More than a quarter of all undergraduate students are parents, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. And women are disproportionately are more likely than men to be balancing college and parenting, making up 71% of all student parents.
Returning to school can be overwhelming when you have children – both require a lot of your time and emotional energy. While it may be difficult to strike a balance at first, it is possible. Here are some tips for how to balance being a parent and student (and totally rock at both!).
Utilize campus resources
See if your school offers benefits for students with children, such as on-site day care or support groups for students with children.
Set realistic goals
Don’t overwhelm yourself by taking too many credits. Figuring out the best workload for you will depend on how many credits you need to take per semester and how much time you need to spend to care for your child. If you are unsure of what a reasonable course load is, ask your advisor how other students with children designate their credit hours.
Feel free to drop extraneous activities. Just because parents are socializing after soccer practice doesn’t mean that you need to feel pressured to do so, too. Prioritize what you need to do to complete your classwork.
Incorporate studying with other activities. For example, make flashcards and bring them with you to study on the bus. Consider making an audio recording of your class sessions so that you can review the recordings at a later time. Most professors do not mind, and it can be as easy as setting it up on your phone. Listen back to the lesson while at your kid’s basketball game.
Tell your family what you need from them. If you need an hour of quiet time after dinner to study, explain to your family why you need the hour to yourself. Encourage them to be open with you how they feel about you spending time away. If they need more ‘you’ time, make sure they feel comfortable saying it! Explain to your family what being in school means to you. Your children will most likely be more understanding of why you are spending time away if they see how your degree with benefit both you and the family. You can also serve as a role model to your children on the importance of working hard and achieving your goals!
Don’t forget to make time for game night with your family or date night with your spouse. Setting aside time in your schedule to relax and distress with improve both your family life and academic life! Check out our tips for carving out personal time in The Importance of “Me Time”.
Remind yourself why you are choosing to go back to school! Remember that this is to improve your life and that of your family. Though some days may feel like a struggle, remind yourself each day that you are doing the best you can and that it is enough. Be proud of yourself and remember that it will all pay off in the end.
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