4 Tips for Single Parents Returning to School


Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog from our friends at, Dr. Leah and Rachel. Dr. Leah has written¬†The Complete Single Mother, and Rachel’s blog is Single Mom Seeking.

lego single mom pushing stroller while going back to schoolOver at Singlemommyhood, we’re really impressed when we hear about single parents in college or returning to school on top of everything else they’re doing!

Getting an education isn’t just important for you – it’s crucial for your kids, too.

Dr. Leah knows what single moms in college face – she returned to school while also parenting two young kids on her own. It was not easy, but this was her dream.

And, of course, these credentials made a critical difference in how she was able to provide financially for herself and her kids.

We often hear from single parents in college who are:

  • Working full-time and going to school at night
  • Completing intensive internships on top of their jobs
  • Returning to school as ‘older’ students to earn or finish a BA
  • Advancing their education to get a Master’s degree – and a PhD!

Bravo to all of you! We know how frantic every day life can get: working and parenting can be overwhelming.

(Not to mention the fact that you show up as a single parent for you own kids’ classes.)

We also know that getting a degree is one of the best ways to gain new skills and move ahead.

If you’re a single parent in college – or consider returning to school – here are our top 4 tips for success:

Write Down Your Goals

Make your goals specific. For example, “I will have taken all my required courses by Spring 2013.”

“I will do this by taking two courses each semester and one course during the summer. I will attend every optional career seminar offered, even if it is scheduled on Friday afternoon.”

Make a contract with yourself, and sign your name. Promise yourself to move ahead with a well thought-out plan.

Get Organized

Do not think you can plop your school stuff down on the kitchen table every night. Find a shelf, box, or file cabinet in which to keep your school materials.

The kitchen table can certainly turn into your ‘school desk’ at night, but you need a defined, organized place to keep everything.

Otherwise, valuable study time is wasted on looking for misplaced things, or items the children somehow managed to ‘borrow.’

Abolish Procrastination

Single moms in college do not have the option to procrastinate. Guaranteed, the first time you put off an important school paper, a child will get the flu, and the paper will not be done on time.

The best way to manage the inevitable stresses of juggling multiple responsibilities as a single parent in college is to prioritize and NOT procrastinate.

When your assignments are completed, you can enjoy guilt-free the time away from the pressures of school.

Learn to Say ‘No’

When returning to school, you must learn to say no to demands that do not help you either 1) progress in your studies, or 2) personally benefit you and your children.

Lots of us have trouble saying no. If this is difficult for you, keep a tangible reminder – like a picture of a vacation spot you’d like to visit – somewhere handy to remind you of you will enjoy with your kinds thanks to the added income and increased job security.

Now, we’d love to know:

Are you currently working toward an online degree?

If so, what’s your advice on how to juggle the competing responsibilities of school, family, and career?

If haven’t made that commitment just yet, what’s holding you back?

About Dr. Leah Klungness and Rachel Sarah

Singlemommyhood was founded by the authors of two of the most popular books for single parents. Dr. Leah Klungness is a psychologist and co-author of The Complete Single Mother, now out in its third edition. Rachel Sarah is a digital media consultant and founder of Single Mom Seeking.
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5 Responses to 4 Tips for Single Parents Returning to School

  1. Pingback: 4 Tips for Single Parents Returning to School | | Online Student |

  2. single moms says:

    Hi There Dr Leah,

    Very interesting. Single parent families, that are those, which have only one person as the head of the family, are growing in numbers every year. Such families are usually the result of parental breakup and unwanted pregnancies. More than men, women are the ones who get into this difficult situation. They are not only required to feed the family but also support everyone emotionally.

    Nice advice!

  3. This is a good heads up – especially for single parents who are really doing great in their education – which is a very vital part of one’s life.

    e learning courses

  4. Ana England says:

    Thanks Leah and all for this posting. I am considering returning to school online for my education masters at a local state college BUT I have two kids and saying “no” to them and finding reasonable child care while I study are my biggest issues. I don’t think I can study at home with them in the background. Can’t ignore their needs so I need to solve this issue. Good to hear that you all have been through this and will check in your sites for some more chat.

    • Your concern about saying “no” to your kids is quite common. You don’t mention the ages of your children,but ,likely, they’re old enough to have school assignments or simply can be encouraged to do quiet activities while you work.

      Actually, in establishing a “study/quiet time” as part of your parenting routine, you’re doing them a great service. And the added income/job security you’ll accrue with a graduate degree will certainly make their lives better.

      Thanks for adding to this conversation. We’re looking forward to hearing about your online education plans.

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