How to Return to School as a Working Parent

Children of any age require a great deal of time, attention, and energy. Work and school have these same demands. So how do you tackle all three at the same time?

The key is planning, communication, and adaptability — all things that, as a working parent, you’re already practiced in! If you’re thinking about returning to school, keep this advice in mind:

Know Your Why
Take time to discover and establish why you want to return to school and set goals based on those motivators. Write down your why and post it somewhere you see every day — your bathroom mirror, your cereal box, your front door. That way, even on days you feel overwhelmed by school, work, and parenting, you can remember the reason(s) you’re doing it all.

Strategize & Prioritize
List your tasks and responsibilities, prioritize them in order of necessity, and eliminate or combine any possible. Break your tasks down into smaller parts, find little pockets of time, and complete them piece by piece. Give yourself a small reward when you complete one of the tasks to help create good habits. When you are able to snag a longer study session, make the most of it by minimizing distractions, like turning your cell phone off or wearing noise-canceling headphones.

Plan Ahead (And Plan Again)
At the beginning of each week, plan dedicated times and places to do your schoolwork. Work a couple of back-up study sessions into your schedule to accommodate unexpected situations. If something disrupts your schedule, return to your list of tasks and update it as necessary to make sure that high priority items are being completed first. When you start a study session, set a small goal or focus to direct your work.

People want you to succeed and they’ll do what they can to assist you, but first you must reach out and let them know what you’re experiencing. Clear, punctual communication is crucial for juggling busy schedules and multiple commitments. When you communicate with someone, be respectful of them and their time by preparing for the conversation beforehand, providing all relevant details, and being patient and empathetic.

Use Your Support Network
Even though this is your education journey, you’re not doing it alone. There are people to support you in your goals and it’s okay to ask them for help. A friend or family member, your manager or coworkers, a professor, other Guild students — all are part of your life and therefore invested in your success. Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re unqualified, unintelligent, or powerless; it means you care about what you’re doing and want to do it to the best of your ability. You can learn more about how to build your support network here!

Talk to a Guild Coach
Speaking of support networks, you have a dedicated support network right at your fingertips! Your Guild coach is there to provide personalized attention and advice when you need it, and they have many tips, tricks, and strategies they can share to help you find success as a student who also works and parents.

Thousands of working parents are taking that next step and returning to school, and you can too. If it’s something you’ve been thinking about, sign up or log in to your Guild account, browse the different program options to see what sparks your interest, and contact a coach if you have questions or want assistance finding the best programs for you.

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Written by Guild Education
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