Guest Post: The Art of Being A Student Mama, Part 2

Melvina drops even more knowledge on day three of her guest series. Click here for part 1 and part 2. Here’s a few more tips for succeeding with your studies:

A DEDICATED PERSON: I alluded to the idea of it taking a village to raise a child idea and accepting or asking for help whenever you have an inkling of needing it! Well, I also think if you can manage it, find an extra-special person to support you. I had my (amazing!) husband, but it doesn’t actually matter who it is. The person just needs to be totally in tune with you and be there for you. Someone who is a confidante. Bear in mind though, that even your No #1 go-to person can run out of energy – just like you, they are human. They need a break too. For the times when they just can’t take any more, it’s useful to have someone else – luckily I had one of these too, though I’m not sure she knows how great she was. I’ll be sure to tell her again!

A DEDICATED SPACE: Create a space that is for you. A space where you can leave your books for an hour (to rest/play/cook/clean) and where you can be sure that when you get back, they’ll still be there. Luckily, we have a 3 bedroom house, so one room is ‘our’ MY study. To an outsider its full of post-its, pin board, spidergrams, stacks of paper piled randomly, topped with books and journal articles. To me, this was the basis of my work – if anything was touched – I’d know. Even if it’s just a corner in your lounge/bedroom, try to have a small space that is yours. A space where you get into the ‘zone’ and get your geek on!

YOU time: OK, I know I just said that you should focus on your studies BUT you’ve gotta have something else too. Something that isn’t kid-related or study-related, but something that is JUST.FOR.YOU. Something that YOU enjoy. I know you might think you don’t have time – but it’s not true. You DO have time for you, you just have to adjust your timetable and take that time out. It will mean a tiny bit less time studying, or a tiny bit less time with your loved ones BUT investing in you is an investment in your family. It’s just like on a plane, they tell you to put your life jacket on first, before helping others – there’s a reason for that. So, to clarify, you need to have it – just don’t let it take over.

KNOW WHEN TO STOP: A strong woman knows when to stop. When it is all just too much or too hard – stop. Like I said, you don’t have to prove anything to anyone. If deep down you really really feel you need a break from your studies – take the break. If you feel you need a break from your child(ren) – take the break. Everyone will thank you and it really is OK. I know someone who took 18 months off from a 3 year course because it all got too much. She went back, finished and has two very grown and handsome sons, a PhD and has also had a fabulous career! If she can do it, so can you!

That’s it girls. Like I said, I’m no expert, but I do know that if I can get my PhD, you can make it through whatever studies you are doing/contemplating too. Good luck and God bless, and maybe I’ll see you sometime on my blog Planning, Playing, Praying… BIG thanks to Tara for providing this space for gals like us – Tara – big props to you!!!!


  1. I enjoyed everyone of Melvina’s guest posts this week. It was really good to hear from another mom who has made the commitment to get her PhD and has completed that journey. Last semester my professor suggested that I start the PhD program this fall, but I choose to defer entering a program for another year or two; given that I have 3 sons (age 4 & 5) and I have spent the last 12 months accelerating my studies to complete my Master’s degree within 16 months. I felt as if I need to take break after I graduate time with my sons before I return to school. I think my decision for the deferral was also influenced by some relatives suggesting “you don’t need a PhD”. (I make a conscious effort to not listen to comments like those; but because it came from someone older; I listened)However, reading about how Melvina feels about her journey and accomplishment has given me that reassurance that I can do it too.

    Thanks Tara & Melvina

  2. Shenele,goodness me you can do it! Honestly, if you can do a masters – you so can! I hear from colleagues that a masters is much much harder than a phd because of the time constraints ie. not having 3+ years to do it in.

    3 boys?! Wow. I assume you have a set of twins then (unless it was a typo and you meant 2 boys lol)… you must have your hands full. I can imagine I would have deferred too!

    I’m sure that you’re elder family members thought they were being helpful. If you do decide to go there, get in touch…!


  3. Hi Mrs O.
    Thanks for your encouragement. I have 4 yr old twins and a 5 yr old. It can be difficult because no mom wants to put any goal etc. in front of their family etc. and I know I can accomplish any academic goal given that I am passionate about education, (love it). PhD program applications are due in January 2012, so I will send mine off in this fall for 2012 school year and take things from there.

  4. Ms. Prince says:

    I just had to say young moms rock!!! Despite what society says we are pursuing our dreams and raising wonderful children and sharing our experiences to help others out virtually. This is what life is truly about, community! Thanks to Tara it’s young mothers around the country helping each other out.

  5. thanks for this post, I really liked it and think these are some helpful tips!