You want to spend as much time with your family as possible, while making the most of your university years.
There are sacrifices you will have to make. Student parents can’t live the life of traditional students, but you will already know that. It doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun, socialise with new friends and join some of the clubs.
Here are my top five tips as a student parent to help you find the balance between studying and children.
Talk to the Other Parent
I would usually write spouse, but you may be separated from your child’s mother or father. So that’s why I’ve written “other parent.”
It’s important to keep discussion open with your child’s other parent, so you can both spend as much time with your child as possible. Tell your partner/ex-partner that you’re going to university and discuss options between you. Will he/she take on more responsibilities? Will he/she support you creating a better life for your child?
If you’re a single parent, consider talking to friends and other family members. Maybe your parents live close by and you want them to help you further your education and career. Discuss the possibility of university and ask whether they could help with childcare arrangements.
The more open you are, the more willing others will be to support you.
Join the One Club/Society
You still want to be a university student, so it’s time to look at the socializing aspect. Being a student parent doesn’t mean you can’t socialize at all, but you will need to be considerate.
There’s nothing wrong with joining the clubs and societies, but keep your commitment to just one. There are lots out there, and not all of them involve weekly nights out. You may find one that involves family-orientated days out or events for your children to attend. Some universities have a student parent society to help support you.
Before you hand over the money to join, find out what the commitment is. Are you committed to going to an event every week? What if childcare problems arise or you an emergency pops up? Your parental duties and your studying are the two that have to come before anything else.
Make Friends With Other Student Parents
This is often the best way of socializing. Other student parents will understand the difficulties of finding the balance between studying and childcare. They’ll understand how difficult it can be to socialize without little ones around.
Many will also work to finding days that are suitable for all. They’ll consider the best options, such as week day mornings/afternoons when nurseries and schools are open. They know that emergencies arise, and childcare can cancel at the last minute.
Study When Children Are in Bed
It’s not all about finding the time to socialize, but finding the time to study! When you’re at university and have children, you will likely have to stay up late to study. Children will want to play with you when they get home from school!
When you have free periods between classes, use them to your advantage. The more you can do then, the less you have to do when you get back home. You won’t need to pull as many all-nighters to get the essays in.
Long weekends can help, if you can find childcare. Grandparents will often be happy to help, or maybe you have friends who would like to help you out now and then. When you have an essay deadline, consider talking to those close to you about babysitting the weekend before the due date so at least you have that time for studying.
Talk to Your Children
Now that you’ve found time to study and look after your children, it’s time to help them understand about your new journey. Younger children will be more difficult, but as they get older you can tell them all about going to school. Put it in terms that they understand, so they can relate to what you need to do. For example, your essays are your homework.
Talking to your children about university helps them realise that you’re not avoiding them. Tell them why you’re doing it and how it will help all of you in the future.
Ask them if they have any questions, and then answer them honestly.
It is hard being a student parent, but it’s not impossible. With some dedication, finding the balance between studying and childcare is possible. Being a student and being a parent will be two things you can do together.