I have to admit (with a little embarrassment) I have been a mom/student for approximately 10 years. I was in my second year of my Bachelors program when I became pregnant and gave birth to my oldest daughter. Well 2 kids, 2 degree changes and 10 years later I am still getting knowledge.
Being a parent student isn’t easy with so many additional things to juggle besides just school work I often find it can get overwhelming.
So here are 10 ways to survive being a parent student that I wish I knew earlier.
1. Get a planner that you LOVE and use it. I have not always been a planner girl but since finding one that I love my life has been so much easier. There are many popular brands out there so shop around. ETSY has some amazing vendors that will allow you to pick and choose customize sections such as fitness or household management or finances. They aren’t cheap but the price is well worth the time I save by using it.
2. Meal Plan. I know this one isn’t easy to do either. However my life has become so much better since I started meal planning. I know have about 100 ways to cook ramen (thank you student budget) but the stress of not worrying what I am going to make for dinner each night makes my Sunday planning days worth it.
3. Invest in kitchen appliances that allow you to “cheat”. Nothing makes me happier than coming home to dinner already cooked and waiting for me in the slow cooker. Not only is it easy to drop in some meat cuts such as chicken or port, but by adding vegetables, spices and a few other things I have a full course meal that requires me to just set the table and serve. You can find my families favorite slow cooker recipes in this post or on my pintrest board.
4. Schedule homework time. This one was really hard for me to get used too. Schedule a time to do homework? Yeah I know it seems silly but it has helped me to ensure that I get it done, leaving it by chance or when I “get to it” means I often don’t because kids.
5. The little things count. Finding the balance between kids and school is hard. Don’t discredit the little things and how much they mean. It would be nice to spend more time with my kids, but the 10 minutes spent saying goodnight or the 5 minutes spent brushing teeth together are important to them and help us stay connected.
6. Invest in a family schedule board. I am a very visual person and not everyone is but this way of scheduling is helpful for our whole family. Our family whiteboard hangs just inside the kitchen and allows both kids to see what we have to do that week. I have a separate one for my schedule so they (and my husband) know what I am doing all week which helps with some of their anxiety about when I leave and when I come back.
7. Figure out and stick your boundaries. This has to be one of the hardest things for me, I am a yes person by nature. However when I started saying no my life got a lot easier. Being a student is time consuming and knowing what was too much and saying no to it has help me better balance everything (I am still working on this one).
8. Find out what resources your school offers. A lot of schools have some resources on campus or a list of community resources that can be useful to students who are also parents. I know some of the larger schools offer childcare (there is often a waiting list) at a discounted rate to students. My school offers a lot of “family events” such as movies on the lawn, art activities, concerts, etc free of charge for me to bring my littles too.
9. Know when you need a break. It is OK to take a break. Sometimes it can be hard for me to shut off. However I have found if I take sometime each week to take a break from school and my littles it helps me to be both a better parent and student. Parenting is hard work. A lot of effort goes everyday into thinking about our children’s needs and sometimes our own get left behind, so make sure you think about you too!
10. Remember this is only temporary. A lot of days I struggle with balancing both roles. However I remind myself being a student is temporary (one day I promise I’ll be done) and one day I will have more time to devote to the things I can’t now.
These things have helped me through the past 4 years, because honestly it took me a while to figure them out. What types of things have helped you balance being both a parent and student?