Balancing Your Family and School Life
With the advent of online schools and distance education, more and more men and women are deciding to head back to school. Whether you have signed up for an online course, a distance learning program, or even an online degree, you will find that continuing your education offers you many new benefits and opportunities. However, going back to school is not always as easy as it looks, especially if you are already managing a family. Here are some great tips to help you balance the demands of going back to school and raising a family.
Define Your Goals
It is important for anyone who is heading back to school to define their goals surrounding their education. However, goal setting is particularly important if you also have a family at home to manage. By setting definite goals, not only will you be able to better work towards achieving your aspirations, but your family will also be knowledgeable about what it is you want to achieve. Moreover, goal setting can help you to cut back on activities that aren’t contributing to your family or education.
- Brainstorm a list of things that you want to get out of going to school. Include things such as: completing tests and assignments, earning credits towards diplomas or online degrees, learning new work or computer skills, or achieving educational goals that will further your career.
- On a piece of chart paper, choose the goals that you feel are most important to you. Write each goal along the top of the chart paper.
- Underneath each goal, write what you need to do to achieve that goal. This may include researching information, studying chapters in online texts, or writing essays or reports.
- Share this goal chart with the members in your family. Be sure to tell all of your family members why these goals are important to you. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help in order to achieve these goals (this may include maintaining quiet periods during the day, or helping out with the household chores). This will help to involve your family directly with your education.
Organize Your Time
When you are managing a family and juggling schoolwork, it can often seem like there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done. By creating a timetable, you can be sure to get the time needed to do your schoolwork and have time leftover to be with your family. When creating your time management timetable:
- Be sure to investigate the times when your children will be at school, activities, or appointments.
- Consider when you need to work or book off time for holidays.
- Slot in the times that you will need to dedicate for school classes and studying.
- Post this timetable on your fridge or another central spot in your home, so everyone knows just what you need to get done.
- Be sure to include free time slots everyday so you can talk with your partner or children. During this time make yourself available for everyone in your family.
Learn to be Flexible
No matter how much you plan, sometimes things are going to come up out of the blue. Learn to accept these unforeseen events and try to plan around them.
- Get studying done ahead of time, in case an emergency comes up before a big test or exam.
- Try to arrange flexible daycare, should you be unable to look after your children at certain times.
- Talk with your employer about working different hours or working from home.
Set Aside Family Time
It can be hard for even the closest of families to find time to spend together on a regular basis. And if you are going back to school, you might not have very much free time left. Here are some ways to ensure that you get some time to spend with everyone in your family:
- Set aside one evening every week, which you can dedicate to your family. Use this time to talk, watch movies, or play games.
- Set up a "date night" so that you can spend quiet time with your partner or spouse.
- Arrange to study with your children. Not only does this allow you to spend more time with them, but it can also help your children learn proper study techniques.
Learn to Share Tasks
Even the most ambitious of people can’t take on every task on their own. You may find yourself bogged down in work responsibilities, household chores, and schoolwork if you try to do everything yourself. To avoid burnout, be sure to delegate responsibilities to those around you:
- Ask your partner to prepare lunches and dinners on busy days of the week.
- Make one night a week takeout night, so that you don’t have to devote time to preparing and cleaning up after meals.
- Ask your children to participate in household chores. Be sure to assign chores that are age-appropriate and explain to your children why it is important that they help out.
- Learn to say no. Refer to your goal chart and only agree to do those activities that will help you achieve those goals.
Share School with Your Family
Even though you are the one going back to school, it doesn’t mean that your family doesn’t want to be involved in your education. Be sure to share information about your school experiences with all family members:
- Tell them what courses you are signing up for.
- Describe any achievements that you are particularly proud of.
- Discuss new information that you have learned around the dinner table.
- Ask your family members for input about assignments or projects that you are doing.