When Mom Attends School: How & Why She Does It

Sheri Reed

college classrooms, moms in college, back to schoolKids aren't the only ones headed Back to School this fall. Many moms are gearing up to start or continue their education as well.

Today we talk to some CafeMoms on their way to school. How do they do it? And why? And then we'll share 10 coping tips from real college moms attending Kaplan University.

Whether it's to get employed, to advance or change their current employment, to lend to the household finances, especially during these tough financial times, or to fulfill one's personal goals, moms head back to school for a number of reasons. It's not easy adding one more thing to the juggle. However, there's one thing doesn't stand in the way of these three CafeMoms and their education — and that's motherhood.

Today CafeMoms 5forjulie, mom to 5 kids between ages 3 to 9 years old, hill2, mom to 3 kids between ages 16 months and 6 years old, and Christina04, mom to 2 girls, ages 3 and 8 years old and a son on the way, talk with us about their experiences attending school while raising a family.

So moms, you're headed to school this fall — please share with us the kinds of classes you're taking.

5forjulie: I want to go to a trade school and get my degree as a pharmacy tech or lab assistant, something that I can get done in year's time frame.

hill2: I started school last week for Medical Radiography, also known as x-ray technician school. I ultimately plan to finish the program, which would be an Associates degree. I am taking 15 credits, and all courses are related to medical radiography. I am taking five classes this semester.

Christina04: I am taking claims and billing courses online at a career institute.

Why is it important to you to attend and/or finish school?

5forjulie: I need to challenge myself, and I would like to have a career while the kids are in school or if something happens to my husband.

hill2: I have always wanted to get a degree, but before kids, I could not decide on a major. So when I became pregnant with my oldest, I really focused on deciding so I could finish school for a better future for myself and him! I hope to gain better employment and a second income and also fulfill a personal goal for myself to finish what I started so many years ago!

Christina04: I was 15 when I had my daughter, and I want to teach my children you should never give up no matter how hard it gets.

What is your childcare situation? When do you attend classes? How do you make time for studying and homework?

5forjulie: Trying to figure that out right now and depending on when classes are, we will need to find childcare so I can go to school. I'll study with kids when they do their homework and also in evenings and on weekends. I'm able to handle early morning and late nights due to having kids.

hill2: I attend the program during the day. Its only offered at this time. My childcare situation is quite stressful. I have a 16-month old, a 4-year old at a Montessori Charter School, and my 6-year old son at a public school. We are still working on more permanent care, but I run a lot to get all kids to where they need to be, often making three stops before I get to my school. Right now, friends and family are alternating helping, but as of next week, we have no sitters, so I'm working hard between classes to figure this out!

As far as studying, I make a schedule for us all and plan what we do almost minute for minute. I can tell you when and where I study. I do a lot of time management and schedules for the entire family, and overall this seems to work! Things happen and we get off track, but organization is the key!

Christina04: I am doing it online, so it is pretty flexible.

What do your kids think about your going to school?

5forjulie: They are excited for me too.

hill2: My oldest thinks it's cool that mommy has homework, but overall it's straining on the older two. I just try to explain to them why I must do this. Our daily life is pure chaos.

Christina04: My 8-year old tells me I need to do my homework, and my 3-year old is jealous cause I am not spending all my time with her.

Wow, moms, it doesn't sound easy, but hearing your stories, your hopes and dreams, and how you fit education into your lives is inspirational.

So how do the families of college moms cope? A group of courageous moms who have recently graduated or are currently enrolled at Kaplan University share their tips for juggling family, work, and school. Kaplan has seen a 34% increase in moms enrolling the first quarter of 2009 versus just a year ago.

10 Coping Tips from Real Moms Attending School

  1. Gain the support of friends and family. We all need cheerleaders to successfully accomplish the many things moms do in any single day.
  2. Prepare meals for the week on Sunday. Whether it’s a hearty soup, lasagna, or a casserole, make meals that are filling and easy to take out of the freezer and reheat quickly.
  3. Work as a team. Show the kids that running a family requires team effort and that your schoolwork is important too. Let them pitch in to help out with family chores.
  4. Get support from your partner. Your partner may need to brush up on math and science skills because the kids will need help with their homework.
  5. Instill in your children the value of making sacrifices. Teach them that hard work has positive results.
  6. Invoke television when necessary. It’s okay to let the television be the babysitter when you have deadlines to meet. Don’t be too worried about it, as public and cable television have great, quality programs throughout the day that are educational.
  7. Keep the faith. Everyone has their ups and downs, and sometimes there are more downs than ups. At the end of the day, you can still do this. Remind yourself how much your education means to you and of the future benefits it will bring to your entire family.
  8. Plan some alone time, even if it’s a 20-minute soak in the tub to relax after the children are in bed.
  9. Read aloud to baby. If you have an infant at home, read your textbook out loud. You might get your course reading done and soothe the baby to sleep at the same time.
  10. Initiate a mutual reward system with your children. If your kids receive an A on a test, they get to pick a prize from mom. If you get the A, you get to pick a prize from the kids!

Are you attending school or college this fall? Tell us about your experience. How do you cope with balancing school, home, and/or work?

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