How to Survive Seminary with Young Children

A few pieces of advice on how to pursue a seminary education while having young (not yet ready for school) children at home.

1. It’s okay to say no. You don’t have to do everything all at once. You don’t have to do everything that the “cool” seminary kids are doing. No is not always an absolute, viagra sometimes no means “not yet.”

2. Find a specific space to do your schoolwork. I learned really quickly that I cannot do school work at home. There are too many distractions. Even if the babies are down for a nap, cialis I find I use that time to relax and unwind. I had to physically leave the house to do work, cialis sale and found myself either in the library or in the coffee shop.

3. Know your limits. I cannot do homework in the evenings. After a busy day of chasing two little ones, all I want to do is sit on the couch, watch television and snuggle with my husband.

4. Be prepared for the inevitable. It never fails: three days before the major paper is due, the kids get sick. Because we are on the modular system here at the seminary, we have eight weeks after the week-long intensive to do our final assignments. I purposefully put the due date in my calendar to show it being due a full week early. That way if the entire house comes down with puking-itis a cushion of time has been created.

5. Know that at least once a week you’ll feel like you’re not mom enough. This is normal. It will pass.

6. Know that at least once a month someone will tell you that you’re not mom enough.
a. This can come through direct comments: “Young kids suffer without their mothers.”
“You know you can’t practice attachment parenting if you’re not willing to sacrifice for your kids.” “You’re missing their childhood. They grow up so quickly, do you really want to miss out?” “Oh isn’t it nice, you have a hobby!”
b. Or it can be built into small group teaching: Someone leads a bible study on how to be a good Christian mom, and talks about what it means to be a biblical mother, including, “make sure you greet your husband at the door with a kiss because he’s had a long day at work. Your job is to make sure the house is an oasis when he comes home.” “A Christian mother is marked by self-sacrifice. God will reward you in heaven for your faithfulness and devotion to your kids.”

7. Make date-night a priority. Even if it’s just once a month, carve out time to go out on a date with your husband. Go to a nice restaurant. Go to a movie. Talk about something other than school or kids.

8. Don’t hide the fact that you’re going to school from your kids; find ways to have them participate. Let your preschooler carry your books as you walk to the library. Let them pretend to be doing homework, “just like momma”. Talk about what you’re studying at the dinner table.

9. Pray.

10. Get plenty of sleep. Even if it means crashing at 8pm (or sometimes even earlier).

11. Recognize that it will probably take twice as long. If it’s a two-year program, it will probably take three, four or five years to complete. That’s okay.

Some of the challenges and assumptions that you encounter will be specific to your family dynamic and the seminary that you choose to attend.

When we were looking at moving to Caronport everyone said that this was a great community for kids. What they meant was it’s a great community for school-aged kids. For babies, toddlers and preschoolers, it is a bit different. True there is a moms and tots, but it only meets once a week. There is no structured (subsidized) daycare in Caronport. So you have to find someone who does daycare in their home. The preschool, which has in the past taken 3 and 4 year olds is only taking 4 years olds this fall (just as my oldest was turning 3 and we were gearing up for her to attend). There is nowhere to take the kids to play when it’s 40 below, so a bunch of moms end up walking the halls of the college to just get out of the house with the kids.

Despite the challenges and struggles and sacrifices and stress, a seminary education is not only possible to do with young children, but is highly enjoyable.

  • Bev

    I should have seen this a few years ago LOL My one year program is on year 4, I think. No, 5. I sent the kids away for a few days before major papers were due. Thankfully grandparents lived near enough to do that. But then one was in school and the other not and that ended that – and seminary for awhile.

    • sending kids away is a great idea if grandparents are close enough. Unfortunately for us, grandparents are far flung (Alaska and Ontario). 🙂

  • I find it amazing how many people feel free to comment on the parenting skills of their student peers and heard many similar comments to the ones you posted when my husband was at seminary. Aiii yiiii….. Also was amazed at how many bible studies went on around the campus led by people with no college or seminary training at all and which focused on the types of odd “wife and mother ideas you mentioned. Since we were at seminary to get away from that very type of thing I admit I was naive and therefore shocked by those studies going on around me on campus.

    • “I find it amazing how many people feel free to comment on the parenting skills of their student peers”

      Everyone’s entitled to my opinion. 🙂

  • But you see Charles……..you have training that would give you a right to an opinion. Now whether or not you should voice it……..hmmmmmm…….hohoho!

  • Amanda, I seriously hope 6.a-b are not exactly quotes. I have a feeling they are – but I seriously hope you weren’t told that. Sheesh, how judgmental can you get?

    • Indeed they are exact quotes…

  • Janice

    I seriously hope I have never made any of the comments in 6.a/b!! I think you’re amazing for even attempting to do this with small children, and am totally jealous that you have enough brain to accomplish it (mine came out with the placenta…). I also agree that C-port has lots of activities for school aged children, not much for the younger crowd. What little brain I had left after having children was pretty much sucked out of me trying to endure the first winter we were here…

    • Nope I don’t think you have Janice!

      re: Enduring the first winter. I hear you. Our first winter was awful! Thankfully this last winter was much better (and milder).

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  • This post is so awesome in so many ways. (I came here from a BibleWorks link on Facebook.) Thank you for this much needed perspective.

    Since 2008 I have been juggling children, seminary, and work/vocational ministry as a dad. It ain’t easy. And #6 is, sadly, much more something that women/moms in seminary have to put up with than men/dads do. Regarding #5, though, I can agree with you that there are quite a few times when I don’t feel dad enough to my little ones….

    However, some of my most rewarding moments have been when I was at home plowing through Hebrew and Greek vocabulary flashcards, and my oldest (3 at the time) came and snuggled with me on my lap and asked me to read the words to him. Those 15 or so Greek words we did together that week are ones I’ll never forget!

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  • Kali

    Knowing Jake he won’t forget them either!