If you have a newborn and you're in college, first of all, congratulations: you're still alive. It's hard! The newborn phase is a time when your baby's brain is developing at an alarming rate, and you have a lot of responsibility to help nurture that. Infants are
demanding. So is college. Here are some tips for surviving the role of parenting while you're in college.
Find Your Village
By now, you've probably heard the old African pronoun, "it takes a village to raise a child." Let's be honest here: As much as you want to, you're not going to be able to be there all the time, so finding your support system is key. Find support in family, friends, and even consider looking into options like as needed childcare or a nanny. These days, there are even apps that can help match you with quality, background-checked care at no extra cost to you. Whether you are looking for some help long-term to be there while your child grows, or just on a night where you need some space to study, your support system will be there to help you along the way. Don't be afraid to ask for help!
Take Advantage of the Downtime
Be efficient, and don't waste your time. Using your baby's naptime can be a great way to sneak in some extra work. Whether that work is study time, meal and snack prep, or even just time to take a few extra moves to clean up the house, make the most of it. Every minute counts!
Shun the Nay-Sayers
Parenting in college is hard. Keeping your cool with those who feel the need to bombard you with not-so-helpful (and kind of judgy) advice is harder. There will be people who will treat you differently because you have a child. There will be people who will think they know what's best for you and try to steer you in a direction into territory that they're not even familiar with. At the end of the day, this is your child and your education, so stay focused on the end-goal and follow your gut.
Let's look at it like a coin: on one side, you're a college student. On the other, you're a new parent. These are both wonderful opportunities that are going to change your life for the better, but no matter which side the coin lands on when you flip it, you're probably going to be on a tight budget. Take advantage of deals in your area to save what you can. Many venues even offer free admission days for students, and a lot of schools offer cheaper rates at food establishments, the opportunity to save on bus fare, and more. It's also important to remember that you don't need it all. In a world with so many new gadgets, be mindful of what you buy and try to visualize if you would even end up using it after a few months. I'm not just talking about the latest smart-watch. This could go for things like fancy strollers and a name-brand pair of baby shoes that they'll outgrow in what will feel like days. Is it worth it?
Try a Different Style
It's not for everyone, but you could consider using your busy schedule as a way to take advantage of a more hands-off parenting style. Giving your kids some wiggle room to make (and hopefully learn from) their own mistakes can help them gain a sense of independence. Helicopter parenting has been shown to increase anxiety in kids, so a little freedom might benefit them in the long run.
Make Your Kids Do Your Homework
Well, kind of. There have been many positive benefits found in reading to infants. You're going to have a lot of reading to do in college, so why not put it towards both you and your baby's best interest? Think of it like playing Mozart to them – just in a linguistic sense. To top it off, reading out loud can help you retain the information. As funny as you might feel reciting your textbook readings to an infant, their brain will thank you for the cognitive stimulation.
BreatheThe truth about raising kids in college is that it's going to be hard. No one is going to try and tell you otherwise. It's important not to let yourself get lost in the process. Don't forget to make time for yourself, too. Find the fun in the little things, and do what you can to make the most of every day. Consider journaling, even if it's only a few quick blurbs a day. You're going to have the days where you're wondering if it's worth it, and you're going to consider giving up. Having a reference to look back on and a way to reflect on all the good you've done will help you remember why you started in the first place. Make the most of every day and enjoy the ride!