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I’m in a quandary these days, trying to figure out what to do about my study for next year. I have taken this semester off to care for my newborn baby. Maybe it’s because she’s going through a tricky period, I keep telling myself that this is the worst it will be and will probably only last another month and then she should have a fairly set routine and life can resume some sort of normality.

I really miss my study, reading, and writing. My brain is overloaded with all the details that need attending to each day – not only the usual day to day routine of looking after three children and homework etc, but also preparing for another move in one month’s time to another house, a mountain of paperwork I’m slowing working my way through, all finance work including changing banks & new mortgages, and trying to help my son who is going through a difficult period right now. I feel emotionally and physically drained all the time. Yet mentally I feel very undernourished. Yes I’m overloaded with lots of details to attend to but I feel like my brain is living off junk food and what it is craving is a long, slow, nourishing meal. For me, that means reading a history book or journal article.

My latest purchases

My latest purchases

I scrape together bits of time here and there for some satisfaction but it’s not enough. This is the challenge I face as a mother. How do I get the balance right between caring for my family and attending to all the finance and paperwork, not to mention housework, as well as taking care of myself (whether that be studying/working, exercise, talking with friends, down-time of some sort)? This is a challenge for all mothers and fathers.

My marriage is, I suppose, a fairly old-fashioned one in that I’m married to a man who works very long hours in a high responsibility job and, therefore, high stress as well. So that means I need to do the vast majority of taking care of the children etc, etc. As I feel everything is on top of me right now I find it hard to picture myself at the end of February next year, when my baby will be 6 months old, and trying to study about 20 hours each week. Yes, my 4 year old will be at pre-school/kindy 2 days per week and I will have a babysitter for 2 days a week in school hours to take care of my baby and 4 year old so I know the time will be there to study but sometimes it’s tempting to use that time to attend to the finance and paperwork. It’s hard to draw the line and say ‘no, this time is for me and my future career’.

So this is where my dilemma comes in. From next year should I study two subjects (20hrs/week) each semester or one subject (10hrs)?  If I only do one then the extra time I have can be used to alleviate the stress of attending to everything else so that my afternoons & weekends are free to spend with my children: helping my son with his homework, special projects, sport training, and learning an instrument, also helping my 4yr old daughter learn the alphabet, numbers, using a pencil, scissors etc in preparation for school in 2015, as well as just spending some quality time with them. In my heart I want to really be there for them in the afternoons & weekends but unless I get my act together and come up with a better system for dealing with paperwork, bills, and a storage system for toys then I end up spending a lot of time working on those in the afternoons and weekends. And that’s what will happen if I study 20 hours per week and am not organised.

Our children - I know they won't be this young for long

Our children – I know they won’t be this young for long

Also, something to consider: if I study 20hrs/week I can finish my degrees in 3 years (that is, by the end of 2016). I’ve already been studying since the beginning of 2010. I don’t really want to drag this on forever as I really want to move onto a Masters and then hopefully a PhD. Until all three of my children are in school, in 2019, I don’t want to study full-time.

In the end I think I will attempt to study 20hrs/week and if after a month it isn’t working well I can pull out of one subject with no penalty. I think, in trying to make it work, my Italian grades will have to suffer. In 2012 I took some subjects that, for the first time, I only achieved Passes and Credits in, and that hit my ego hard. I’d become so used to only receiving Distinctions and High Distinctions. I suppose this comes back to that old adage ‘You can’t have it all’. I’m going to have to accept there’s only so much I can do pretty well. I’ve never expected perfection in myself but how do you work out what to spend less effort on?

I’d love to hear about what changes you’ve made to get your life ‘balanced’.

Life with a young baby is so full on - it's hard to imagine life ever getting easier!

Life with a young baby is so full on – it’s hard to imagine life ever getting easier!

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