Ever since I started Physician Assistant school in January it’s been amazing having SO many women reach out to me about their concerns about starting PA school as moms. I have been meaning to write this post for awhile now. Since I am a mere 14 weeks away from being done with my didactic portion I thought now would be good! We’ve survived 11 months so far so we must have it figured out right? HA. Anyway, my goal for this post is to show that not only can you survive PA school with kids, you can actually thrive.
A little backstory before I get into my tips. I started PA school when Emmalyne was 2 and Bryn was 5 weeks. Going to PA school as a parent is not for the faint of heart …. it is exceptionally challenging every step of the way, but with careful thought and some organization it doesn’t have to be as daunting as you think. I spent a lot of time worrying about starting PA school with kids and also put some thoughts into how I could make the process easier for us. I encourage you to do the same. Read these tips and then make them their own!
Tips for Surviving PA School With Kids
1. Establish your support system. As a military family we have zero family here in Georgia and Chris travels for work sometimes which was worrisome for me. So I had to get creative. We have a fantastic babysitter who is available if we are in a pinch. Neither of our mothers currently work so I always try to have them schedule one of their visits for super busy times. We also have great friends who would be there for us if we needed them. Surround yourself with your “people” … it takes a village to get a mom through PA school 😉
2. Know you can’t do it all. There is going to have to be give somewhere. I can’t do ALL the things I want to do so I have to be able to prioritize. My family always comes first but I also know that there are times where other things have to take precedence.
3. Get your spouse on board. If you’re married now is the time to have some serious talks about expectations. I know that many of us in relationships struggled at the beginning of PA school with balancing our academic life with our relationships. What works well for us is scheduling our dates – whether they be on the couch or getting a babysitter finding that time is important. It’s also important to have your spouse’s support 100% because PA school will be challenging not only for you but for them. Chris has had to shoulder a much larger burden here at home than he did in the past.
4. Get organized. I would be lost in the sauce if I wasn’t well organized. I meal plan every week which helps us on my late nights. I take some time on the weekend to prep for the week which makes lunches and dinners throughout the week a lot easier. I have a Google calendar with all my classes (since they change based on instructor availability) that I can send to Chris. Staying organized helps keep us all eating mostly healthy, relatively sane, and predominately happy.
5. Enlist some help. If you’re able to get some help around the house. I have an amazing neighbor who cleans houses and comes to my house once a week. This is a luxury but it helps Chris and I tremendously. I only have her clean my kitchen and the bathrooms – it costs less money but hits the areas that need it the most and take the most time.
6. Get enough sleep. If you prioritize your time well you don’t have to stay up late. I got to bed every night by 10PM and get up by 5:30AM. I have found that I do not function on little to no sleep and it’s more important that I feel rested. I use my time wisely during the day and have literally never pulled an all-nighter.
7. Find a place to study. Studying at home is really hard so you have to find a place to make it work. For awhile I was studying at a local coffee shop every Sunday which was great. Now I have found I can hide upstairs in our bonus room when I have to. That way I am still available for Chris but I get the (relatively) uninterrupted time I need.
8. It goes fast. Like so so so fast. So just embrace the suck and know it will be over before you know it 😉
9. Remember your WHY. Your WHY is so very important to keep you going. When time gets tough remember WHY you’re doing this and hold on to that like a lifeline. There are very few things more gratifying than living your passion.
10. When all else fails have a glass of wine. It works every time.
I reached out to a couple of my classmates with kids and this is what they said:
“PA school with kids is definitely hectic. You have to realize that you cannot do everything alone, so get help from your family and/or friends. To help older kids (7 yrs +) feel engaged with PA school, talk to them about your school and compare with their school, practice your physical exam skills on them and let them practice on you, and teach them what you are learning, as appropriate. One child likes to sit beside me and read my slides or book with me as I study. You never stop being a parent while you are in PA school, but you do have to manage your time and energy daily so that you do not burn out.”
– Peju (mom of 2)
“PA school amplifies the normal difficulties of family life by adding a very large and extended stress. I have found that I have prioritize my time on a weekly, and even daily, basis. Most weeks I am more willing to give up sleep than family time, so I have some weeks with much less sleep than I would prefer, but it is definitely worth it. Also, having an awesome wife definitely helps (more than I can describe in a few sentences).”
–Drew (Father of 4)
As always, I am available by email and would love to hear from you! I have met some incredible moms through Instagam and this blog who are inspiring every day as Physician Assistants and students alike! Got to support the #MomsInMedicine and #StudentMoms 🙂
If you have gone to grad school or work outside the home what is your #1 biggest tips for other moms?