Motherhood and Student Life - 5 Tips on How to Survive It

Although the sun still shines bright and the air is balmy with summer splendour, the holidays are officially over, and for most of us, it is time to get back into the general swing of things. School has begun and most of us are wondering how on earth we’re going to get through yet another term balancing our studies, work, and social obligations. Especially coming off of the heap of mess covid-19 has left in its wake. Many are undoubtedly doing some serious damage control; from catching up on studies to pulling extra shifts at the coffee shop etc.

But what if there was another element added into the mix of your hectic life? One that is altogether wonderful, but also has the capacity to throw a full sack of monkey wrenches into your future plans? For some, this could mean the promise of a new relationship. For others, it could be fruitful job opportunity or a new hobby. But for me, that element is motherhood. 

Aaah… Motherhood.

People often say “you don’t know love until you’ve had a child”, something that, of course, is very true for most new mothers (and fathers) out there and myself included. But people also say “you don’t know tired until you’ve had a child”, which is something that used to irk me to no end. I was always like “hey man! I work three jobs!” after which I would get this look. You know the one I’m talking about? The one that silently says “yeaaaaah… have baby and report back”. 

Well, I’m here. Here to report.

And firstly, let me just say that the word tired — although it covers a great deal of physical and mental hindrances surrounding the concept of fatigue— does not, I repeat NOT, even begin to cover the morbidly fascinating level of exhaustion that is the result of this roller coaster ride of love, joy, excitement, crippling anxiety and gut-wrenching terror, more commonly known as motherhood. Without a doubt, becoming a mother has been the most miraculous experience of my life. But am I tired? Oh no. No no no. I’m absolutely bloody knackered!

Now, add studying into the mix and you’ve got yourself a rather potent cocktail of a bipolar episode waiting to happen. But ladies — or, student mothers, more like — it doesn't have to be this way! There is a way to do both. Perhaps not perfectly, but more than adequately. So, from one mother to the next, let me share a few tips that helped me get through my BA year with a newborn baby, and is going to help me tackle the next bout of school months.

Tip 1. When in doubt, sleeeeep

You would think this one was a given, but it actually isn’t. The thing is, during those first few weeks, new mothers are so strung out on lack of sleep and preggo hormones that you feel like you’ve downed a bottle of muscle relaxants with a case of red bull. You’re quite literally a walking, talking coma patient, and sleep seems something of an urban myth you’re almost positive exists, but you just can’t quite remember how it’s done. Well, the solution is simple. When you feel yourself slipping into a sleep deprivation madness, turn everything off and curl up with your baby. Without sleep you’ll be fit for nothing. So don’t postpone the Zzz’s.

Tip 2. Do not procrastinate

I know this tip might seem contradictory to the first one — and it is definitely a delicate balancing act — but procrastinating on tasks, such as housework or homework, will definitely sink you faster than the iceberg sank the titanic. With a baby, your work load piles up quicker than a multi-car pileup and the only way to keep on top of that pile is to try and do whatever tasks you have as soon as they appear in front of you. Granted, it doesn’t always work out this way, but if you get into the habit of completing most minor tasks immediately, you can definitely leave the big ones for later, and this way avoid collapsing under the pressure before you’ve even gotten started. 

Tip 3. Delegate

If you’re a slave to your various neuroses, like I am, this one is a doozy. It’s hard to let go of the reigns, but as a new mother and student, you need to keep your focus tightly on those two things. Let your partner, family and friends help with the day to day running of the household. It’s okay to let go of all the things “only you know how to do” and let someone else take over once in a while. Your helpers might not do things in the same way as you, or even as well — which you would be wise to keep to yourself — but they’ll get them done. And as a result, you’ll be able to check them off your already ridiculously long list of things to do.

Tip 4. Plan ahead

This one kind of goes hand in hand with tip 2. Taking the time to plan ahead will leave you free to address other “must do’s” later on. Take household chores, for example. If one day you decide to do the laundry, do all of it. Cooking? Do so in bulk. Homework? Complete what you have to do for the week and if you still have time left, move on to the next assignment. Aiming to plan ahead in every moment may seem like you’re over-stretching yourself, but working a little bit harder in the moment will allow you some down time in the near future. And there is no better relaxation than when you can relax knowing everything you needed to get done for the week is done.

Tip 5. Let sh*t go

This is important. If you feel the ship going down, it’s time to throw crap overboard. Meaning, you won’t always get everything done. You won’t always make every deadline. You won’t always be able to stop yourself from crying into your morning Cheerios. But that’s how it goes. It’s okay to lessen your load when you really need to. So, pick your sacrificial lamb and get on with it. Your next task already awaits your attention.

So, student mothers, don’t be daunted by the prospect of the upcoming school year. You can make all of your goals and still manage to keep your sanity. It won’t be easy, but you know as well as I do, that if you’ve survived labor… Need I say more?