Parenting is a full-time job. Whether you’re a stay-at-home dad or a mom who heads to the office every morning, spare time can be hard to come by when you’re also prepping dinner, making sure the kids are ready for school and, whew, finally getting them to bed.
Although many parents see earning a college degree as a way to give their children a better life, the prospect of adding school to an already-busy routine can seem overwhelming. The motivation is there, but the time is hard to find.
Rather than add a campus commute to their list of obligations, lots of parents enroll in an online degree program for more flexibility in pacing themselves and managing their time efficiently. Still, it can be difficult to carve out study time. If you’re a parent about to head back to school, here are some tips to help you and your kids through the transition period.
- Work together: Do schoolwork with your children. It’s beneficial for them to see you exemplify a good work ethic. It’s also a way to alleviate any sense of guilt you may feel about not spending as much time with your kids due to schoolwork. Children can help their parents study, perhaps by making flash cards to test mom or dad. It never hurts to expose youngsters to higher-level concepts and they will enjoy spending that time with you.
- Create a competition: Consider competing with your children to see who gets better grades, with a reward for the winner. It will emphasize the importance of schoolwork and let your kids feel invested in your life by helping keep you accountable.
- Plan ahead: Prepare for larger projects and exams well in advance. It may help to arrange for a sitter or to ask for a family member’s help if you need to devote time to a paper or project. Studying for a big test is time-intensive, so try to make sure your child’s schedule doesn’t conflict with your exams.
- Talk with your instructors: Establish contact with your professors early and let them know you’re a parent. This may make it easier for them to work with you if you have to miss a deadline because of a sick child. Keep your communications clear and concise. This shows your instructors that you value their time.
- Prep family meals: Minimize the weeknight rush and free up study time by preparing meals at the weekend. Check out meal planning sites that help you set your menu for the week, or services that send you ready-to-make meals with all the ingredients included. For those in-between mealtime snacks, check out our Study Snacks for some suggestions. If the kids can help with meal prep, all the better.
- Take breaks: Your children can learn valuable lessons from seeing you working hard. But they also need fun time with mom and dad, so plan a movie night or game night to help keep everyone sane and smiling during this busy time. That should also help you keep your mind refreshed, which will help you feel less stressed.