Our little family

Our little family
Our little family

Friday, January 10, 2014

Going Back to College With A Baby

As many families are getting back into the swing of a schedule from the holidays my family is doing the same. Relatives have gone home, my husband has returned to work and I am getting ready to start another semester of college. It certainly isn't easy going back to college after a break or even starting college after a period of time, but it can be done, and it can be done without stressing yourself out. Last year I began my degree with Liberty university in Elementary Education. Thankfully LU (Liberty University) is one of the few colleges that has an online program for getting your masters in elementary education. Aside from 3 weeks that I will need to spend on campus, the degree is completely online. Being a military family, moving every couple years, you can't beat that. I also love LU for its Christian beliefs and standards. They also are VERY accommodating to military members and their families, providing tuition discounts, book vouchers and more to help pay for college expense. My husband is also pursuing a degree through LU's online degree programs. We both have no complaints about the college and recommend it to anyone looking for a college to attend, on campus or off.

Being a stay at home mom of an infant and going back to school is tough, no doubt! But with a little organization and planning it can be done, and can be stress free. Here are just a few tips that I have learned help me with college classes while at home with an infant/toddler.

1. Start slow!
      No one said you have to jump in and take 15 credit hours your first semester. My first semester back I took one class at a time (LU does 8 week classes so I was able to take 2 classes per semester). Once you have the feel of how much time you need to devote to each class you can start adding more classes at your own pace. Just remember, the further you get into your study, the harder classes can be and the more demanding they can be. Take your time. I try and take one easier class and one hard class at the same time, that way I can even out my time and I am not working on two hard classes at once.

2. Be Organized/ Plan Ahead!!!
      At the beginning of each semester your instructor/professor will provide you with the ENTIRE syllabus for the class. So you already will know by week one what you have to do the entire semester.  You will know when tests are, you will know when projects are due. There is no need to plan a major outing the day before a test is due (unless you have to) and if you do, the you know to study prior to or carve some extra time out for that test, or that week's work.

3. Use Nap time Wisely!
        I try and use 2 days out of the week to get my course work done. I also try and use nap time during those 2 days to get it done. Jackson normally sleeps 1.5-2 hours at his morning nap, afternoon naps are sketchy so I don't count on those.  If I use 2 days worth of nap times to do course work that still gives me 3 days of nap times to get housework and bills done. and that isn't even counting weekends or evenings when my husband is home to help. I am only counting time when my husband is at work and the baby is sleeping. Obviously the more classes you take the more time you need to devote to course work. But by planning ahead and being organized (step 2) you can easily fit it all in. Baby or toddler doesn't nap? how about that being your toddler's "tv" time for each day or craft time, pinterest has some great easy craft ideas that do not require complete adult supervision. You can let them watch a movie or craft while you write your term paper, or whatever assignment is due.

4. Don't stop until you are done!
      I don't mean finish each assignment in one sitting. That can be nearly impossible. I mean finish your degree once you start. don't take a semester off unless absolutely necessary. Last semester my husband and I had to drop our last class of the semester due to moving. The last three weeks of the class we would have had no Internet and with an online class that is kind of needed! so it was necessary to drop that, but we are picking right back up as soon as classes start this week. We don't take summer break either. Once you take a break it's easy to make an excuse to not finish. Spring, summer and fall you should take classes. Especially if you can't take more than a couple at a time, you can still finish in a reasonable amount of time using your summer semester as well. The hard work will pay off, greatly!! drop down to one at a time in the summer if needed for school age kids being home or to accommodate family vacations, you can still do course work on vacation when the kids go to bed...might not be ideal but having that degree sooner will be nice!

5. Believe in yourself!!
      I'm going to say this is the most important one! if you don't have confidence in yourself to do it, you will not be able to finish. That goes for anything in life really. You need to believe in yourself that you are smart enough for even the toughest math class, or smart enough to write that English paper, or take that speech class (my worst nightmare!). You can do it, just set your goals and reach them one at a time. Decide how many classes you want to take the first 3 semesters and finish that goal, then the next 3 and so on until you have that diploma in hand!

In the end it is very possible to return to school after baby and while baby is still little. If it is something you are thinking about, then do more than just think about it. Start researching schools, call those schools and get the information you need to start...THEN START! Good luck to all those out there going back to school with me and always remember that you can do it!

Here is a link to Liberty University's online school website in case you are curious about their programs of study.

Until Next Time...

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