For most people, especially mom’s, returning to school is a very personal and important decision. We all do it for a variety of reasons. To either be more marketable in the workforce or expand the career you have. Good for you mom! It takes a lot of courage to make this tough decision. It’s certainly not easy. Although it is your decision, remember everyone IS and WILL BE affected by this.
How can you be successful as a working mom in college? I can speak of the challenges of this phase since I made this decision a few years ago. My reason is for personal fulfillment and a more flexible career.
Everyone certainly needs to be on board in this decision. Definitely my husband for one. This is my perfectly imperfect system. I will share how I was able to get through this trying time. This is my life as a working student mother.
Here are 10 tips to help you succeed.
- Time management for moms in college:
Time management for mom’s in college is imperative. You will need a good planner. Everything needs to be planned AND timed. Wake up time, how many minutes it takes you to get dressed, etc. You may need to set the alarm for reminders. Aim for 5 to 10 min slots. Go grocery shopping at the weekend and get everything you need. Better yet, buy in bulk at the beginning of each semester. As you know, going to the store takes a lot of time. This is one fool-proof time-saving tip for a working mom. If you get all the necessary household non-perishable necessities at the beginning of each semester, can imagine the amount time you will save?
- Excellent study skills for moms in college:
You can’t waste any time. Before the semester starts is an excellent way to implement this. Buy, borrow, or rent all your books ahead of time. Here’s a tip if you want to save money on college books, I know how expensive they can be. As soon as you get a copy of the syllabus, see if your local library has a copy. You can reserve it for a certain amount of time and extend it after, check how long and often you can do this. Speaking of the syllabus, plan for big projects and due dates. You don’t have to start studying, just put these dates on your calendar so you can plan accordingly.
Find a good spot where you are able to concentrate. Get all your tools before school starts. An organization is key. It will be easy to get overwhelmed. You will be wearing 4 hats during this time. You are working, being a mom, wife, and student. Yes, you have to brace yourself. Study when you can. When the kids are asleep before they wake up. Listen to recorded lectures as you fold laundry and do other menial tasks. Here are study skills I have come to rely on all the way through grad school.
Arranging for a babysitter or a good daycare with hours that work with your schedule is valuable. I remember dropping off as early as I can. Then picking up my child as late as possible. Even if classes are done, use the time after classes to study. That way, you can concentrate on your child when you pick them up.
- Employer Flexibility
How do you balance work and family? Factor in going to school. If you must continue to work, arrange flexible hours with your employer if possible. Having a flexible employer allows you the chance to start work, finish on times and have the time to attend to other needs such as family and studies.
- Get your partner involved
Working mom’s in college must juggle responsibilities, and this is where having a partner comes in. One of you can start work later to drop the children to school or child care, while the other finishes work earlier to pick the children up. It indeed is achievable but can take some effective time management and negotiations at work and with the family.
Running the household and accomplishing all household tasks can also create stress, but having a partner can eliminate some of these, and many of the functions can be shared. Establishing a routine becomes essential, allowing you to plan your days effectively, and knowing when things such as washing, folding and putting clothes away can be completed. Try your best to cook and prepare meals for the week on the weekend, and have them frozen. It’s simpler, saves time and cuts the workload down significantly.
- Ask for help from family and friends
For moms and parents who do it on their own, this can be difficult. If friends offer, take them up on it (only if you feel safe and trust them of course). Offers such as babysitting help, help with meals, shopping or even studying can be beneficial. Being a parent and college student certainly opens you up to be creative with your options.
- Don’t forget to create time for your partner
Being a mom and college student with a job may leave you lacking time for your partner. Having a social life may be non-existent. However, you have to go time for your partner. Remember, they are there to support you. They may feel neglected during this time, that
Like children, relationships are hard work and require energy and commitment to ensuring that both partners work towards a common goal. Some couples find themselves weighing up between quality and quantity, and then choosing their option. The issue with quality and quantity should not center on which outweighs the other. Successful relationships incorporate both quality and quantity. This means that time spent with one another occurs regularly and is always meaningful.
- Don’t forget to create time for your self:
Set time aside for your self. Just like you schedule everything, schedule “me” or “mom” time as well. If you keep going, thinking you need to use all your waking moments to accomplish everything, you will burn out. Taking time to recharge will actually allow for more energy and better productivity.
- Map out family time:
Spending time as a family is also extremely important and should be made a priority. Take a day off on the weekend and have a family picnic. Don’t even think about school during this day. It will help clear your head. The change of environment will undoubtedly invigorate and rejuvenate you for the week to come. Arrange a family holiday, and spend the weekend, or part of the school holidays away from busy demands of everyday life which you are accustomed to. Children also need to develop an understanding of quality time, and together time. It’s often too easy to allow the children to entertain themselves, and often, families find themselves living together but interacting very little with one another. We become absorbed in our own busy world, our own interests, and slowly create boundaries around one another.
- Last but not least. This is actually the most important. “I can do all things through Christ.”
No matter how smart or awesome you are. There is a higher power that is over all of us. Part of recharging yourself is being emotionally, mentally and spiritually full. I honestly cannot tell you, that I would have gotten through what I did without praying and asking for His help.
Effective time management for moms in college is essential, especially when you also have a demanding 9-5 job. Finding the perfect balance between working, studying and managing family life is intricately close to impossible. As individuals, we tend to focus on what is required of ourselves, and we work towards completing the tasks required of us with little regard for the functions that are not necessary, but aids in establishing positive and lifelong relationships.
Children require structure and routine and thrive on gaining a sense of belonging within a family structure. Couples need time to themselves, but also need time to appreciate one another, and relish in their partner’s company. With effective time management, negotiation and a little give and take, student moms can learn to manage their study, working and family life successfully effectively.
If there is a will, there is a way. Good luck to you mom!
About the Author: Cristy Murray is a Mom, wife and Family Nurse Practitioner. She shares the reality of being a working mother and wife. In her blog, alaskamomlife.com, she writes about lifestyle and wellness and aims to help working mothers find the balance.