A reader recently asked for some help with passing the bar while caring for twin toddlers. I have many thoughts, but I’ve only passed one bar & I have only one child—so I’m hoping others will contribute their thoughts as well in the comments!
Her situation: She attempted the bar once. She has 2 days a week to study & has significant family obligations. Directly after graduation she was on bed rest so she didn’t take the exam that summer. She waited a year but admits that studying was difficult with the new babies (umm, understandable!)—she didn’t get through all the lectures & did only about 15-20% of the practice exams.
First of all: Wow! How lucky your children are that you prioritized caring for them over acing the bar when they were itty bitty & really needed you intensely! Seriously, there is no shame in not passing on the first go.
But now you’re ready—so how to pass this go?
I know it stinks to have to take the bar again (an understatement, I know), but you know what you’re in for & you probably have a good idea of where you went wrong the first time.
Of course, I don’t have a crystal ball & can’t tell you with certainty that, yes, you will pass. But I think it bodes well that you are prioritizing your studying enough to find childcare two days a week & you are starting early! Plus, the kiddos are a bit older & you have experience on your side.
As for nitty-gritty studying techniques, can you isolate what works well for you? If outlines seem too intimidating, try making your own flash cards. Or visa versa. Obviously, you’ll want to watch more of the lectures or study the prepared outlines or both. Do practice exams until you drop (or fall asleep, which I imagine will literally happen more than once).
There is no way around it: This period of time will be challenging. Carve out short periods of time when you can concentrate on just being with your children (if possible, outside of the time you spend going to appointments). Focus on them. Have fun. You need it & they need it.
The good news is that your toddlers are likely entering a more active & distractible stage. Of course there are challenges, but generally they are living in the moment & are very forgiving of our preoccupations & being away from them when necessary. If you give them consistent time-ins (periods of attention & play) you will all feel better & happier.
Then make a date with your local coffee house. Get out of the house if you really want to study. I also had a limited amount of time to spend alone with my books (as, I imagine, do a lot of parents studying for the bar)—You can still pass the bar with childcare only 2 days a week as long as you make the most of that time. Sometimes working at home is feasible, but my experience was that getting out of the house was necessary if I was going to be able to concentrate while I was studying for the bar.
There’s room for silliness, too! Sing your babies a torts or negotiated instruments lullaby (I’m guessing they’re still young enough that they won’t mind the strange words!). Tell them the tale of corporate veil piercing as you nurse or feed them. Go for a walk with them in the stroller & review some flash cards (minding where you’re walking, of course). You’d be surprised how you can fit a little studying into the nooks & crannies of your day.
In the last month or so of studying, I remember going over problems in my head while putting my son back to bed in he middle of the night. … Which reminds me, prioritize sleep! Get to bed early if your toddlers are still waking throughout the night.
If you have a spouse or partner, talk to him or her about expectations. And don’t be afraid to ask (directly & clearly) for the support you need. Take a weekend afternoon to get out & study. Swap evenings. Whatever you need to carve out more dedicated study time. This is important!
Someone gave me this advice: It’s a marathon, not a race. You have to train, but you also need to ration your efforts so that you don’t burn out before you pass the finish line.
Try to have a bit of fun. A lot of the material really is interesting. And some of it may just be useful!
Lovely readers, what other ideas do you have?