I completed my first year of graduate school as a mother of a two year old (and I was also pregnant for the entirety of the second semester). With the exception of a few particular points (mid-terms, finals, and group project deadlines), it was not difficult. P was working full-time but did not take any classes and A was in part-time daycare. This meant that I had free time for homework in between classes, and anytime I needed extra time in the evenings, P took over childcare and I could escape to the library, a coffee shop, anywhere away from the house. I essentially did all my assignments in the same back room at the library or holed up in a study carrel late at night in the almost completely dark law school library.
This year, A is three and is in half-day preschool (and we plan to stop her enrollment mid-October, since my parents will be with us until Christmas). P is still working full-time but is also taking two classes. I am only taking one class. L was two and a half weeks old when classes began (she is seven weeks old now).
Because I’m only taking one class, which meets once a week for three hours, I fully expected the school-home juggle to be easier this semester. And yeah, in some ways, it has been. I like only having one class’s assignments and deadlines to keep track of. But over the weekend, it became apparent that we will have to be more intentional about everything this year! First of all, A is so much more demanding of our time as a preschooler than she was as a toddler. Secondly, both P and I are students, which means that I can no longer assume that P will be free in the evenings if I need to take a couple of hours to do homework (since he very well might have homework, as well). Lastly, I had forgotten how much attention a newborn needs! L is a sweet, easy baby, but is less content to not be held than A was at her age. I sat down to write a paper last night and everything took four times as long because I was simultaneously trying to keep L happy. I’d sit to write for a few minutes with L on the swing… L would fuss, so I would move her to the front-carrier… fifteen minutes later she would want to move again. It was just hard to keep any sort of momentum going on my work.
P and I have agreed that the days of procrastination have to be put behind us if we’re going to survive this semester. We need to plan everything the week ahead and take turns covering childcare so the other person can fully focus on whatever work is at hand. We learned the hard way last night, but hopefully this single experience of both having to start the week on 2-3 hours of sleep will ensure that we’ll plan things better next time!