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 as college students since leaving their young children at home can be quite difficult. But with some help and planning, young moms can return to school to complete their education. They can even earn degrees, join the workforce, and 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 a college student can be challenging, though. The pressure of divided attention between work and family can lead to feelings of guilt and stress. The key to rising above these challenges and succeeding is:
- making a plan
- focusing on goals
- getting organized
With proper planning, moms returning to school can be successful college students. They can find the right balance between work, college 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 Moms Balancing Work and Life
#1 Set goals
One of the most crucial college tips for moms 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. For a new college student, this could include filling out financial aid forms and applications before enrollment. Once accepted, these educational goals might change. They could begin encompassing things relevant to college life as a student mom. These can include:
- lesson plans
- extra credits
- test grades
- project completion times
- graduate school
- campus resources
- even family time
Setting concrete and achievable goals helps students become more productive and feel motivated with each accomplished goal. Writing things down and checking them off your list might also prove helpful.
#2 Focus on tasks to complete assignments
Sometimes thinking of all the things one has to do as a student mom may lead to feeling overwhelmed. And college moms may have less time to study than other students. It can help to prioritize tasks. Students can focus on the most urgent action items, which they address first, and then move to the less urgent tasks. They should list about five tasks at a time, finish them 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 many tasks at the same time, both at work and at home.
#3 Set a routine
Establishing a routine can help start the days out smoothly, though the nature of that routine may differ from one young adult 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 studying 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 never-ending 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, squeezing those tasks into an already demanding schedule may seem impossible. Some are lucky enough to have a supportive family nearby who can 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. Many different services offer everything from childcare to meal help. Taking advantage of the services available can make all the difference in your and your child’s life.
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. They may even offer expedited 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 frees up extra 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 essential to stick to a routine and an everyday schedule as a college student and mom. Most students create a calendar for school and family activities, such as a family weekend. It is a valuable part of the time management process, and an up-to-date calendar helps the day run smoothly and efficiently. It is also important to keep updating it so that incorrect tasks do not clutter the day or confuse anyone. This can also reduce the chance that necessary tasks will be overlooked. A calendar is a great time management tool as well. Many studies have proven that practical time management ability leads to better college success in the coming year. Student parents can schedule a time for school work and some time for family stuff like helping kids with their homework and playing with younger siblings. These tips for parents allow young moms to juggle their responsibilities and multitask successfully while working towards a college degree in less time.
#6 Attend classes and be present
Among all 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. 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 during their college years. For example, when they are attending classes, they may need to spend much more time focusing on that. Meanwhile, they can let the hired help or family member attend to their babies. This will help them have a laser focus on their studies and complete their designated task for the day. Thus, they can meet 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. By heeding these tips for parents, they can give their kids undivided attention during their precious hours together.
#7 Spend quality time with kids and family
Even when considering these tips for parents, it is important to admit that one person cannot do it all, even with all the self-discipline in the world. 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 schedule 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 time with family. Other parents may have a different strategy. How one spends time with family will differ between individuals. But the end result will be peace of mind and a lack of guilt over failing to balance family and the college experience.
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 toddlers and their younger siblings. During the early stages of motherhood, most moms are sleep-deprived and tired. Their schedules might 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. It can also help you stay motivated to complete assignments and multitask to overcome 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.
#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. Most colleges offer at least one flexible program that can make it all more manageable. Many institutions offer flexible course schedules. These 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.
Most colleges today offer online programs. Some are specially designed for working adults and moms considering returning to school. They are very flexible and mostly self-paced. This is to allow these individuals to study on their own time and complete their education with less 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. These programs can often 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. Students can reach out to their enrollment advisors and inquire about the above options. Advisors may also 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. Some may also ask for 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. This is one of the many ways you can be a good parent! Looking at how a student mom can overcome challenges to success can be very motivating for their kids. They show them how to use their talents well and also provide financially for the family. If you’re going back to school soon, then the college tips for moms listed above can help set a clear path for your near future and help you feel confident about this challenging but fulfilling journey.
- Best Online Colleges and Degrees for Moms
- 10 Most Affordable Values in Culinary Arts
- 20 Most Affordable Values in Food/Nutrition
- Top 25 Free Online College Courses for Adults
- Top 50 Cheapest Online Colleges
- Free Online Colleges
- 30 Colleges Helping Students Manage Finances
- Early Childhood Education Teacher Challenges