You’ve just added a major endeavor to your life – going after a degree while raising your kids.
Congratulations are in order. You are entering a phase of your life that now has two purposes – raising happy healthy children and pursuing a personal goal for your own self.
So how exactly do you accomplish this? It is rather like compartmentalizing your life – you will not be able to focus on your kids when you are studying, and you will not be able to focus on studying when your kids are present. You will have to make time for both but at separate times of your days and nights.
Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes.
So here are some important tips to keep in mind as you live your “two lives” and maintain your sanity.
1. Don’t Do This Alone
You have friends; you have a family. Most will support your decision to go back to school and will want to pitch in to help.
The larger your “community,” the more you will be able to ask for and receive help during those tough periods – studying for finals or getting that research paper finished.
Parents will be happy to take the kids for a day or two; friends who also have children will be willing to take the kids on outings or for playdates, so you can have quiet time to study. Of course, you will reciprocate whenever possible.
2. Let Non-Essentials Go
This is all about priorities. Once you decide to go back to school, you have two jobs – being a mom and being a student. And there is little time for other activities.
Take a leave of absence from that book club or the weekly girls’ night out.
This is not to say that you should never plan for some “just me time.” It means that you will have to reduce those times for now. This also means that your house will not always be perfectly kept because you took the kids to the zoo instead.
3. Find Resources When You are Overwhelmed with Coursework
If you are taking a full course load, you are facing exams and essay/paper assignments that all seem to fall due at the same time. This is hard enough on students without family obligations.
It can be overwhelming for you. Sometimes, you may just have to find professional paper writers to take some of the load, especially in those courses that are general ed requirements or electives and not part of your major field of study.
If you only use them to review and edit what you have produced, it will be of great benefit.
4. Live By a Calendar
A comprehensive calendar is a must:
- There are kids’ activities to be scheduled
- There are assignment due dates to remember
- There may be mandatory events with a spouse/partner
- There are doctor and dental appointments to keep
Many moms keep digital calendars. Others keep one on the wall to see the entire month at a glance.
If you see a busy week coming up soon, you can then plan some totally alone time and get a few assignments completed ahead of time.
5. Find Help and Support from Strangers
Getting advice and counsel from other moms who have or are experiencing the same challenges you are right now.
They write and blog about their successes (and failures). Check out OC Mom Blog and find a few articles that relate to your situation, if only to know that you are not alone in your struggles and that others just like you have persevered and made it.
6. Be Present
If you have planned an activity with your kids, this is where you must be at the moment – both physically and, more important, mentally. They deserve your full attention.
Turn your mind off from all thoughts of coursework during these times. You will return to that coursework far more refreshed, and your kids will have had their mom “full-time.”
You Can Do This
Balancing your “two lives” will take structure, organization, and willpower. But with that ultimate degree in hand, you celebrate your success, and your kids will have seen a fine example of persistence and achievement.
Author Bio: Melony Hart is a writer of all things college-related. She speaks from her own experiences and those of others, providing lots of perspective and advice. In her spare time, she dabbles in gourmet cooking, animal rescue, and environmental efforts.