“I’m a single mother of two and work full time. How can I make the most of what little time I have to get my class work done at night?” —Jenny F., SUNY Empire State College, New York 

First, let me say that you are an amazing person to juggle both parenting and working with college. I have had the privilege of working with lots of single parents who were providing for their families and fulfilling their dreams through a college degree. Many have managed to do all at the same time, and I know that you can, too. However, there are some tips that can help you manage these duties more effectively:

Get organized

If you are not an organized person already, get or make a planner so you can schedule all your responsibilities and activities throughout the semester. More than anyone, you as a single parent will want to know when assignments are due and when you will need to study for upcoming tests. Knowing ahead of time will greatly reduce your day-to-day stress levels.

Make it a game

If your kids are old enough, consider creating a game out of studying. For example, ask your kids to read (write, draw, or solve puzzles) quietly and when time is up, each of you can take turns sharing what you learned or accomplished.

Trade with a friend

Do you have a trusted friend or relative who can entertain your kids while you focus on your coursework? Find someone you can trade tasks with. Maybe you can take turns watching each other’s kids or you can help them with chores in exchange for time for you to complete an important task.

Take care of yourself

You have a lot to juggle and your health and well-being are of the utmost importance. Be sure that you are monitoring your stress levels and taking the opportunity to do those activities that de-stress you during the semester. A small treat such as a bubble bath or a favorite TV show or movie can often do wonders.

Also remember that you can ask for help at any time. Your professors, advisors, and counselors on campus can be your biggest supporters. Your friends and family can, too, and you should be empowered to reach out even before you think you need help to make sure you stay on track. Good luck!