Back to school is hard enough when it’s just the kids, but when mom goes back to school too, the whole household has the potential to come off the rails. So how can you keep everything running smoothly at home when you’ve got your own studies? It all comes down to organization.
Before you pick up your pencils and crack open that textbook, take some time to prepare your family with these four proven strategies. With everything in place, you’ll actually have time to hit the books.
Whether you’re taking classes on campus or online, childcare needs to be your top priority because if your kids aren’t squared away, you aren’t going to be able to focus. You need to find a reliable babysitter or childcare center, in addition to making backup arrangements.
Daycare can be a great option for young children if you’re going back to school full-time, but it can be expensive – and you’ll still need an in-home alternative for days your kids are sick. Ask around and find a roster of babysitters who can come to your house on short notice if your kids are feverish or have a virus. And don’t forget to account for any school holidays that only apply to the kids; college schedules don’t always match the local primary school breaks.
Consider Your Career Path
Your typical undergraduate changes their major at least once while in school, but as a parent you don’t have time to mess around. Instead, before going back to school you need to identify a career path that will take you from degree to the workplace in a minimum amount of time.
So what are some great careers you can get with only a short period of study? There are more than you may think. You can study medical coding and billing online and be career-ready in under two years time. Many technical careers, such as those in mechanical engineering and medical imaging also only require an associate degree. The basic idea is that, the less time you’re in school, the easier it will be to manage life at home.
Create A Study Space
Any mom who has ever overseen an afterschool study session knows that where your kids study can determine how well they focus, and the same applies to you. Create a dedicated study space and clear rules about how you plan to do your work. When you try to study in the living room or at your dining room table, it’s too easy to get off task or distracted by other things that need to be done.
If you have school age children, you may want to set up a workspace you all can share and do you work together. Studying with your children sets a good example for them about the importance of education and also allows you to spend time with them, despite an increasingly busy schedule.
You can’t do it all, and despite the fact that husbands are doing more housework and childcare these days, women still perform the bulk of that labor. If you’re going back to school, though, you need to redistribute some of that work – or at least find easier ways to get things done. Doing weekly dinner prep and making crockpot meals can help you ensure your family gets a healthy dinner every night with minimal effort on your part.
Older children can also participate in meal preparation, and even young children can do simple chores like setting the table, feeding pets, and sorting laundry. As with studying, giving everyone chores sets an important expectation that everyone contributes to the functioning of the household.
Being a parent can limit your options when it comes to advancing your education, especially if you have limited funds to support yourself during that time, but you can make the process easier. By having a clear plan of study and building a network of support both at home and outside your family, you can earn your degree and advance your career, and show your family that you’re more than just mom.