When I tell people I chose to start my part-time MBA when I was already a parent of one daughter (now two) while managing a career with long hours, the question immediately was some variation of “How did you keep from completely losing it?”
Now that I am in the last leg of the MBA program, here are some survival tips for prospective fellow parent Langoners, who may be considering this dive into the unknown:
- Take advantage of naptime (your kid’s). These few moments of silence afforded over the course of a weekend are the best time to catch up on that “Managing Growing Companies” paper or preparing the one page of notes for the “Global Economy” final. Any time your children are preoccupied should be utilized to the fullest.
- That time on the subway when you used to zone out with plugs in your ears? Instead print and read that HBS case study the professor assigned. As an added bonus you will feel like the smartest person in the car!
- Prepare in advance! In general, the workload for many classes tends to accumulate around midterm or finals. If you wait to catch up at that time, you will have either a rebellious weekend at home, or an undesirable grade to look forward to. The reality is that you will have to start studying at least a week before the unattached do.
- When you have research papers or presentations where you get to choose the company? Pick Walt Disney, Toys R Us, or something along those lines. You are already very familiar with this firm by now, and your kids will actually be interested in your class work for a change.
- Have a VERY VERY supportive spouse. Get them something extra special for the holidays.
In all seriousness, it is very possible to balance the multiple roles required from an MBA program while working and raising kids. Time management is critical and very possible. You might also find some of the coursework is invaluable in your role as a parent! “Power and Politics” may be just as useful in dealing with office issues as with a 5-year old.