Going to college in itself is a big commitment but doing it while raising kids is an entire different animal. When deciding to go back to school with family you have to get a written plan into place quickly containing all your responsibilities. You need to map out exactly when you will have time to attend classes, study and still be there for the little ones. In addition to getting your responsibilities in order, sit down and discuss it with your children on what it means for you, and you family. It may mean a raise, promotion or just a way of showing your kids that education is very important and goals can be reached at any age under any circumstance. Teaching children that you go reach your goals and dreams even through obstacles is a huge lesson that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
Choosing what type of school was priority number one for me since I had a husband, two kids and a full time job. The best choice was an on line environment because it allowed me to do my job during the day, cook dinner, help with the kids homework, and say their prayers all before turning on my computer. The on line environment was also set up where I would know in advance what my week consisted of including homework, tests and quizzes. This feature allowed scheduling conflicts to be worked out in advance and neither my family or my studies had to suffer.
Setting a bedtime for the kids will be a huge help for you if you plan on going back to school, because that will become your time once they are in their beds asleep. Plus you don’t tend to miss as much of their lives if you have a routine in place that allows for your class and study time. Bedtimes and organization prevent you from playing catch up when you should be at a ball practice or dance recital.
Also remember this is an important time for you as well. When our children start a new school year they get new clothes, so when I started my first year of distance learning I bought myself a new set of pajama’s, and new fuzzy socks. I cannot tell you how those new items helped get me through a rough quarter of finance and accounting! Remember that not only are you a mom, but you are also an individual and a new outfit (if priced reasonable will not break the bank). It will boost your self-esteem and help you get through the hard times while juggling a family and school.
It is okay if June Cleaver goes on vacation. I say this because one of those biggest guilts I carried my first year of school was that my family was eating fast food, frozen pizzas and hot dogs a lot. They will survive and as long as you make your breaks special for them they will understand. It is about the quality of time spent with your family not the quantity, this also applies to the food they eat. My family would look forward to my school breaks so they could have hot home cooked meals. Funny if you feed your family crap, when they get a good meal they will finish it without making any comments because they know it may be awhile before they get it again.
Cleaning house is another area of guilt that I carried my first year. Your house being organized does help in many ways to get you through the different activities of the week. But do not get discouraged if the real cleaning can only be done on the weekends. Remember that going to school is only temporary and in a few short years you will be making more and hopefully can afford a maid once a week. Okay that may be a little far fetched but with a degree you will hopefully have better pay, more time with your kids and eventually more time to keep the house they way you liked it before you started college.
In the end, remember college is a pathway to get what you want for your family and if you involve them in why you are going to school, how they can help and set some guidelines for your time then you will make it through and the kids will have nothing to tell Oprah about when they grow up.