Striking a Balance Between Student Life and Parenthood

It has been a month since I started the PACE Program, and the intensity is starting to pick up. This is a far cry from my previous employed life when, at the end of the day, all I had to worry about was giving my child a bath, preparing dinner and reading her a bedtime story. Just thinking about my deadlines makes my stomach churn, and I know it is bound to get worse as the months go by.

Don’t get me wrong, PACE is wonderful in the sense that it gives Gen-Xers like me a new lease on life when it comes to career advancement. It provides a big window of opportunity for me to develop new knowledge and skills to take on a more promising career in a shorter period compared to other post-graduate programs. However, a shorter period means a more intensive program that can be very difficult especially for parents of young children like me.

So, is it possible to be a parent and a PACE student at the same time? Of course! I dare not say I have all the answers, but my family of three is trying to make it work with these strategies. It’s working so far, and they might work for you, too.

  1. Communicate to your spouse/partner. There will be times you need to stay up late to study and you will need a lot of support. Lay out your deadlines for the week or month and request that they pick up your child at daycare/grab some groceries/prepare supper/clean up on those days at least. Make them realize that you enrolled in this program not just for yourself, but to make the family’s situation better. They must know that they have some accountability in your success. Unless they don’t want a better life for themselves and your child/ren, the little guilt trip will likely work.
  2. Let your child “work” beside you. Does your young child insist on sitting on your lap while you are in the middle of writing an assignment? If it is impossible to peel them off from your side, just give in. Over the last 10 years as a teacher, I learned that children like to imitate what their parents do, and you should let them because they are trying to make sense of their environment and it’s the basis for language and literacy development. Provide some materials such as blank paper to draw or scribble on, puzzles they can complete on their own, a toy computer or calculator that they can “type” with just like you.
  3. Prepare some activities beforehand. My child loves to play with slime, playdough, kinetic sand and other sensory materials, and she gives me around an hour of peace every time I bring some out. That’s a good amount of time for a mom with a full load at school. There are lots of safe (and sometimes edible) recipes online for sensory activities and perhaps the most simple would be a good mix of cornstarch and water to make goop. They are very cool but can be very messy, so I would recommend you cover the floor with newspapers, let them wear an old shirt or apron, and let them use a big basin instead.
  4. Highlight parent-child “dates”. When your partner realizes how important their role is in your success as a student, they would be more than happy to get out of your hair. Convince them that taking your child out for fun stuff (like getting ice cream, playing at the park, etc.) is healthy bonding time that may never come around again if they let it pass them by. Two or three hours is a pretty good leeway to get a lot of those assignments done, but it could also be sad that you’re missing out on the fun (it’s only temporary, though). FullSizeRender 10
  5. Find time to reconnect, uninterrupted. Put down your phone and close your laptop. Actively listen to you child talk about what happened at daycare, or your partner about their day. Even if it’s just for an hour, make sure you give them 100% of your attention. Play with your child, cuddle or watch an episode on Netflix with your partner. These are the moments that could energize you after a long day, as they reinforce the reason why you are in school to begin with. Make your family feel that you are always thinking about them and wishing you could spend more time with them, but you are in the middle of something important too, and that all your hard work will be for everyone’s benefit.

Nobody’s life is perfect, and we just have to make do with the cards we are dealt with. As PACE students, we need to be aware that it is an uphill battle, and we will need help most, if not, all the time. I wish you luck on striking that balance between student life and parenthood, and I would love to hear other strategies from fellow parents, too!

Written by:

Teresa Balinghasay

Human Resources Management

University of Winnipeg, PACE

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10 tips to help you become a financially savvy student by Ashlie Wilson!

Image credit: BCU

I’ve always considered myself good with finances. I set up budgets and stayed within my limits by tracking my purchases. It wasn’t until I had my twins I realized how much better I could be with my money. When I was on Maternity Leave I became part of a close-knit group of other parents with multiples (twins & triplets). Many multiple families have 3, 4 or even 5 plus kids and often these households have only one parent earning an income. Over the years I’ve learned many handy money saving tips from these families and I’m here to share the wealth (literally!)

  1. PC Points – easiest way, ever to earn money! This is a points card with Real Canadian Superstore (No Frills included) you receive points based on your purchases. Each Thursday they give you deals that if you purchase you get extra points (it’s through an app). You can earn extra points if you do your banking with PC and use your debit or MasterCard to make purchases. Most of the deals are small – for example if you purchase oranges you received 500 points which is .50 cents but trust me this adds up. And pay close attention for the big deals – for example if you purchase $200 in groceries get 20,000 points which is $20. I signed up in late 2013 and to date have cashed in on $930!!!
  2. PC Financial Banking – it’s completely free to bank and has no annual fees with their credit cards. Most people don’t know PC financial is owned by CIBC so you can do your PC banking at their branches. Plus, you’ll receive way more PC points when you use PC Financial cards
  3. Checkout 51– this is an app that has weekly deals (similar how PC points works) and if you purchase those items you’ll get money put into your account. Once you hit $20 you get a cheque mailed to you. All you have to do is purchase the products listed in their weekly deals, upload your receipt through the app and you get money back. I’ve joined about a year ago and so far am at $98.
  4. Ebates– is another app similar to these. It’s useful if you do online shopping. You find the stores you wish to shop at (for example Sport Check) and go through the Ebates site to buy products. You earn a percent back based on your purchase. I tried it once for a Xmas gift and just received a $6 cheque in the mail the other day.
  5. Price matching– many grocery stores price match. So if you find a really good deal in a flyer, you can take the flyer with you to a different store and ask the cashier to price match. Superstore, No Frills, Wal Mart, Toys R Us are a few stores that do this. ****No Frills often has incredible deals. (For example 24 pack bottled water $1.00) so I always keep an eye on their weekly flyer and then use it at superstore where I do my grocery shopping
  6. Flipp – this is a price matching app. You can search popular items such as cheese or chicken breast and it will populate all the grocery stores flyers with their current prices. You can use this to price match by taking screen shots (as long as the date is showing) and showing the cashier to price match.
  7. Couponing – I’m not big into coupons as I find it time intensive but this is a great save to save big bucks. There are many coupon groups on Facebook that post great deals. What people do is find coupons for a certain product then go on flipp to see where that product is on sale and in many cases you’ll get the product for free or next to nothing. For example- I saw someone post a deal for Frank’s Red Hot Sauce there was a $3 coupon and was on sale at Wal Mart for $2.95 and Wal Mart actually paid this person the .05 cent difference
  8. Stacking – this refers to doubling on deals. So for example a few weeks ago I found a great sale on diapers. That week I had a deal show up on my PC Points for 1000 points for every $10 I spend on diapers. I bought 2 boxes (over $60)  so got $6 back on my PC Points and Checkout 51 also had $6 off when buy 2 boxes so I’m now up to $12 off plus the saving from the original sale ($5) I decided to go online to Huggies website and print off a $2 coupon so in total I saved $19 off diapers
  9. Save money in Winnipeg – great Facebook group for daily deals around Winnipeg. Saw this deal the other week- Giant Tiger was blowing out packages of bacon for $1.44
  10. Buying used – there are some great options for buying items used. kijiji is a common website. I’d also recommend Plateo’s Closet they sell high quality used clothes. You can also use these to sell your unwanted items and earn some money

Written by, PACE Program Manager Ashlie Wilsonashlie