Monday Mom challenge: Take a class

Jun 18, 2009 at 11:28 p.m. ET

Yearning to learn something but have put it off because of your mothering duties? Maybe something crafty? Academic? Physical? Now is as good a time as any to make that class happen. Taking a class is a great way spend a little time in your own head and get in touch with your inner student.

Adult EducationAdmittedly, working out the logistics can be difficult, but it's worth it.

A community education landscape design class I took several years ago has reaped rewards for me (and my family) far beyond the cost of the class and the scheduling logistics combined. Not only did I realize I really like gardening, but I've also been able to plan our yard well enough for a few neighborhood compliments. One woman even asked if we'd hired a professional designer.

While your results may not be quite as dramatic, you'll never know where a class will take you unless you actually sign up and go!

Look for something local

Many areas have community education programs in which local people share their talents. These classes usually are quite inexpensive and have the added benefit of supporting others in your immediate community.

A recent survey of community education classes in my small town reveals a wide array of subject matter from the practical (retirement planning) to the fun (wine tasting).

Shops in your town might have classes, as well. For example, independently owned yarn and scrapbook stores often have great classes, and you are supporting the local economy, not just corporate entities.

Sometimes, individuals offer classes on unique subjects. A woman in my town offers mozzarella-making parties for groups of five to 10. Something like this is a great way to gather a bunch of girlfriends, have an evening out, and learn something in the process.

If you live near a college, check out opportunities to audit classes. While you won't necessarily get college credit, this is a particularly great way to exercise the part of your brain that cartoon characters just can't touch.

Give time, get time

Is there a class your sweetie wants to take? Agreeing that each of you gets to take a class of interest can give you both fresh energy, fresh ideas, and appreciation for one another. Yes, it's a bit of give and take that can help your relationship.

work it out

If you are having trouble figuring out logistics, try swapping duties with a friend. If you have a friend who wants to take a class on using her digital camera on a Tuesday morning, and you want to take a scrapbooking class on Friday afternoon, help each other out.

Remember what it's like to be a student

An unexpected benefit of taking a class is remembering what it's like to be a student -- something your kids do five days a week, nine months of the year. Doing homework and critical thinking even when you are tired from being up all night with a sick kid can give you some new compassion for your child when he has a bad day. On the other side, your love of learning can be a great example to your kids for their education now and for their whole lives.

For my next class, I've negotiated some time to take a single-session advanced photography class with a friend, and a week later, my husband starts a welding class.

While it took weeks of planning to make sure we could each do what interests us while making sure the kids are covered (they come first, after all), I can already say it's worth it. A little teamwork, a lot of new information and skills, and happy parents? It's a win-win situation.

Go ahead and take a class -- and tell us what you discovered in the comments below!

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