The sacrifices you make for your country and family are undeniable, and you’ve decided that it’s time to do something for you. Congratulations on taking a huge step toward achieving your dream career. Despite the difficulties the military lifestyle presents, Military Spouses from coast to coast are defining their idea of success every single day. Now… it’s your turn. Becoming a dedicated and focused virtual college student is not always an easy transition, especially when children (and summer vacation) are involved.
These 5 tips will assist you in setting yourself up for success, as a mother, student and professional.
1. Set realistic goals.
Most online programs are “learn at your own pace”, and like exercise regimens, you have to pace yourself when starting out to avoid burnout. Understanding that online schools define an expected graduation date, for a reason, is the first step. Identify your expected graduation date and determine how many lessons you need to complete vs. how many weeks you have until graduation. This will allow you to determine how much work to complete each week. Trying to juggle a family and extra coursework can result in a frustrated mommy and stressful family environment, but pacing your studies will allow you to complete your program on time and be the kind of mommy your children deserve.
2. Establish a study space that is just for you.
Focusing on school work can become difficult when your “classroom” is located amidst the chaos of everyday life. Identifying your workspace as the family room couch and coffee table, for example, prevents you from establishing boundaries between “home life” and “school life.” Before beginning classes, seek out an empty or unused room or a nook of your house to claim for your studies. Ask your family and children to respect that area as belonging to you and use that space for absolutely nothing else. Having this special place to yourself for any period of time will allow you to focus more easily and be more productive in completing your coursework.
3. Create a schedule and stick to it.
New virtual students think that the flexibility of not having to attend a physical class is the best part of going to school online. The reality is that when you avoid setting up a schedule for yourself, falling behind in your school work is a huge possibility. Our recommendation: Set aside at least one hour each day to devote to school. Use your smartphone to establish a “study calendar” and set your clock to alert your one-hour before your study time begins. This gives you time to get the kids a snack and set them up with a quiet activity before you get to work in your quiet space.
4. Talk to your kids about your goals.
Enrolling in an online diploma or degree program is exciting for you… and your family. It’s no secret that your new school schedule, workspace and frequent distractions from your typical life are going to be noticed by your children, so tell them about it. They love you and just want to be involved. Show them your school books and pictures that relate to your future career on the internet. Tell them how your family will benefit from your graduating college, and let them keep a COUNTDOWN TO GRADUATION on a dry erase board. Talk about how you will celebrate this big achievement and how important it is to you. They are listening, and in their own little ways… they do understand.
5. Adopt an exercise routine and clean eating habits.
They don’t call you “Super Mom” for no reason, but life as a virtual student makes even the strongest mom have the occasional rough day. Caffeine will only take you so far, and sometimes it’s just not enough. You’re making a big change by working towards a college diploma or degree, so why stop there? Regular exercise and healthy eating will keep you strong and healthy for your children and your studies. The best part: It’s a great opportunity to spend some quality time with the family! Take a bike ride. Go to the farmer’s market. Go swimming. Cook a homemade meal together. Play a game of soccer. Create a new future for yourself… and memories for your family at the same time