More and more of today's college students are older, have full-time careers and also are busy raising a family. So it's no wonder that older college students who are considering going back to college are concerned about getting it all done and still having enough time for their kids. Parents who've been there tell us that it can be done — with a little creativity and planning. Read on to learn seven ways to pursue your degree and still give your kids the quality time they crave.
1. Capitalize on "zero impact" time. "Zero impact time" is any time of the day or year when your family won't miss you. For many parents, that can be early in the morning, late at night, during nap time or even during the summer months when school activities are the least demanding. Determine your best times and use them to study, do homework and to also get some "me time." Another way to capitalize on slower seasons is to choose a school with flexible pacing options. Use your pacing options to take a heavier course load during the summer when there is more down time and create a lighter schedule in the fall when the kids' back-to-school activities are in full swing.
2. Ask your kids for help. It doesn't matter if they are babies, school age or teenagers; kids want your attention — especially if your attention is focused on something else. Depending on their age, a great way to keep working and still pay attention to your kids is to ask for their help. After all, kids can be a great resource when it comes to tacking the new math or even learning new software. Enlist their help if you need to download school-related apps or navigate a video chat. Asking your kids for help is a win-win: they will feel valued, and you'll be able to get some work done.
3. Do homework together. If there's one thing that students of all ages have in common, it is homework. Even preschoolers get homework these days, so why not make a study date with your kids and do your homework together? You might be surprised how much you have in common and how much you'll be able to help each other.
4. Let them critique your work. Model great student behavior and spend a little extra time with your kids by asking them to look over your work. Proofreading and checking one's work can make all the difference in your grades. Asking your older kids to proof your papers or homework gets them involved and might even help everyone's grades.
5. Make a library date. If you have younger kids, arrange to meet up with other families in the children's section of the library. The kids can play, and you can complete your schoolwork, do research or study. If your kids are older, reserve a table and study together. When you are all finished, pack up your books and grab a meal together.
6. Attend class together. Whether you are going back to college online or on campus, your kids will surely notice that you are spending time away from them. Help them understand where you are going and what you are doing by showing them around your campus (even a virtual one) or arranging for them to sit in on a class or attend an open house. Once they understand what you are up to, they may be more likely to let you have the study time you need.
7. Schedule one-on-one time. Whether you are going to school and working or are a full-time stay-at-home parent, kids really do need one-on-one time with you. You may not be able to spend an entire afternoon together while you are pursuing your degree, but scheduling an hour or so once a week to spend exclusively together can really set your children at ease with your new situation. It may also help them be less needy when you are around. Try to schedule the same time slot each week, and avoid canceling your date at all costs. Your activity can be as simple as reading a book, doing a craft or even taking a yoga class together. Just make sure it's one-on-one and that your child is involved in planning your joint venture.