Perhaps you’re thinking of jumping back into academia and pursuing that Master’s, undergraduate degree, or certification. Except, you realize that you have three kids, a mortgage, car payments, insurance, and two cats and a dog to feed. I am here to say that you can do it all. Although it’s not going to be easy. But here are some tips for success I’ve found helpful while finishing up my undergrad at University with three kids, a mortgage.
It sounds simple, but if you decide to take the plunge and go back to school, or already have and are stressing about your choice, the first thing to remember is to breathe. You are not always going to be the top of the class and that’s okay. Your house may occasionally get messy when you have a 25-page paper due that week. It will be Okay. You’ll get the house clean in a mad frenzy of cleaning the week after its due. The reality is you will be balancing a lot of things and there will be a natural give and take when you’re going to school with kids. Just make sure to take the time to step back and take a breath.
Take The Time
Be sure to carve out time in your week to have quality one on one with your kids. Book it in your calendar for X time to spend with Jimmie or Jane and don’t move it for anything. If you can get into the habit of this, you will find that this will become quality time with your kids that both you and they will come to look forward to every week. This is not to say that this is the only time you will spend with your kids, but it’s important to carve out specific times during the week in order to help build and maintain relationships with your kids.
Try to look on the bright side of things. It is not always easy to do, but maintaining a positive attitude will help you when faced with challenges on all fronts.
Know When to Say No
You are going to want to do it all, go to every Parent Teacher meeting, create cookies for World alligator day at the kid’s school, volunteer for the cool new research project at your school, and work with the same 5 charities you did before school. The reality is, school is built around a student schedule that is not conducive to those with kids and regular adult lives. So you are going to need to prioritize which events to drop and which events to keep.Arguably, for some, this is the biggest struggle with going back to school.
Make sure to talk to your family about when you need time for schoolwork or when you just need some quiet time. It is also important to try and keep the lines of communication open with your family so they can express to you when they need time from you. This goes back to the taking time. The ability to talk is paramount to juggling all the pieces.
Don’t be afraid to call the babysitter if you are getting really behind on schoolwork. If you are making sure your getting quality time throughout the week, using a babysitter sometimes in order to catch up on schoolwork is a win-win. In fact, you will have better times with your kids if you are not stressing about the paper you haven’t finished.
Plan your meals, snacks, your study schedule, and anything else you can think of. If you institute a thorough plan that is fairly regulated you will be surprised how easily things fall into place. In fact, you might find that you are excelling past your fellow students without kids in school because of this incessant need to plan out everything.
Just Do It
Like the Nike Slogan states so should go your academic life with kids. There will be times when everything seems like its falling apart. There will also be times when you are amazed out how everything thing seems to work like clockwork. In the end, if you want to go back to school, only you are getting in the way.
By Joshua Randall, DCL Member