University is hard enough as it is, without having to manage a family and children at the same time. Today, more than ever before, mums and dads are choosing to go back into education, pursue their PhDs and not let anything get in their way. Some may feel the need to add additional qualifications to their CV in order to improve their professional prospects. Others may have retired early so as to finally set aside time for themselves and their academic interests. Having young children or teenagers is no longer seen as a hurdle. In fact, some parents who’ve gone back to school say that having a supportive family to come back home to at the end of a long day at university can actually be refreshing and restorative.
If you’ve been toying with the idea of a back-to-university sabbatical yourself but dismissed it as impractical, we invite you to consider some helpful tricks that other parents have shared and found meaningful. You don’t necessarily have to be a supermum or superdad with endless reserves of energy in order to pull this off. Of course, you will need to be more dedicated and disciplined than the average young adult at college but it is certainly manageable with the right kind of planning. The important thing is for the entire family to be as invested in the idea as you are because you’re going to need all of them to work with you towards this goal.
If you cannot dedicate a solid year or four for your Master's or PhD, consider some part-time options. Universities nowadays recognise that students often have other commitments at work or at home that prevent them from participating full time. Speak to your professors and university administration for options and suggestions. Part-time attendance, online courses and distance learning are all excellent alternatives to consider.
For parents with young children, this is the number one concern. Some universities actually allow students to bring in nursing infants, but these are few and far between. If you aren’t that lucky, arrange for a day care service you can trust; one that is close to home and one that offers flexible timings. If your partner telecommutes a day or two of the week, they could watch the children for you. With older children of school going age, there are other concerns. If you can’t be around to drop them off to school or pick them up, carpooling with neighbours or classmates is a great option. Leave the house stocked with healthy snacks and ask friendly neighbours to check in on the children every once in a while in your absence. Younger ones may need babysitters but if you can find a friend or a grandparent to help out that would be even better.
Balancing Assignments and Household Chores
Delegate, delegate, delegate. The entire family must do their bit to ensure that you don’t end up shouldering the lion’s share of the housework. If you can afford a daily help or a cleaning service, that’s a great option to consider. For meals, look for quick and easy recipes. If you end up feeling too distracted to study seriously at home, make full use of the university library or study rooms to get your assignments done before you leave. At home, set aside a dedicated space for your books, laptop and notes, preferably in a quiet space where you can think without being disturbed.
When you are under so much pressure, it is possible that you hit a writer's block and are just not able to organise your thoughts. Talk to a friend to get their perspective or just try taking a break if your child leaves you. Get back to your college essay with a fresh perspective and try to be clear headed. Getting up in the mornings is another good solution to complete those pending essays. You can also consider hiring professionals who can write my essays. You can take inspiration from it. You now have a starting point to start writing your own essay.
As a parent, you may be concerned that your education will sap all your energy and leave you with no opportunities to spend quality time with your children or your spouse or partner. The answer to this is scheduling. It might seem crazy but it helps to actually pencil in a slot for family time in your diary. Reserve one hour for this every other day or at least once a week. Make sure to do something together that can help you all unwind, away from the stress of your studies, work, chores and school assignments. Besides, you can even a have a great time together when cooking in the kitchen or doing the laundry. Quality time is about the quality of the interaction.
For a parent, going back to school is a major decision, certainly not one to make alone. Before you leap, you’ll need to make sure your partner, children and family are on board and aware of the roles they will have to play. Once you have their support, most of the battle is won. The rest is all about discipline and being flexible. It’s bound to be hard, but will certainly be worth it in the end.
Livia Susan is a consultant with Gr8Essays and helps college students write and proofread their essays and research papers. She has helped numerous students improve their writing skills. When she is not working, she blogs on education, technology and management.