How to Balance Parenthood with Earning Your Degree Online
Plenty of Monarchs juggle work, family, and often both. 54% of ODUOnline students have dependents whom they are responsible for, and 80% work at least 20 hours a week.*
We know it’s not always easy, but here are some ways you can include your family in your educational endeavors and make the path easier for everyone in your household.
Plan your course load with your advisor ahead of time
ODUOnline has helped many students in similar situations by offering support every step of the way. It is important to be honest when you talk to admissions counselors, advisors, and success coaches. Tell them as much as you’re comfortable revealing about your concerns balancing family and school. Be candid and clear about how much time you feel you can invest in studying and classwork each week.
Your advisor or student success director is your best resource for a manageable course load. Finding a balance between your schoolwork and family time is not only critical to your happiness, but also your success as a student. They will understand, and they can help!
Talk to your kids about your goals
Sometimes new online students hesitate to share big career and educational goals with family. That’s because the initial focus is often how much time mommy or daddy will need to spend on class work and away from family obligations. That doesn't have to be the case! Bring your kids on as partners in your education, as you are a partner in theirs. Brainstorm ways that you can help each other complete assignments and prepare for exams. Focus on all the positive things that your new degree or certificate will bring to the family.
Institute “Family Study Time”
Are your kids school-age? If so, then they have homework too! Find some time in the family schedule that works for you to sit down at the kitchen table or in the living room for study time as a family. An hour a day can make a huge difference, and your kids may see a boost in their grades from the study time as well!
Find an event to keep the kids busy while you attend class
There are probably going to be nights when your children are looking for things to do, and you must attend class online or review course materials. If they’re bored, chances are they’ll try to distract you, so distract them first! Consider free or inexpensive programs at local recreation centers or museums to keep them busy. If it works with your budget, sports or art lessons are always a good option. Remember to ask about internet availability at these places so you can connect while they’re enjoying their activity.
Check out local library programs
Public libraries are a great place to work on your online classes, but that’s not all. Library branches often have programs that are fun and educational for family members of all ages. Check online or drop by your local branch one weekend and see if they have any programs or resources that could be a fun diversion for your kids. You can enjoy some quiet study time nearby while they're having fun.
Make a special point to have family time that’s not school-related
When you plot out your week, make sure to include family time that isn’t related to anyone’s education. It can be time at the playground, a movie, a dinner out, or even pizza and games at home. Those little bits of family time can make a big difference. It will prove to yourself and your family that a balance is achievable and you’re on the right path.
Get to know other parents in your program for support
Reach out to other students to see if there are any other parents in your program. Your classmates can provide support beyond classwork and may have some ideas that have worked for them to achieve balance in family and class time.
ODU offers more than 100 programs online, for learners at all levels in a variety of disciplines. Whether you want to get your undergraduate degree, finish what you started, or go back for a graduate degree, ODUOnline has a solution for you. Visit online.odu.edu to see our academic programs and connect with an advisor who will help you get started on your journey.
*Student data from 2018.