By Jacob Maslow — Branded Content
Are you thinking about going back to school but are worried about how it will affect your family? You need to take this into account, but going to college when you have a family shouldn’t derail your progress and contribute to it. However, communication and cooperation are critical. The steps below can help you all prepare for the change.
Know the Finances
You need to know how much your classes will cost and how you’ll fit them into the family budget. If you are taking out private student loans, you should also figure out your repayment schedule. You can use a student loan repayment calculator to get an estimate. As a family, you should talk about how the cost will impact your budget and what changes you may need.
You will have less time than you used to, so responsibilities within the family may need to be reallocated. If you are a stay-at-home parent, this is going to be a significant change for everyone. It’s best if everyone approaches it in a spirit of generosity and forgiveness because it will probably be bumpy for a while. If your kids are taking on chores they haven’t done before, they may not be perfect at it to start with or may forget. It’s normal for there to be some frustration and resentment all around. Talking about some of these challenges upfront can help you all keep perspective if a conflict arises.
How much you can enforce boundaries will vary according to the ages and needs of your children. Still, in general, older children should respect times when they are busy and studying or taking an online class. Breaking habits might be more challenging, and even though they understand that they aren’t supposed to be disturbing you, if you are the parent they usually come to if they are hungry or bored or need a ride somewhere, you may need to redirect them a few times before it sticks gently. Keep in mind that in returning to school, you can be a valuable role model for your children even if they find it difficult in the short run. You may also be surprised to discover your family a significant source of support during this time.
Having kids makes life unpredictable. When they get sick, or childcare falls through, you might have to drop what you’re doing, even if that’s studying for a big exam or writing a paper on a deadline. However, it can also help determine things like this were coming up and work out some solutions. You may want to have one or two family members or friends who can quickly step in if necessary. You might also want to chat with your professors about your responsibilities and your challenges juggling family life while you pursue an education. If an emergency does occur that throws you off schedule, and you end up staying awake all night with a sick child, keep in mind that even students who aren’t parents must contend with unforeseen interruptions and challenges sometimes too.
Photo Courtesy of Jacob Maslow // Cosmic Press