Tips For Single Parents Returning to School

Being a parent is a full-time job, especially if your kids are very young. Many parents give up their career aspirations when they have children, or put off their dreams for a later date. When you find that you are ready to go back to school to earn the credentials you need in order to pursue the career, you’re going to have to grapple with certain challenges in order to properly balance your home and school life.

Here are a few tips to help single parents who are thinking of returning to school.

Know how to manage your time

Time management is going to help you make the most out of your time possible. You’re going to have to find a way to make time to care for your family, study for your subjects, and take care of yourself, too.

Make a schedule for yourself and put it up somewhere that everyone can see, including the kids. Set time aside for reading/completing assignments, spending time with the kids, self-care, etc. Try to stick to this schedule as much as possible.

It’s okay to say ‘No’

The minute you take on the responsibility of finishing your degree, you’re going to have to learn how to say ‘no’ in order to make your dreams a reality. This means learning to say no at certain times to not only your children, but also to yourself.

Getting the degree you want is all about prioritizing certain things. Sometimes you may have to forgo some fun and excitement in order to invest in the pay-off that will come in the future with your degree. With a degree in hand you’ll have better career opportunities and therefore, the chance to be better off financially. To realize this dream, there will be times where you’ll have to say no.

Eliminate procrastination

Procrastination is something single parents can’t afford to indulge in. You have to make effective use of your time and therefore you need to be able to nip procrastination in the bud whenever it rears its ugly head.

The best way to eliminate procrastination is to learn how to prioritize your responsibilities. Once you have completed all that you need to do, be sure to reward yourself with some time off.

Be extremely organized

Being organized is extremely important in order to make the most of your time. Keep all of your school related material in a specific spot so that you know where it all is. You don’t want to be in need of certain supplies or books and waste time trying to locate them. By being organized, you can eliminate the need to spend any time trying to locate materials and get yourself together.

Have a support system in place

Having a support system is extremely important because there may be days where you need some extra time to yourself so that you can focus on your studies. If you have a solid support system, you can recruit the help of family and loved ones to help out with your kids.

Be clear about your goals

Being clear about your goals is a good motivator for you. If you know why you’re doing what you’re doing and what you want to ultimately achieve then the process becomes a lot easier. That’s because you have clearly defined goals and targets that you are then consciously working towards.

Know your limits; don’t bite off more than you can chew

Single parents who make the decision to go back to school must realize that they will have certain practical limitations which their peers may not. Due to the fact that they already have a set of responsibilities and obligations in place with regards to their families, single parents who become students must not bit off more than they can chew.

That means knowing how many courses to take per semester, which won’t take up all of their time. It also means knowing how much you’re physically and mentally capable of doing in light of the fact that you have other pre-existing responsibilities as well.

Knowing your limits will help you tackle those things which you know you are capable of achieving.       

Don’t be too hard on yourself              

This tip is extremely important. Heading back to school carries with it its own fair share of stresses and hardships. When you factor in your family life as well, things can become overwhelming at times. Single parents have a tendency of being too hard on themselves; of constantly putting the needs of others first and putting their own hopes and dreams on hold. They are prone to beating themselves up for being ‘selfish’ for pursuing an education.

This is something you cannot allow yourself to do. Accept that this undertaking is for your benefit, and also for the future well-being of your family.

Take proper care of yourself

While you’re busy getting your degree and trying to meet all the needs of your family, don’t forget to take care of yourself, too. That means doing things like taking some time for yourself when you need it, eating properly, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, etc. It also means making time to socialize and unwind. Doing all these things for yourself will help to make the process more enjoyable.

For a single parent, making the decision to go to school is not easy. However, by following these tips and tricks, the whole process can be made more manageable and enjoyable. Remember, getting an education ultimately benefits your family. You’re making an investment in not only your future but that of your family’s as well. Therefore, don’t be too hard on yourself, enjoy the process, and know that you’re more than capable of meeting this challenge.


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