There are not many things as challenging as those first few months as a new parent. You’re sleep-deprived, trying to adjust with a new baby in the home, and really just trying to navigate through this new stage in your life. Throw in your journey to achieve a higher education on top of all that and people may wonder if you’ve lost your mind.
Getting a higher education as a new parent might seem impossible, but it’s often a predictor for how far your children will progress in school, which is invaluable. Thankfully, there are a few tips to make the process easier for all involved.
Put Together a Game Plan
Before you make your first move, you need to put together a solid game plan, just as you would if you were returning to work. Take a look at your schedule and make a list of times you have available. Include your work schedule if you are indeed returning to work as well, the daycare hours (if you use one) and any other extracurriculars that might take up some of your time.
Also, look at the big picture. Ask yourself questions about when you would like to graduate and whether or not that schedule aligns with your personal schedule. But make sure to not spread yourself too thin. Caring for a new baby is tough, but it’s even tougher if you’re feeling run down.
Next, figure out if you think you would learn better by physically attending a class or whether online classes are the right choice for you. Thankfully, with the abundance of online classes these days, your options aren’t nearly as limited as they once were. Taking classes online is often much more compatible with a new parent’s schedule because assignment deadlines are typically on a weekly or monthly basis. This lets you complete them at times that work best for you — and baby.
Designated Study Space
It’s crucial to set up a spot in your home that’s just for work and study. This area should be free of distractions and as stress-free as you can make it. Allowing this spot to be only for studying and working on assignments helps you get into the right frame of mind whenever you’re there.
Because working on assignments might be stressful in its own right, you should make sure everything else in your study area is calming and stress-free. The easiest way to start is to declutter the area. Random items laying around like bills that need to be paid or laundry that needs washing only reminds you of other things on your to-do list. Remove all the clutter so you have a nice, peaceful area to work in when studying.
You can also add other touches like small plants for aesthetic purposes or candles with calming smells. The time you spend on school work should be productive and allow you to get as much completed as possible. Plus, when you use this area only for studying it makes it that much easier to focus on your family when it’s time to put your assignments away for the day.
Making the Most Out of Nap Time
There are going to be many times when nap time also provides the perfect time to get in some extra studying. The house is quiet and your little one is sound asleep in his or her crib. You can get a lot of work done during nap time, but you also want to make sure you’re still available if your baby wakes up or needs you for anything.
Consider making your study space in an area of your home that’s somewhat central. It should allow you the peace and quiet you need but also gives you the opportunity to keep an eye on the house at the same time. This way if the baby’s room isn’t centrally located, at least your study space is and you’ll be able to keep a listening ear out for any cries, coughs or wake-ups.
Be Proud of Yourself
Be proud of yourself for going back to school to begin with but don’t overdo the schooling. If you feel overly exhausted after one semester, it’s perfectly fine to defer for a semester — a gap year works for you just as much as it does the kids — and start back up again when the time is right. There’s no right or wrong way to earn a degree and remember, the timeline is what works best for you, not anyone else.
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Sam Bowman writes about families, wellness, and how the two merge. He enjoys getting to utilize the internet for community without actually having to leave his house. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.
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