Being a mom is hard. Going to college is hard. Being a mom while going to college to earn your degree? You’re a whole new type of supermom. There are a lot of people that feel like once they are a mom, they don’t have time or it’s “impractical” to get their degree or go to college, but the truth is that there is always a huge value in furthering your education. AND, it’s totally obtainable! Being a mom while in school is definitely not a cake walk, but girl, you are strong. You’ve GOT this.
I became a mom about half-way through college and believe me, the temptation to drop out was huge. Ultimately I chose to stay because my dream had always been to get a degree, and I wanted to provide a better example and brighter future for my daughter. Through my experience, I’ve come up with some life-saving tips that help me balance my life while being a mom and going to school. Trust me babes, with these tips, you’ll kill it. Take note and then go get your school on!
Schedule your study times
It’s easy to let things go and procrastinate when you don’t have it planned out. More college courses require quite a bit of out-of-class time and it’s best to just treat it like a job where you make a little schedule for yourself and stick with it.
Find flexible options
Ah, the digital age. It’s marvelous! Most schools and many programs offer the flexibility of night courses or online options. I LOVED online courses because I could do them on my own time, and I had several personally that had all the coursework laid out from the beginning so I was able to spend one weekend and bang out the entire semester. Take advantage!
Make sure you choose the right program/school/degree for you
This step is important. There are so many options for online universities, local community colleges, thousands of degree options, and even more classes. I’m begging you, don’t choose something you’ll be bored with because it’s going to be that much harder for you to focus on finishing your education when you’ve got little ones running around! Find a program that you’re genuinely interested in, and look for options that will provide you the flexibility you might need for having a family life (like going part-time, online program options, etc.)
Look for alternative credit opportunities
Here’s a fun little fact I learned my senior year and I wish I had known it sooner! There are a lot of programs that provide opportunities for alternative credit to help you get your degree! For example, some programs might consider previous work experience a waiver for credits, and there are sometimes options for creating your own courses that are more suited to your needs. There may also be opportunities with service, writing projects, and internships that will work as extra credit to apply towards your education. Don’t let this one go unexplored, talk with an advisor and see what options you have! More credit = faster you finish school!
Write your goals
When you’re in the thick of the semester, your kids are screaming, and you’ve been working on fumes from caffeine and 2 hours of sleep- you’ll want a reminder. WHY are you doing this? Why do you want your education? Is it to better yourself? To provide more for your family? To be an example for your kids? To improve your career or financial situation? Write these goals out when you start and keep them everywhere you can find them to be reminded, on notebooks, notes in the car, tattooed on your eyelids…
Thou shalt not procrastinate
EVER. Trust me, it’s way harder being a mom and going to school when you save all of your projects to the last 12 hours before they are due. Been there, done that. NOT WORTH IT.
Remind yourself… Cs get Degrees!
Not that I’m one to settle for lower grades but let’s get real… if you’re busy being a mom and you’re going to school, possibly working and trying to manage bills, relationships, schedules, etc. you just don’t have the same amount of time or energy to get the same kind of grades as the freshman straight from high school with no job or responsibilities. It’s important to do your best but seriously, cut yourself some slack. The goal is to finish, not to burn yourself out and quit halfway through. It’s totally cool if you’re not perfect.
Don’t be intimidated by the typical, traditional college student
Maybe I’m a loner here but for some reason, I totally felt like I didn’t belong or something in the classes with the traditional students. But I freakin’ paid my tuition just like the rest of them and even though I was at a totally different stage in life with having kids, I was there for the same reason.. to earn my education. You’re raising kids AND going to school? Automatically you’re the badass of the school.
Get yourself a scholarship!
Guess what! Those kids are finally going to start paying for themselves in the form of tuition dollars because being a mom automatically makes you non-tradtional as a student and there are bucketloads of scholarship opportunities for you. They’re easy to find if you just google them, but you can also talk to the scholarship reps and an advisor at your chosen institution and work with them to find something.
Now is no time for pride ladies, you may be Wonder Woman but you’ve got to realize when you need help to manage it all and conquer the world. Ask your partner, family, friends, or neighbors for help with things like watching the kids during class or while you study and for help with managing your household with cooking and cleaning.
Organize your time
Staying organized is going to be your lifeline. Use a calendar and daily agenda to plan every single day, even if you’re not a planner having this is really going to save you. Google calendars or the Timepage App are my personal favorites for digital. If you prefer to have stuff written out (like me!) then I suggest bullet journaling (see my guide HERE!), using a daily planner (I love the Day Designer ones!), or even finding a notepad that you can use to schedule and make your to-do lists. Seriously, organize your time. Do it. I mean it. Like. Now.
Consider working with a life coach
Being a student and a mom can be extremely stressful and negatively impact your emotional and mental health. Consider working with a life coach that will help you set goals and support you through emotionally charged times. If you’re not sure where to start, I recommend The Recovery Village because they have coaches specializing in matters of mental health and can help support you if you start to feel overwhelmed or unsure about the direction your life is taking.
Utilize helpful resources
And I’m talking about sites here guys…. Use sites like Rate My Professors to find reviews on teachers and try to find ones that are flexible, helpful, or very good with students. Student Rate is an excellent one for getting discounts on supplies and books. Study Blue is great for helping you prepare studying material.
Find study strategies that are most efficient and effective for you
Everyone is unique. It’s beautiful, right? So are studying strategies. Find what works best for you and USE THAT.
Find your study location that is away from kids
I don’t know about you, but I can’t even pee without kids hands banging on the door and crawling through the tiny space between the floor and bottom or the door, so this might be tricky but kids are DISTRACTING. Get help to watch them, stick them with your partner, plop them in front of the TV (I promise it doesn’t make you a bad mom!) and get your work done.
Take courses that interest you to the best of your ability
School is hard enough when you’re busy being a mom and having a life, but when it’s EXTRA boring? Ugh. Don’t get me started. As much as you can, choose classes that are interesting to you because if you’re interested in the subject matter, you’re more likely to focus.
Involve your kids
Who said you had to do it alone? Take them to appropriate events, let them help you get school supplies or maybe even get them some of their own so when you’re working they can also “work.”
Build your mobile command center
Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything (**ahem, maybe I am, who could say?) but nothing is worse than realizing you’ve forgotten something, or finding out you need something and don’t have it. Before the semester starts, find a bag and turn it into your mobile command center so you have EVERYTHING and don’t need to worry about packing daily for stuff. Stuff it with snacks, supplies, notebooks, hand sanitizer, your books, etc. and then glue it to your back for the next 12 weeks. You’ll be glad you don’t have to pack every day and that you’ve got things ready to go whether you’re headed to class or a study session.
Preferably noise cancelling so you can’t hear #allthethings and you can focus
Invest in time & energy savers
You know, the things that are going to help you survive. Like quick cleaners (ex: bleach pods mean less time scrubbing toilets!), chore charts (keep everyone else busy!), grocery delivery (ain’t nobody got time for grocery shopping), freezer meals (because why spend energy cooking?), etc.
Block of 30 minutes for yourself every day
Every. Single. Day. You need some time that is just for you so your brain can unwind. Take a bath, read a book, play a game on your phone, watch TV… whatever is going to help you recharge and separate yourself from the crazy life of a rockstar that you’re currently living.
Get to know professors and advisors
At school, you need allies. Get to know your professors and advisors so they know who you are, and if you have any circumstances that come up communicate clearly with them to get the help you need.
Realize your experience in college is different than others, and that’s ok
You’re not going to be living on greek row, joining 6000 clubs, or living the “normal” college life. That doesn’t mean you can’t have an amazing college experience. There are plenty of ways to get involved and still have time for what really matters, being a mom. Or you can choose not to get involved, and that’s ok too. 🙂
Realize this is temporary
At some point you might be willing to throw in the towel because it feels like it’s never going to end. Take a few deep breaths, read your goals, and remember this is TEMPORARY. It will in fact, end. You just have to make it through a few more classes and babe, you GOT this! If you’re really struggling, take a semester part time or take a break between semesters to help with your sanity. It’s better to go slowly and stay sane than to overload yourself and end up a hot mess. Be patient with yourself.
If you’re not a morning person, don’t schedule morning classes
Yep, they’re convenient for a lot of reasons, but if you aren’t a morning person and you schedule a 7am class you will not go. I repeat, you WILL NOT GO. Save yourself the money and schedule one at a time that’s realistic for your brain functionality.
Take advantage of on campus daycare if offered
Lots of institutions have this, it’s really a great opportunity for babes going back to school while being a mom.
Take care of yourself
Is there ever a convenient time to get sick? Not really, but there is REALLY no time to get sick when you’re a mama in school. Take your vitamins and airborne, get your flu shot, wash your hands, get plenty of sleep, and drink double the water you think you need.
It’s ok to go part time
There really is no rush. What does it matter if it takes an extra few months or a couple of extra years if it means you get to keep your sanity and enjoy your family while you’re going? Of course there are peeps that will argue with me on this, but there really isn’t an argument that competes with keeping your mental health soooooo…
Set expectations for finals week
The week of and week before finals week you should just prep for some craziness. Expect that your kids will spend more time playing on their own or in front of a tv (or arrange daycare for them), make yourself some freezer meals, plan to have someone else do the chores, and buy yourself some treats to motivate yourself to keep going.
I hope these tips help you mamas headed back to school to achieve your goals and get sh** done! You are a rockstar, and you’ve got this!