15 Tips for Balancing Motherhood and Online Classes
Are you a single mom who wants to go back to college to get a better job? Do you struggle to balance being a working mom with spending time with your kids? Are you unsure of how to find extra time in your schedule to attend college classes? There’s no doubt that being a mother is a full-time job in and of itself, and when choosing to go back to college, it can be overwhelming to juggle the many different aspects of daily life.
As parents, we all want the best life possible for our children, and a college education can increase the ability of mothers to find well-paying employment that provides for their family’s needs. Returning to school can be a challenge when moms have to arrange childcare and schedules around their on-campus courses, and this deters many women from taking the next step in furthering their education.
Luckily, many top accredited colleges now offer online classes that make it easier than ever for mothers to earn a reputable degree with classes designed to fit into their own busy schedule! Whether you need to be home for your children during the day or you need to work on your coursework after the kids’ bedtime, online classes provide a solid educational foundation that allows you to log-on to your courses anytime and anywhere.
Survival Tips for When You’re a Mom Going to College
Once you have decided on going back to school, the next step is getting everything in order to give you the best chance at succeeding. With a little extra effort in planning and organizing, you can get into a reliable routine that will help you balance motherhood with pursing your dreams.
In the list below, we cover 15 of the top survival tips for mothers who have taken the leap back into the world of education:
1) Be Realistic with your Course Load
Returning to school can be both exciting and nerve-wracking, and a common mistake the moms make is overestimating the time that they will have to devote to classes. Fortunately, the flexibility of online courses gives you the chance to work at your own pace. Many moms begin as part-time students and work their way up to taking additional classes as their routine and schedule develops.
2) Look into Tuition Assistance
Paying for college is a huge concern for many moms that are going back to school. The first step in getting tuition assistance is to fill out the FASFA as soon as possible. This will give you access to federal and state grants that can cover some (or all!) of your college expenses. There are also numerous scholarships and tuition assistance programs available for mothers – reach out to your college and see what they offer!
3) Keep your Employer Up to Date
If you are a working mom, keeping your employer updated about your planned return to school is generally a good idea. Your boss may be able to adjust your schedule to give you more flexible hour and additional time to study. Some employers even offer tuition assistance programs that you can take advantage of when going back to school.
4) Get a Jumpstart on your Classes
Once you have registered for your classes, it is essential to go through all the information on your online classroom portal. Look over the syllabus for each class, and print off any outlines and calendars that will help you plan out your schedule for the semester. It is also a good idea to bookmark the various online resources that you will need throughout your studies so you have easy access to them when completing your coursework.
5) Contact your Professors Early
The instructors at your university are there to help students succeed and reach their highest potential in the course. While you may not be meeting your professors face to face, there are several ways to connect with them before the class even begins. Send an email through your online platform or give them a call to introduce yourself and ask any questions you may have about the syllabus, course outline, and expectations for the semester.
6) Make a Plan – and Stick to it!
One of the biggest struggles moms face when returning to school is establishing a daily routine that balances all of their other obligations with their coursework. To be the most successful in your classes, you will need to create a schedule that blocks out specific timeframes where you can commit to working on your assignments. Whether you use a written calendar, app, or alarms on your phone, find a way that works for you to make a plan for sticking to your schedule.
7) Create a Pleasant Work Environment
Focusing on homework is definitely not easy when you are surrounded by the distractions of a messy house or children. Take control of your education by creating a peaceful work station that is dedicated to your schoolwork. By separating your work space from the rest of the household, you will find that it is easier to decompress, focus, and get the work done quickly.
8) Stay Organized
Sticking to your daily schoolwork routine is made easier when you have all of our coursework organized. Different organizational tools work for different people, but some suggestions to keep in mind include:
- Making a binder for each individual class
- Using an online or physical calendar to make note of due dates and assignments
- Keeping a running to-do list of what you need to accomplish each day
- Using post-it notes in your workspace to remind you of important events
9) Plan Meals Ahead of Time
When the day is said and done, the children still need to eat, and making a meal plan ahead of time can save you a lot of stress in the long-term! Crockpot meals are an excellent way to get a jumpstart on your meal planning, and making a meal schedule at the beginning of each week will prevent scrambling for dinner ideas at the last minute.
10) Take Advantage of Student Services
Many universities offer the same students services to online students as they do to those who attend classes on-campus. Don’t be afraid of reaching out for help in the form of online tutoring, student advisement, or peer mentoring. These services can help give you the extra support you need to get over the hurdles of challenging classes.
11) Reach out to your Support System
As the old saying goes, “It takes a village”, and this is never truer than when you’re a mom juggling online college classes. Before your semester begins, arrange for childcare, carpooling, and help with activities from your friends and family to give you the support that you need to concentrate on your schoolwork.
12) Connect with Classmates
Just because you are taking classes online doesn’t mean that you can’t connect with other students in your courses! Online learning platforms offer a variety of ways for students to connect and collaborate throughout the duration of their classes. From online discussion boards to group emails and conference calls, reaching out to others in a similar situation can provide both moral and academic support.
13) Get the Kids Involved
If you have older children who are in school, working on your homework together can be motivating for both of you! Use your creativity and have some fun with the studying you have to do for your classes. Let your kids quiz you on terminology, play games with flashcards, or snuggle up on the couch together while reading through your textbooks.
14) Think Outside the Box
Sometimes, getting through college classes involves thinking outside the box. Instead of having in-person lectures and designated time at school, you will be working on your assignments while in the midst of being a mom. Consider alternatives to traditional study methods and find what works for you – whether that means recording online lectures or utilizing the wide variety of study apps and technology now available for students.
15) Give Yourself a Break
You have been sticking to a study schedule, staying organized, and balancing work, family, and school – it is time you give yourself a break! Don’t forget to take care of yourself while attending college as a single or working mom. Be sure to schedule time within your week to decompress and do something fun that you enjoy – with or without your children.
Going back to school is a major commitment, and it can be an empowering adventure for working and single moms alike. With some help from your support system and a solid plan for organizing your assignments, the sky is the limit for how much you can achieve once you set your mind to returning to school.