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1 Single Parenting & the College Student Designed by: Regina Crews Secretary of Student Support Services

2 Single parenting is a great challenge and even more so when you have to juggle time for school with time to work and be a parent. Working full time while attending school full time can be overwhelming, especially when everything is due at once. Women who are students, mothers, and economic providers frequently struggle to balance the conflicting demands of these roles. Despite creative time management strategies, many women feel torn between devoting the required amount of time to their school work and spending time with their kids. The time commitment required of students who are also mothers frequently conflict which causes a mother to carry an overwhelming guilt that she is being selfish and robbing her children of appropriate nurturing.

3 The obstacles facing single parents who are also college students are formidable. In addition to their student and parenting responsibilities, they are also typically the sole financial providers of their families. Most are part-time employees in addition to being fulltime students and mothers. While they are often stressed by the competing demands of these multiple roles, they also benefit by acting as an example for their children by pursuing their educational goals. Single parents can be left very distracted by sick children or concern for a teenager, making it difficult to concentrate on a lecture or to focus on studying.

4 By far, the most frequent difficulty facing single mothers who are college students is the stress of juggling school and parenting responsibilities. Child care is an important concern for all working parents, and a critical issue for single parents who are students. Even the most carefully planned child care arrangements can be disrupted by a child s illness. Bringing your child to class with you because he/she is ill or because a caregiver did not show up is far from ideal, but it is better than missing classes and receiving a failing grade.

5 Choosing Child Care Find out what kinds of child care are available in-home care, before- and after-school care, child care centers, family daycare homes, coops, share care, employer/college sponsored child care Visit as many caregivers as possible Decide which caregiver and setting is best for your child Communicate regularly with the caregiver and your child

6 How to Find Good Child Care Ask for information from: Social Service Organizations Local and State Government Agencies Churches Colleges Neighbors and Co-workers Local Women s Groups Community Organizations such as The United Way YMCA and YWCA Girls and Boys Clubs Doctors and Public Health Clinics Child Care Information and Referral Agencies Employer Personnel Office Call the Child Care Aware Information Line at for the phone numbers of child care referral agencies in your area.

7 Making the Decision You ll need to consider: Who will give your child the best care. A good caregiver should: really enjoy working with children, talk supportively with children, have training and experience caring for children, be licensed and insured. How much can you afford to pay? What hours care is available. Where your child will be the safest and healthiest. A proper setting should have: room to play both indoors and out, space for sleeping and eating, a variety of creative toys and equipment that are in good shape and are safe. Which caregiver has activities that your child will enjoy and benefit from. There should be a variety of activities that are appropriate for children s age levels. Children should be able to participate in activities directed by the caregiver such as, music, art, etc. Children should be allowed free play time. Trust your feelings. If you have any doubts, make a second visit or keep looking.

8 A Written Agreement is a Must! If the caregiver doesn t have a standard form, then make one up together. Your agreement should state: Costs Daily routine What will be done in emergencies Days and hours care will be given Caregiver s responsibilities Parent s responsibilities

9 Getting Used to Child Care You can help make it easier on yourself and your child if you: Talk with your child about what child care will be like. Allow plenty of time in the mornings to get ready. Let your child bring a favorite toy or a security blanket. Spend time at the setting to allow your child to get used to the caregiver while you re still there. Always say goodbye to your child and tell him/her when you ll return. Have a positive attitude. If you feel good about your child care arrangement, usually your child will, too. Plan for backup. Ask friends and family ahead of time if they will care for your child when your caregiver cannot.

10 Is there an ideal age for starting child care? Children of all ages can do well in a good childcare situation. But you know your child best and how best to meet the needs of your family. Is it normal to feel guilty about using child care? Yes, feeling guilty occasionally is normal. But a good child care arrangement will reassure you that your child is being cared for properly. Will child care affect my relationship with my child? That depends on you. Children sometimes become attached to their caregivers, but parents always come first in a child s life.

11 Ask for Help Managing Your Time The whole family can share housework and reduce the stress on any single family member. Ask others to pitch in. Let family members choose chores, or rotate chores every week or month. Discuss your expectations beforehand and try not to be critical of others best efforts. Encourage personal responsibility. Everyone can: pick up his/her belongings, clean up after using the kitchen or bath, pick up dirty clothes and put away clean clothes. Start Children early. Children enjoy helping adults and it helps build their selfesteem. Develop a family calendar to avoid time conflicts. Mark all appointments, meetings and special family occasions. Post the calendar where everyone can use it. Ease the morning rush by preparing the night before. For example you could: bathe or shower, ask children to set the breakfast table, prepare lunches, and decide what to wear. Establish a routine to help family members use their time and energy wisely. Remember to include fun time in your schedule. Plan time with each child every day. Even though schedules may be tight, giving your undivided attention can help children feel good about themselves. Take time for yourself when you feel rested and relaxed, you re better able to meet family, job and school responsibilities. A few minutes alone can make a big difference.

12 Make Mealtime a Special Time Eat together often. Try to share several meals a week. Give each family member a chance to talk about his or her day. Stress the importance of being together at mealtime. Let everyone help. Members will enjoy meals more if they help prepare them. Also, early experience in the kitchen will benefit children as they grow older. Plan meals ahead of time. Try to do all your shopping in one trip a week. Cook extra at every meal and freeze leftovers. Eating right doesn t have to mean hours in the kitchen for every meal

13 Learn to Manage Your Money Wisely Figure out your monthly income. Include your pay after taxes and any other sources of income, such as child support and financial aid. Add up your monthly expenses. Include: rent or mortgage payments, insurance, child care expenses, loan and credit card payments, utility bills, food, clothing, transportation and college expenses. Subtract your expenses from your income. If your expenses are greater than your income, you need to cut back. Keep track of your expenses in a notebook for a month or two. This will help make it easier to find areas you can cut back on. Shop carefully. Compare prices. Buy generic or store brands, if possible. Buy items when they are on sale. Use coupons. Save energy. Find ways to lower your utility bills. For example: turn off lights that aren t in use, take short showers instead of baths, wash clothes in cold or warm water instead of hot, turn the heat down when you sleep, ask your local utility company about getting a home energy audit. Find inexpensive ways to have fun. For example you and your child could go for a walk, visit a park, play a board or card game. Think about the future. Set a realistic savings goal. Try to save some money each month.

14 Reach Out for the Support You Need There are people and places that can help. All you have to do is ask! Friends and family can be valuable sources of support. They may also be able to help with child care or other family duties. Community and government agencies can provide financial and medical assistance if you qualify. They can also refer you to other sources of help. Religious or community groups can provide guidance and companionship. Programs for single parents can help you learn to manage stress and gain new skills. Other sources of help include: mental health centers and employee/student assistance programs.

15 Single Parenting is Challenging, But Very Rewarding!! While a college degree does not guarantee a job and comfortable lifestyle, it is still the best avenue toward these goals. In addition to its significance for economic independence, most women value education as an opportunity for personal growth. They also hope that their educational aspirations and attainments will inspire similar goals in their children. Single mothers believe that modeling the value they place on education has important implications not only for themselves, but for their children as well. Though the challenges are many, the rewards can be great, including the increased earning power of a college degree, setting an excellent example, and seeing your children grow into responsible, healthy individuals.

16 This workshop was designed to help single parents: Understand the special concerns of single parenthood and how to deal with them. Maintain a positive outlook. Seek help whenever you need it. You can succeed as a single parent!

17 Thank you for your participation in this workshop. We hope you found it helpful. Do not forget to complete an Academic Enrichment Summary so that we may document your participation. If you are viewing this workshop via the internet please come by the Student Support Services office to complete an Academic Enrichment Summary or you may click on the link in the directions box on the Workshops page and print one out or it to: so that we may document your participation. Handouts available upon request. Exit:

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