Becoming a Parent (Part 2): Finding a Work/Life Balance

In part 1 of becoming a parent, I discussed my pregnancy, the birth of my daughter, and a little on adjustment to life post-pregnancy. I left off by discussing my return to school, getting a job as a freelance writer, and my first few months of parenting. At first, things got off to a great start, but as I went  along I  realized that juggling school, working, parenting, and other responsibilities are quite overwhelming. Despite all of that responsibility, I continued to push forward.

After five months of working as a freelance writer, I quit and began to focus more on school and parenting. My school schedule consisted of  Monday through Friday beginning at 8:30 a.m. and ending at 11:30 a.m., sometimes I had afternoon or evening classes. It was an early start every morning. I had to awake at 6 a.m. sometimes 5:30 a.m. to get my daughter and I ready for the day and get to class on time. My daughter attended a local daycare during my school hours until 4:30 each afternoon so that I could have some time to study after school.

Everyday I usually arrived home between 11:45 a.m. and 12 noon if I did not have any other stops or errands to do. Although I quit working, just being a student and a parent (including household chores, and extracurricular activities in the church and community ) was still overwhelming with all the responsibilities that I had on my plate. It was just not enough hours in the day to be both and my school work was very hard and time-consuming. In addition, I felt that I was not giving my daughter the time and attention that I needed to. At the time I was attending Francis Marion University, one of the best schools in my area and one of the top schools in the country since 2001.

From 2001 to 2007 I was in and out of school struggling to keep my grades up, parenting, keeping the household afloat, and extracurricular activities in the church and community. School was my biggest stresses and there were many times I just wanted to quit, but I would encourage myself to keep on going because I have come too far to go back.  Some way, somehow I was going to finish school. I have been contemplating an alternative to the brick and mortar classroom, online courses since 2003, but I was hesitant. I was hesitant  because I did not know if I would do well without an instructor in front of me, which is the way most of us  have been  learning if not all most of our lives.

In the late summer early fall of 2008, after much pondering (a few years to be exact) I decided that I would try the online route to completing my degree. Becoming an online student would give me more time and flexibility between being a student and a parent. It would also provide me the opportunity to finish my degree faster than I would have on the traditional route. That fall I transferred from Francis Marion University and  enrolled into the University of Phoenix (UOP) online degree program to finish my degree in Communications which was Mass Communications at my former school.

When I started my first class with UOP I had some anxiety about becoming an online student for the first time. My anxiety  quickly departed when I discovered how easy it was and how the university provided students with many tools to navigate our way through the virtual campus and classroom. The professors were also very helpful by providing contact information along with the syllabus and virtual classroom instructions in case we needed help. We were also required to share contact information with our classmates, especially when working in teams to ask for help when we needed it. Another great part about online schooling is that I could log in at any time all day, all week to work on and complete my assignments.

I completed my Bachelor of Science Communication in 2010. In July 2011, I returned to the online classroom to pursue a Master of Science Psychology and completed that degree in March 2013. I am very proud of myself for accomplishing these two degrees; two of some of the biggest milestones I have reached in my life. I had to do it not only for me but for my daughter; she was my inspiration.

Switching from traditional school to the online school route was one of the best decisions that I made regarding my education. Caring and parenting a special needs child has more challenges because of the amount of care and attention the child (ren) need. Online schooling gave me the work/life balance that I needed as the parent of a special needs child. I am able to spend more time with my daughter giving her the care and attention that she needs while getting my work completed by the deadlines.

If it wasn’t for the option of online school, I don’t know if I would have finished my education given my life situation. It was an arduous journey, but I persevered and was determined to finish and I thank God for it. THANK GOD FOR THE INTERNET!!! So, if you are a mother (or father) of an autistic/special needs child and you want to pursue an education, GO FOR IT! If you choose, go the online route because it is flexible and gives you the work/life balance that is needed for parents of special needs children.

This concludes part 2 of becoming a parent. Thanks for dropping by! Stay posted!

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