The Juggling Act: How to Balance Being a Parent and Going to School
Here are seven ways you can become a successful student while juggling the extraordinary job of parenthood
So, you’ve made the important decision to continue your education. You’re excited to finally be a college student. The thought of graduating gives you butterflies and you dream of the day you see your diploma perfectly framed and mounted on the wall.
Then, you are reminded of your reality.
“MOM! Where is my other shoe?” School starts in ten minutes, and if you do not get in the car right now, you will be late for the second time this week. It is not happening, just not happening! Welcome to a day in the life of a parent who is also a college student.
My name is Stella and I have three children, ages 10, 8 and 7. They are my sunshine, my rock and what I wake up for each day. At times, (ahem…finals week), being a mother doubling as a college student can be trying. Let’s just face it – it’s downright HARD. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and I know this journey will be worth the sacrifices I make.
Here are seven ways you can become a successful student while juggling the extraordinary job of parenthood:
1. Remember why you began school
Was it to better your life or your children’s lives? Is there a passion you have that requires certification? Whatever “it” is, draw on that inspiration when you feel discouraged. I am a business major at Herzing University and my personal reason for pursuing my degree is to become independent and take care of my family. I want to be able to help others the way they have helped me in my time of need.
Make some time for school every day. This is essential to success. You’ll find it’s easier to complete large projects if you can break them up into smaller tasks over the course of the week. If you find yourself getting burnt out, try taking Mondays off and getting back at it on Tuesday. It’s okay to take a break to recharge – just make sure you get back on schedule.
3. Make a list
I suggest keeping a running tab of your assignments, whether it’s in a notebook, on your phone, or on a sticky note. Each time you complete an assignment, cross that item off your to-do list. I write down every task to be completed at the beginning of each week and use my list as a guide to get it all done. Life gets busy, so it’s a good idea to have my list as a reminder. I would be lost without it!
4. Plan ahead
If you have a discussion post due on Wednesday, try to get a jump start on it so you can cross it off your list by Tuesday. I like to tell myself that all my assignments are due on Saturday night. Don’t get me wrong – I still work on Sundays, but generally, I choose smaller tasks, like a peer response or a quiz. I never wait until Sunday to complete all of my work. In my experience, procrastinating on large assignments creates a lot of stress and does not allow you to do your best work.
5. Communicate with your instructors
Your instructors are your key to success. Let them know if you are having problems with an assignment or if you have questions about the material. They are glad to answer any questions and provide you with the support you need. They are there to help you succeed, but you must allow them to help.
Create a consistent routine that allows you to get the right amount of sleep each night. Without sleep, our bodies cannot function properly. We have delayed reactions, shorter concentration spans and cannot absorb as much information as we can when we are well-rested. Too much sleep can create issues as well. It is about finding the right balance and developing a routine that helps you strike that balance.
I hope these suggestions will help other parents out there. Remember that you have people cheering you on every step of the way. Those little eyes looking up at you will grow to admire the determination and effort you are putting into making their lives better.
* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2020. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.