My wife and I read our fair share of parenting materials to learn about caring for the baby, but the is no primer for the emotions and changes in your life that you will experience once a life is dependent on you for everything. The love you feel for your child will forever change you as a human – and it will no doubt alter your perspective as a student.
It can be challenging to excel in the classroom and fulfill your heart’s needs with your new baby, but you can strive to achieve both and here’s how:
- Communicate with your partner: You will need a support system. I rely on my wife to care for the baby when I need to devote time to my studies. We discuss a schedule, and try to keep to it as best we can. My wife is my rock through this journey, and I wouldn’t be able to do it without her.
- Work ahead: Procrastination is the worst enemy of the MBA parent. At every opportunity, I tried to work ahead with my required readings and assignments. You simply never know when you little one is rearing up for a crabby evening or weekend afternoon. Working ahead will help you to keep on track when you lose unexpected time.
- Rally from disappointment: During this first term as a new dad, I did not do as well as I hoped on all my coursework. However, I continued to look for opportunities to excel and used my organizational and time management skills to earn an “A” for my final grade. It wasn’t easy, but the challenge was as rewarding as it was draining.
- Ask for help: When my daughter arrived, I realized early that I would need help with some of my responsibilities outside the classroom. For me, yard work had become a unrelenting burden. For five long months my father shouldered this responsibility for me. I am eternally grateful for the unconditional love and support he gave me, and a large portion of my success this term was due to his willingness to help me when I needed it most.
- Intermingle your responsibilities: A baby is so grateful for your love and affection, even the smallest amount of tenderness will strengthen your connection. For me, I would read my text and case studies on the floor while my daughter played next to me on her blanket. Time like this is so very precious, and it is very reasonable to think that everyone can find moments where being a student and a parent cross paths.
- There will be tough moments: When I would arrive home from class exhausted from a long day I knew that had I missed irreplaceable time with my little one. During these difficult times, I reminded myself that to earn my MBA and give my daughter the best life possible, I must sacrifice time with her now. Although this paradox is hard to accept it is a necessary facet of life for an MBA parent.
We live our life according to the syllabus created by children, not our professors – because while business school is temporary, we will forever be parents. New parents like myself need to understand that although this syllabus can be demanding, it is filled with love, hope and positive energy for a bright future ahead.
(Featured photo courtesy of Ed Yourdon [Flickr]; blanket photo courtesy of the author)
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