As a mom, you may consider going back to school to further your education and get a better job to support your kids. It may seem a daunting task though, and you may wonder if you will have enough time to be with your kids and balance school and childcare responsibilities.
Since I have been in the position of being a student and working mom twice in my lifetime, I am here to tell you that it is doable! You can have time for your kids, your job and schooling at the same time.
There will be times that it is difficult, however having the education to get a better career is something that can benefit both you and your family long-term.
Ivy Panda has some great tips for student moms, and you can highly benefit from the wisdom of other moms who have been students before to learn about what is the most important things to do to make your schooling a success!
Ivy Panda's tips include:
Write things down
Don't overdo multi-tasking
Use your time wisely
Embrace the chaos
Set your priorities right
Automate household chores
Organize your study space
Do your best while on campus
Choose subjects practically
Think of your health
Find time for yourself
Learn to say no
Be kind to yourself
These are some great tips that will help you stay on track and balance your responsibilities effectively and efficiently, so that you can get the most out of both your schooling and your family!
When I was a student in college getting my undergrad, I went back to school to get my BA at 21 years old, with a 1 year old daughter. It was quite a balancing act at times, but I was lucky to have help from family with childcare, so that when I had to work late or had classes, my daughter was well cared for.
Family care can be quite important, as when you are a student, you will often have to take night or weekend jobs to make ends meet for your family, and traditional child care is often not available.
Personally, I didn't always prioritize my health while I was in school, and ended up drinking too much caffeine and getting migraines as a result. This is something to be sure to watch out for when you are having to stay up late and get up early.
The second time I went back to school in 2021, I got my paralegal certification while managing a household with two children, and working full time at a day job. I was in a fully online self-paced program, so it was much easier to get my assignments done on time than when I was in in-person classes.
You may want to consider online classes as well, if you are able to learn this way with minimal supervision and you are able to be mindful of deadlines. It eliminates the need for a commute, and makes your class times much more flexible.
Many major universities now offer online programs as well, so you won't need to give up a dream of going to a prestigious college just because you are a mom wanting to go online.
I got my undergrad degree from the University of Colorado, and my Paralegal Certification from Boston University, and I was able to do all of this as a mom.
If you want to be able to get to work in your new field more quickly, you may want to consider a certificate program (like my paralegal certification) where you dive right into the career material, instead of having to take a bunch of general courses as a prerequisite. Many of these programs will accept you with your high school diploma, so it is a great way to get into your new career faster than with a traditional 4-year program
There are two things that I think made me successful as a student both times around:
Firstly, it is important to make sure that you are honing your study skills, so that you get the most out of your classes. Having proper study habits will help you make sure to get top marks in your classes, so that you will graduate with a good understanding of all of your subjects.
When I got my undergrad degree, my counselor told me that female returning students are some of the most successful. So this should make you take heart! I think as moms, we are willing to dedicate ourselves to our studies because we know it will help our families' future.
As an undergrad, I took a job doing hotel night audit, and since it was quiet on the overnight shift, I was able to study for several hours while I was working. This really helped me to have quiet time to read my textbooks and take notes without having to sacrifice time with my daughter.
You can also take public transit to work or school instead of driving, so that you will have time to review your notes or do reading when you are on the bus or train. This allows you to make better use of time spent commuting.
Secondly, you will need to be sure to work on your time management skills, so that you are making sure that everything gets done when it needs to. This can be especially difficult when you are balancing everything for career, school and family.
See if you can structure your classes in a way that fits your lifestyle. If you can't take online classes and need to go in-person, you can usually get classes on either Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday, Thursday.
Personally, I always opted for Tuesday, Thursday as much as possible, and would stack as many classes in the day as possible. This way, I could still work 5 days a week at my job and have it work around my classes. In addition to the hotel jobs I had, I also worked jobs as a waitress and bartender.
Service industry jobs are often flexible, and nights and weekends are usually the peak work times, so you will be able to fit this in with your school schedule more easily than a traditional 9-5 job, so this may be something you will want to consider.
I made time for self-care by going to the gym at my school during my off periods. This let me get some exercise and do something that was good for myself during the day. See how creative you can get with your schedule, so that you are making the best uses of your time possible.
As I said earlier, I had family that was able to help me with childcare while I was in school. It is important to make sure that your children are well cared for, however this doesn't mean you have to be the one caring for them 24/7.
You can enlist the help of your partner or other family members to assist with childcare while you are in classes, working or studying. Many campuses also will have a campus daycare that you can take advantage of.
If you don't have family nearby to help you, you can make friends with other student moms so that you can get a support system.
My first time in college I lived in family student housing. This allowed me to meet other moms who were going to school as well. Sometimes we would trade childcare if we had night classes or had to work late. Having someone else who understands what you are going through can help to lessen the load of having so many responsibilities.
There are also many community programs available that can help you, such as the Head Start program for early childhood care. Some Head Start programs provide adult education as well as childhood education, so you will be able to go to classes at the same location as your child. This can make it much easier to get a degree or certification program, or learn English as a Second Language.
Although it may be difficult to go back to school with kids, it is doable! No matter what age you or your kids are, there are programs available both online and in person that have flexible scheduling.
If you need to go to class during the day, you can take a flexible job in the service industry, or enlist the help of family or friends for nighttime childcare.
You may also be able to find a campus with a childcare center, or take classes at an Adult Education facility in a Head Start center. This way, your children will be nearby when you are taking classes.
Time management and proper study skills are key, as is making time for self-care and your health. However daunting these things may seem, it is doable if you have the proper determination and support.
If you don't already have a support system, consider meeting up with some other student moms, so that you can have social time together, as well as helping each other out with childcare.
Do you have any other tips for going back to school as a mom? Let me know in the comments!