Juggling a full time job with full time college is hard enough. Add in a child or two and life can be pretty complicated. Does this mean you shouldn’t do it? Not necessarily.
Without the benefit of scholarships or a 529 college savings plan to pay for school, there will be tuition and book fees at the very least to pay. In addition, as a single mom, you have to support your family. This probably leaves you little choice about working full time. So now you have to figure out how you can work full time, carry a full load of classes and still have time for your family.
Tips for Making Time
In order to fit in all the things you have to do, you will need to give up some things you like to do. Cut down on the time you spend on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Reduce the number of personal phone calls you make. Instead, try sending a text to get important information across. This reduces the temptation to chat and use more time than you have to spare.
School Comes First
The time and money you are putting into school are an investment in your future, a future that will benefit your family as well as yourself. When you have homework or studying to do, you have to make the commitment that school comes first. This may mean you have to skip some outings or watching TV programs with your kids sometimes. Remind yourself it isn’t forever and will be worth it in the long run. This focus will be extremely important during midterms and finals. And you don’t have to go to school during the summer. With summer, spring and holiday breaks, there will be plenty of time to do things with the kids.
After the first week or two of school each semester, you should have a pretty good feel for how much studying you will need to do. You can plan your week to make the most of your time. Schedule certain days for studying, house cleaning and running errands. Stick to the schedule and you will find you and your children will adapt in no time. Make sure to include some down time for yourself. All work and no play make Jane a dull girl. Set aside one day each weekend, if you can, to spend with the kids or get out with friends.
The advantage to holding down a full time job while attending college full time is that you can continue to support yourself while finishing school more quickly than if you only attended part time. You might also be able to apply some of what you earn to paying down what you owe for college. Getting out of debt sooner is always a plus. Handled properly and diligently, you can be supermom.
Time management is something that many seem to assume comes naturally to a single mom. After all how else could we manage to handle all the things we do every single day? Do we have extra hands? Do we have assistants? No, usually what we have is some sort of time management such as color coordinated scheduling. What many people don’t see is just how frustrating and stressful it is to try to juggle parenting, paying the bills, cleaning the house, cooking dinner, and going to school can be for a single mom. We have so many balls in the air that unless we have a foolproof plan for time management that we’ll drop one or more balls along the way.
There are several things we can do to help us balance everything in our lives as single moms. We have to take the time to plan how our hours are spent and still leave a little room for things to go wrong without throwing off the whole routine. I’ve found that some things work for some families and some work for others. One of the best and most flexible ways I’ve found to manage time and make sure everyone is where they are supposed to be at the time they are supposed to be there is to use color coordinated scheduling.
Color Coordinated Scheduling
When you’re dealing with so many different responsibilities a dry erase calendar board and several different colored markers can be your best friend. Assign a color to your various activities and to the people in the house. For example:
Mom School- Purple
Kid Activities- green
Anything that needs to be done can be written on the board in the appropriate color on the date that it occurs, listing the time and the location. If you wish to get very detailed you should include the method of transportation to the activity and the arrangements for child care.
Color coordinated scheduling can help you keep all the balls in the air and your household, career, education and children’s activities running smoothly. Placing time buffers in your schedule such as placing the time of an activity 10-15 minutes earlier than actually needed will allow for a few bumps and issues along the way.
Being a single mom and a student means that you have more responsibility than most college students and that you need to be organized and know how to manage your time in order to succeed in all of your endeavors. The time management skills you learn and incorporate now will help you throughout your life, and will also teach your children the value of scheduling and managing their time.
Time management for single mom students is different than moms who have a partner to help them. Single moms have a lot of things to juggle. From doctors appointments to jobs, play dates to classes and quality time with the kids to helping with homework. One woman is challenged to handle these time management issues on a day to day basis. Once you add in going back to school and having your own classes and homework to deal with you may feel like you need to be “Superwoman” to get everything done each day.
The first thing a single mom needs is a good calendar. Every appointment, everything that needs done and every moment can be scheduled so that there is a time for everything. Having a calendar but not using it leads to confusion, rushing, and frustration. Organization is the key to time management as a single mom and as a student.
Look to your support system when it comes to time management to allow you to pursue your education. Family and friends can often be counted on to trade babysitting days or to help you with running errands so that you can go back to school. Work out a good schedule with your classes, job and child care so that you will have a few hours to dedicate to your class work, not just to attend the classes. Just as your children need to do homework and study to succeed at school so do you. Take advantage of any offers of help that come your way and don’t be afraid to ask when you need some help.
Create a study area where you can have quiet study and class work time. If need be share this area with your children so that at a certain time each evening you can all work on your school work together. This not only meets your needs for study time, it also allows you to spend this time with your children and creates a nicely scheduled routine.
You and I both know that learning is not usually done in small 15 minute increments. But as a single mom, holding down a job, raising kids and going to school that may be all you have. Try setting your alarm a 15 minutes early each day to work in some study time before you have to get the kids up and ready and you ready to go to work.
Time management for single moms requires a great deal of ingenuity and a willingness to not only think outside the box but to alter your typical schedule to allow for additional time. You can’t add more hours to the day, but you can make sure that each hour of your day is more productive. If you want to go back to school and earn a degree there will be sacrifices along the way. Managing your time helps you eliminate wasted time and provides for a more balanced schedule with less confusion.
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