Studying abroad is challenging for everyone. Living far away from home in a different culture and environment, and sometimes even different language while managing your study could be overwhelming.
Thus, studying abroad as a mom sounds super difficult, even crazy, but it’s not impossible. I did exactly that. I went to Italy to continue my study and brought my husband and my (then) 4 years old daughter with me.
If I (and plenty of other moms and dads) could do it, of course, you could do it too.
To make sure everything runs smoothly, these are the important things you need to discuss with your spouse before you go and pursue your dream of studying abroad despite having a child or children to take care of.
One of the biggest changes in a person’s life is becoming a parent. Although it provides us with plenty of happiness and joy, being a parent also presents us with the biggest challenge in our lives.
Parenting also comes with thousands of responsibilities. On top of that, your perspective in life, as well as your priorities will shift automatically.
You’ll need to reconsider some of the goals you want to achieve in your life, now that it has changed drastically with the birth of your baby, including your education goals.
But it doesn’t mean that you’ll have to give up your dreams entirely. Talk about it with your spouse, and see if there’s some way for you to keep pursuing your dream without sacrificing your family life or neglecting your responsibilities as a parent and a partner.
If you dream about studying abroad to continue your education, below are some of the things you need to discuss with your spouse before you go:
1. Will They Come With You or Not
Most likely, your spouse already has an established career. Would they be willing to give it up to accompany you studying abroad for a year or two, even more?
Bear in mind that in many countries, as an international student, the families that you could bring with you with your study visa are your child(ren) and your spouse, as in someone you married legally.
You will have to present your marriage certificate along with your other documents required before they can grant you and your family a permit to enter and reside there together as your dependant, here is some example of the rules and regulations of studying abroad in Canada and bringing your family with you.
So, if you are not legally married, most likely the option of your partner coming with you abroad is not going to be available, or they should apply for another visa type such as a study visa (of their own) or work visa.
If you have a spouse and perhaps also a child(ren), and if they are going to come with you for the whole duration of your study, what are the consequences for your family?
Before you start your study abroad, perhaps both of you were working. Now that you are going to be studying and your spouse will not be working (let’s be realistic here, finding a job abroad is not easy, how’s that going to affect your financial situation?)
Even if they find a job while accompanying you, they might have to work on menial jobs or other jobs that are nowhere as good as their previous jobs in your home country or pay them as well as their previous job.
For some people, not being able to work after working for a certain period of time, or having to do menial jobs after having a long and established career with a good income could affect them mentally.
Discuss these issues thoroughly with your spouse, because if you don’t, it could potentially be a problem in your relationship and affect your study.
You will constantly be arguing with them regarding this matter, losing time, focus, and energy that you could use to study, finish your assignments, or take care of your child(ren) in the process.
Ask them if they want to move abroad with you for the period of your study and figure out the best solution for everybody.
Perhaps your spouse could ask for an unpaid leave of absence for a certain period of time and accompany you, before going back when the time is up.
Or maybe they are up for an adventure of living abroad for a year or two (or more, depending on the duration of your study) and happily leave behind their stressful job and trade them for a new life abroad, and enjoy their new status as a stay at home mom or dad.
Who knows, perhaps they’ll find a job that they actually enjoy there despite not making as much money as before, back in your home country.
If they don’t want to come with you, make arrangements with your spouse on how to visit each other. Will your child(ren) come with you to live abroad or stay back home in your country with your spouse? If they are coming with you but your spouse is not, who’s going to take care of them?
You could also compromise by choosing a relatively close country to study abroad in so that you could go back and forth to visit your family easily, and for them to come and visit you.
2. What is Expected of You as a Parent and Spouse
One of the most crucial things to discuss with your spouse regarding your decision to study abroad is what is expected of you as a parent for your child(ren) and as a partner for them.
Surely, if you go alone, your spouse will take care of your child(ren) since you can only see them during your visit. But if they come with you to a foreign country, you need to have clear discussions about who is the primary caretaker of your child(ren) during your study.
Ideally, it will be your spouse, since you will be busy studying. But they might be busy too. For example, I came to Italy with my husband and daughter. I was busy studying, he was busy working.
When it comes to taking care of our daughter, such as picking her up from school, participating in school events, parent’s teacher’s meetings, doctor’s appointments, and so on, whichever one of us is available will do it.
When I had group work, I would pick her up from school, leave her at my husband’s office, then go to meet my friends. If he had a meeting, I would ask my friends to start the group work without me, wait until my husband came home, then I could leave the house and join my friends for work.
Whatever your situation is, talk with your spouse thoroughly, the two of you need to work together as a team in order to get through this.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going. This is what the two of you should do, just remember this is just the beginning.
Soon, you’ll be finished with your study and if everything goes well, you’ll get a full-time job, whether you’ll be staying in your host country and working there or back in your home country.
Thus, it’s imperative that you and your spouse have a good understanding and ability to work together like a well-oiled machine because you two are going to do it in a long run, at least until your child(ren) old enough (mentally, physically and legally) to take care of themselves.
3. You’ll Need Time for Your Homework/Assignments and Exams
Explain to your spouse and your child(ren) that you will need certain times during the day to work on your assignments and study for your exams.
Often, studying is even more exhausting than working, because when you work, you will be away for a certain period during the day. And you don’t bring your work home with you, unless really necessary, which is not often.
But that’s not the case with studying. After attending classes, you will still have to finish your assignments, write essays, prepare presentations, work on group projects, and study for your exams.
Ask for your family’s understanding. Let your child(ren) know that you’ll have to finish your work or study first and will be playing with them as soon as you finished, and ask your spouse’s help to entertain them until you are finished.
It’s essential to make time for each other no matter how busy you are during the day. Living in a foreign country usually means you have nobody but each other to lean on.
When you can lean on each other during a tough situation, the bonds of your relationships will strengthen. Furthermore, the better you are at balancing your responsibilities, the better the outcome for your family’s life, as well as for your study.
Also, sharing the responsibilities that come with a child with a partner, will make it easier for you to survive as a student in a foreign country, whether emotionally, physically, morally, or financially.
4. Sometimes, You’ll Need to Prioritize Your Duties.
When your child(ren) is still small, most likely they do not fully understand yet why mommy or daddy couldn’t attend their school recital or games. They might get hurt knowing that you prioritize other things and not them.
Talk about this with your spouse, ask for their help to speak to your child(ren), to help you explain that even though you will not always be there for them because you have to do something related to your study, it doesn’t mean that you don’t love them or neglecting them.
In certain cases, you might even need to reach out to other people in order to help you. For example, when I was still studying for my degree abroad and brought my family with me, I couldn’t make it on time to pick up my daughter from school.
I explained the situation to her teachers, that because of my situation, my daughter will always be the last kid to get picked up from school. They helped me by asking her to help them clean up the classroom and praised her for doing so.
Therefore, instead of feeling sad for being alone waiting while the other kids have already gone home, she was cheerfully helping her teachers clean up the classroom, feeling happy and useful, instead of sulking, waiting for mommy to come and pick her up.
After a while, one of her friend’s moms noticed this and she offered to take my daughter to her house to play with her daughter and I could pick her up there so that I didn’t need to leave the campus in hurry. I was so grateful for the help, and it was the beginning of a wonderful friendship that still lasts up until now.
So, get help, as much as you can. Explain to them your situation and most likely they’ll be more than happy to help you out.
5. You’ll Need Time for Yourself and Your Needs
The one thing parents usually forget is that besides being a parent they are persons too. When having a child, mum and dad shall work on organizing their day in a way where everyone is entitled to leading a healthy life.
Understandably, sometimes it’s difficult to squeeze in some time for yourself, to allocate a certain time to rejuvenate and really enjoy yourself, doing something you love to do.
As a student mom/dad, that could be something close to impossible. After all, they are already ridden with the guilt of wanting to pursue their dream of studying abroad and sacrifice their family in the process.
I know it’s difficult, but please, don’t be too hard on yourself. As someone who’s been in that situation, studying abroad as a parent, and bringing my child and husband with me, I know how important it is to have some time just for yourself.
Talk about it with your spouse. Tell them that you’ll need that extra hour to walk around the park, to read quietly in your room, to exercise every morning for half an hour, and so on, anything that could help you rejuvenate and ready to tackle the challenges and hardships that will come your way.
6. You’ll Always Have Time for Family Get Together
Ensure your spouse that whatever happens, no matter how hectic your life could be, you’ll always have time for the family.
It can be small things such as strolling in a park on Saturday evening, movie nights, Ice cream Sunday, and so on, anything that can be enjoyed by the whole family.
Allocate some budget for a longer trip outside the city, or even outside the country. Make use of the breaks between semesters to recharge yourself and strengthen the bonding with your family.
Explore new cities, visit museums, castles, amusement parks, beaches, mountains, and so on. Try new foods and the specialty of that regions. You are in a foreign country after all.
Don’t waste any opportunity to explore the beauty of your host country and its surroundings, as well as the opportunity of creating memories of your adventures with your beautiful family.
Use this printable workbook to record your Back to School Research. Don’t make all that Campus Visits, Virtual Tours, Webinars, and Q&A with the school’s admission personnel go to waste !! Write down the information you have collected in this workbook.
Study them later carefully to help you weigh in the pros and cons of each university and decide the best place for you to continue your study.
7. All the Sacrifices Will be Worth It
Feeling loved and appreciated by the people around you is crucial. The moral support you get from your loved ones is the reason why you keep going strong despite all the odds that seem to be working against you.
Thus, in order to get that continuous support from your loved ones, especially from your spouse, you need to convince them that someday, all the sacrifices you made together as a family will all be worth it.
This is one of the most crucial things to discuss with them before you study abroad. Because first of all, studying abroad is expensive.
It will make a big impact on your family’s financial situation. Most likely you’ll be going to use a large portion of the family’s savings to pay for school, or will put your family in debt for the next several years to pay for the loan.
So, it’s imperative that you discuss this financial matter thoroughly. How are you going to pay for your study abroad? What’s the impact on the family’s financial situation? How long until you could get the return on your investment? et cetera.
What about sacrifices in areas other than financial aspects? How about the effect this studying and living abroad has on your child(ren)? Convince your spouse that the experience will bring positive results for your child(ren).
It might be difficult now, as you still going through it, but later on, they will develop positive traits such as becoming more independent (since their parents were busy working and studying), learning a new language, and easy to adapt to the new environment, and so on.
Over to You…
Parenting, as much as it’s rewarding and joyful, can become frustrating and confusing at times. When you add more complications to that such as going back to school and studying abroad as a mature student and student mom or dad seems like a crazy idea.
Despite its difficulties, you should never give up on your dream of studying abroad because you have a child. There are plenty of study choices that will help you achieve your education goal.
But most importantly, you need moral support from your loved ones, especially your spouse. They are the person who could give you a helping hand so that you don’t get stuck struggling to find a balance between your parental obligations and studies.
Therefore, you need to talk about these crucial things with your spouse before you go pursuing your dream of studying abroad, such as whether or not they will come and accompany you to the foreign country, what to expect from you as a partner and a parent, now that you also have new responsibilities as a student.
You will also need to make them understand that you’ll need time to focus on your homework, and assignments, and study for your exams, as well as need to prioritize some of your duties while still needing some time for yourself in order to be able to rejuvenate yourself.
But don’t forget to convince them that you’ll always make time for a family get-together, no matter how busy you are, and that this situation is only temporary, that someday all the sacrifices will be worth it and the hardships will all be paid off.
So, is being able to continue your study abroad has been your lifelong dream but you still have doubts since you don’t know how to convince your spouse that it will be the right thing for you to do?
Well, hopefully, this post will convince you, and your spouse, so that the next thing you know, you’ll be ready to start a new adventure abroad with your family!!!
Leave your comment down below and share this on your social media to spread the info. Thanks so much for reading, stay safe and healthy…and till next time!!
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