Quick and easy tips and actions to help moms prepare for going back to college
Many moms are going back to college without adequate preparation or planning. This isn’t a very good idea because of how hectic life can become once you begin college. Taking the time to prepare before returning to school, will save you a lot of time and headache.
When I went back to college, I didn’t know any mom who had done it, so I had to figure things out on my own. I failed quite a few times, but I learned a lot in the process. However, I don’t want you to go through all the suffering and challenges I went through, so I decided to share some useful tips.
The tips in this post are some of the things I wish I knew (and did) before I started college. They would have made my life less stressful and more productive. So, here are some of my best tips for moms going back to college.
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1. MAKE A TO-DO LIST
If you are asking, “what is the first step to going back to college?” the answer is, make a list. Before starting college, make a list of all the important things you need to do. What tasks do you need to complete before going back to college?
Think of all the things that could potentially distract you or pose a challenge. For example, do you need to take a placement test, order some books and other school supplies, speak with a college adviser, do a health check or physical, or enroll in a particular class by a certain date?
There are so many things to do before going back to college as a mom, that it’s easy to miss some of them. You can use a to-do list like this one, to write everything down. Remember to check them off once completed.
2. BE MENTALLY PEPARED TO GO BACK TO COLLEGE
Lots of moms going back to college feel anxious about leaving their kids, and their ability to balance college and motherhood. This is understandable especially if your kids are very young. I went back to college when my oldest was two and I was pregnant with my second child. Let me just say that I wasn’t prepared for how anxious how felt.
I became a work from home mom after my son was born, so I was used to taking care of him all the time. Suddenly, I had to send him off to a child care center because that was the only way I could attend college. Thankfully, my son had a great lady to take care of him, and that made it easier for us to adjust.
Aso, make sure you prepare yourself mentally. Take the time to assess your ability and willingness to deal with all the aspects of going back to school. Some aspects of going back to college are going to be more challenging than others, so you have to be willing to hang tough and stay the course.
For mothers going back to college, it’s essential to be mentally prepared for all the difficulties you will face, since you are more likely to succeed when you are prepared.
3. ORGANIZE YOUR HOME AND LIFE
I am a big fan of getting and staying organized. Being organized makes life so much easier especially when you are a mom going back to college. One of my best tips for moms going back to college is to take the time to organize your home and life before life gets really busy.
When I say organize your home and life, I mean, find ways to simplify your life. Declutter your home, get rid of things you don’t need. Streamline your activities, organize your finances, housing, transportation, grocery shopping, meal prep, and everything else that takes up a good chunk of your time.
When I went back to college, I embraced simplicity, and that really helped me to conserve energy and stay focused. So, take the time to get organized and continue to stay organized while in college.
4. FIND A RELIABLE BABYSITTER OR CHILD CARE CENTER
This one is pretty straightforward. You need a reliable babysitter or child care center before you start college. Believe me, when I say, having reliable child care, can be the difference between success and failure.
As a mom in school, you want to know that your kids are in good hands. Mothers going back to college don’t want to be distracted by their child care needs. A reliable babysitter will allow you to focus on your studies and thrive in college.
Don’t forget to have a backup plan as well. Unfortunately, life sometimes happens, and you may need an emergency or backup babysitter. Make sure you have someone you can call, if necessary.
If you have family or close friends near you, don’t hesitate to ask them if they’d be willing to provide childcare. You can always trade with them or offer some other service.
5. KEEP EXPENSES LOW
Whether you are going back to college as a stay at home mom or a working mom, one smart thing you can do is to keep your expenses down.
College is expensive and will likely eat into your family’s income, keeping your expenses low will ensure you are not stressed financially while in school. One of the things you can do to keep expenses low is to get rid of the expenses you can do without.
I am sure if you look around, you can find a couple of bills or expenses you can eliminate (even if it’s just temporarily). Going back to college as a mom is a huge financial undertaking, so find ways to make it as easy as possible.
Here’s a handy budget planner and expense tracker, you can use to keep track of your finances.
6. SET REALISTIC TIMELINES
Listen up, mamas! You are going to see lots of tips for moms going back to college, but some tips are more important than others. And, in my opinion, this is one of the important ones.
Before you begin college, make sure you set a realistic timeline for yourself. What I mean is, have an idea of how long it will take you to complete college. Because, while it’s good to be ambitious, I also believe in being realistic.
For example, if you have lots of kids and a few young ones, it may not be realistic to think you can finish college in two or three years. Similarly, if money is going to be an issue, you may need to go to school part-time, which in turn means, it will take you longer to graduate from college.
So, look at all the factors and consider your circumstances before setting a timeline for yourself. Since you know yourself better than anyone else, you know how much or how far you can push yourself, and what is a realistic timeline to complete college.
Work at your own pace and don’t concern yourself with what others are doing.
7. ESTABLISH A GOOD ROUTINE
As soon as you start thinking of going back to college as a mom, one of the first things you should consider doing is to establish a routine. A good routine will allow you to have a smooth transition back to school, and allow you and your kids to thrive.
Take control of your time, and if possible, establish a routine that will align with your college timetable. One of the benefits of establishing a good routine is, it will help your kids get used to the new way of life.
Some things you can start doing include waking up early or at a particular time, putting the kids to bed early, having a study time, etc. Implementing a routine is a good way to manage your time, so you can get back into the swing of things without too much hassle.
8. SET ASIDE A WEEKLY PLANNING TIME
Moms going back to college need a plan to help them stay focused and on track. For mothers going back to college, a weekly planning time can help you take control of your weeks and boost your productivity.
Just going with the flow or winging it doesn’t always produce the best result. A little planning each week can help you have a good week where things run smoothly or at least with fewer challenges.
Thirty minutes or so should be enough for your weekly planning. Schedule it on your calendar on a day that works for you. Plan for the most important tasks during the week so you can stay on top of things.
Planning takes time and effort, but it can be very useful especially for busy moms.
9. OUTSOURCE SOME TASKS IF YOU CAN
Before going back to college, take a look at your responsibilities and usual tasks. Are there things you could possibly outsource to free up some of your time? For example, cleaning, grocery shopping, meal prepping, laundry and ironing, and some other annoying tasks.
Trust me, I would have outsourced a few tasks when I was in college if I could afford it. Sometimes, outsourcing tasks is a great way to save time and your sanity. So, if you are in a good position financially, and can afford to pay for some help, please go for it.
There’s no reason to feel ashamed or guilty. Being a mom doesn’t mean you have to do every single thing yourself. It’s okay to ask for some help.
Being a parent and going to college is hard enough, so I am all for anything that makes life a little easier.
10. BE DISCIPLINED
For any mom going back to college, self-discipline is one of the most important habits you can develop. If you want to juggle parenting and college successfully, you have to be disciplined.
Being disciplined means doing what you are supposed to do, when you are supposed to do it. Self-discipline requires a willingness to do hard things. It doesn’t matter whether you enjoy doing them or not.
There’s no way I could have survived college without being disciplined. If you struggle with self-discipline, I encourage you to start working on it, since it will serve you well when you go back to college.
11. CHALLENGE YOURSELF
One of my favorite tips for moms going back to college is to avoid the comparison trap. Don’t compare yourself with other moms or other students because you don’t really know what their life is like.
With that said, I also encourage moms in college to challenge themselves. Don’t settle for mediocrity when you can do a lot better. Challenge yourself to be the best that you can be, considering your circumstances.
Be the best mom you can be, and the best student you can be. Whether that means being an “A” student or a “B” student, it doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you don’t short-change yourself or sell yourself short. Give yourself a chance to succeed.
12. GET INTO THE HABIT OF STUDYING EVERY DAY
I have always loved reading, and I don’t mind studying at all (though I am prone to waiting until the last minute). But, I will say this. Studying as a mom is a whole lot different from when you don’t have kids.
If you have been out of school for a long time, your study skills are probably rusty and need to be revived. The best way to do it is to get into the habit of studying daily. It doesn’t matter how long you study for, just start getting used to it.
For moms in college, studying daily is a very useful habit to develop. When you study every day, you keep your brain fresh and you don’t have to put yourself under unnecessary pressure when test or exam day arrives.
Another good thing about studying daily is, you can stay on top of your studies especially in the event of an emergency. For example, caring for a sick child or some other emergency.
If you are enrolled in college, you can purchase some of your course textbooks, get a course outline or syllabus, and start studying. You will be thankful you did.
Here are some other study materials that I have used and found very helpful.
- Highlighters (I don’t highlight or mark textbooks or books I plan to resell)
- Index Flashcards
13. SELF-CARE AND SANITY-SAVING TIPS FOR MOMS IN COLLEGE
- Eat well, hydrate, and exercise as often as you can. Get a reusable water bottle to help you stay hydrated, and also save on bottled water.
- Get enough sleep. I was sleep-deprived for a long time and it wasn’t fun. Sleep as much as you can to stay fresh and healthy.
- Be kind to yourself and find some ways to have fun. It’s possible to be a mom in school and still have fun.
- Ask for help when you need it.
- Be flexible. Don’t insist on doing things the same way every single time. While consistency is good, flexibility is even better!
- Keep a positive mind no matter what’s going on around you.
- Pamper yourself occasionally. A warm bath, a massage, or a little treat can go a long way.
- Unplug every now and then. This might be hard if you are in an online college, but you can still do it. Maybe at night or on weekends.
- Write in a journal. Very helpful for single moms who lack support or anyone to talk to.
- Listen to music.
- Create or find a quiet space. Whether in your home or outside. Find somewhere you find soothing where you can just breathe and relax.
- Have a coffee or a drink with someone special
As you can see, there are so many ways to take care of yourself, and most don’t even cost a lot of money. Self-care is an important aspect of motherhood, so don’t neglect it.
Closing thoughts on 13 quick and easy tips for moms going back to college
There you have it. Some quick and easy tips for moms going back to school. Going back to college is such a wonderful thing to do, but it’s really important that you take the time to plan and prepare yourself.
Not all the tips in this post will apply to you, so feel free to ignore anything that you don’t need. Like I said at the beginning, these tips are some of the things I wish I knew when I went back to college.
So, prepare yourself mentally, stay positive, challenge yourself, and remember to keep your expenses down.
Good luck. You will need it!
Which one of these tips for moms going back to school is your favorite?
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