There is a reason why parents and those that are older and more experienced than us tell us to go off to college, get your degree, get married, and then you can begin having children.
Ryan and I did things a little bit different. We first got married, had children, and then started school. Ryan still has a few semesters to go but I am FINALLY on my final semester and I’ll tell you what- it is so hard.
Having a family while going to school is actually becoming quite common these days. Whether employers want you to become more experienced or you would just like to expand your career opportunities, sometimes it just needs to get done. Therefore, we have created these useful tips for those who are about to embark on this journey.
You’re probably thinking this means bringing your supplies to class and coming prepared for the lesson. While that is important, I think you need to mentally prepare for each class that you take. Some classes will be harder than others and more time-consuming. You may plan the times to do your homework and do whatever works around your schedule. Unfortunately, children are unpredictable. There were nights when I planned to get some homework done and my kids got sick or just weren’t feeling well. They obviously come first so I’ve had to push my school work to the side. Also, if you are attending classes on campus, you might realize you’re probably the oldest in the class. Be prepared to sit in a class with people who are in a completely different stage in life than you are at the moment. Fortunately, your teachers may be around your age or older and they will understand what you are going through.
Take All the Help You Can Get
Whether someone is willing to help with the kids or just help you with an assignment. Never say no. The more help you get, the easier this will be for you. I always felt bad when I left my children with other people so I could get some homework done. Now, looking back it really wasn’t that big of a deal. My kids were enjoying themselves and time flies by when you’re busy. Recently, I had Ryan take the kids for an entire day so that I could finish some homework. I sat on the couch for 6 hours straight with my face stuck to a computer. There will be days when all you need is help. There are parents who work full-time and are taking 4 classes a semester. They NEED help! Ryan will come home at 5 and may need to start his homework. Otherwise, if he waits until the kids are in bed, he will be done around 1 or 2 in the morning. Remember it will go by very quickly so just do your best to get help in the meantime.
Ryan and I did not do this and totally regret it. Honestly, school hit us like a ton of bricks. We became stressed and frustrated with the amount of work on our plates. Cooking was not a priority anymore. It was just so much easier to order something and have it delivered or pick it up. Even though it was easy to eat out quite often, it got get very expensive. For our family alone we spend about $25 every time we eat fast-food. That sure adds up quickly. So I would definitely recommend thinking ahead when it comes to food. Especially for those parents who work full-time, cooking will be the last thing you want to come home and do.
Take a Break
Between work, school, and kids you will need a break. There will be times when you think that there is no way you can take a break. Assignments are due and you are stressing out over it. You see that’s the thing, stress is really bad. It will take a toll on your relationship with those around you. Ryan and I spend most of our weekend doing homework. Therefore, it’s okay to take one night off and go out to dinner and watch a movie together. Without that break, we honestly do not spend much time together and that’s important for our marriage. We know that school is only temporary but it can quickly takeover your life so, remember to take breaks when you need it.
Have Realistic Expectations
There is something about being in College as a parent that makes you want to succeed even more than what you had expected. I always stress about my grades because I want to have a high GPA or want to make the Dean’s List each semester. While those are great goals, it also makes me stress out more. I don’t need any more stress added to our equation. Therefore, sometimes I need to be okay if I get a B in a class. At the end of the day no one will care about that one grade. We are so quick to put ourselves down but are never reminded of all the other amazing things that we do on a daily basis. Remember, we are not that 18 year old straight out of high school with no other obligations. We are that mom and dad of 1, 2, maybe even 6 children who need us every day.