How to Balance Spending Time With Your Family and Continuing Your Education

mom and child both doing homework

Time is precious, especially when you are busy balancing work, family life, and adult education courses. Whether you are working towards an advanced degree, a certificate, or just taking some extra courses to help advance your career, it can be difficult to make time for your spouse, significant other, friends, or children.

Those that have a family (especially with young children) often feel guilty about spending time on schoolwork because they do not want to miss out on spending time with their loved-ones. This is completely understandable because children grow up so fast. Continuing education is necessary in order to accommodate the increased costs of a family as it grows, so you can't feel all too bad about spending time on furthering yourself.

Professional Insight 

“When you set up expectations, there is more family/work/school flow. Where there is flow, there is not only movement forward but also peace! When everyone is going the same direction there is peace harmony moving forward and flow. The result is that everyone is happy and things get done. As a life & business coach, I have found that flow is a key (often overlooked) factor.” 

Andrea Holland; online religious studies degree-International Life Coach and  Author of 'Finally FULL Of Yourself: Unlocking Your Spiritual DNA,' Maria Salomão-Schmidt 

spend time with family

Make a date.

Sometimes it is easier to spend time with others when you have a special activity slotted for a certain time. If you have a pretty full schedule, setting a date to watch a movie, play sports, travel, shop, or any other activity you enjoy is a smart idea.

Many parents have young children that beg to spend time with them, and trying to accommodate your child's needs can leave you feeling depleted. By having a date set, you can remind them that you have a special activity planned in a few days. This will help them see that you are making time for them, and help you keep your commitment. You can do this once a week, once a month, or even several times a week.

If you have older children, they may not insist on spending time together, but this can be just as valuable a strategy to help you stay connected. Remember, even though your children may not be urging you to spend time with them, they still need quality time with their parents.

Explain why schoolwork is important.

The smaller your children are, they may not understand why it's important for you to spend time on anything else other than them. Explain to them that by doing this temporary class work, you can get a better job and be able to spend more time together in the future.

Older children and spouses will likely understand your need to devote time to schoolwork, but make it a point to explain to your younger family members that you are taking a course or working towards a degree. Let them know it may be hard for a while, but you are not neglecting them on purpose. Also, let your children know that if they need you while you are studying, you are still available. But also remind them that sometimes you will need to be undisturbed. If your young children are in school, they will likely understand why you need to focus on something else. The most important thing is to be open and honest with your kids and make them comfortable while explaining the practicality of it all.

Integrate your class work into the routine.

Sometimes just being around your spouse and children can help you feel more connected to them. So if you do not have time to sit down and play with them or watch a movie together, pick a place in the room where you can work on your homework and still be a part of the family interaction.

Make sure that you're not doing an activity that requires uninterrupted attention. But if your children see you working on your schoolwork, while say, they are watching a movie, they will see the hard work it takes to achieve a dream and know that you're close by. Many children say that watching their parents work towards their degree has been an inspiration, so make sure not to close off your education from the family. Let them know why you are devoting time to continuing education. That way, they will most likely understand when you do need to shut everyone else to focus solely on schoolwork.

Again, if you compartmentalize or isolate your education from the family, they won't understand why it matters so much and demands a large amount of your time. But if your child knows that you're working hard like they do at school, they will know that you are doing something for their long-term well-being. Even if you have to tell your child that you want to get a better-paying job, that's okay. Let them know that things in life cost money and by dedicating time to school now you will be able to get a better job to afford more fun — and necessary — things in the future. They will also admire you if you let them know one of the things you want more money for is their education, because many children know that it is expensive and is one of the most valuable things you can give them.

Do your schoolwork together.

Another great way to spend time with your kids and feel connected to them is to do your homework together. If you do not get home until the evenings, maybe homework can wait until then for you to sit at the kitchen table and work together. This is a great idea because you can be involved in their education and they will also see that you are a hard worker.

Modeling your enjoyment for learning is essential to help your children develop their own appreciation for education. Many parents think that they need to compartmentalize their continuing education because it is too complex for their children; but in doing that they can isolate their children. Take time to learn together, even if you are working on separate activities. Sometimes just being around lets your child know that you care and you are spending time. Even if it's not one-on-one quality time, it still helps.

Make time for your spouse.

While children are a priority and your spouse likely understands why you have to devote time to your studies, the foundation for a strong family lies between the parents. So having time together is important, even if it's a couple of minutes before bedtime, or a date night.

Working adults are busy and may not require as much time together as they want with their kids. So if you are doing a special thing with your kids once a week, maybe have a date night with your spouse once a month or every few weeks. Family time is wonderful but it is always a good idea — regardless if you're taking adult education courses — to devote time to the person you love.

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