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Spouse Spotlight: Balancing Kids, Deployments, Education and Career: Spouse Lynette Holly Masters the Art of Having it All

When Lynnette Holly told her children to go find a quiet activity to do while she completed her homework, her request was rebuffed.

Instead of understanding the grind of daily homework, her children demanded to know, why it wasn’t finished. After all, they did theirs upon arriving home from school that day.

Lynnette’s answer was simple.

“Because if I sat in front of the computer all day, no food would get cooked, no laundry would get done, nothing else would happen,” she said.

That, she said, is the fun of balancing not just class work and duties at home, but also doing it all alone while her husband was deployed.

Lynnette worked toward her associate degree in accounting while her husband served a year in South Korea and several months in various locations.

At the start of each new semester, Lynnette said she set aside her quiet area for homework, made a schedule and set her goals.

By the end of the term, her quiet area had been overrun and the schedule was kaput.

“The kids are hungry, they’re fighting over something, three nights out of the week it’s eleven o’clock and everyone is still up,” she said. “That’s the hard part.”

For Lynnette, balancing school and family wasn’t her only challenge. The family survived epic storms when they PCS’d to Texas during which most of their clothes and personal items were destroyed. The storm damage limited her internet access. Soon after, her grandfather died and she broke her finger – days before beginning a course in keyboarding.

Quitting, Lynnette said, would have been easy.

“You have to remember your goal when you find yourself sitting there thinking, ‘What am I doing this to myself for’?” she said.

Success, she said, comes only when you accept that getting everything done means letting some tasks go.

“Realize that sometimes things are not going to get done around the house, accept that and move on,” she said. “If you didn’t get the laundry done, that’s fine. No one is going to die. The house is not going to fall down.”

Lynnette said she is a huge advocate of a simple but effective method: the to-do list.

Make your list every morning and if the task you are about to do is not on it, walk away.

“As you start scratching stuff off, you’ll see that you are getting stuff done. Then you can take some free time to do something for you,” she said.

Lynette not only now has her Associate’s Degree but is working toward her bachelor degree and is currently applying to work for the Transportation Security Administration.

Her accomplishments, she said, have helped her find her place in the world.

“I’m not just a mom. I’m not just a wife. As a person I hold a degree and that’s something you can be held accountable for,” she said. “This is mine. I did it myself.

“When I go out on base I’m Sgt. Holly’s wife. But when I go into an interview, I’m Lynnette Holly,” she said.

Lynette, who was raised by a single mother who worked tirelessly to provide for her, said part of her drive to earn her degree was to be a role model for her three girls.

“My mom was smarter than most people and she was only making $8 an hour while the new kid with a college degree is making $14. He knows less than she does, works less hours than she does and can’t contribute like she does, but because she didn’t have that piece of paper, she’s not going to get paid what he does,” she said.

“I want better than that for my daughters.”

Now, she said she urges all military spouses who want to pursue their degree to just go for it.

“This is fairly simple compared to deployments, being home alone with the kids and trying to figure out what to do next,” she said. “There are a billion and one excuses as to why you can’t do it. But there are a billion and one reasons why you should.”

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