Six and a Half Tips for Balancing a Michigan Ross MBA, a Full-Time Job, and a Family
By Benaan Khorchid, MBA ‘19
About three years ago, amidst a brew of personal and professional stagnancy, I decided that I wanted to go back to school and get my MBA. It was a daunting decision; I had been out of school for ten years, ran a cardiovascular clinic with my husband, and had a brood that consisted of four kids that ranged from 6 to 16 years old.
I had done school and kids before. When I graduated from pharmacy school in 2007, I had a 6-year-old by my side and a 6-month-old on my hip. I had done work and kids as well. But never the trifecta.
I was about to tackle family, work, AND school. I knew that I would have to have some solid strategies in order to do it without driving myself, or the rest of my family, insane.
I am graduating from the Ross Weekend MBA program in a few weeks and I’m happy to report that I made it through in one piece with some of the best experiences, memories, and friendships of my life.
A question that I get all the time is: “How do you juggle everything?” I wish there was an easy answer, but there isn’t. However, I can offer some strategies that worked for me, and in sharing them, I hope to inspire other parents who are considering going back to school to do the same.
1. Know Your Why
I’m a huge Simon Sinek fan. Before I set out on this journey, I really had to get my ‘why’ as crystal clear as I could. Knowing your why will get you through the hard times, the chaos, the early mornings and the late nights, the times that test and challenge you in every way. The clearer your why is, the stronger your resolve.
2. Find Your Rocks
Like any self-respecting, time-management enthusiast, I live by the rock, pebble, and sand analogy.
On any given day or week, I decide what my big ‘rocks’ are, and I make sure that I schedule time for those to get done before anything else. Once those are in place, I work on the pebbles. And then the sand get scheduled if there is time. This works for any student, obviously, but this is especially essential for parents juggling a lot of really important responsibilities.
3. Focus Your Mind
I am a horrible multi-tasker. Some might call that a weakness, but I feel this is probably for the best. Whatever I am doing, I am doing that task 100 percent.
I have learned over time that a task that takes me three hours during the busy work day will only take me one hour at 5:00 am. A task in my office with the door shut will take me half as long as it would with the door open. We all have the same 24 hours; minimizing distractions and really focusing on your tasks for any given day will really help you make the most of those hours.
4. Use Your Dead Time
There’s a lot of dead time in our day. During the last two years, I always had my laptop, readings, or other schoolwork with me at all times. Whether I had a free 15 minutes before a meeting, was on a bus chaperoning a field trip, or was waiting at the poolside during a swim meet, I always had something to do.
5. Ask For Help
Read my lips: you will need help — around the house, with the kids, running errands, as well as emotional support during the most stressful of times. Don’t be hesitant to ask for help, whether from your partner, your family, your friends, or even hired help when necessary and possible.
6. Surround Yourself With People Who Inspire You
Sometimes your inspiration will not come from within you, but from around you. My husband and my kids are my biggest cheerleaders. My Weekend MBA cohort is filled with parents who juggle work, school, and family just like me. Find people who inspire you and know that you are not alone on this journey.
Lastly, I have one final half-tip that, even though seems small, will have an outsized impact on your happiness throughout this journey. Let Go of Guilt. The guilt that you feel because you can’t be engaged with your children at all hours of every day is a social construct and a result of the modern helicopter parenting ideology.
Instead of guilt, replace that feeling with GRATITUDE — gratitude that you have the opportunity to pursue your dreams and that your kids get to watch you do it. Such a gift.