For all you super busy stay-at-home mom's, this sounds outrageous. I can hear you angrily exclaiming, "Oh, your kids must not be real people. It cannot be possible to read Systematic Theology with all those blinky, singing toys and crying babies in the background. Katherine, you are a liar!"
You're right. It's not easy.
(And we've consistently kept loud toys out for that very reason.)
How is it possible to earn a master's degree while having two babies?
I'll answer that question in 3 Parts:
Part 3: Ways for "Making Time Matter" During Seminary
Part 4: During Seminary I Did Not ...
Part 5: Reflections on My Children's Experience with Seminary
Without further ado:
Ways for "Making Time at Home Matter" During Seminary
1. Paying attention in class: Class was the number one opportunity to learn material during the week. If I tracked in class, studying later on was way easier.
2. Taking comprehensive notes: I wrote down every word my professors said. Every. Single. Word. Including random jokes. This kept me engaged and again, made studying easier.
3. Reading and homework every weeknight: We consciously spent time together as a family in the afternoon through to dinner, baths, and bedtime stories. However, when the kiddo's were sleeping, Mark and I were studying. (For me, this almost always included naptime as well. Well, unless I was napping at naptime.)
4. Observing the Sabbath: We did our best to refrain from studying on Sundays. A good Sabbath rest was good for our souls and made the rest of the week way more productive! If possible, we tried to take Saturday off as well, but that rarely worked.
5. Discussing class content with each other and classmates: This was important, because it helped reinforce material without having to do extra studying. The more we thought about what we were learning, the more we actually learned.
6. Making library time productive: Library time was rare, and therefore, precious. We used it well!
7. Reading in advance: No break was ever a complete break. The day one semester ended, reading commenced for the upcoming semester.
8. Digging into friendships: Relationships were one of the most significant aspects of our seminary experience. We always took off for dinner with friends, parties, and so on. This helped remind us that the goal of seminary is ministry and a huge aspect of ministry is relationship.
9. Allowing for "wasted brain time": We let our brains relax. My main non-seminary activity was decorating. When I wasn't thinking about philosophy, I was thinking about furniture. Mark played basketball (when I let him) and watched dumb sci-fi shows.
10. Maintaining perspective: Mark and I consistently reminded ourselves and each other why we were working so hard. I often would groan (weekly during Greek II), that I was going to quit, because seminary was only my "hobby" and it was just too hard. Mark would remind me (weekly) that "we are putting too much time and energy into this thing for it to be your hobby." This would be followed by, "Go do your homework!" We'd remind ourselves that we loved the Lord and desired to serve his church in an official capacity. We'd remind ourselves that he was strong enough to sustain us!
Throughout the course of seminary, I envisioned this moment over and over and over. One day, it finally happened.
- Focus your mind and make it work when you are given the time to do so. (1, 2, 6).
- Consistently use spare time well. (3, 7).
- Work with other people. (5, 8).
- Maintain perspective and envision your goal. (10).
- Rest. (4, 9).
Lesson Learned: There was not just one aspect that made seminary work. It was a combination of many aspects related to time management. And, the Lord is good.