If you’re wondering if you should attempt a PharmD program when you have kids at home and all the stuff that comes with having kids at home….take heart…..the good news is that it is doable, but it is a balancing act. I have two middle school aged sons who are very active in extracurricular activities, and who have increasingly difficult homework with which they often need help. My husband and I are self-employed, and we are active in our church. Even though you will have to develop strategies that work for your particular family dynamic, let me share what has helped me during my journey at Campbell.
You will have to make sacrifices. Make sure you know what you are willing to sacrifice and what you are not. Time management is key. You must identify the highest priority task continually. I ask myself several times a day, “What is the best use of my time…..right now?” Sometimes the answer to this question is, “Playing with my kids”. Asking myself this question has helped me decide when to study, work with my children on their activities, manage home duties, work with my husband on his business, sleep, etc. Usually, I make the decision based upon what will give me the highest return on investment. Sorry, housework, you will usually lose out to studying or family responsibilities. Just enjoy the thought that you’ll have a clean home and beautiful yard someday after school is over…or when you retire. Your kids are only with you for a short while so don’t miss it, even while you’re in school. Other sacrifices I am willing to make are not watching TV, not reading books or magazines that take away from study time and not going out to every event that comes my way.
I treat school just like I would any other job. I have set hours to work, do schoolwork, manage the household, and have family time, but still try to remain flexible in case things don’t work according to schedule. The calendar is your friend. I use my Google calendar and update it regularly, but it is not set in stone.
Recognize that TV and social media can become time wasters. I’m not saying don’t watch TV or get on social media. In fact, Facebook has been essential for sharing information with my classmates. Just realize that five minutes catching up on what everyone is doing can turn into an hour or more. You have to be ruthless about setting limits on what you allow to eat up your time.
Be able to say “No” graciously. You will get requests from friends, family, work, and other organizations that perhaps you could say “Yes” to before starting school. You may not be able to lead that Sunday School class, work as many hours, chaperone field trips, or be the Room or Team Parent anymore. That’s okay! Allow someone else to grow in that area. You will also need to be selective about how many student organizations you join at school. Pick the ones that best align with your career goals, or hold the most interest for you and get involved with those.
Depending on the ages and abilities of your kids, get some child labor going! It’s so good for them. I have delegated age-appropriate responsibilities to my sons. Let go of perfection! They will not do the chore the way you would, or as well as you would do it. Since my boys are a little older now, (ages 11 and 13), they do dishes, laundry, trash, make their own breakfast, and they are, of course, responsible for their room. I’m trying to get to the point where they do it automatically without my having to remind them….but we’re getting there. They also know that making good grades is their job and they are responsible for getting help from me or their teachers as needed. I expect them to make good grades so I have to “walk the talk” and get help from classmates, tutors, and professors when needed as well.
You will need support and encouragement from friends and/or family. Also, if you need peace and quiet to study (as I do), you must find some kid-free time. That might mean having to stay up late after they go to bed, or getting up earlier before they wake up. You may need to get away to a local library to concentrate, if you can arrange that. Ask friends and/or family to occupy your kids occasionally or get them involved in an organization or activity, so you can have some uninterrupted study time.
Know how you study best! This involves knowing yourself very well. For instance, I am easily distracted, and can be talkative, so I have learned that I do not study best in a group because I’ll want to talk and get off subject. I need a quiet environment free from distractions to really digest the material from class. Therefore, I use every kid-free moment to study. I record lectures on my phone and listen to them during my commute. I have a 35 minute commute one way so that’s over an hour a day (kid-free) that I just can’t lose. Before my kids get home from school, I study so that when they come home, I’m available to help them with their homework. Lastly, use your crockpot. It’s a lifesaver!
I believe you will find that it is beneficial for your kids to experience this educational journey with you! They will see you work hard, prioritize, and reap the results of your hard work. You will have opportunities to discuss what they would like to do when they grow up. If your kids are older, you might discuss what colleges they might like to attend and what it will take to get there. It is important for us as parents to model setting a goal, putting forth a good effort, and obtaining that goal. They will learn more from your example than from any parental lecture you could throw at them. Bring your kids to Campbell occasionally to roam. My boys love coming to Campbell with me on what I call “field trips”, which usually includes a stop at the bookstore, and Chic-Fil-A or Starbucks. Who knows? They may be future Campbell Camels. I hope you found this useful and good luck on your Campbell journey!