Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Balance Between Parenting and School

Many people are now going to college and graduate school, while balancing their work and home lives. It is no surprise that many busy students are also parents. Some of these students are trying to get a masters degree online in order to get a promotion or better job with their company, or going back to school for enrichment. Being a parent on top of school means an increase in stress because of time fragmentation between child, partner and study demands.

Attempting to go to college while having children in the home is a challenge, but it can be done if one is diligent and intentional. Doing the following can help your life while in college go more smoothly:

Plan ahead. Know exactly when your childcare will be available and schedule classes for those times. Seek support and back up child care that you can call if your child has a day off from school, or if other issues arise. Keep in mind that your child's care and emotional health should take priority over school. Your child needs to know and feel that no matter what, his parent will be there for him.

Find a friend in class. If your child is ill or you have a parenting emergency, you will need to be able to call someone to get notes and assignments you may have missed. Be sure to return the favor for that person, or rotate with other parents in class. If you know ahead of time that you will be missing class, make sure that you speak with the professor to make him aware of your reasons.

Find family support. If you have family, be sure they are on board with this undertaking before you sign up for classes. Your children will have to understand that while you love them and you are there for them, some activities may need to be put on hold for a little while. Little league, youth soccer, or ballet may have to wait for a future date, or be done in the summer. Keep in mind that you cannot do everything all at the same time.

Use online classes when possible. Take advantage of any online degree offerings that your college may have. Although online classes still take quite a bit of time, you will be able to take a break to feed your children dinner or tuck them in at night. Some colleges even offer online graduate programs, so you can take post-grad courses from your home by using your computer.

Study with your children. If your children see you studying while they are doing their own homework, you will underscore the value of education for them. After dinner, you may want to establish a study hour, where every student in the family goes over their schoolwork. Your kids will be able to see that you have the discipline to sit down and study even when you do not feel like it because it is important.

Establish good study habits. Create a study routine and stick to it. Make sure that you are regularly setting aside time to do your work, even after the kids are in bed. It may be tempting to sit in front of the television after a long day, but your goals are more important than a TV show.

Be intentional and mindful with your time. Taking care of college, children, and work obligations can be exhausting, so cutting out time-wasters is vital. For awhile, things like Facebook or television should not be vying for your time. When you do have downtime, prioritize getting rest and doing enjoyable things that add value to your life.

It requires a delicate juggling act with constant adjustments to be able to complete a degree while parenting. Yet, with diligence and persistence, many students with children are successfully completing their courses of study. The most important thing is finding your own comfortable balance that fits best with your family structure.

This guest post was written by Anthony, who recently completed his graduate education in English Literature. A New Mexico native, he currently resides and writes in Seattle, Washington. He writes primarily about education, travel, literature, and American culture. Anthony currently writes for Online Graduate Programs.




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