Conquering the Bar Exam with Kids
There’s no way I can imagine what it’s like to study for the Bar as a parent. I’ve mentioned before that I noticed that mom-law students were always the best prepared (so well organized!), but I can’t imagine the added stress of children + the Bar. It’s tough, no doubt. For those February Bar takers that are juggling the exam and their family responsibilities, we have a guest writer today: Ariana Marte. She gives some tips and advice for parents as they head into the last month before the Bar.
This past summer I studied for the July New York and New Jersey bar exams, and my son turned 1 on July 9th. Even though I spent my 3L taking care of a newborn baby boy, studying for the bar exam was a totally different animal; it’s an overwhelming and stressful time, and having kids in the mix makes it that much more difficult. Hopefully these tips can help you tighten things up as you buckle down for the last few weeks of bar prep:
- Childcare means studying smart.
Put simply, you need childcare (and as many hours of it as you can get). Studying for the bar requires a lot of time and focus and stopping to cater to your child’s needs (whether they’re 1, 5 or 10) just won’t do it. Setting up an efficient child care plan or arrangement will give you a very clear roadmap of how many hours you will have to dedicate to bar-prep and force you to study smart. As full-time mothers we may not have as many study hours as other bar takers, but we can make up for it by making every study hour a quality hour.
I know that childcare also means money, but the reality is that this is another necessary expense to achieve your law license, especially as the exam nears. You’ve paid for three years of law school, a bar-prep course and bar exam fees all leading up to this point. Planning smart and studying smart also means spending smart if you never have to pay these fees or take the bar again.
- Seek for and accept all help.
Sometimes the good thing about having an overbearing Latin family is having an overbearing Latin family. If your parents, siblings, aunts, cousins, in-laws etc are willing or able to assist you by taking care of your children, please accept the help or flat out ask. Being a parent you know that there isn’t a magical solution to keep the kids calm and quiet or the house in order while you study. Everyone probably knows all the sacrifices and hard work you’ve put in for the past three years or more, but may not realize the importance of the bar exam. Talk to your family, partner and your partner’s family and be clear and blunt about the weeks to come. Any little help will add up, whether it’s taking the kids for the weekend, picking them up from school/daycare so you don’t have to, or even taking them out for a few hours so you can have more quality study time.
- Be Selfish.
Kids come with long nights, picky meals and messy homes. In addition to planning childcare and asking for as much help as you can, you need to be selfish and put yourself and the bar first for these next few weeks. Housework and kids can drain you of the energy you need to study for and pass this exam so have your partner chip-in with the dishes, send the laundry out and order in whenever you can. It isn’t easy, but the more time you can get to be by yourself studying, the better your chances will be at passing.
- Be Forgiving.
It’s impossible to put parenting on hold until after the exam, so be forgiving when some days don’t work out as planned. The reality is that focusing on the exam means less focus on your kids and vice versa. So be forgiving for the days you can’t finish all your lessons, and for the times you can’t give your kids 100%.
Remember to take it day by day, and that this will be over soon. You’ve made it this far, so I know you can do this!
PS: Moms DO have superpowers
Sury Garcia Sanchez
This was so needed. I have been dreading taking the Bar next February. My daughter is 1 now and trying to find time to prepare for class and study along the way for finals is leaving little room for sleep and even less brain power for concentration. Thank you for the insight!
Glad this helped! Mama students are so tough–you’ll look back on this soon and be so impressed with what you’ve accomplished!
Reading this in 2021! Thank you so much for this post. There are so many YouTube videos of women with no children talking about how they passed. Which is fine, but not all of us are in that boat so it was nice finding this!
I agree with the earlier post. There are a lot of tips and strategies online as to how to prepare for the bar but I can seldom if not find an article talking about the strategies for passing the bar when you have kids. I want to know how these women did it and how they manage their families at the same time. I am preparing for the bar and I have two kids. Thanks for the article.