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Moms on Campus: Tips for Going Back To School When You Have Kids

Few people “wear more hats” in life than moms that choose to go back to college. In addition to the daunting tasks of attending classes, note-taking, finding time to study, taking tests, and becoming comfortable with new and changing technology along with still having countless obligations to your children and often a job all seems insurmountable. It may feel impossible, or at least exhausting, even to think about. Rest assured, it is possible with some planning, sacrifice, and support.

Remember Your Goals

When choosing to tackle something difficult, such as college after a family, be prepared for challenges. They will come. There will likely be times that it feels impossible, but remember the reasons why you initially decided to go to school. Whether to increase family income, broaden your knowledge, serve your community, inspire your children, or something else entirely, remember this when it gets hard. If you remember why you are doing something, it eases the discomfort of the difficult times.

Build Your Support Network

A support system is vitally important to all college students, but even more so for moms. Every support network will look different. Common supporters include the kids, husbands, parents, close friends, and neighbors. Others to consider include your children’s teachers or babysitters, your classmates, and your professors. It can be natural to try to juggle everything, but this is definitely possible. Find someone that will be a reliable sitter and let them watch the kids. If a kind neighbor offers you a meal, take advantage of it. Ask grandma and grandpa to take the kids to a movie so you can finish your term paper in peace. It may be difficult for you to let go of some of your responsibilities, but you simply have to. If you start to feel like you’re in over your head, determine what you most need help with and don’t be afraid to ask.

Set Your Priorities

As a mom and a student, not everything in your life can be #1 priority, as much as you may wish it could. There will have to be sacrifices made. Prepare mentally for that. You may not be able to attend every single baseball game or Girl Scout meeting. Let your loved ones step in when able. It may mean more nights of boxed macaroni and cheese rather than your world famous from-scratch lasagna. Remember why you are seeking the education, and keep in mind that it is only temporary. Know your true priorities and stick to them.

Get, Be, and Stay Organized

Plan ahead and write things down. Even if you are by nature an organized person, do not underestimate what throwing college into the mix can do. You don’t want to be trying to focus on a biology test or earning your masters in educational leadership are serious tasks. Becoming distracted trying to remember whether you packed your daughter’s lunch or your son’s mittens is something you don’t want to have to think about. Come up with whatever organization system works for you, and make sure to use it.

If, as a mom, you are considering or have started back to college, congratulations. It will be incredibly challenging, but also fun and totally worth it. It will mean big changes, but with the right support network and lots of planning and organization, you will succeed.

Tim Esterdahl

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