Moms hold so much responsibility on a daily basis. When you add earning a college education to the equation, sometimes things can get a little hectic. As a mom who went to college full time from the time my son was 7 months old until the time he was 4-years-old, I understand how managing college and motherhood can be a serious balancing act.
Whether you are a new mom just beginning college or a working mom going back to school or starting an on-site or virtual higher education program, there are many techniques to help you balance your education and motherhood without playing the stereotypical ‘super mom’ role.
Identify Your Resources
The great thing about going to college other than working toward a degree is getting soak up all the resources that are offered. Colleges and universities offer students and the community a ton of helpful resources, and college moms are no exception. If your child is not in school yet find out if your college has a child care center and if they offer a student discount.
Dropping your child off to a daycare on campus can be convenient and more affordable, not to mention it helps keep your child occupied, engaged and learning while you are in class. In addition to the resources offered by your college or program, you should also become familiar with the resources offered by your community.
Does your local library offer any free services? Are there any groups you can join or parent meetups you can get involved in? Where can you get tutoring help if you need it? All these questions are important to answer as you identify the community resources that are available to you.
Develop a Strong Support System
As a parent it’s important to establish a strong support system of family, friends, teachers, and mentors; but when you’re taking part in a higher education program it’s a necessity. Studying for tests, meeting up with other students to complete projects, and just going to school full time in general would have been extremely hard for me if I didn’t have the support of my loved ones.
Sometimes when my son had a cold and was recovering my mom would volunteer to watch him so he could stay home and rest and I could go to class. When I had to take a mandatory night class to graduate, my boyfriend was happy to babysit while I was in class and once I joined the College Parent’s Group on campus, I met plenty of other nice moms to carpool and have play dates with.
It’s important to realize that you can’t possibly do everything and you should not be expected to. No one is perfect (not even moms) and everyone needs support. In order to determine your circle of support to help you balance college and motherhood, start by creating a list of all the supportive people in your life that you can truly depend on and be open to meeting new people that you can establish a positive and supportive relationship with as well. Then be there for them as much as they are there for you.
The Earlier Your Classes Are, The Better
Scheduling your classes in the morning while your kids are at daycare or school is ideal because you’ll be less distracted and able to accomplish more. In the morning you are fresher, have more energy, and are most likely to be very productive.
I never liked taking night classes and avoided them at all costs because in the evenings I just wanted to focus on being home with my son, winding down, and eating dinner. If you are taking courses online, try to get the bulk of your work completed and out of the way early in the day. It’s much easier to find a babysitter and get help from others in the daytime. However, if you find that your productivity level hits its’ peek at night, you can always work on school assignments after bedtime.
Cuddle Time is a bonding activity that I made up during college and my son and I still enjoy cuddle time to this day. I’m not going to coin the phrase ‘Cuddle Time’ because I’m sure moms were doing it long before me, but it’s basically that special one-on-one time you have with your child each day.
It doesn’t necessarily have to involve cuddling. It can be talking together about your day, reading a story, doing a puzzle, going to the park or just about anything. Cuddle Time makes kids feel special and involved, and even if it just for 30 minutes or an hour, during that time you shouldn’t be multitasking or trying to do anything else.
Commit to a Schedule
It’s very important that moms try to organize their time in and out of school. When you’re trying to focus on your studies, take care of your kids, and manage your household, time can easily seem to slip away. It’s crucial to create a realistic schedule and stick to it.
Kids respond better to schedules and it will be less stressful on you when you prioritize your tasks for the day. First schedule your classes wisely. If you’re attending school full time, may be a good idea to give yourself a large lunch break so you can work on assignments during the day. Scheduling homework and housework during nap time is also a great idea. If you’re taking courses online, you’ll have more flexibility in your schedule, but getting organized with everything is definitely the key.
Have you had to manage college and motherhood?