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How To Balance School and Family When Mom Goes Back To College

Updated on December 7, 2010

How to Balance School Life With Family Life

For the busy mom returning to college, the most important ingredient in mixing school life with family life is balance. In order for Mom to return to college to earn a degree or prepare for career advancement, there must be a balance between family life and dedicated school time. It is important to maintain a strong healthy relationship with loved ones while taking the time to study. Whether you choose to learn online or attend a college or university, setting up a schedule will be invaluable in maintaining your sanity and achieving your goals.

College Students Require Time Alone

It is important for the kids and the spouse to realize that the busy student needs alone time to study and complete lessons. A clear and detailed schedule with designated study time and playtime, will help in defining when Mom is available and when she needs to be left alone. Online learning may seem to be an easier way to fit education into raising a family, but it still requires time to accomplish lessons, complete assigned reading and study for tests.

Schedule Time for Study and Play

A schedule posted on the refrigerator with blocked out times when you are studying and will help kids adjust to Mom not being readily available. The balance to this is of course scheduled time for play and family time. For the schedule to be successful, it should be strictly followed. When it's playtime, then play. When it's date night with the hubby, then go out and have a fun without worrying about that paper that needs to be finished or that last chapter you put off reading.

Share What You Learn in School

If you have school-aged children, your school experience can be used as an example to them. Your good study habits will be emulated by your children. Also, you can share what you are learning with your children. Share relevant topics with them at the family dinner table and encourage discussion. By making them a part of your learning experience they will feel more involved and may feel less threatened by your interest in something other than them.

Prepare to be Flexible With Your College Studies

Though the goal is to maintain and follow a set schedule, life inevitably will get in the way at times. When that happens, then flexibility becomes a factor. You should always have a built in 'whoops' in your schedule. Obviously in times of real family emergency, family wins out over school. Lessons can be made-up, but when the kids need you, it can't be put off or ignored. Have backup or standby childcare available. Try to stay caught up on coursework and study ahead if possible. Don't put things off until the last second. Be prepared. Expect the best, but prepare for the worst.

Set Aside Time to Study Alone

Your designated study time should be strictly adhered to by all members of the family. Make it clear that when you are studying, you are to be left alone, baring any real emergencies. You may have to lay out in detail what constitutes an emergency - "Can I have a snack", as opposed to "The toilet is plugged up and overflowing." During mid-terms of finals, this time may need to be expanded. Just make sure the kids know that it is only for a short while, and afterwards the normal schedule will resume.

Family meal - balancing school with family
Family meal - balancing school with family
Game night - balancing school with family
Game night - balancing school with family
Ice Cream Sundae Night - balancing school with family
Ice Cream Sundae Night - balancing school with family
Family study time - balancing school with family
Family study time - balancing school with family

Set Aside Time for the Family

Family mealtime

Meals are a great time to spend with the family. It can start with preparation. Let the kids help in the kitchen and use the time together to talk about the day and any upcoming events that might affect the schedule. Even though the convenience of fast food dinners may seem very appealing, family dinners at home, offer much needed family time.

Game night

Board games, seem a bit outdated these days, but they are a wonderful way to spend time with the family. Many of the popular board games and card games can be played with younger family members but still offer a challenge to the older children and the parents. It can be a fun time for the family to bond together.

Movie night

Let the kids take turns picking out a movie for the family to watch. This can be from your own collection or make a family excursion to your local movie rental store. Share a big bowl of popcorn or similar favorite family snack. If the movie happens to go on beyond the usual bedtime, so much the better.

Ice cream sundae night

Set one night a week aside for ice cream night. Let each child in the family pick out their favorite ice cream flavor and toppings. If the children are old enough, let them build their own sundae. For this one night, don't worry about the mess or the extra sugar intake. Make it a family event.

Go to the theater

If you are attending a college or university, take advantage of the student priced tickets for school performances. Check out the program of upcoming plays or concerts and plan ahead to take the kids to appropriate shows. Not only will this give them something to look forward too, but it may allow them to see live performances that you would not ordinarily be able to afford to take them to.

Study together

If your children are in school also, you can spend time together studying. This can be a better alternative to Mom shutting herself up in her room to study alone. Also you will serve as an example and help instill good study habits.


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