Children are back in school, and for parents who have also gone back to school it can be a daunting time. Working out a routine not only to balance school, work and family life but also your children’s needs takes planning and determination. Let me suggest a few things to make this less harrowing.
- Schedule your classes to coincide with your children’s. That way you can be home with them. This may not be possible if you have a job. If evening classes are your only recourse, be sure your child’s care giver is able to help with homework and engages them in creative activities that make your time away enjoyable for them.
- Do homework together. Everyone doing homework together affirms the value of good study habits to your children.
- Plan meals ahead of time. Make your menus simple with prep times never to exceed 30 minutes unless the recipe is crockpot fare. Recruit the whole family to contribute recipe ideas. A menu that has the family’s approval encourages everyone’s participation in the preparation. Working together gives the family time to reconnect and discuss their day.
- Make a chore list. Divide your basic chores over a week, and assign daily chores according to ability. The list could be converted to a chart that reflects who is to complete a given chore each day. Older children can be taught to do laundry, younger children can keep the trash cans empty. Just because you are in school doesn’t mean all the chores fall on someone else. Choose chores that give a break from studying and are best handled by you.
- Prepare the night before. Laying out clothes and preparing lunches in advance and making sure all homework is checked and permission slips signed in the evening makes mornings go much smoother. Especially if you have burned the midnight oil studying.
- Ask for help. Grandparents, other family members, and friends may need to be called upon. If your child gets out of school at three and your class isn’t over until four, arrange an alternative pick up on that day. If you have small children and a heavy course load, engaging a housekeeper at least once a week can keep things from reaching chaos mode.
- Spend time as a family. No matter how hectic your study schedule may get, take time each day to do something fun with your children. You need the downtime, and they need to know your studies are not more important than they are. Reading a bedtime story or making a batch of cookies can be just the thing to help your mind regroup.
- Regular bedtimes help keep the peace. Children with a regular bedtime are more productive at school. Knowing that junior will be in bed by 8pm gives parents peace of mind. Once your children are tucked in, you can devote uninterrupted time to completing those big homework projects.
- Don’t overload. Parents should avoid heavy academic schedules that require being away from their children many hours of the day. Rationalizing that it is only for a few years doesn’t fly with children. Even teenagers need to know their parents are available. Small children can become anxious because of those long absences. Taking longer to complete a degree by choosing a lighter load can create a more peaceful environment for the family.
- Reevaluate Check the temperature of your stress level both in regard to your family and your academic accomplishment, and make adjustments when necessary. Keep communication open with your spouse, and change up how you do things if family dynamics begin to be compromised.
What other tips have worked for your family?
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