Ever toyed with the idea of taking an online course to learn new skills for life and parenthood?  Monica Taylor spent 2016 deep in personal-growth mode.  She took 8 different online courses (and is still working through some of them) to help with life as a working mom.  And she’s here to tell us about all the courses she decided to take.

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Last year, after taking the Mindful Return Course and becoming passionate about online learning, I decided 2016 would be a year I would focus on personal growth.   I embraced the online format, because it didn’t take me away from my family like face-to-face courses had in the past.  I didn’t need to find a babysitter.  Deal with traffic and parking.  Or any of the other logistics taking an in-person class involves.

I have come to love online learning, and I took several online programs over the last year, all of which I found helpful to being a working mom.  Some of them I found out about through the Mindful Return course.  Others have shown up in my Facebook feed as topics of interest.  Some are short in length and free of charge.  Others are longer and involve a course fee.  Some of the courses use Ruzuku, the online learning platform I used with Mindful Return.  And others send emails with video links and attachments to your inbox, or provide content through their website.

One of the things I love about these online learning opportunities is that you can go at your own pace for most of the courses.  And when life gets in the way, you can contact the author of the course and often re-enroll in a future edition of the course at no additional charge.  Most of the courses give lifetime access to the content.  You can also always contact the author of each course for further information.

The 8 Online Courses I Took Last Year: My Reviews

Mindful Return E-CourseThis course was created by Lori Mihalich-Levin.  It uses the Ruzuku course platform and focuses on four themes: a mindful mindset for returning to work; tackling the logistics; leadership in the space of returning to work; and staying in community with other moms.

I was on maternity leave with my 3rd child when I took the course in the winter of 2015.  I was dreading going back to work, just as I had with my first two children.  The course intrigued me, because I had never seen a program focused on helping women plan for their return to work.

Even though this was my third return, I certainly did not feel like an expert on this topic.  I was hoping for something to change my negative perspective about leaving my baby and going back to work.  This was one of my first times taking an online course not directly related to my career as a teacher.  It was specifically for my personal growth.

This course turned out to be such a blessing for me.  I met a group of supportive women with whom I could share my struggles, and support them through theirs.  The course also offered me a chance to reflect on different aspects of my return and plan for obstacles I would face.  I loved the online format, being able to check in any time of the day or night.  I grew to look forward to each day when new content would be released.  And I often used the time in the middle of the night I was up nursing to check in with the course and write my responses to others.

The course’s guest teachers introduced me to other opportunities for growth and learning.   After taking the course, I was also able to join the Facebook group for all course alumnae.

Calm Mind, Present Mama Challenge: This course was created by Alexandra Hughes. This is a free, 5-day challenge (now renamed the Stress Less, Love More Challenge) that helps busy moms set priorities and goals, make sure their time is focused on these goals, and helps mamas schedule “me” time into their lives. You also learn about setting boundaries with your time.

I enjoyed this challenge, because about it encouraged me to reflect on how I was spending my time.  It also led me to reflect what I was saying “yes” to.  (I have personally been working on not overcommitting or volunteering myself.)  There is a Facebook group to network with other moms and get support and ideas. You can also retake the course throughout the year as you need to revisit your priorities.  In addition to this course, Alexandra offers a Calm Mom Coaching Circle and a Mom’s UP Retreat.

Abundant Mama Project: This course was created by Shawn Fink. It uses the online Ruzuku class platform and focuses on gratitude, nurturing your inner mama spirit, learning to trust and let go, and nourishing your playful side.  I loved the focus on gratitude, because it is so easy to focus on the negative when we have busy lives and not truly appreciate little moments.

The course also helped me focus on finding ways to have fun and enjoy my life more, as well as letting go of things that aren’t necessary.  There is a helpful Facebook group to share ideas and connect with other moms, too.  Shawn offers a free copy of the 10 Habits of Highly Effect Mamas workbook, and has written the book The Abundant Mama’s Guide to Savoring Slow.

Reduce Stress with Body and Breath: This course was created by Sarah Rudell Beach. I became interested in learning about mindfulness, because I felt like I was rushing through life and not really experiencing any of it.  I was intrigued by Sarah’s courses, because she used to be a teache,r like me.  She teaches several courses, each with a different focus.

This particular course included ways to reduce stress, guided meditations, body awareness and movement, and working with emotions.  I appreciate being able to go back to the content as needed, as there are particular times in my life when stress is more of an issue for me, and I need reminders for healthy ways to handle it.

Communication for Imperfect Families: This course was created by Nicole Schwarz.  I love the title, because there is no such thing as a perfect family, no matter how many we think we see on social media platforms such as Facebook.  This course includes seven lessons about topics such as: foundations for communication, connecting with your family, maintaining calm when issues arise, listening, using empathy, teaching and using positive discipline.

Nicole has a blog in which she addresses common parent-child issues.  And the course includes a private Facebook group where members can support each other with ideas and ask questions about topics they are struggling with.  I found this course helpful not only for my own family, but I gained ideas and strategies to use at work in my early intervention job. Nicole also offers private parent coaching.

From Conflict to Cooperation: This course was created by Meghan Leahy, a local parent coach in the DC area who writes a parenting column for The Washington Post.  This course takes place on the Ruzuku platform and includes: power struggles, family meetings, encouragement and connection, self-care for parents and discipline strategies.  There is also a private Facebook group where parents can share strategies and ask questions about topics they are struggling with.

I find Meaghan’s ideas and approach very down to earth and enjoy her articles for The Washington Post on a variety of topics.  I also appreciate being able to go back and access the course content when a particular challenge comes up with my kids, or I find myself falling back into old patterns.  Meaghan also offers coaching groups and private coaching.

Time Mastery for Women: This course was created by Dr. Jen Riday. I became interested in this course because I felt like I was not managing my time well.  There always seemed to be so much to do and too few hours in the day to accomplish it all.  This course helps you to set priorities, discover your passions, and plan your time so that you are working towards these things.  She provides ideas on meal planning, planning daily, weekly, monthly and long term schedules, organizing your home, getting kids and your spouse to help out, and guided meditations.  There is also a private Facebook group for course participants to ask questions about what they are struggling with or to share ideas that have worked for them.

You can retake future sessions of the course and have lifetime access to the content.  Dr. Riday also offers a podcast called Vibrant Happy Women, a free self-care tool kit and offers private coaching as well.

Uncluttered: This course was created by Joshua Becker. I picked this course, because I have long had issues with clutter.  And it got worse with each child.  There are just so many things in our house!

I had been following Joshua’s Facebook page, Becoming Minimalist, and wanted more support in uncluttering my home and living with less.  His course helps you find your motivation to declutter, identify various areas of your home and life to declutter, develop new habits to keep your home and life clutter free, and experiment with living with less.  Each module contains challenges to complete as well as video interviews and tutorials to support the content and help with challenges that arise.  The course includes a private Facebook page, where course participants can share successes and struggles.  Joshua also wrote several books on decluttering and living with less, including Clutterfree with Kids: Change your thinking. Discover new habits. Free your home.

Have you taken any online courses that help with life as a working parent?  Share your thoughts, tips, and reviews below!

Monica Taylor is a mother to 3 (soon to be 4!) beautiful, energetic boys, and a special education early intervention teacher.  She spends her days striving for a balance between family and work life, and looking for ways to live more simply.

Returning to work after maternity leave and want support?  Check out the Mindful Return E-Course – next session starts soon!

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