Mom’s Next Move: Balancing School and Family Like a Pro
Mom's Next Move is back May 4! If you're a mom considering going back to school and can't silence the doubts in the back of your mind, College of Western Idaho student, Tehani Schnupp wants you to know you can.
Starting on Monday, May 4 we'll start taking nominations for one mom to receive a full year's scholarship to the College of Western Idaho. While you use your quarantine time to think about whether this is the right step for you, Tehani wants you share her CWI experience with you to give you an idea of what your future could look like.
Going back to school was a HUGE decision for her. She's a mom of five who took point on conducting getting everyone to where they needed to be on time and was worried that going to school would make her less of a mom. Tehani was pleased to realize that balancing her family and school work actually brought the family closer together! It wasn't easy though. There were definitely tears and frustration, but here's her inspiring story of how it all comes together!
Finding the Balance
The decision to go back to school as a wife and mother was not easy. Before returning to school, life consisted of dragging four out of five kids out of bed each morning, making breakfast, and packing healthy lunches with embarrassing “mommy loves you” sticky notes included. Then it was time to get these four kids to three different schools (elementary to high school) all with different start times. After that whirlwind drop off, I would oversee pre-school for my youngest at home, make lunch time for him, then follow up with an afternoon volunteer time at the elementary school.
At that point, it was time to collect the kids from their multiple schools, race home to get some homework and dinner taken care of, then head out to whichever sport practice(s) were on the schedule. With five kids, of course, we do it all: volleyball, spring and fall soccer, wrestling, basketball, softball, and even a dash of piano lessons in there. This routine is a calculated dance, with multiple family members cutting in to help with drop offs and pick-ups. And then it was home to showers for the teenagers and bed-time stories for the little ones before I would drag myself to bed and set the alarm for 5:45am to start the whole thing over again.
After going back to school, I maintained my normal schedule but replaced my class volunteer time with my own on campus classes. CWI offered so many great options for classes like online class, hybrid classes (only on campus once a week) and night classes. Balancing these class offering options helped me achieve my academic goals. Eventually, I found that attending class was easier than building in the study time after class. Initially, I did my homework while the kids did theirs after school. It felt very Brady Bunch, all of us sitting at the table doing our homework. However, interruptions from kids who needed homework help, or a snack made it very difficult Within a week, I was in tears—I couldn’t hold a train of thought long enough to complete an assignment. Even more, the kids were frustrated that I was so irritated with their constant needs, and it usually ended with a total collapse of all nutritional value in a pizza delivery dinner.
Unwilling to accept this kind of day as the new norm, my husband and I took my failed layout and restructured it. We asked my in-laws to take my littlest one for a few extra hours so that I could go to campus a few hours before my classes and work on my homework there, while my husband left work early a couple nights each week to run point on the kids, homework, sports and music practices while I locked myself upstairs to study. This allowed me to be 100% there, as I had always been when the kids were out of school. Things like crock pot “dump in” meals have been solutions I found to still get my family healthy dinners without requiring a lot of time. In addition, maintain a family calendar to organize weekly events, and learning new study techniques to help the kids and I be more efficient in our studies are all a part of this new life.
Unexpectedly, what has emerged in these last few semesters is a new camaraderie, as my kids and family lock arms with me to help lighten the load as I push through school. My teens offered to help watch the little ones to let me study for a bit; my husband was doing chores like laundry and dishes on days where I would get buried; and family members began spontaneously dropping off dinners. Things gradually began falling into place.
In the beginning, I worried greatly that my being in school would make me less of a mom and that the needs of my family that I liked meeting would take a back seat to my academic demands. Not so. I’ve been surprised to find that school has actually made me more relatable to my kids. When they tell me that they hate doing their homework, they know I get it because they have seen me stay up all night doing homework. When they say a class is so hard, they know I get that too because they have seen me have to go into tutor on classes multiple times in a week to work through a hard class. They have seen me fight for my grades. The things the kids are studying now, I can actually pull out my own books and show them where this applies. My high school daughter was struggling in a math section working on quadratic equations. She told me that she would never use this stuff again. So, I went over and grabbed my math book from my math class I was in that semester and showed her exactly where she would use that material again, because I was using it right now in my college classes. And then I was able to help her learn the material.
I was not just mom on the sidelines, telling them to work hard and that they could do this. I was mom actually having to work hard in the same way to do this. And this mom holds her head up a little higher when I have the highest GPA of the semester and I get to put my A+ tests on the fridge too. It makes my mom heart so happy when I overhear the kids say “guys we have to match mom’s GPA!” Those first day of school pictures find me now not only behind the camera taking those pictures of my kids, but now being in the pictures too when we head out the door to our first day of the new school year.
Going back to school as a wife and mother of five kids has been the hardest, most terrifying, most incredible goal I have ever pursued. My achievement is shared among the many people who have worked to bear the weight of this task with me, so in that it is something we all worked toward. Going back to school has given me far more than it has taken from me, and what it has taught me has gone so far beyond anything I learned in my class books. Going back to school has taught me that being a mom doesn’t mean that it’s late for me to go back to school. Being a mom has actually uniquely trained me to balance a million different things at once and still rock a 4.0 GPA. Maybe everyone should have to be a mom for a month before going back to school.