Any mom or dad can tell you that parenthood is rewarding, but it’s difficult. And if you add attending school on top of that, life can quickly become overwhelming. While it’s certainly far from easy, it is possible to do both—with the right tips, tricks, and habits to help you make the most of your time and energy. Whether you’re in a classroom or attending class virtually, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice academic or parental success. Below, read up on how to manage the parent/student balance.
1. Keep Yourself Fueled
Taking care of yourself is going to be crucial to regulating this duality. If you’re not taking care of your body, you can’t have the energy and focus necessary to take care of your kids and your course load. Make sure to eat a balanced diet, and try to work in frequent exercise to keep your body up to the task. Breakfast is especially important for parents, as it gives you an energy boost to get you through a long day of kids and classes.
2. Look into Your Institution’s Resources
Many colleges and universities have programs designed to help busy students with balance issues. While many colleges offer child care assistance options like on-site daycare, there are other ways to get help if this isn’t offered. Tutoring services can be great ways to maximize your time and energy. Getting guidance from a tutor can solve issues quickly and effectively so you spend less time stressing over assignments. If your college is transitioning back toward in-person instruction, this is an option that can help you maximize your time on campus so you can get home quicker.
3. Create a Firm Schedule
Structure will be your best friend when you’re dealing with busy days. Creating a firm daily schedule can help with time management and ease some of the chaos of the day. This is also a great way to get the entire family on the same page, so everyone is aware of each other’s commitments and availability.
4. Utilize Time-Saving Tips
Time management is one of the biggest hurdles of being a student and a parent at the same time and making your daily habits or activities more efficient can save crucial minutes in the day. For example, try planning out outfits and getting backpacks ready the night before, so you can get the kids off to school easier, and you can make it to class on time.
5. Meal Prep on the Weekends
Meal preparation can eat up an enormous amount of time, but this is something that can be simplified with a little planning. If you put aside a few hours of free time on your weekend, you can save yourself from headaches all week long. Meal prep some dinners (there are plenty of recipes available online) so your evenings can be used for proper family time and studying for your classes. Additionally, you can prepare your kids lunches in advance to cut out extra prep time in the mornings.
6. Cooperate with Your Family
Every family is different, so you’ll have to find what works for your unique situation. If you have a spouse who shares parental responsibility, coordinate with them about what type of help they can provide. You can also give older children more responsibility—like babysitting their younger siblings—in order to help out and teach them important lifelong values.
7. Explore Different Child Care Options
External child care can be extremely helpful while parents are in school. It provides a safe environment for your child, while giving you some time to focus on yourself and your academic goals. Explore babysitters, daycare facilities, or even extracurricular activities that allow a trusted adult to care for your child while you’re unavailable.
8. Get Enough Sleep
A lack of sleep can be quite common for many parents, and it’s only amplified by busy schedules. While it may be tempting to stay up late to study or do household chores, you’re only emptying your cup. Sleep is essential for your mood and your focus, so it’s an integral part of being an effective parent and student.
9. Consider an Extended Course of Study
Don’t rush yourself. Many parents find taking classes at a slower pace helps them balance their workloads. Your institution likely has timeline options for completing your degree or certification. Choosing a slightly longer route will allow you to take fewer classes at a time, so you can avoid overloading your schedule.
10. Give Yourself a Break
Being a parent is hard. Being a student is hard. While it may feel impossible to balance parenthood and school, there are many different paths to take. Try not to get discouraged if you feel overwhelmed at first; the adjustment may be difficult, but it’ll be worth it when your new career path provides a better life for you and your kids.
Woodruff can help you get started on this journey to professional success. We offer comprehensive, flexible course loads that can work for you and your unique situation.