One thing every stay at home mom should think about is what she’s going to do when the kids get older. Are you still going to be a stay at home mom or is it back to work? Or maybe it’s time to update your education.
For many these days, the hope is to continue on in a home business. That’s what I did when my youngest hit school age. I love what I do and can’t picture changing things all that drastically.
Others would rather go back to work. You have your retirement to think of, and unless your husband is earning very good money, it’s going to be hard to fund that for both of you if you never work again.
While you’re a stay at home parent is a great time to think about improving and updating your education. It’s not that you have tons of free time; we all know kids will take up as much time as you can spare, and then some. But it’s a great time to be thinking about where you would like your career to go, and get the education to make it happen.
Is A Degree Necessary?
That depends on you and what you want to do in the future. It might be. It might not be.
If you’re planning on following your dream career when your children are a bit older, you don’t want your skills to be outdated. Pursuing a degree or certification can help you reach that goal. Keeping up with the literature on your area and networking with people who are currently working in your industry can help as well.
The things you need to do will strongly depend on what it is you want to do.
For example, before I discovered my love of running an online business, I had been planning on getting my Master’s degree in instructional design. I took some courses in it when I was in college, and it was fascinating to me. Not quite so much now, though. In some ways, however, it’s not that far off from what I do now.
An advanced degree or certification is important to that field. If I ever want to go into it, I would need to return to school to have a shot at getting a job in that area within a reasonable time frame.
Not all careers need a degree, of course. Sometimes you can gain experience on the job; other times you may need a few classes that you take on your own to qualify, but not a full degree. Take some time to figure out what’s best for getting into the career you want. You can always continue to upgrade your education once you have your first job in your career.
Traditional College, Online College, Or Online Courses?
You can look into a traditional college in your area, but you may also want to look at online colleges or programs. They range from being a waste of money to being an excellent investment.
My daughter’s kindergarten teacher, for example, got her Masters degree from Western Governor’s University recently. At least one of her kids is going there as well, as I understand it. They’re quite happy with that program. Judging from online reviews, it’s definitely not for everyone. So long as you know what you’re getting yourself into and feel comfortable with it, you could do well there.
Some online programs can help you work at home. I did medical transcription from home for years. While that industry has changed quite a bit since I left it, there’s still demand for medical transcriptionists. Make sure the school’s program is updated for current needs and that it has a good record of placing people within the industry. I like Career Step. They offer more than just medical transcription or medical coding programs. Not all of their programs are for jobs you can do from home.
If you just need to update your skills, there are a lot of online courses you can get. Take a look at places such as Udemy and ed2go. You can learn a wide variety of skills for business, technology, marketing, and more. If you’ve been out of the workforce for a while raising your kids, taking a few courses to update your marketable skills is a great idea.
If you want to start a home business, you may just need to take some appropriate training from someone who has done it. Gina Horkey, for example, has found success as a virtual assistant, and her virtual assistant training course might be what you need to start your own virtual assistant business from home.
Yes, it’s going to take some time away from your family. That can’t be helped. But since you aren’t going to have to drive to school, and may even be able to decide the time at which you do your classwork, it can take away far less time than traditional classes in a college or technical school.
In some fields, there’s no replacement for hands on training. If that’s the case, you will have to go to a school in your area. Online just won’t give you the experience you need. You will need to seek out a program that will work with the arrangements you can make for your kids, whether that’s classes when your spouse can be home, when a family member can help out, when the kids are in school themselves, or when you can put them in daycare.
What About the Kids?
Even online courses can be hard to handle when you have kids. The time commitment on top of everything else you do can be challenging. What can you do to keep the kids out from underfoot while you update your education?
The first thing you should do is figure out when the kids are going to be an issue. If you have classes at particular times, that may be your biggest challenge, whether you attend classes elsewhere or at home. If the times are more flexible, as with self paced courses, it may be easier to make a schedule that works with your established routines.
A supportive spouse may be able to help you make the time to take courses without the kids. They can take a turn being in charge of the kids. This may take some work with children who are used to the stay at home mom or dad being the one they ask for EVERYTHING, but they can learn otherwise.
You may also need to consider childcare. This may include finding a paid sitter or daycare, or having friends or family help. If the kids are old enough to play with friends when you need to study and the friends’ parents don’t mind having them over a lot, you have a cheap way to get the kids out of the way.
Kids who are old enough may also enjoy the time learning to be more independent. It’s good for them. Have expectations for what they do while you study, as well as rules for when they can interrupt you.
It’s rather like working at home in many ways. You have to decide when you’re available and when you need to work on your education. Giving yourself a regular schedule will help, both in terms of completing your education and in giving the children a routine. It will help you have more productive workdays, so you can finish your studies more quickly.
Updating your education as a stay at home parent will require some sacrifices. It’s not an easy thing for many people to do. It will be worth it if you decide that it’s time to get back into your career, whether you work at home or elsewhere. A better career will mean so much to your job satisfaction and bring in income your family may need. The time spent now on education will be worth it later.