An undergraduate degree is wonderful to have, but a graduate degree is something that very few people possess. The extra couple of years studying for a graduate degree could boost one’s earning potential by twice as much as those who only possess a high school diploma. Earning more money is not the only reason to obtain an advanced degree. There is also the incredible sense of pride and achievement. Obtaining an advanced degree is one of those accomplishments that ranks up there with giving birth to a child. Speaking of children, they are another reason to attend graduate school. Sure, it is extra work (as though being a parent isn’t a full-time job in itself) but the rewards outweigh any cons you can list.
The following list is just some of the suggestions to help one survive graduate school while being a stay-at-home-parent.
You must know how to manage your time. Graduate classes are time consuming, especially those courses taken online. Not only do you have to do the work, but you also have to set aside the time to do the required course work on the computer. The time for online classes is nearly double that of attending a lecture in a classroom. You also need to make special time for your family, not to mention regular household duties (and possibly work outside the home if you aren’t a stay-at-home parent).
Turn off the television. If you need some background noise, try some classical music or any other music without words. Trying to sing along with your favorite songs will distract you even faster than watching the television. However, don’t feel guilty for taking breaks for family movie night. You will need the break and your children will want your undivided attention.
If online classes are the only way you can attend your courses, look into buying a laptop. Since you will spend an ample amount of your time staring at a computer screen, at least with a laptop you can relocate to different areas – a coffee shop, the local library, the living room couch, etc. One of my favorite memories is of sitting on the couch writing research papers by the light from the Christmas tree.
Asking for Help With the Children
Depending upon the age of your children, you may need to have the children go to bed earlier than normal. That extra hour or two in the evening could mean success in class for you. Finishing classwork early in the evening means having some time to rest, sleep, spend much needed one-on-one time with your spouse, or catch up on other tasks.
If you have the available funds, you can check into local daycares to enroll your children part-time. Just a few hours a week of total quiet can give you ample time to do course work. You may have friends or family who will take the children a few hours a week; don’t be afraid to ask them for help.
You Can Do This
Don’t think it will easy. This will be one of the hardest tasks you take upon yourself (next to having children). However, it will also be one of the most rewarding. Expect to lose sleep, but try not to be too grouchy around the children. After all, you are doing it for them as well as yourself.
Remember: the late nights, lack of sleep, and no life outside of the home will pay-off eventually. Not only will you walk away with a graduate degree, you also gain pride, an education that no one can ever take away, a better chance at a better paying job, and you become the best example for your children. Show your children that education is vital and achievable, no matter the difficulty. Be the best parent by showing your children what they can achieve by learning from your example.