One in five college students is also a parent, says the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, and 62 percent of them are single moms. It’s tough enough to attend college at a nearby campus while being a full-time mom. But when you add social distancing to the equation, this means the majority of your time is now spent inside the home with your children. You still have to attend online classes. You still have to find time to study. And you still have to be a full-time parent. Are there benefits for single parents in full-time education?
Fortunately, there is help for single-parent students, and if you were in the middle of going back to school as a single mom when the global health crisis began, we have 8 important tips that will help get you through until your daily routine normalizes. Here’s how to succeed in college as a single parent:
Bring in a Helper
If you’re in self-quarantine alone with young children, you’ll need someone to help monitor them when you’re in your online classes. Bring in a family member or friend who’s willing to quarantine with you just until the school year ends. If you have no one willing to volunteer, consider hiring a reliable person to live-in until summer break. This way, you’ll have someone to help manage the children and keep them occupied so you can study. Everybody needs help once in a while, even supermoms. Don’t be ashamed to admit that you need help, and be proactive in asking for it.
Take Good Care of Yourself as Well as Your Children
You’re a professional when it comes to making healthy meals and snack for your kids. You get them to bed in time for them to get the proper amount of sleep each night, too. It’s all part of being a conscientious parent. But what about your own habits? Are you taking care to eat well and get plenty of sleep?
The work/life balance of a single mom in college is tough enough without adding a vitamin deficiency or exhaustion to the mix. Make sure you’re eating plenty of healthy, high-energy foods throughout your day. These include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Dark chocolate
- Leafy greens
Additionally, drink plenty of water and limit your intake of caffeine and sugary drinks that give you immediate highs but can then cause energy levels to crash. Get the sleep you need to feel good, not just enough to keep you vertical. Doing so is one of the best ways to maintain a busy schedule without melting down.
Become a Master Organizer
As a parent, you have plenty of experience organizing playdates, school activities, parties, drop-offs, pickups, and more. Put that experience to good use in your academic life, as well. Become a master planner/organizer. Use mobile apps such as Blackboard to set reminders for online class times, missing assignments, quizzes, tests, and more. Many of these apps are available for free download on Google Play or on the App Store. Try them out and see which ones help you stay on track.
Other organizing apps are geared toward taking the stress out of parenting. Apps such as Family Organizer or OurHome lets you do such helpful tasks as assigning chores, tracking important dates, building grocery lists, and more. Helpful for parents in general, apps like these become lifesavers for single moms who also have academic obligations.
Explore Financial Help
Single moms who also work while taking college courses may need additional help. There may be grants or scholarships available to help you cut back on work hours so you have more time to spend on e-learning. Check out these federal grants that could help. All are geared toward single moms who need financial assistance to return to school.
Talk With Your Professors
Schools and businesses are going above and beyond to provide assistance during the global pandemic, and your college is no exception. Now is the time to explain your situation to your professors and to give them a heads-up regarding any struggles you may be having. If you miss a deadline or score poorly on a test, it’s okay to explain why and to explore options for bringing up your GPA. Many professors are especially accommodating, considering the odd circumstances we’re experiencing in 2020. Don’t be afraid to sit down and have an online or telephone consultation with faculty to explore solutions.
Keep a Regular Schedule
Try to keep things routine as much as possible. Dedicate specific times of the day for study. These could be afternoon, during your children’s favorite television programs, or at night after they’ve gone to bed. Avoid studying during those times when your children actively need your attention. And when you do find empty blocks of time to use for studying, sit outside on the patio or in a cozy chair on your front porch to give your mind and your eyes new scenery to enjoy. Going back to school as a single mom is far from easy. Keeping to a schedule each day will simplify things.
Stay in Touch With Classmates
If you made quality connections in college, work hard to maintain them. Connect with friends by creating online study groups or chat sessions where you talk school and academics. It’s easy to become isolated during self-quarantine. Keeping in touch with friends and faculty will help remind you that life is still going on outside your home.
Use Online Study Aids
An online study aid is a great help for single parent students, and there are tons of them out there. Sites such as GoConqr let you input topics and build content around them. Quizlet lets you create printable flash cards that your kids can help you cut out and use offline. Resources such as these not only help you study material effectively, they let you involve the family in your work.
College took on a whole new dynamic when it moved completely online, and with all you’re currently doing in life, some days can be discouraging, indeed. But going back to school as a single mom is admirable. Keep that in mind as you struggle to get organized and to plot out time each day for study. You can do this. And with these helps for single parent students, you can do it a bit easier.