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Essential Priority-Setting Advice for Student Parents
Being a parent and a college student can make you feel crazy. You have to do a million things every day, for both you and your child. It can feel like you're out of control! Take a deep breath and don't worry. There are some simple priority setting tips you can follow that will help you keep both your children and your professors happy.
By Laura Allan
Work Around Your Kid's Schedule
Every parent knows that the needs of their child come before all else, especially if they're still in diapers. Because that child is your very first priority, your schedule is going to have to be their schedule. Time management skills are even more necessary to a student parent than they are to a regular student. When does your child eat, sleep and need to have their bath? These times should be set aside in your mind at the very beginning of the day, that way you won't be in the middle of studying and suddenly realize that the kid hasn't had a nap yet.
Another way of using your kid's schedule is to work in the early morning and the late evening. While your child is asleep they have no direct needs so they won't be disrupting you. You will have space and quiet time to read over material from class and complete homework assignments that are soon to be due. Just be sure that you still manage to get some sleep.
Remember to Eat
This should be a priority in every student's life, even with the busiest of schedules. With so much to do for class, it can be easy to skip lunch or breakfast once in a while. With a child to take care of, it's even easier to miss a meal and it's even more important that you don't. Make sure that you eat three meals every day, no matter what. You need energy to learn and take care of your kid, even if that energy comes from just an apple or a smoothie. The vitamins in fruit and vegetables will also help to keep you from getting sick, and being a sick student parent is even more difficult.
Don't be Afraid to Ask for Help
Managing to do it all, even when people say you can't, probably makes you feel like a super hero sometimes. You can raise your kid, get an education and grow as an individual, even with only two arms and a limited amount of hours in a day. You're Superparent! Don't forget, even Superman had the Justice League to back him up when he was in trouble. Never be afraid to ask for help. Your schedule is going to be hectic, but making it a priority to ask for help when things get too busy or difficult will help you in the long run.
If you find that your classes are getting too confusing, don't just shrug it off and try to fix it yourself. Talk to your teacher to see if they have any study tips for you. You can also check to see if there are any student tutors available. School tutors are a great help, but student tutors often have more flexible schedules and can come to more convenient locations for you, like your home.
Include Your Children
Because your kids outrank your schoolwork in the priority list, one of the best things you can do if you are able is to include your children in your studying. If you need to study for a test, have your kid hold up flash cards for you so you can quiz yourself. Have them help you make up a song to remember terms, names and places. Make games out of homework assignments so that you both get a treat whenever you answer a question correctly. If your child is still in diapers or not even talking yet, try reading passages from your studying out loud to them. Even just the sound of your voice is comforting to them and reading things out loud makes the knowledge easier to retain.
Take a Little Me Time
You may have a child, schoolwork and much more to do every week, but there's one other thing you need to put into your schedule. You may not think so, but 'me time' is essential. Without it, you can become overstressed and overworked, which means a weaker immune system and difficulty in maintaining good study habits. While ten minutes or so every day is a big help, even just a little time at the end of every week is sometimes enough. Relax, watch your favorite show or call a babysitter and go out with some friends. Decompressing allows your mind to clear itself of all the stress and turmoil you've dealt with, and enables you to be a better student and parent as soon as things start back up again.
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