Being a single parent comes with so many challenges. The weight of your responsibilities can be overwhelming, and it’s often difficult to find time to meet your own needs. However, it’s important to keep in mind that you are only human and that taking time for yourself can actually renew your spirit, providing you a more positive mindset to care for your children. Among the most stressful aspects of single parenting today is financial worry. You know that getting a degree or certificate can go far to improving your income, but you may not think you can fit one more thing on your already overflowing plate. You may be surprised to know that adult students are actually some of the most prepared due to the life experience they already hold. In addition, pursuing an education is something you can do for yourself, as well as your family. You’re likely to gain a great deal of self-fulfillment in learning new information, engaging online with fellow students and working toward a goal. Read on to learn how you can successfully balance going back to school as a single parent with your current responsibilities.
Gather a Support Network
While taking classes is a very fulfilling activity, there’s no denying that it can be stressful to find time for studying and meeting course requirements. That’s why it’s crucial that you identify and communicate with the people in your life who can most support you. It may be family, friends or even your children. Yes, your kids will need to know that they are expected to help you to do well in school, just like you help them. Kids can help by sitting down with you to do homework together, being patient while you are busy with classwork and pitching in around the house. They will feel a sense of pride in being able to assist you, in addition to receiving the message that education is important. Members of your adult support network can provide childcare during the most hectic times of the semester, give a listening ear and be understanding when you aren’t as available as you may have been in the past.
Get Serious About Time Management
Even with online classes that are flexible, you’ll need to block out some additional time in your schedule. A good practice is to actually write in your agenda or make a note in your online calendar the times you set aside for studying and class obligations. Doing this will make it a routine and help you, along with your family members, to know when it’s time to get to work on academics. This routine will become a habit that soon just becomes a normal, expected part of your everyday life.
Hone Your Communication Skills
Going back to school as a single parent will require you to communicate with the people in your life more than ever before. As mentioned, your kids and support network will need to understand why your education is so important to you and what you need from them in order to be successful. If you are working, you’ll also need to communicate regularly with your employer. Let them know that you are taking college classes, but that you have made arrangements to ensure your work performance doesn’t suffer. Once you demonstrate that this is true, your supervisor will likely be understanding should a situation arise in which you may need to adjust your schedule to meet academic needs. You’ll also want to always stay in communication with your instructors. They know their students have children and responsibilities. They will likely be open to extending an assignment deadline or accommodating you in some other way if a family issue comes up. However, you have to be sure to let them know as soon as possible.
Take Care of Yourself
While it’s so easy to neglect your needs when you’re a single parent, please don’t. You’ll need to be healthy, well-rested and emotionally strong in order to maintain your incredibly busy schedule. It definitely can be done, but not attending to your own needs will actually make a difficult job even more so. Get regular, adequate sleep. Eat healthy foods that nourish your body. Make time for fun. Being intentional in your efforts to care for yourself will pay off tremendously with a more positive outlook, clearer mind and renewed energy.
These are just a few ideas to help you see that going back to school as a single parent is possible when you have a plan. Contact us at Brighton College to learn ways our representatives, advisers and support staff can help to make your college experience happen.