Going to college is time-consuming and can be incredibly stressful. The same can be said about raising children. Some ambitious parents decide to attend college even though they have young kids at home!
Whether you had an unexpected pregnancy during college or are returning to school to improve your career aspects, going to college with kids can be a taxing yet rewarding experience. Balancing the responsibilities of parenthood with the responsibilities of being a college student is a challenge, but many people are able to pull off. The following advice can come in handy during the semester:
If possible, schedule your college classes when your kids are also in school. If you have an infant or pre-school aged child, it may be better to take classes at night when your partner, spouse or another family member can watch the kids.
Most colleges now offer at least some classes completely online or in a hybrid format, in which some on-campus meetings are required but the majority of the course is held online. Although they are still time-consuming and require just as much dedication and concentration as traditional classes, online college classes are more convenient for many parents because they offer a lot of flexibility.
If you plan on wrapping up an assignment the night before it’s due yet your son or daughter gets sick and stays awake until 4 AM throwing up, your plans are down the drain. Avoid procrastinating and get things done several days ahead of time. Keep organized with a student planner or use on online time management application such as Google Calendar.
Even if you aren’t normally the type of person who shares info about your personal life with other people, let friends and relatives know that you’re taking classes. Many people will be happy to help you out occasionally if something comes up. Doting grandparents generally love baby-sitting anyway!
While you’re in college, your friends and family can serve as a backup support network. If your husband has to work late, your regular baby-sitter is taking care of her own sick children and your only other option is to bring your kids to school with you, someone you know and trust might be able to take care of your kids for a few hours.
Full-time preschool or daycare can be pricy, but many childcare facilities offer drop-in care in which parents pay an hourly rate rather than a flat fee. It may be cheaper to pay for five hours of daycare twice per week than enroll your child in a specific program. Some college campuses even offer free or low-cost childcare for students who are parents.
It’s a good idea to let your professors know up front that you are a parent. Send them an email or talk to them for a few minutes after your first class ends. Then, if something comes up and you have to miss class, you can at least inform the teacher of your absence via email and you may even be able to get a deadline extension. (Many college instructors also have children.)
Many parents spend so much time worrying about their children that they neglect their own health. Take the time to eat regularly, get a full night’s sleep as often as possible, and exercise when you can.
Going to college with kids can be a juggling act at times, especially if you have a full- or part-time job. It may seem like your time management skills are constantly being put to the test! As hard as it may be, you must accept the fact that things will come up—kids get sick, cars break down, bad weather can cause transportation difficult.
If you plan your schedule wisely, try your best to stay organized, and realize that accepting occasional help from family and friends is nothing to be embarrassed about, your college career can be a (busy!) success.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
Have something to say? Feel free to add comments or additional information.