On Mother’s Day, and every day, we thank you
Balancing a family, work, and education all while being a mother is no easy feat—yet many of our Athabasca University (AU) learners wear all these hats, and wear them well.
One AU mom, Kim Rock, has proven that you can juggle all these things at once, and was awarded the 2020 Working Parent Scholarship for it.
As the only person in Canada to be awarded, Rock mentioned that earning this scholarship helped validate her efforts.
“It's meaningful because of the validation that this award provides me: that my hard work is noticed and that it is worth the effort to apply for different scholarships, bursaries, and awards.”– Kim Rock
Rock finished her final course in April and has completed all the requirements needed to earn the Master of Counselling from AU. Rock had some words of encouragement for other working parents who want to continue their education.
“Make sure that you have a strong village around you. School on its own is hard, being a parent without school or work is hard, working is hard,” she said. “Tying these three roles together (school, parenting, working) means that undoubtedly you will need help at various points in your academic journey—that’s ok!”
Here’s the heartfelt essay she submitted that won her the scholarship:
Mom. It’s such a short word, but being called mom is the most important title I hold. I have other titles in my life as well such as employee, student, researcher, daughter, friend, and so forth. While I’m grateful to represent all these titles in my life, it also means I’m extremely busy. ALL. THE. TIME. Being a mom is such a tough job. Being a mom and working full time is even harder. Being a mom, working full time, and taking a full-time master’s course in counselling psychology is tremendously challenging. At times it can be a very lonely experience as none of my close friends have chosen to pursue higher education at this point in their lives. However, I know that when I successfully complete my graduate program all the stress, anxiety, and sacrifice will have been worth it. Not only will I be able to provide economic stability for my family, but I will have a career that I am proud of.
Juggling the demands of all the roles in my life is a very delicate balancing act. I need to attend my day job so that I can pay my bills. I need to submit high quality assignments so that I can pass my courses and complete my graduate degree. I need to be present and attentive in my daughter’s life to nurture and enjoy the short amount of time I have with her before she is grown up. There are a lot of I needs to manage in my life. The stress of managing all these priorities is omnipresent and relentless, but each piece is necessary to attain my goals. If I can offer any words of wisdom to other working parents who are also attending some type of post-secondary education it would be:
Raising kids truly takes a village – ask for and accept help.
Set realistic timelines and goals for yourself – hold yourself accountable to them.
Celebrate the small wins and successes – you deserve it!
There is an African proverb that states, “it takes a village to raise a child.” As a mother to one daughter, I could not agree more. Having family or friends around to help with parenting demands is a must, especially for parents juggling work and school. If family and friends are not an option, find a reliable day care provider that you can trust. There will be times you need some alone time to finish assignments or any other number of countless responsibilities as a working parent. Parents are entitled to and deserving of help!
Setting goals and timelines is something I am very committed to. If I don’t, I find that things don’t get done. To be successful with goal setting, goals and their associated timelines need to be specific and realistic. This helps me to stay on track and finish whatever tasks are at hand. School assignments can seem so overwhelming and impossible to complete with the competing priorities in life. However, if I break them down into smaller manageable steps, I can get them done (and done well!) ahead of the due date. This also allows me some cushion time in case of something unexpected happening such as a flu running through the household.
To stay on top of all the different goals and tasks I need to complete in my life, I have a day planner that I carry with me everywhere I go. This way I ensure everything gets recorded in the same place to help me avoid double booking myself and remind me of what I intend to accomplish each day or each week. I also post a monthly calendar on my fridge with everything written there as well so that my family members can see what is going on without having to ask.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, remember to celebrate the small things. Too often (especially as parents) we spend our time focusing on everyone else and ensuring our families are supported and celebrated for their accomplishments. We continuously downplay ourselves or put our desires on the backburner which can lead to feelings of resentment, or worse – even burnout. These celebrations don’t have to be big (as really, planning a bit celebration is just another thing we have to get done), but treating yourself to a relaxing bubble bath, booking a massage, or just buying that expensive coffee can feel SO good sometimes. As working parents, we do deserve to celebrate ourselves and the amazing amount of work we are getting done each and every week!
AU is incredibly proud of the commitment and perseverance our incredible learners show us. We see it every day, and we’re blown away by your profound ability to juggle so many important tasks. Thank you, moms, for all you do. Today and every day.