Notes from surviving exams after a new child-
I have *finally* completed my final ARE!!! PPD. Which also happened to be the exam that I took before my life got chaotic for a bit. I had been well on my way to finishing exams, completed 4 and had planned to take my final two after I had found I was pregnant. Unfortunately for me, I had one of those nightmare pregnancies and was bedridden for about 6 months. It completely derailed the momentum I had going into my final lap of exams. Between the pregnancy, having to step away from work, postpartum, and finding my way with my new role as mom, I found myself back at the bottom of a new impossible mountain. I had been lucky enough to take some time off work to finish my exams, but as any stay at home mother can tell you- it’s no walk in the park. This time I had to do it with a little one in tow. My old study habits and routines were no longer options. My study group went on to finish as planned. I had never felt so alone or invisible in our field. It led to me figuring out how to cobble together a decent enough strategy for my final exams. I share these not to judge anyone else’s journey, but as an option to consider or pick and choose from. I remember reading the forums and searching if anyone had any suggestions and coming up short.
First- ask and accept for help. As a control freak/type a/enneagram 1, I get how hard this is. But you can’t do this alone anymore, because you’re not alone! I found myself needing to be flexible for other peoples schedules. Friends and family were able to pitch in a day here or there each week and between enough people I was able to usually study twice a week during the week, leaving my weekends open for family time. On occasion, vice versa when our resources had others had plans or were sick.
Second- get out of the house! I was sharing with a friend how i couldn’t make progress on my prep because of all the distractions pulling me into house mode instead of study mode. She suggested I go back to our college habits. I found a coffee shop near enough that I could be available for an emergency but far away enough that I got to switch my hat from mom to me.
Third- be honest about how much time you need to effectively study. I found that my brain could really only handle about 4 hours of active studying, 2-3 times a week. Pre mom life that answer was laughably longer. Make the time you have count. Make mini lesson plans in advance of your study day/time so you can hit the ground running. Also, if your life is anything like mine, there is only active recovery. So don’t overdo it because you may still need some gas in the tank when you get home.
Most importantly, believe in yourself. Vent, let it out, feel the doubt as it comes, but then remind yourself you’ve already accomplished so much. Even preparing for these exams is something to be acknowledged and celebrated. There are so many people in the field who don’t even make it this far, and without the added stress of a new child. The journey may look a little different and a little longer than it may have when you first started, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Good luck to any and all of you, know that I am rooting for you!
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