Heading Back To School? 7 Tips On Balancing Your Roles As a Mother And Student

January 2, 2013 ‐ By Tara Pringle-Jefferson

This is my final semester of graduate school and I’m so excited to be at the finish line, no longer having to juggle my class schedules and my kids’ fields trips, no longer doing homework while they’re doing homework.

I’ve learned a lot over the past two-and-a-half years (including patience, since I originally thought I’d be done in two years!). It is not easy to juggle multiple demanding roles, but it can be done. Here’s what I’ve learned and if there are any other moms in school who have tips, make sure you leave them in the comments!

1. Review the syllabus early. Figure out what weeks are going to be hardest for you and mark them in your calendar accordingly. You will also know if the class requires a lot of group work (which I hate!) and outside-of-class work (which I hate!). Plan ahead for when you might need to do extra studying or quiet time to write papers.

2. Set aside at least one day where you will not study. Giving yourself a regular break will help you persevere over the many months of studying, test-taking, essay-writing and internships. For the first year I was in school, I studied or did some form of school work every day and I got burned out.

3. Keep your kids learning, too. If you must study with your children in the house, give them “homework” to do as well while you’re studying (if they’re old enough). You can download worksheets at sites like Education.com or stock up on workbooks and flash cards at the dollar store.

4. Realize you will need to find shortcuts to make life easier. After realizing my kids’ requests for snacks were interrupting my work time, I cleared out their snacks from the cabinet up high and put them in their own special cabinet down below. Now they get their own food and I have fewer interruptions. Find one way that you can eliminate distractions to give yourself more breathing room.

5. Make friends in your classes (particularly the ones that you find difficult)!  Having that camaraderie with other students will help you persevere. Also, there are more and more nontraditional students on campuses these days, you might be able to find another mom friend!

6. Bring your kids on campus with you. Let them see the inside of the buildings, where you have classes, let them meet your professors. If you attend a suburban campus like I do, let them run around in the grass. They think it’s a big park and a big park = fun. When your kids know where you’re going, it makes it much more real for the both of you.

7. Keep focused on your goal. Remember that you will not, no matter how it feels, be in school forever. In reality, this is a very short period of your life. Take a deep breath, smile and know that you are working to improve your life.


Words: Tara Pringle Jefferson

Tara Pringle Jefferson is the founder of TheYoungMommyLife.com and the author of Make It Happen: The Young Mommy Guide To Creating The Career You Crave. Follow her on Twitter or check out her blog for her insights on what it means to be a mom, wife, student, writer, and about three other labels she’s too tired to remember.


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  • Janet Dubac

    Thanks a lot for sharing these tips! My favorite here is number 3 which is “Keep your kids learning, too”. I always do this and I find it an amazing way to bond with my kids. While I read my books, they are on the other side of the carpet working on their activity booklets. Knowing that I am not the only one who is “learning” from this activity but my kids as well, it makes me want to study even more. 🙂

  • Nicole

    In also in my last semester of grad school, work PT outside the home, and have 2 kids (2 and 7).
    I learned:
    It’s OK to get a B. Not every assignment needs to be the shiniest A.
    Hiring a sitter a few hours a week so I could go to a coffee shop and get some serious, uninterrupted, non-middle-of-the-night work done saved me.
    Learn where the free wifi is. I did more than a little paper-writing and research at my daughter’s gymnastics gym.
    Public libraries = fun for the kids and work for you. Everyone wins.
    Look into options for single parents on campus. Even though I’m not a single parent, there were a lot of resources marketed to that group I was able to use (on site study rooms while college of education students hang with my kids!!)
    Invest in a very large family calendar.