Raising a child is a tough job. But raising a child while studying to get a degree is even more difficult, especially when you don’t have a partner to support you.
Parenthood and education require significant time, money and attention. When put together they often end up coming in the way of each other – this in many cases leads to dropouts.
While graduating is not a piece of cake for anyone, single moms face more challenges than their peers who do not have the full-time responsibility of looking after a child.
Listed below are some of the major stressors and some ways to deal with them.
1. The Cost
College is expensive and so is childcare. It takes thousands of dollars of tuition in addition to the costs associated with raising a child. One can quickly end up with a huge debt on their shoulder even before earning a degree.
College tuition has increased by 134% over the past two decades. Costs of education can be reduced significantly by applying for grants and scholarships, and many scholarships are exclusively for single moms in college.
To avoid hiring a babysitter or paying for a daycare facility, you can look for universities with on-campus childcare or apply for online degree programs.
You can also go to community college as this lets you stay close to home and family.
2. The Time
Most single moms need to work more than average hours to provide for their children while also making time to attend lectures, complete assignments and study for exams causing a lot of stress and a decline in health.
Families, neighbors and friends can prove to be reliable when you need help with household chores or someone to babysit for you. Another great way is to share responsibilities with fellow single moms by organizing playdates and sleepovers.
In case you need help with writing a thesis paper, there are plenty of online tools to help with that.
3. The Stress
Feeling overwhelmed and mentally drained at times is natural with so much on your plate making you want to drop out.
At such times, it is essential to have a support system – someone you can confide in like a friend, a family member or people in the same situation as you.
You can also seek help from on-campus counselors, especially ones experienced in advising single-parent college students.
Lack of control causes stress and being organized gives you that sense of control. So you must be able to set your priorities straight and stick to a schedule.
4. Unexpected Situations
It always pays to be prepared for any situation. To keep yourself from diverting from your studies when something urgent comes up, have someone as a backup to be there instead of you. Prioritize your health along with your child’s health to prevent any medical emergencies from distracting you.
No matter how prepared you are, life may sometimes throw a curveball and disrupt all your plans because life, like children, is mostly unpredictable. This is when you need to be on your strongest mental game and not be afraid to seek help.
5. The Guilt
Despite trying your best you may not be able to be there for your children all the time. You may feel guilty about having to leave them with someone else and feel bad for thinking about yourself.
People around you may criticize you. You must avoid such people for the well-being and mental health of both you and your family.
Remember, by obtaining a degree you are improving yourself, increasing your earning potential and making yourself more capable of providing your child with a better future.
Flexibility is most important to all single mothers who are in college or plan on returning to college.
Don’t try to fit yourself into traditional programs, look for programs that are designed for single mothers like you. Be organized and fix a schedule.
Tell your family and friends about your situation and what you plan to do and be okay to depend on them when needed. If your children are older, have an honest conversation with them.
Every year many single moms like you are working hard and achieving, you can too!