Are you returning to the classroom this fall? Perhaps you are taking a course online, working toward a certificate, or going to school full-time for a degree. This can pose quite the challenge for mothers of young children. So, how can you be both a mother and a student without going crazy? Here are 6 tips for the successful mom-student:
1. Have a Detailed Schedule:
Plan as if your life depended on it (because frankly, it does). Others may see you as rigid or foolish, but your sanity depends on your life running like a well-oiled machine. Plus, if you have a routine down, then life’s hiccups (i.e. sick kid) will be much more manageable. So, have your schedule and stick to it. If you schedule studying for 10am to 11:30am on Saturday morning, then do exactly that and specify what you plan to cover. As a mom-student, you don’t have the luxury to be lazy.
2. Quality Time:
Speaking of schedules, you need to plan for quality time with just you and your child. The bedtime routine during the week is a great opportunity for you to forget everything and focus on your child. Making dinner is also a great time as well. While the weekend is great for catching up on studying make sure to set aside a few hours on Saturday and Sunday to spend time with your child at the park, zoo, library or in the living room with an impromptu dance party. It is additional quality time and it also gets them tuckered out enough for their naps which gives you more productive study time.
3. Make Time:
Get up early or go to bed late. As long as there is a being in the world who calls you “Mom” or any variation of it, your time is not your own unless you make it so. You must carve out time in your schedule where you are uninterrupted by your child and you can focus on studying. The best times are often early in the morning or at night while everyone else is asleep.
Incorporate your child into study time at least once a week. There will be times when you just have to get some schoolwork done around your child. To prevent pulling one’s hair out from all the interruptions, set your child up with some sort of activity and impress upon them the importance of that activity (i.e. ask them to draw the best dinosaur she can or fill the paper with as many squares as he can.) This will get you a nice chunk of uninterrupted studying and your child will love “doing work” with Mommy.
5. Use Your Support Network:
Communicate with your spouse, your family, and your friends about your goals and get their support. Make sure that they know how important your school is to you and how you are going to need their support be it through carpooling, babysitting, or simply words of encouragement. You are not alone. People want to help. All you have to do is ask.
6. Me Time:
Make time for yourself and take one night off a week. Turn off your brain. Watch or read something that requires as little thought as possible. Guilty pleasure it up to your heart’s content. Yes, that means go ahead and read the trashy novel or watch the silly reality television show. Do whatever brings you joy. It is necessary to recharge at least once a week so you can continue being a Supermom and a Superstudent.
Above all, be kind to yourself and your family. It can be incredibly stressful managing your time while returning to school and raising a family. However, remind yourself about the great example you are setting for your children about the importance of education. With a solid plan and communication, your return to the school will be nothing short of a success.