Raising a child while raising your grades: balancing motherhood and books

By Emily Lapinski

February 11, 2014

College students everywhere can acknowledge that managing school and outside obligations is a juggling act. However, when you throw a child into the mix of homework, working and maintaining a social life, finding balance in life takes on a whole new meaning.

Tiffany Guel-Blanco, a senior at Dominican working towards her bachelor’s in early childhood education, has managed being a mother and student for two years now and is determined to graduate in May reaching the goals she set out for herself upon beginning her studies.

After becoming pregnant her sophomore year, Guel-Blanco knew she would have to work harder to be a good student and even better parent.

“It was a complete surprise, a pleasant one, but a surprise nonetheless,” Guel-Blanco said, explaining the news of her pregnancy. “I knew that quitting school was not an option for me and I realized that graduating would put me in the best position to provide for my daughter.”

Guel-Blanco’s daughter Madeline Ilahny, who turned two this past November, remains the number one focus in her life right besides her studies.

“She is my world,” Guel-Blanco said. “As corny as it sounds, everything I do, I do for her. She’s incredibly smart and it amazes me to see how much she understands and how quickly she picks things up.”

When Guel-Blanco first found out she was pregnant, her family was shocked and a bit upset. However, they realized that they would need to help her out if she was going to continue with school.

“My mom, Maddie’s father Nick and my grandmother are my greatest supporters,” she said. “My mom helps me out financially as well as by picking up and dropping Maddie off at daycare. My grandmother took care of Maddie when she was just a few weeks old up until this past December when she started daycare. Nick and I were not on good terms at first and needed to work things out, but now we are back together and he is doing an amazing job helping me take care of her and getting her whatever she may need.”

Regarding assistance from Dominican, Guel-Blanco didn’t officially reach out to anyone at the university for help because she wanted to do things on her own and with her family. However, she remains grateful that her professors remained understanding with her, especially because her due date was the same week as finals.

“They all reminded me that family came first and they offered any help they could give.”

Guel-Blanco admits that there have been many challenges that have come with balancing the demands from school and a young child.

“The biggest challenge with balancing school and parenting is that there never seems to be enough time in the day. When Maddie was a newborn, it was a bit easier to get things done because she would sleep through the day, but I was still tired from doing homework and breastfeeding. Now that she is older, I get most of my work done after I put her to bed because I want to spend time with her and she needs constant supervision. Five hours of sleep is an accomplishment and it doesn’t help that I am fabulous procrastinator.”

Even though these past two years have been difficult, Guel-Blanco does not regret her choice to stay in school. She is eventually planning on returning to school upon graduation to get her master’s in special education.

“I think that students who are also parents should not give up on school,” Guel-Blanco added. “There are a lot of resources out there that can help them out financially. Also, it is important to find time for yourself even if it’s just a really long shower, reading a book, watching a movie or hanging out with friends. The important thing is to motivate yourself and realize that it is worth it.”