“Wow, a full time job, EMBA, and two young kids – how do you manage it all?”
I get this all the time. I’m not being conceited saying this, I really do get asked this all the time.
Depending on the day it either makes me feel like a superstar or a total fraud.
If you’re a mom considering an EMBA, listen to me. Come closer. Look at me when I’m talking to you.
There are not many of us and there are good reasons why. Juggling a full-time job and an EMBA, a full-time job and kids, and an EMBA and kids – these are all hard to do. Doing all three at the same time might be insane.
But here’s the secret. Managing all three at once is not that bad. It might even be easier than ‘just’ two at a time.
Why? You have to create systems, you have to get a support structure in place and you have to let go. For me, doing this degree has required I step back from the management of every single detail of my children’s lives. This is not always easy to do but I am convinced we are all happier for it.
Obviously this may vary based on the ages of your children. I would not recommend trying to juggle work, EMBA, and newborn (especially not if it’s your first baby). My kids are still quite young – especially my 2-year-old – and ideally I’d have waited until she was a bit older. But for my own reasons I decided this was the time for us.
So here are some lessons I’ve learned and some advice (moms can’t resist giving advice; feel free to ignore):
- You will miss out on time with your kids. You will feel badly about this. Some days you will feel terrible about it. If your kids are still quite small, they will play on this and make you feel worse. “I hate London Business School, I hate it!”
- Your classmates will take trips to Germany for Oktoberfest and Italy for ski weekends. You will be tempted to join them until you remember how much they need you at home. This will bother you less than you think.
- You will not do all of the required reading for your classes. And you won’t even bother to look at the ‘recommended reading’.
- You will take the required 6 electives and not a one more.
- Where you once carried diapers (nappies) in your bag, you will now carry case studies to read during any free moment. Your retention will be lousy, so take good notes.
- The support of your employer will be imperative. If your boss is not on board with your doing the EMBA, switch jobs before you even consider it. You simply cannot feel apologetic across all parts of your life. My advice is that you remind your employer – in a soft, ‘we’re-all-in-this-together’ sort of way – that supporting working moms is good for the business, good for society, and good for his/her career (because it is).
- The support of your partner will also be make or break. He will need to do more parenting to make up for your absence. If you’re like us (and most couples), this will be an adjustment. But it will also be great for your kids. You already know this, but now you will have to put it into practice.
- You will need more help around the house. Spend some money, it will make a bigger difference than a new pair of shoes or a nice bag. We have a housekeeper. I send out the laundry, get milk delivered, buy all of our everyday groceries online, and order healthy prepared meals to keep in the freezer. Most vitally, we have an au-pair who lives with us. I know, I know – you can’t imagine having a stranger living in your house. You will get over this when you realize how important it is to have an extra parent.
- You will need an extra parent. This will be difficult for you to accept sometimes. But your au-pair will become a vital member of your family (if not, fire her and find another). Although you will feel sad and even jealous watching your children cuddle her when you head out the door for an early-morning class, your children will learn that more people than their parents find them lovable and fascinating and maddening. They will learn to be flexible and accommodate differences.
- The EMBA passes quickly. Just as you had to grit your teeth and get through sleepless nights, tantrums, and toilet-training, it will all be worth it in the end. My daughters are already anticipating 7 July, the date I receive my degree. They have no idea what it all means. Someday, maybe they will. But at the minimum we will all celebrate having done this together.