By Angelita Williams
We live in a brave new world, one in which our hyper-competitive, globalized economy forces us to stay ahead of the curve simply in order to survive. This means even a college degree is no guarantee of a secure future. Having children, of course, changes everything, and many women in particular feel as though they cannot both devote their full energy to parenting and furthering their careers.
Additional schooling in the form of pursuing an advanced degree is something mothers often give up once they have children. They assume that they'll just wait until their kids are grown up. The problem with this approach is that waiting that long may just be too long. Based on the experiences of many people I know, it's a downright myth that you can't go to school and raise children simultaneously. You do have to prepare for it, though.
Here are a few basic tips:
Enlist the full support of your spouse/partner/family/friends:
This is the most fundamental step in balancing your academic life with your family life. Of course, it's best that you have a completely supportive spouse or partner who will agree to upping the ante on their child rearing efforts. At the same time, having support from as many people in your life as possible will also help. You can have a saint for a husband, but the whole weight of your family cannot rest on his shoulders. Once other friends and family members are on board with your plans, you'll have entire support network to tap into for help with babysitting, carpooling, and venting your frustrations.
Research flexible degree options thoroughly:
Of course, it is entirely possible to attend a traditional brick-and-mortar school full-time nearby while raising your kids. But it's ten times harder. Thanks to the Internet and programs with evening and other flexible degree options, you can pursue a degree from a reputable institution while still being able to spend quality time with your children. It's important, however, to research your degree options thoroughly, just because there are so many disreputable and unaccredited programs out there, especially with online schools.
Determine from the outset to what extent your degree will help you in your career:
Of course before enrolling in a degree program, you really have to ask yourself how it will help you further your career. I feel as though many parents are enamored by the idea of advanced schooling, not realizing that many professions strongly prefer experience over an advanced degree. Since you'll be investing not just lots of money but lots of time (away from your family), first ask yourself exactly what you want to get out of your degree. If you can justify the opportunity cost, go for it. If you'll have to go into debt for a meaningless piece of paper that won't advance your career, you may want to reconsider.
Manage your time fastidiously:
Once you've decided that you do want to pursue a degree while raising a family, you have to prepare yourself to manage your time extremely carefully. No matter how flexible your program is, it will still be very work-intensive. Schedule specific times to study and specific times to spend exclusively with your children and partner. If you try your best to prioritize both, you'll see that time management soon becomes a habit.
Of course, unlike many articles out there that say you can “have it all,” I'm here to say that even if you can, it will be very difficult. You may have to sacrifice something in order to pursue your dreams while still maintaining a fulfilling family life. But it's not impossible.
A freelance blogger with a strong work ethic, Angelita Williams lives for scooping the next big story. Among her preferred topics of writing are online learning, distance courses, and the growing trend of mobile education. If you have any comments or questions, you can reach Angelita at firstname.lastname@example.org.