Time Management for Mothers in College
Procrastination is one of the biggest barriers to academic success. Procrastination interferes with time management and can also cause stress and lack of memory. This is my first year back to college. One of the difficulties that I have come to face is how tough it is finding the time to balance family life and college life. I am fortunate that I do not have to work while going to school. However, we should give praise to those mothers who are able to do all three. Procrastination and time management have been one of my main problems thus far. Not because I choose too, however, being a mother you find that there are so many obstacles to deal with before you can get to your assignments, such as helping my daughters with their homework first, making dinner, cleaning and the nightly routine of getting both of my daughters to bed. Subsequently, I find myself setting aside school work to take care of these family matters first. Most times I am studying for exams the day before and starting assignments late. This has caused a great deal of stress along with many sleepless nights. Due to procrastination, I am not allowed enough time for what I have studied to absorb into my memory. This makes it hard during exam time because I have all this new information crammed and jumbled in my head. This makes me feel so much stress during exam time, which makes it even more difficult to remember everything I have studied for my test. Time management and avoiding procrastination are the keys to college success.
According to an article by Jennifer Paige, who is a mother that worked and attended college, people who have families, jobs and are trying to obtain a college degree are at a higher rate of dropping out. This is due to all the stresses of college life, having a family and maintaining a job. Going back to college while raising a family and working is difficult, however it can be done (1).
Paige says that learning good communication skills is crucial for academic achievement (1). This semester I have found that finding someone to partner up with on class assignments is helpful. Discussing the assignments together and looking over each other’s work can help minimize the amount of time you spend on the assignment. Giving each other feedback on what to change, fix and add can minimize the time you spend correcting your work. This will allow more family time and will reduce stress. Talk with your instructors, tutors and staff if you feel you don’t understand an assignment. This helps with time management by avoiding putting things aside and waiting for last minute. This has happened to me a couple times this semester. We had a huge assignment in my psychology class that took a lot of planning and research. This was a ten- to twelve-page research paper that I had never done before. I felt so overwhelmed when the assignment was explained to me and I was so confused. As a result, I ended up waiting until last minute to work on my assignment. Because of this I stressed so much. With help from other classmates, the library staff and writing center I managed to get it done well and on time. Lesson learned! Next time I will not hesitate to ask questions or help last minute.
Planning ahead is a significant factor for time management. Planning ahead will assist you with gaining the results that you desire (Nesmith 1). Failure to plan ahead can lead to dropping out, repeating the course over and worst, failing your classes. This is not only a waste of your time but is also a waste of money. Also, make sure to meet with your counselor as soon as possible to set up your educational plan. Know your goals and what you want to accomplish before you go see your counselor. This will help you stay on track by reminding you of what classes you will need to take for each semester.
Reading your syllabus for each class will help you manage your time wisely. Your syllabus is handed out at the beginning of every class during every semester. This will give you important information such as due dates for projects and assignments and upcoming exams. You should avoid reading your syllabus just once at the beginning of the semester. Read it often and go back to it repeatedly to remind yourself of these deadlines. This will help with time management and will assist in avoiding procrastination, which will eliminate a lot of stress. I have found my syllabus to be very helpful. I constantly refer back to it to keep me updated on assignments I need to start on and exams I need to study for. Doing this helps me plan around other important events going on in my life, such as birthdays, family gatherings, weekend trips, and functions that my daughters need me to attend to at their schools.
Starting an academic planner and jotting down all the things you need to accomplish during the semester and all the obligations you have at work and home are also very helpful (Nesmith 1). Go back to your schedule just as you would do with your syllabus to remind yourself of upcoming assignments or events. I don’t use a planner but I do keep a calendar with everything I need to do written down on it. I also use the date reminder on my cell phone often to remind me of doctor’s appointments, birthdays and anything else I have going on that month so that nothing interferes with each other. I refer to my syllabus, calendar and phone planner often to keep me on track.
Planning ahead with child care is crucial (Nesmith 1). Make sure you have a back up plan for when the children are sick. Try to schedule doctor’s appointments either on days you don’t have classes or after your classes. Skipping classes can result in dropping out and “class attendance is one factor that can either work for or against you” (Nesmith 1). I am very fortunate that my class schedule is during the time when my daughters are both in school. I drop them off at school every morning before I head straight to my classes. By the time I get out of school I have about an hour before I need to go pick them up. Although it has not happened yet, I do have a back up babysitter just in case one is sick and cant go to school on a day that I have classes.
Get help from your spouse while you are doing assignments at home if you can (Paige 1). Finding time at home to work on assignments while my children are around and constantly interrupting me is hard enough. This is a huge distraction and makes studying hard. I’m constantly losing my motivation and focus. I need a lot of help from my spouse while I study at home. I need for him to take up the responsibilities of sometimes doing homework with the kids and taking care of dinner even if that means ordering out. Going to the library to study is the best way to get assignments accomplished (Paige 2). This is actually something I have found that works best for me as well. I am able to get a lot done without hearing “mom, mom, mom.” Another good way to study that I have learned is to stick to a schedule with the children. To manage my time wisely I make sure they are sent to bed at a certain time and when they are asleep, this becomes my study time.
Finding the time to balance family life, work and school assignments are not only unbearable at times but can also cause a lot of stress on both the parent in college and the rest of the family. In Paige’s article, she explains that spouses’ and children can often feel neglected at times. This is do to the fact that homework, studying for exams and other assignments while in college can take up a lot of at home time and can keep you from other responsibilities. At times you might feel that you are not giving enough attention to other important things in life. Relationships with family members and friends can suffer do the lack of time you have in your schedule to participate in other activities. This is definitely something I am currently experiencing. Most of the time my face is buried in my books so I’m not aware of all the time that has passed. By the time I look away from my assignments it’s late and everyone’s off to bed. I have made more of an effort every night to take a break from my work and have dinner with my family to talk about their day and what they have going on in their lives. On weekends, we schedule time to see a movie, go out to dinner or just hang out and spend quality time.
Another main concern that Paige pointed out is that while you are also neglecting other important things in life, you can end up neglecting your own health as well. College and parenting are stressful and can take it’s toll on your well being. Since I have started college, I have no time for any physical activities. Most times I forget to eat or just don’t have time because I am to busy studying or trying to get an assignment done by the deadline. This can cause a lot of stress along with other health problems. If you become to sick or run down, then you’re not going to be able to meet expectations at home, work or school. So take breaks from assignments, give yourself time to regroup, schedule time with your family, eat healthy and get enough sleep. Maintaining your health, will not only assist with being more productive but will help to obtain optimal college success.
In conclusion, going to college while parenting and working, are hard tasks for anyone to take on. Time management is beneficial to both the family and to your college success. Avoiding procrastination and learning how to manage your schedule will allow personal time with family and help you complete school assignments on time and study for exams. Communicate with other students and instructors to understand assignments and read your syllabus often. Know what your goals are and speak with your counselor regularly to keep on track. Make sure to plan ahead for those unexpected sick days and doctor visits. Remember that your health comes first and without it, you might not ever be able to accomplish your goals. Time management will also allow you to spend time with your family so they are not feeling neglected. While doing my research, I have learned time management skills that have allowed me to balance my family life and my academics as well. I hope the information I have discussed about time management will assist you in achieving your college goals as well.
Nesmith, Jessica. “Time Management Strategies for College Freshman.” Online Organizing.com. Sept. 2004. 18 Nov. 2008 http//www.onlineorganizing.com>.
Paige, Jennifer. “Going to College While Raising Children.” Helium-Where Knowledge Rules. 4 Nov. 2008 <http://www.helium.com>.