Motherhood is such a wonderful experience that no sacrifice seems enough. Yet, we sacrifice a lot to raise kids, and two of the most important are career and education. It is hard for young moms to get back into the workforce or complete their education since leaving their young children home can be quite a wrench. But with some help and planning, young moms can go back to school to complete their education, earn their degrees and join the workforce or advance their current careers. Our experts have outlined some basic college tips for moms to help them with their educational journey.
Being a full-time working mother and as well as a college student, the pressure of divided attention between work and family can lead to feelings of guilt and stress. The key to rising above this and succeeding is making a plan, focusing on goals, and getting organized. With proper planning, moms going back to school can find the right balance between work, life, and parenthood. It is then worth the money and time invested so young moms can continue their education as college students while ensuring that their family flourishes.
Here are 10 Important College Tips for Moma Balancing Work and Life
#1 Set goals
One of the most important college tips for moms is to start the education process and stay on track is setting goals. Moms who are also college students should begin by writing down some realistic short-term and long-term goals and stick to them. Before enrollment, this could include filling out financial aid forms and applications, for instance. Once accepted, these educational goals may include lesson plans, extra credits, test grades, project completion times, internships, and even family time. Setting concrete and achievable goals helps students become more productive and feel motivated with each accomplished goal.
#2 Prioritize tasks to complete assignments
Sometimes thinking of all things one has to accomplish in the near future may lead to a feeling of being overwhelmed. Rather than thinking of all of them at once, it helps to prioritize tasks. Students can focus on action items with the highest urgency, which they address first, and then move to the less urgent tasks. They should make a list of about five tasks at a time, get them done in a day and cross them off as they go. They will help them feel that progress has been achieved, leading to great satisfaction. It reaffirms the feeling that students are capable of accomplishing multiple tasks at the same time, both at work and at home.
#3 Set a routine
Establishing some sort of a routine can help start the days out smoothly, though the nature of that routine may differ from one person to another. For some, it means waking up early, completing morning chores, and leaving the house by the designated time. For others, it may mean sitting down to study for your college degree program early in the morning before the household wakes up. It’s all about being strategic with time management which means planning for the whole day or completing chores ahead of time the night before. It could be meal prepping, cooking for 2-3 days, and packing the kids’ backpacks and daycare bags the night before. Setting a routine and sticking to it helps set a manageable routine and reduces the risk of being rushed and forgetting something.
#4 Outsource chores or hire help
There are always 101 things to do around the house, and it can be a neverending list of chores for a mom. But once you plan to go back to school for a college degree, it is time to get help. Without help and support, it may seem impossible to squeeze those tasks into an already demanding schedule even though these same errands were manageable before. Some are lucky enough to have a supportive family close by who can step in to help with a sick kid or household chores. Others may have supportive spouses who juggle their schedules to support and help. For mothers who do not have these, one of the critical college tips for moms is that you can still find help with a number of services that offer everything from childcare to meal help. Taking advantage of the services available can make a huge difference.
Even if one is not outsourcing some of the household chores, they can avail themselves of online services that offer help at an affordable price. Companies like Instacart, Amazon, Target, and Costco offer unlimited plans that make these services more affordable with less than two-day shipping when you meet minimum spending thresholds. They have frequent-visitor discounts, so moms don’t have to worry about grocery shopping. With the help of these retailers, they can stock up on everyday essentials, which in turn frees up additional time to spend with family.
#5 Create a calendar for study and life
Another important college tip for moms is creating a calendar. It is important to stick to a routine and an everyday schedule. Most students create a calendar for school activities as well as for family activities. It is a helpful part of the time management process, and an up-to-date calendar helps one have the day run smoothly and efficiently. It is important to keep updating it so that incorrect tasks do not clutter the day or confuse anyone or, more importantly, let important tasks be overlooked. A calendar is a great time management tool as well. Many studies have proven that effective time management ability leads to better college success. Student parents can designate a time for school work and some time for family stuff like helping kids with their homework. It not only allows young moms to juggle their responsibilities and multitask successfully while working towards a college degree.
#6 Attend classes and be present
Among all of the college tips for moms, this one seems obvious, but it is worth saying. The key to succeeding academically is to focus on the courses and learn how to do well in them. As mentioned above, maintaining a study calendar will help students meet the demanding college coursework and assignments. Moms need to work around the schedules they set for classes and family and stick to them. For example, when they are attending classes, they should focus on that and let the hired help or family member attend to their babies during that time. This will help them have a laser focus on their studies and complete their designated task for the day, thus meeting the deadlines set by professors. The benefit of this is that once they are done, they can spend time with their little ones without worrying about pending schoolwork. They can give their kids undivided attention during their precious hours together.
#7 Spend quality time with kids and family
It is important to admit that one person cannot do it all. So asking for help and getting help is very important to balancing work and life while working on a college degree. Students should make a list of projects that they can delegate easily and complete the manageable ones. Be sure to have realistic expectations for yourself. Dividing up the work by daily, weekly, or even monthly chores would help. It will also free up time to spend with kids and family.
Try to designate a time when you have at least one meal together or maybe even cook together. Some families like to spend time outdoors, so going to the park every day or going for a walk after dinner might sound great to them. For some moms, turning off phones during bedtime stories helps them focus on their kids and gives them quality time with family. So how one spends time with family will differ between individuals, but the end result will be peace of mind and a lack of guilt that they are not balancing family and school time well.
Yes, it is very important for moms going back to school to let go of guilt, no matter how much of a wrench it is to leave kids in someone else’s care for a while. Make sure you appreciate the help you are getting but do not discount it.
#8 Rest, relax, repeat
Nighttime sleep can be extremely unpredictable with newborns and toddlers. During the early stages of motherhood, most moms are sleep-deprived and tired since their schedules completely revolve around the baby’s sleep schedule. This kind of exhaustion can decrease productivity which is of no help if one is going back to school. Then the daily routine will be even more packed, which can be a challenge. One way to ensure a normal routine is to instruct the nanny or daycare to put down kids for proper naps and then try to get them into a sleep schedule at night. It won’t happen overnight, but with persistence, it is possible, and this will help students get at least 7-8 hours of sleep themselves.
Moms need to sneak in a little alone time for relaxing and recharging. Settling down with a book, watching something on Netflix, going to a coffee shop to study, or getting a massage on the weekend can help. A little R&R can go a long way to help one succeed as a working mom. Also, set realistic expectations and give yourself a break when needed.
#9 Use the power of friends to recharge
A packed schedule can cause stress, and just hanging out with family may not always help. It is important to keep your social life alive despite your crazy schedule. According to an American Psychological Association study, being with good friends can decrease cortisol or stress levels. A heart-to-heart with a close friend or spending an evening with a group of girlfriends can help one de-stress, and stay motivated to complete assignments. and multitask to overcome all challenges. Taking time off to go on a short vacation with family may help as well.
Moms returning to school should also make friends with other students in their class. A supportive peer group can be a big help in college and can enhance the college experience. They will find it easy to connect, help each other, and share time management tips.
While it is important to connect and spend time with friends, one should not get carried away. Devoting enough time to family and studies is important, so learning to say “no” to people is essential. If friends are continuously making plans that will impact your life, try to steer clear of that. Some moms find it easier to juggle all these by accepting invitations to gatherings and parties that include children. Going to a kid-friendly restaurant or event and get-togethers with family or friends where kids are welcome can be great for relaxing without any guilt involved.
#10 Choose the right program
The last of the college tips for moms balancing work and life is to choose a program that best allows for all the above. Choosing a flexible program will make it all more manageable. Many institutions offer flexible course schedules that can range from part-time options to self-paced or accelerated options and rolling admissions. Students who wish to study in person should consider all these when choosing a college.
Many universities and colleges today offer online programs that are specially designed for working adults and moms considering returning to school. They are very flexible and mostly self-paced to allow these individuals to study on their own time and complete their education without any stress. Many schools will highlight the benefits it provides to parents and full-time workers on their websites.
Moms who already have a degree and wish to get into the workforce right away may even choose an online certificate program or non-credit education that can be completed in less than a year. The classes are typically flexible and brief and are often designed to help students gain specific skills in their fields.
Notes on Financial Aid
It is also important to find out what financial aid and grants they are eligible for, especially federal financial aid. There is no age limit to completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), especially for students who do not have any prior degree. This free application is an important step for moms looking to fund their education via federal student aid. When choosing online programs, students can reach out to their enrollment advisors and enquire about the above options. They may even provide information on grant and scholarship programs offered by the states and colleges themselves.
The Admissions Process
Academic advisors will also help with the admission process. Most require recommendation letters, transcripts, and personal statements as part of the application materials, along with a list of prerequisite courses. When researching programs, the aspiring college student should consider whether the institution is accredited.
Working moms face a lot of struggles. Dividing time and energy between responsibilities at home, work, and school can be hard, but one should not give up. While moms go back to school to pursue their dreams and embark on a career, they also set a great example for their kids. Looking at how mothers can overcome challenges to success can be very motivating for their kids. They show how to use talents well and also provide financially for the family. The college tips for moms listed above will help set a clear path and feel confident about this challenging but fulfilling journey.
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