, skill sets, and abilities, whether acquired or innate. While having aptitude in a particular area can help boost your self-worth, it is not a necessary prerequisite for self-confidence. Someone with absolutely no competency in something can still be confident. We will explore this in detail in the later half of the article.
Lack of Self-Confidence Cripples You
Have you ever known someone with low confidence? How does this person come across to you? A person who lacks confidence has a lack of self-belief, usually caused by a sense of uncertainty about something.
Here are 8 typical behaviors of people with low self-confidence:
1 Undervaluing what they are capable of
2 Taking blame even when it is not their fault
3 Being overly shy and reserved
4 Overly critical of themselves, for example neurotic perfectionists
5 Being hung up over negative outcomes and past ‘failures’
6 Preoccupation with the negative outcomes and failure even though they have not happened yet
7 Having a fearful and adverse attitude toward most things
8 Doing things to please others
People with low self-confidence tend to repel people around them. Their limiting mindsets and behavior make them feel ‘heavy’ and a ‘drag’ to be around. If we refer to the Map of Consciousness, these people vibrate in consciousness levels of Pride and below — usually levels of Shame, Guilt, Apathy, and Fear.
Lack of self-confidence is a crippling trait because it limits you in your opportunities and jeopardizes your chances of success, which leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Imagine you are tasked with a project.
Say you lack confidence and you predict that you will not meet others’ expectations. What do you think will happen next? This lack of belief will influence your thoughts and action, both consciously and subconsciously.
When you are constantly thinking about a negative outcome, it takes your focus off what you should be doing to achieve your ideal state, which leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy. And when an undesirable outcome gets manifested, your (negative) belief gets enforced and you continue to have low, if not lower, self-confidence.
On the flip side, what if you are a self-confident person placed in that exact same scenario? What do you think will happen? Chances are things will pan out differently. Because you are certain of an imminent success, you do everything needed to make it happen. If you don’t have the skills, you acquire it. If you don’t have the knowledge, you learn it. If a misshap happens, you crack your brain for a solution.
This confidence sets you up for success, which subsequently enforces your self-worth, leading you to more success. Even though you may have started from the same spot as others, just having the confidence will take you much further than someone who doesn’t have it.
The life of a single woman is a whirlwind of contradictions. One minute you like a guy, the next you don’t; one day you have $2,000 in the bank, the next you’re chasing pennies around the floorboard of your car to afford a McDonald’s cheeseburger for dinner; one week you feel single and fabulous, the next you just feel lonely and mediocre. It happens to the best of us. There is no real safety net for a single woman. No fierce protector. No knight in shining armor to swoop in and scare all the bad guys away when we’re feeling picked on at work. No protective cocoon to run to when we’re feeling our inner caterpillar is outweighing our inner butterfly. We are, quite literally – single. Singular. Solo. Alone. We have moments where we look at the martini glass as half empty, then kick ourselves for doing so. We have Facebook stalking expeditions in which we scope out all our exes just to see how balding and ugly and miserable they are now, then feel somehow betrayed when they look…dare I say it?…good. We have really brave moments when we kill an enormous spider or change a tire by ourselves and we become completely convinced that all we need to do is slap an “S” on our chest and we could save the world. We dance all night with our girlfriends then ace our presentation at work the next day going on nothing but Starbucks and adrenalin (and wearing the same clothes we had on the night before). We face the condescending looks at family gatherings and high school reunions when people learn that we’re not dating anyone and pat on us like we’re their pet and say: “Oh, don’t worry. You’re surely next!” We buy hundreds of dollars in wedding gifts and baby gifts and christening gifts and bar mitzvah gifts for all of our married friends without batting an eye, knowing that this might well be the closest we ever get to a gift registry. We lose jobs and friends and parents and lovers…and sometimes have no one but our pillow to witness our tears.
We fall in love – deeply, madly, passionately in love – and sometimes, they forget to love us back. Sometimes we love someone for years, without the other person even knowing we exist. We suffer in silence, hoping against hope that one day they’ll not just look at us, but really SEE us; that they’ll not just want us, but NEED us. Sometimes life offers us a second chance to get it right…and sometimes life just offers us a second chance to say goodbye. Sometimes even after all the hurt, and all the waiting, and all the hoping, and all the wishing…for reasons beyond our control, it still doesn’t work out. Sometimes you just know you know the only way to be true to YOU is to let him go. If we’re lucky, we have a best friend to reflect our hearts back to us and show us our strength when we’ve lost our way. And if we’re REALLY lucky, we have 46,000 incredibly brave, sassy, independent, beautiful, strong honorary best friends to inspire us to be a better version of ourselves…to walk our talk…to live up to a higher standard…and to never lose the faith that someday, some way, amidst all the many frogs, our Prince Charming will emerge and sweep us off into our Happily Ever After. This, my dear friends, is my way of saying thank you. Thank you for believing in what I have to say. Thank you for continuing to faithfully follow me. Thank you for keeping me on my toes and inspiring me to be the very best woman that I can be. And most of all, thank you for making me so incredibly proud to call myself a single woman. I am certainly in good company among you.
And here’s the good news…for you, for me, for all single women.
We are tough. We are bold. We are fierce. We are a force to be reckoned with. We face the world the single way every single day…and we don’t back down. We don’t let the idea of going to a movie alone intimidate us. We don’t let the threat of bumping into an ex stop us from going to the most fabulous party in town with our head held high. We walk a path that many women will never have to walk…a path that forces us to constantly step out of our comfort zones…a path that a majority of the women we grew up with and acted as bridesmaids for will never have to walk. The journey of a single woman is not an easy one – but we welcome the danger. We welcome the unknown. We embrace our freedom as the gift that it is…we pay our own way…we march to the beat of our own drum and we ask permission from no one to do so. There is a fire in the soul of a single woman that can never quite be tamed…an unwillingness to settle…an independence all our own, built from the knowledge that we can do absolutely anything without calling for backup and we can look damn good doing it. There is a wisdom we possess that comes from surviving many a broken heart…a shine to us from learning how to make an entrance into a room accompanied by no one but me, myself and I…a confidence that comes from knowing we are not afraid to fall…because each time we fall, Life presents us with another opportunity to get up and move up. We realize a happy life is more important than a happy ending…and that we don’t need a significant other to lead a significant life. And if one day, our Prince does find us, we won’t expect him to complete us, but to compliment us. Because we are strong. We are invincible. We are all…The Single Woman