Is Going Back to School Worth it When You Have Kids?

Luckily, I was already enrolled in my MBA (Master’s in Business Association) when I became pregnant with my son. Otherwise, I probably would have talked myself out of it. I also had the advantage of my employer covering most of the bill, so I had an obligation even with the challenges ahead. Was it worth it? Absolutely, and here’s my experience.

Warning, while I write about plenty gender-neutral topics, this one is from a mother’s perspective. Regardless, I challenge you to read to understand the challenges women face in building their careers and growing the skills that further their chances at equal pay.

How it Started

When I was pregnant with my son, I was hired for a job specifically because I had already started my MBA. My husband and I were married for less than six months and already planned to move our home and jobs.

Two nights a week, I drove back and forth between work and class, a total of 90 minutes each way. I sat in silence while I smelled multiple dinner flavors that made me ill while managing “morning” sickness. I was exhausted, excited, and nervous as we stayed up late researching homes for our growing family.

I was thankful my education program provided flexibility. I was able to pause my MBA classes while in my 3rd trimester to avoid birthing my son on the side of the highway or missing my final if I went into labor that week. Shout out to the schools for making the challenges doable for women! For some, once you’re in it, you’re committed, and there is no pausing for life as you go.

My Son was Born

My son was born in May, and while not planned that way, it allowed me to take the summer off to focus on being a mom. My employer not only supported my tuition, but I had six weeks of paid maternity leave that allowed me to focus on what was most important at that time.

Full disclosure, I had no idea how to change a diaper when my son was born, so I was on a steep learning curve as a new mom. The time to heal and bond with my son passed quickly before jumping back to work mid-summer.

Overall, the timing worked out well because I had a couple of months to focus on being a mom before going back to work. Since classes didn’t start again until August, I was already back into the swing of things at work before adding in the school workload and commuting. Each step built up to be slightly more challenging, and I was thankful to build back up versus jumping back in full swing.

Back to School

It was the Fall Semester, and I started driving back and forth 90 minutes two days a week after a full day at work. My son was only three months old, and I was stressing hard about being away from my baby and figuring out how to keep milk cold for the 15+ hrs a day I would be gone.

Side note, if you would like my perspective and learn about the products that helped me breastfeed through a master’s degree and multiple business trips, read about it here.

It was not uncommon for me to go all day without seeing my son and only squeezed him when I woke up in the middle of the night. I was tired but appreciative because the tasks of the following day quickly whisked him away again. I look back on pictures holding my son while working assignments on my computer late in the evening after work, hair loss and all. They make me smile and realize how strong I can be if I charge ahead.

Reflecting Back

As I look back at that time, the short three years it took me to get my MBA are pretty minimal compared to the length of time I have with my children. Being gone a couple of days a week also provided my husband the opportunity to bond with his son in a way that many dads never experience. It wasn’t easy, and I absolutely could not have done it without the support of my husband. However, my graduation picture where I’m holding my son only days after his first birthday is one of my proudest moments as a mother to look back on.

While balancing this chaos, my coworker reminded me that children are resilient, and as long as our children are cared for by loving individuals who treat them well, they will be just fine. I believe my persistence to go back to school and improve myself will leave a more lasting impact on my children.

Lastly, in the spirit of financial independence, investing time into my MBA allowed me to grow my skills and income that otherwise may not have been possible. Building that income earlier in my life while my children are young, I can now increase my savings and have the flexibility to adjust my work/life balance in the future regardless of income. If stepping away to spend more time with my children later in life is something I decide to do, I have a higher likelihood of doing so with the time value of money on my side.

Questions to Consider

  • Have you been considering going back to school but are hesitant to do so?
  • What challenges do you face that are making you question your decision?
  • Have you considered your return on investment when investing in a degree?
  • Does investing in yourself provide an opportunity for someone else to bond with your children who otherwise wouldn’t be able to? Spouse, grandparents, etc.?
  • How do you want your children to perceive you when they are older and are you living up to that vision?

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