Parenting is an energy consuming challenge in the best of times. This past year I haven’t been employed outside my home, giving me a chance to spend a year as a stay-at-home mom for the first time since my 18 year old was a baby. It was eye opening to say the least.

I had so many preconceived notions about stay at home moms, how my job search would go and how many different things I would get done. Saying it didn’t all go according to plan would be an understatement. For instance, I figured my apartment would finally be spotless. And it was. A couple of times in the first couple of months. My kids were annoyed at my attempts to keep it that way and to avoid a lot of yelling and exasperation, I gave up and kept it at least cleaner than it had been when I had been holding down a full time day job. Ok, ok, I have to admit that in the beginning, daytime TV was very distracting but I think I can justify it because I’m now so knowledgeable, I could charge a consulting fee on how to win any case in small claims court. My back room still isn’t painted and I haven’t gotten to the Guggenheim, but I chalk that up to pure laziness. Admitting you have a problem is the first step in combating it!

Blogger Cheryl Atwell's ChildrenOne plus was the time I was able to give to my kids and their studies. I was able to attend every school trip that my first grader went on and it was great to be able to pick him up from school everyday and do his homework with him. Being home also meant being able to follow a dream and start a blog about parenting and kids, something I’d wanted to do for years but hadn’t had the time or energy. Thank goodness for YouTube tutorials, it’s where I learned everything about WordPress and how to format my blog. I had no clue how much work that aspect of it was going to be.

I also took the opportunity to pick up four classes at my college, the CUNY School of Professional Studies. I am so glad I found that program. It gives me the option to take all my classes online eliminating travel time and allowing me to see lectures and take tests anytime, day or night. My sons think it’s cool that I’m back in school. When the television is off and they are studying, I’m studying too and they’re inspired to work harder knowing how much I do. Next semester I’m so psyched to be taking beginning Chinese which my oldest took last semester and he’s promised to help me out, then we’ll finally be able to say things again that Khev, my 7 year old can’t understand. (He’s been able to figure out everything we’re spelling for two years, what a drag.)

I’ve challenged my teens to a ‘grade-off’, we are going to see who can get the best GPA. I’m determined to win. That way when they’re rolling their teenage eyes at my advice and thinking I don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll be able to shove my grades in their faces and say things like, if you know so much, how come my grades are better than yours? Just (mostly) kidding. A good technology class is a must for me so I can stay on top of what my boys know and to help me stay competitive in the virtual world. My physical energy may be in short supply but I don’t need anyone to tell me that it will all be worth it, I’m already in now or never mode. I’m undaunted by the challenges I’m facing because I want to improve my family’s standard of living. By returning to school and earning high grades, I’m proactively creating my destiny. Feels great to have so much control.

Cheryl is a student at CUNY School of Professional Studies and the mother of three boys.  A former office manager, she currently writes a blog about her adventures in parenting called  In her spare time she likes to check out fun new places and things to do with children for her readers.