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If you are a parent wondering how to balance academic and home life, you are not alone. 1 in 5 college students in the United States is also a parent.
Parents returning to school may often feel overwhelmed. They think they can either be a good parent or a good student, but not both.
But with the right tools and planning, you can do both. Here are some tips to help you learn to put your family first and still let your academic pursuits thrive.
Be Clear About Your Motivation
Everyone has a different reason for returning to school. Maybe you are making a career shift, or you took time off and are ready to get back into the workforce.
Whatever your motivation is, take the time to define it yourself and then talk about it with your family. Involving your family in the conversation can help them feel greater involvement in your choices and understand how they factor into the decision.
You should also take the time to write down your goals and keep them somewhere where you can return to them. In one study, students who wrote down goals earned ten times more than those who did not write down their goals.
There may be times when you may have to miss out on precious family memories so that you can complete an assignment or attend a lesson. In these moments, it’s essential to keep your motivation for attending college front of mind.
There’s nothing worse than scrambling at the last minute to find someone to pick your little one up from school so that you can attend your class. Planning helps you to avoid these kinds of nightmare scenarios.
If you have young kids, try coordinating a school pick-up schedule with other parents in your neighborhood. You will need to spend extra time planning in the summer. Summer camps and weekly playdates with friends will help to fill their schedules so that you can focus on school.
Planning meals, free time, and homework in advance can also be helpful. Make sure to communicate the plan with your family so that everyone knows what to expect. Try posting your schedule for the week on the fridge and going over it during a weekly family dinner.
If you have planned ahead of time, you eliminate stress and dedicate your time to the things that matter most.
Schedule Study Time and Downtime
When thinking about their schedule, parents in school often forget how much time they will need to study. Don’t make this mistake if you want to do your best job in your classes.
Build time into your schedule for studying and completing assignments. Try to only work on your schoolwork during the scheduled time to not infringe on family time.
It is equally important to schedule family time and downtime to relax. If you are not taking proper care of yourself, you will struggle to find the motivation you need to juggle your busy lifestyle.
Make sure you take time to exercise regularly, get enough sleep, eat well, and spend time with your loved ones.
Utilize Resources Available to You
As a busy parent and a student, you will need all the help you can get. Whether they are through your school, your community, or your children’s school, there are resources all around you to take advantage of. Talk to other parents and students to assess what resources are available to you.
Some schools and communities will have daycare programs for young children that can help to get you some alone time to focus on your studies.
Another great resource is your local library. It provides a quiet place for you to study, and there are frequent readings or other activities for kids to keep them entertained while you work.
Though you should plan and set a schedule, flexibility is always a valuable trait when balancing family and college.
Sometimes, you may have to take an online class rather than an in-person class so that you can show up for your kids when they need you.
You may also have to be flexible with your timeline. As a parent, it might take longer for you to complete your degree or certificate program. Luckily, trade schools offer flexible programs that are ideal for working students and parents.
Lean on Others for Support
While you are in school, there will be highs and lows. But remember that you do not have to go through this alone. The community you surround yourself with is one of the essential tools to help you balance family and school.
Don’t be afraid to ask your partner or other family members for additional support when you need it.
Additionally, there are likely other parents returning to school in your program. These people can be a great support system, helping to share their best tips and tricks for staying on top of their studies while also caring for their families.
Outside of school, lean on your friends and neighbors to help you out. Chances are, the people who care about you will be proud of you for making this investment in your future. They will be excited to step in to help you pursue your dreams.
Secure the Future of Your Family and Your Career Today
Going back to school doesn’t mean that your family is no longer your priority. Investing in your education is an investment in the future of your family.
Using the tips in this guide, you will navigate all of the challenges of going to school without sacrificing your family time.
No matter what your career goals are, InterCoast Colleges has the perfect program for you. We are committed to creating a supportive and diverse learning environment that will help you to succeed.
Browse our programs to find the perfect fit for you today.