I Became A Father While Still In School. Here’s What Surprised Me The Most

It is such an amazing feeling becoming a father. When your newborn holds your finger for the first time, and you’re holding them with all the love in the world, you realize that you would do anything for them.

My son was born one year into my second bachelor’s degree. My goal, at the time, was to complete the program in two years. With him added to our family, I was wondering if it could still be possible.

My wife and I took the whole summer leading up to my second year to plan how our family will function while I was still in school and we were both working. Once the semester started, we implemented our plans.

There were many ups and downs with raising a newborn during the following year, but here are the things that surprised me the most about it.

  1. Daycare is ridiculously expensive

As new parents, we could not believe how expensive a traditional daycare costed. I’m talking second mortgage or vacation every month type expensive. This was probably our biggest concern while I was finishing up school. Adding an expense like this on top of everything else we had to pay was incredibly stressful.

At one point, we considered having my parents help with babysitting, but they lived over an hour away from us. Taking two hours out of our day traveling for our son on top of driving to and from work and school wasn’t feasible for us.

Instead, we decided to research the different daycare options in our area, and select the one that fit our budget as best as possible and one that we were comfortable leaving our son with.

Tip: Daycares will fill up fast for newborn care, so it’s important to research your options and get your name on a wait list for when your child reaches the minimum age that the daycare will accept.

Our budget during the year was tight, but thanks to some solid planning over the summer, we made it through to the end.

Aside from the traditional daycares, another option to consider is in-home care. This is where people take children into their homes and care for them. In-home daycares vary, but a reputable one will be licensed in the state its in, and will have good reviews. They don’t take in as many kids, but the ages of the children can vary widely. They will typically be cheaper than a traditional daycare as well.

Tip: Research all your options before deciding on care for your child. Keep in mind these options:

  • Traditional daycare
  • In-home daycare
  • friends/family

2. I felt like a natural caring for my son

This one was weirdly surprising to me. My experiences with babies and small children were very minimal. In fact, I couldn’t remember ever holding a baby prior to holding my own son. But, whenever I held my son, my heart felt full and my life complete.

I was told a few times in my life that I’d be a good father, and although I know it’s something I’ll continue working at for the rest of my life, with my son, I feel like a natural.

3. Changing diapers and cleaning weren’t an issue

When I thought about changing diapers before my son was born, I would always cringe. I’d think about the kinds of things I’d find in a diaper, the smell, and then cleaning it up. I couldn’t help but feel a little queasy.

Once he was born, however, all those feelings went away. I don’t even remember his diapers having any sort of foul smell for the first few months.

Changing his diapers was a part of caring for him, and I’d do my very best to make sure he was receiving the best care.

4. People are much more comfortable talking to you with a baby

It’s amazing to me how many strangers strike up conversations with my wife and me when we have our son. And while I’m not at my most comfortable when people engage in small talk with me, it’s easier when my son is there being the center of attention.

Other dads are incredibly supportive, too. I remember going into a men’s restroom to change my son one time, and other guys that going in and out of the restroom offered their support and words of encouragement. It’s not something I expected with my son, but it’s a great feeling.

5. My professors were incredibly supportive when it came to my son

I almost tear up thinking about this point. While I tried my best in school and got to know my professors, I didn’t expect them to be so supportive and understanding when it came to things going on with my son.

Whenever he got sick or couldn’t go to daycare for the day, I notified my professors saying I wasn’t going to be in class that day. Often, I would get a response wishing my son well or giving me an update on what’s going on in class and what I should do to prepare for the next class.

Tip: Always communicate with your professors and be proactive whenever you find out you’re going to miss class.

My grades never suffered because I missed a class due to my son. My professors were always flexible and wanted me to succeed. I am still grateful for their support, and I hope other students in my position have the same luck with their professors as I did.

Summary

Becoming a father is an incredible feeling. I learned so much about him and myself, and I continue to do so. During the first year of his life, there were 5 things that surprised me the most:

  1. Daycare is ridiculously expensive
  2. I felt like a natural caring for my son
  3. Changing diapers and cleaning weren’t an issue
  4. People are much more comfortable talking to you with a baby
  5. My professors were incredibly supportive when it came to my son

If you enjoyed reading the article, and you feel like it’s been helpful, make sure to like, subscribe, share, and be on the lookout for more ways to feel empowered and confident in your career and education goals!

As A Full Time Student, Employee, Husband, And Father, Here’s How I Balanced It All

Balancing Multiple Commitments

You can do anything, but not everything.

— David Allen.

David Allen is a productivity consultant who basically penned that quote for me. In my attempt to have it all, I tried to do it all. I wanted to be a great husband, change my career path, and I also wanted to be able to help provide for my family. Balancing multiple commitments is not easy. For me, it required prioritizing the things that are important in my life, an understanding support system, and keeping my goals in front of me. With these three things, I was able to be a supportive husband and father, and ‘A’ student, and help provide for our growing family. Here’s my story:

My wife and I got married the summer before I went back to school to pursue my second Bachelor’s degree. Also during that summer, I quit my job as a high school chemistry teacher, and I picked up a more flexible job as a chemist. A lot of life changing events happened then, but I felt lucky to be able to use my first Bachelor’s degree in chemistry to work full time while also being able to go back to school.

I was with my new company for about a month before I started school. It didn’t even take the full first week of school before I realized how challenging balancing the two commitments would be. Not only was I still learning the procedures at work, but I was responsible for learning the material in my classes while also finding time to sleep and be a supportive husband.

  1. Prioritize The Things That Are Important In Your Life

During the first few weeks of school, I didn’t have a plan to effectively do both work and school well, not to mention the responsibilities I had at home. I was constantly tired, and I wasn’t doing any one thing particularly well, aside from just making it to the next day. After a couple weeks of this, the teacher side of me finally took over, and I created a plan to map out all of my commitments and prioritize their importance. I wrote down everything that I needed to do in a week, and with my wife’s help, we ranked the commitments by importance. Doing this helped us visualize and prioritize what we felt was important. Here’s how we ranked things at the time:

  1. Sleep
  2. Coding class
  3. Calculus
  4. Work
  5. Easy intro classes
  6. Family time
  7. House responsibilities
  8. Friend time

Without prioritizing and working with my wife, I wouldn’t have pegged sleep as the top priority for me over work, school, or my family. However, we were able to reason that if I can find time to get enough sleep during the day, I would be better prepared to handle work and school. We both knew that doing well in my classes would lead to opportunities for a better career, so we set aside our time together for when there was time available. So, for the rest of the semester, my sleep times were all over the place, but we made sure I got enough sleep. From there, most of the commitments that were written down were completed throughout the week.

When you’re deciding how to prioritize what’s important to you, being able to see all of your commitments by writing them down helps because you can compare priorities and rank them based on their level of importance in your life. In my case, without good sleep, I wouldn’t have been effective at anything else on my list. At the end of my list I had friends and fun activities, like going to the movies or playing games. While my social life suffered for a short time, I was able to see that I had other things that I felt were more important at the time.

2. Have An Understanding Support System

About halfway through my first semester, my wife and I found out we were expecting our first child. It was wonderful news for us! We were both excited, but then preparing for our child became another commitment that I needed to add to my list. We needed to plan doctor visits and save for medical expenses. As much as I wanted to go to every doctor appointment with my wife, we both knew that my schedule was tough as it was.

We ended up going to appointments together when we were scheduled to connect with our baby in some way. Ultrasounds were the main appointments I attended, and each visit was worth the time spent without question.

Having my wife be as understanding as she was at the time was invaluable. Not only were we on the same page about where my priorities needed to be, but she was able to support me in so many other ways that I wouldn’t be able to thank her enough for.

And not just her, but both of our parents understood that what we were going through was to enable us to have a better, more fulfilling life. They were always encouraging and offering support where they could. Looking back on it now, I feel so fortunate to have had such an amazing support system to help me balance all of my commitments.

Having a support system that understands what you’re going through can make the difference between succeeding in managing multiple commitments and failing. It’s important to be connected to people, whether family, friends, or other people who are going through the same thing, so that you can have people on your side to help you through these tough times. Without my wife and family, it would have been so much harder for me to succeed in balancing my commitments.

3. Keep Your Goals In Front Of You

In May the following year, our son, Harrison, was born. I had just finished the first year of my second degree, and I had some time to spend with my family without any work or school commitments. I made sure to cherish all the time we had together.

In June, I went away for a 10 week internship in a different state. My son wasn’t even one month old at that time. This was a hard time for all of us. While I was away taking summer classes and doing the internship, my wife stayed with her family, about 8 hours away from where I was staying. It was during this time that we both reassured each other in knowing that what we were doing was for a better life.

Our goals centered around having a better life for our family. Whenever I questioned whether or not I made the right call in accepting the internship, I looked at the goals we had and found that this decision linked directly to them.

Creating and keeping goals when balancing multiple commitments helps you see the big picture of what you’re doing. It provides the motivation to succeed, and the drive to keep going. If your goals don’t align with one or more of your commitments, this would be a good time to ask yourself why aren’t your commitments lining up with what you’re trying to accomplish, and how can it be adjusted to where your commitments correlate with where you’re trying to go in life.

Conclusion

So, the 10 weeks came and went, and I was reunited with my family again, for good this time. We had one more year to prepare for, but unlike the previous year, we had a plan in place to get through it.

I knew that to balance all of my commitments, I had to have my priorities in order, my support system, and my goals at the forefront of my mind to help me get through to graduation and my new career.

How do you balance multiple commitments?

If you enjoyed reading the article, and you feel like it’s been helpful, make sure to like, subscribe, share, and be on the lookout for more ways to feel empowered and confident in your career and education goals!