Student Parents You Are Not Alone
By Kesha Packer
of the Frontpage Milwaukee staff
Aug. 22, 20017
A faint glow from the streetlight peeks through the curtain. Windows begin vibrating at 5:49 a.m. as the first Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) bus rolls past. The bus motor humming serves as a daily reminder that the day has officially begun. Rolling out of bed and directly into a pair of slippers is definitely a mastered skill, but unfortunately, it will not boost your portfolio.
However, if you are a student parent you quickly begin to appreciate odd multi-tasking abilities because they become a part of daily routines. For example, how you ever done any of the following?
• Brushing teeth while ironing
• Setting the dinner table while listening to a class lecture
• Studying note cards for an exam while folding laundry
• Watched your child play at the park while working on homework on laptop
If you are guilty of doing one or more of these tasks then there is a high probability that you are a student parent. Many student parents realize that these very types of multitasking are necessary in order to survive a life filled with chaos.
There was a time when student parents felt alone when it came to the difficulties that being a parent attending school created. Fortunately, others are also recognizing the issues correlated to being a student parent. Unlike before when student parents felt alone, there are numerous organizations that focus on providing assistance to students parents worldwide. For example, http://studentparentsmovement.blogs was created to provide information and downloadable resources. There is a link to the student parent community and a discussion board as well.
At the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (UWM) there is a program called Life Impact, and their focus is to provide support to student parent participants academically, professionally, and personally. Natalie Reinbold, Life Coach and Coordinator states, “Our mission is to break the cycle of poverty by supporting student parents.” According to Life Impact records UWM has over 2800 student parents for 2017. The program presently has 50 participants. Even though the program cannot serve the entire body of student parents at least organizations exist like these so that student parents have a place they can go in which their needs can be addressed.
Chaotic is an Understatement
Imagine your alarm clock ringing at 4:45 a.m., taking a shower, getting dressed for work, preparing breakfast for your children, and then briskly leaving the house by 5:45 a.m. in order to start work at 6 a.m. Just imagining a morning like this is exhausting, but for Tramaine Ford, a student parent at the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) this is a typical morning. “I wish it could be 36 hours in a day instead of 24,” Tramaine states. While signing she provides the details of the remainder of her day. Tramaine said she gets off work at 2:30 p.m. because she has to make it home by 3 p.m. in order to receive her daughter from the school bus. She is left with only a short time to prepare something for dinner because class starts at 5 p.m.
When Tramaine returns home from school it is 9 p.m. and does not go to bed until about 12:30 a.m. When asked about study time, Tramaine responded, “Sometimes I have to get up at 2:30 a.m. and study because that is the only time I have available.”
Elizabeth Leighton, a student parent attending Ottawa University can definitely empathize with Tramaine. “I start my day at 5 a.m. and that consists of getting myself ready for work and my son ready for school,” Elizabeth states. Elizabeth commutes to Milwaukee for work Monday through Thursday, working 40 hours in four days. “I get off work at 5:30 p.m., drive about 45 minutes in order to get to class, get home at about 9:45 p.m., and then I go to bed at midnight,” Elizabeth explains.
With such a hectic schedule Elizabeth admits that she uses a desk calendar with color codes for her family to help her remember important dates, activities, etc… With corners of her mouth turned downward, Elizabeth states, “My biggest challenge as a student parent is complete exhaustion and feeling guilty about not spending enough fun time with kids.”
Dionne Felix a former student parent of MATC expressed that her biggest challenge when in school was not spending enough time with her son, which greatly contributed to the decision she made to take the semester off from school. “I felt my son was losing out,” Dionne states. Dionne explained she was working full-time and going to school full-time. To say her days were chaotic was an understatement. Dionne began work at 6 a.m. and didn’t go to bed until midnight.
Although the problems associated with being a student parent cannot be solved over night there are some suggestions from other student parents that may be helpful:
1. Buy a crock pot and use it to cook a complete meal on school days It’s easy to become stressed, but make sure you don’t take it out on your children
2. It’s easy to become stressed, but make sure you don’t take it out on your children
3. Stay focused and be patient
4. Set priorities and be realistic when it comes to course loads.
For further information contact your local university.