Combining MBA with motherhood

Juggling an MBA with Life, Motherhood, and Everything Else

Sabina Voetmann combines MBA and motherhood. She has a lot on her plate, but she shares some tips and tricks for getting everything done.

Juggling the Copenhagen MBA with motherhood and other general life commitments is quite a challenging task. The program is intense, there are a lot of reading assignments, deadlines to meet, exams and final papers to deliver, peer commitments, group working sessions, discussions and paper hand-ins. Meanwhile, at home I have a two-year-old and a ten-year-old-schoolgirl who both need as much attention as the MBA program, and somewhere in between I need to allocate time for myself in order to stay focused and sharp and replenish my energy levels so I can cope with everything.

So, what’s my recipe for how to handle it all? I try not to think about how difficult it is and I try not to feel sorry of myself and, instead, I just focus on doing whatever needs to be done. In fact, the less time you have, the more productive and efficient you become, since you cherish every minute of your time and your resources. Here are few insights that detail how I manage this journey:

  1. Delegate and share. Get domestic help or help with the children if you can. Without help, it would have been much harder, maybe even impossible to cope with all the tasks as I am in Copenhagen without my partner. Also: Don’t shy away from asking for help with your studies. I have a wonderful class and my peers are just amazing! They are all very helpful and we share ideas, discuss concepts, study and prepare for exams together. We talk about challenges we encounter, we encourage and coach each other. Remember that you are not doing the Copenhagen MBA alone, and we all go through the same experiences. It helps a lot to talk about it.
  2. Time management. Use your spare time smartly. For example, when I take my daughter to afterschool sports, I’m reading course materials while I wait for her, or sometimes network with other parents (yep, chatting with parents is networking 😊). Team up with parents to use your time more effectively; maybe somebody can take your child to sports with theirs. In my case, I have a wonderful neighbor who takes my daughter together with hers to sports while I’m at CBS. Change your habits and be disciplined. For example, it was really challenging for me to be on time for class in the morning, because I needed to take my child to kindergarten on the way to school. So, I’ve made a small change in my perception – instead of thinking that I need to be in class at 9.00 am, now I need to leave the house no later than 8.00 am. That helped!
  3. Remember yourself and your own needs. Always allocate time for yourself and do sports. You might even skip doing some readings and ask your peers to give you a summary of the book chapter later, favouring keeping yourself healthy emotionally and physically instead. I try to go to the gym regularly, do running, and swim. Sport helps to keep my spirits up and fills me with energy. And, as they say, happy mom – happy children, not vice versa. 😊 Doing sports helped me a lot.
  4. Set a routine. Our brain loves routine and it saves energy. Wake up early, go to sleep early. Exclude or drastically minimize time killers (Facebook, Instagram, chats, surfing the Internet…). Stay focused. The MBA is just for one year and time flies!
  5. Don’t be too hard on yourself and stop telling yourself that you are bad mother. There is no such thing as a bad mother. I use a principle of quality, rather than quantity. I can’t spend a lot of time with my children, but when I do, I focus only on them. We have a ritual of play for an hour before going to sleep, building Lego towers, reading books, singing songs. That helps me to think about something else than my studies and lets me enjoy being with my kids.

Sabina has a degree in law and worked as a lawyer for seven years, before shifting to a career in general business. Having a Danish husband, CBS was the natural choice for her.