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Balancing life as a parent and a student

Are you considering returning to school to get your bachelor’s or master's degree? Balancing school, family life, and work can be a challenge for parents but it can be done and is well worth the extra time and effort. According to the Council of Graduate Schools, the average age of students returning to graduate school is 33 years old. The average age of first-time parents is 26 years old according to the CDC. This means that many students returning to school are parents of young children and will be facing similar challenges with school-life balance. Here are some things to consider before you apply for continuing education. 

Decide if it works for you. Before committing to anything, do your research. What does the program involve? Is the school you are considering family-friendly? Is there support for parents, nursing mothers, onsite childcare, and other resources for parents? Do you have the time to commit to homework and projects? Consider your reasons for going back to school. How will it further your career? How will you pay for it? Will you need to continue working?

Get organized. Once you have decided to move forward with your education, get yourself organized. Set up a study space that is quiet and has a door that you can shut and focus on work. Plan your schedule and make sure your support system is aware of what is going on so that you know your child will be taken care of when you are busy at school or working on homework. Less distractions will make for more productive work time and means less time away from your family. 

Set up a support system. To be a successful student, you will need a good support system. This could include your significant other or co-parent, extended family, teachers, fellow students, child-care workers, and friends. You will need support both at home and school to balance both aspects of your life. 

Time management. There is never enough time in the day but if you are balancing school and parenting you will need to become very good at time management. Use your time wisely. Try not to get distracted by social media or television. Set aside time for school work and focus on that. When it’s family time, enjoy it. When you have time set aside for household chores or errands, be productive and get them done efficiently. Be kind to yourself and allow time for exercise, relaxation, spending time with your spouse or friends, and doing a hobby you enjoy. It can be hard to fit it all in but planning and using time efficiently is key. In the beginning, it will take some adjusting as you plan your schedule and find what ultimately works best for you. 

No one will tell you that being a parent while attending college is easy, but most will say that it was worth the time and effort it took to complete their degree. Not only will you be advancing your career and helping your family financially, but you will also be showing your kids the importance of education and that you value hard work.


Sarah is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom of six children, including triplets.


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