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Schooling on the Side: How to Handle a Family and Your Education

The urge to return to school temps millions of people all over the world. The need for additional education could be to secure a promotion, change career fields, or simply to satisfy the love of learning. Parents, desiring to return to school, may have a different set of challenges than a single person. School can be time-consuming. Should you work part-time and put more effort into your education? Or, should you forgo your education to maintain your present lifestyle?

The reality is that in today’s competitive world, you may have no alternative but to upgrade your education. That being said, the next logical step is to get your family’s buy-in. Without their support, it’s difficult to be successful. Marriages can fall apart, or they can get stronger depending on how well your education effort is accepted and coordinated.

Scheduling Your Time
Home responsibilities may have to shift with each member of the family. Each spouse may have to take on extra duties, or split duties. Children may have to adjust to not getting the attention they’re used to, and they’re going to have to grow up faster. Ground rules will need to be set for all parties. Get in the habit of posting your schedule on your refrigerator or office door. By all means make it clear when you’re available and when you’re not. Just keep in mind that the same rules must apply to your kids.

Your family still needs your quality time. Discipline yourself to be with your family during off-hours, and make sure your time with them is quality time. Stick to your rules. Your family expects you to set the standard and if they help out and coordinate their own schedules you can all work it out.

Play Time Is Always Important
Returning to school can be stressful, especially if you’re enrolled in several classes or more. Just be careful not to get so caught up in your concerns that you forget what having fun means to both you and your family. Find a way to be a part of your family’s entertainment schedule. Take the family out to a movie, or go on a picnic. Take the family for a ride on the weekend. You’ll have less stress, and your family will appreciate you more for not being in an irritated mood.

Involve the Family
Make your family part of the learning process. It will do you no good to study for hours, only to emerge with bloodshot eyes and a silent attitude. Share what you learn at the dinner table. You might be presently surprised at the support you’ll gain. Your kids might even have tips to help you with certain subjects or studying. Whether you’re getting a masters of civil engineering or a bachelor of art in pottery, your skills and learned knowledge can become part of the family as well. Involve your loved ones with your passions.

Returning to school can be a great advantage, not only to your career, but to your life and mental balance. Juggling family responsibilities is always a struggle, even as a stay at home parent! Just pay attention to your fellow family members and make sure the experience is one of love and shared support.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.

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