500 Words At A Time: Juggling Act

Ten years ago I became a father and I became a stay-at-home dad. Not going to paint a rosy picture of those first few months, but I slowly grew into being a good stay-at-home dad. Both kids received a lot of attention and help with their school work, except for kindergarten, kindergarten is fun, not work. Over the past five years, my feeling is that the children have received less and less attention and assistance from me as my school load went up.

Going back to college and having kids is a difficult juggling act. In my head, my family came before classes. If there was a conflict, such as illness or snow day I would, where possible, attempt to combine them. Such as one of the numerous snow days here take the kids with me to class. When there wasn’t a conflict, my school work became my priority while the kids were at school and eventually when the came home.

With all of us in school, a routine set in where we, the adults, would do our homework before and after the kids got home from school. After a snack and the typical “how was your day at school” the kids did their homework. I learned not to bother doing my homework while they did theirs. Partly because they would interrupt my homework with their requests for help and partly because I wanted to be available in a non-distracted way to assist them with their homework. Sounds great, except that our homework was time consuming, thus the primary free time with the kids was during their homework time.

Before the kids came home from school, our time was mostly spent in classes leaving little time to do homework. After the kids came home, there was little time to do homework while the kids were up. The kids either needed and wanted, or we needed and wanted to do things with them. See where this is going?

Eventually our homework occupied more and more time meaning that a lot of formerly free time spent with the kids became, “Can you wait until I am done with this homework?” Its one thing to prioritize going to a class because of a sick child or child related event. It is another thing altogether to not do homework, fail the class, and waste a lot of money and time. Thus, homework, which often seemed quick or doable, quickly evolved into a time suck.

The juggling act became, how much time do I need, how much time do the children need, and how much time do I want to give them. Need versus want. I wanted to spend as much time and attention as I used to give to my kids. However, I needed to get homework done, otherwise the whole college experience was a waste of time and that was not going to happen. The children needed and wanted our attention. Tack on the day-to-day responsibilities and obligations of most every adult and time becomes a factor. Being me, I worried about what the lack of attention (from my perspective) was doing to my children; was our boy not bringing home his work or our girl not doing well at this assignment because I wasn’t there for them as much as I used to be?

This juggling act is nothing new. Every working parent goes through this and I am not attempting to make a case that I had it worse. I am saying that you may not think about this BEFORE you go back to college, but it WILL crop up once you are in college. I don’t have any advice for you. As a parent and adult you will work through the issue on your own. However, keep in mind that even when you are working on your homework you are having an effect on your children, they see you putting in the work and they will do the same. Also, bare in mind the end goal, a degree for you which should translate into a better life for them and isn’t that the goal of being a parent, a better life for your children?

 

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