Self-education possible for moms?


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Here is another reader question*:

I am a young mom, three years out of college. My husband is pursuing a graduate degree, and I am home with our baby. While I am happy that I get to stay home with my son, I often envy my husband, being able to increase his intellect and pursue academic opportunities. I feel like he is passing me by–I can’t keep up with his learning and the classes he is taking. I also feel undereducated when I join him at work parties. We don’t have the finances to send me to school (or even afford online courses), nor would I want to leave my baby with anyone else at this point. I am definitely learning a lot about parenting and childcare these days, and I also enjoy reading an occasional novel, but that doesn’t make me feel more “educated.” So I’m wondering what I can do to still advance my learning, at a university level, while I am home taking care of my son. Any ideas?

How do you continue your education as a mother?

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  1. Allyson Reynolds says

    I think subscribing to monthly journals from the field you graduated in is a great idea.  And if you can work it out in your budget and with your husband’s schedule, perhaps you could take an evening class once or twice a month at the local community college or rec. center. Most towns have tons of options. I think it’s also important to keep in mind that life won’t always be this way. Babies turn into grade schoolers (that magically disappear during school hours), grade schoolers turn into teenagers (that become extremely independent), and teenagers leave home. Some day when all the kids are gone, your husband will most likely still have another 10+ years of work before retirement (which he might not always find intellectually stimulating . . .), and you will have the opportunity to return to work, get a degree, whatever! 

  2. Alisha says

    Allyson’s idea is great. I also suggest reading a lot of nonfiction, rather than novels. I’ve found them easier to put down and pick up (since you don’t have to follow a narrative very closely), and they can be very informative. And read a good newspaper.

    I also suggest learning a new skill, even if it’s a crafty one. It may not be as challenging as a university course, but you’ll keep your mind in a pattern of learning and that will keep it sharp. A new sport is a good thing to learn, too.

    This was a hard thing for me, too, especially because I’ve found a lot of working professionals assume that at home moms are uneducated. I have taken an online course (it was great!). But I’ve realized that the time with young children is a great time to focus on learning stuff you can’t learn in a university. The best thing is you don’t have to specialize–you can learn ANYTHING. I’m no longer intimidated because I’ve realized I’ve learned a LOT more in 8 years of parenting than I learned in college.

  3. Teresa Coy says

    What a great question!!  And my answer to it is, of course you can receive a superb education while raising your children, you may just need to redefine “education” before you can.  A great book to start with is A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille ( and then just follow the path laid before you.  Our founding fathers did it and there is no reason that you can’t too!  Enjoy and always remember, when the student is ready the teacher will appear.

  4. Melanie Vilburn says

    Graduate school, especially Ivy League schools, can be intimidating places for nesting mothers.  The intimidating factor can be greatly reduced by realizing none of what those students are doing or which careers they enter afterward will matter much during their “exit interview” with God after this life passes.  To me, earth life is our true GMAT test.  Those that take being a parent seriously will pass well.  Everything else cannot compare to how our family relationships ought to and can be.

    That said, motherhood IS the most amazing responsibility any of us ladies will ever face.  Some do not take it seriously.  That is sad.  We can ROCK as moms though.  And anyone who would sniff at that just doesn’t get it.  So, study well for YOUR GMAT!

  5. Shawna says

    I can totally relate to this question! One thing that has helped me is to create one place to record all of the things I am learning. For me (a low-tech gal) that is a 3-subject notebook just like I used in college! I use the first section for any worldly/academic learning notes, the second section is for spiritual/scriptural notes, and the third is for any home/family development notes. I have filled one notebook completely, now a treasure to me, and I’m starting in on my second notebook. I really love having a tangible record of all the things I have learned and figured out during young-motherhood, and it’s always there as a reference in case I need a reminder of some tidbit I studied along the way! Also, even though I still mostly read novels with my book group, I jot down notes as I read, which helps me to have a much more analytical approach to reading than I would otherwise. Perhaps I’m not totally operating at a university level, but the study is more meaningful and useful to me when I bank it somewhere. (Thanks for the other comments! I’ll be using them!)

  6. Eve says

    I know it may sound hokey, but motherhood IS a career. To become more serious and excited to become the best Mom I could be (and find more fulfillment in it), I sought out and found some fun mentors who I looked up to and could learn from. It wasn’t about getting the gold medal. No, it was about finding enjoyment in the life I had chosen and was ahead of me, since I chose to stay at home with my children while my husband works out of the home. I didn’t want to be a martyr and feel I had had to ‘miss out’ on meaningful life in order to be a ‘good mom’.

    I have found with the Internet, and time to practice, I could learn anything! I learned about childbirth preparation and breastfeeding with my first child, enough that I became the leader of a support group for mothers and babies. I went on to study early childhood development and education so I could participate in an at-home preschool co-op with other mothers I know, which I enjoyed. I have 4 kids now and still find time to delve into my interests, whether that is finding a great book to read or learning about the bicycling routes in my area.

    Just find something you are interested in and use that as your jumping off point. I promise you, you will not be disappointed where it leads you! One things leads to another, and there is always something ‘next’ to learn! Reading blogs and websites and checking out books from the library gave me all the knowledge I needed. And when I needed to, I consulted people in my community or church group with experience on the subject I chose to study.

    I learned about health and nutrition, cooking and baking and gardening. BYU is one university that offers free personal development courses online and I took their swimming course and liked it.

    There is a world beyond graduate school and the professional worlds. I have found being a Mom means I don’t have to stay at home and ‘do nothing’. I have found time to unlock a world of mystery and learning all at my own pace! Give it time and give something a try, take up a challenge and enjoy the time this space in your life affords you now! Just remind yourself that this learning is personal, it is yours, and though no college or group of your peers will recognize you for it, it is hard-earned and will serve you and your family well all your lives! It all counts!

  7. Lisa says

    Since we love to travel I’ve been working on learning new languages and learning about new cultures. I learned enough French to get us by on our last trip and I am currently working on Italian. I’ve also been studying and learning about famous artists. I just finished learning about Michelangelo and now I’m working on Da Vinici. All thanks to the library, the internet and Rosetta Stone.

  8. Elizabeth says

    I can relate to your plight.  My husband is a very well read and highly educated man and I just wanted to be able to offer interesting points of view into the conversation when we were able to talk together….this being said, I turned to Susan Wise Bauer’s book The Well Educated Mind.  It was a wonderful resource of information that I was able to use as a spring board to keep my intellect thriving while snuggling my precious babies! 

    Hope that helps,


  9. tamara says

    My continuing educations has come in the form of books with a goal.  The latest example of this was my attempt to teach myself how to teach a pre-school gymnastics class.  Goal- make the BEST gymnastics class any parent has ever put thier kid in.  THen came the research: books- 100s from the library and dozens purchased.  Then expereince.  I took my kids to all the gym programs in the area to see what I liked and didn’t like.   I read online articles on child development, the young mind, left brain, right brain, kids with dissabilites, and the list goes on.  All to help with educating myself to the above mentioned goal. 

    Thats’ just one example.  I  feel like I do this over and over again with different things i find interesting.  I let it consume my “free” time so I don’t waste my free time online  checking email etc.  Then, when I’m bored, I move on to the next topic.  I find this very fulfilling.   Hope that helps.


    p.s- I know my spelling/ grammer in the article is insain, but I’m not working on developing that skill right now! :)

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