Tips for Combining Grad School and a Family

Pursuing graduate studies while raising a family can be challenging, but with planning and support it is very achievable. Here are some tips for combining grad school and family life.

Get Organized

Organization and time management are key when juggling school, family, and other responsibilities. Use calendars, task lists, and schedules to stay on top of due dates, appointments, and family commitments. Take advantage of apps and digital tools to sync schedules and share calendars with your partner or childcare providers. Being organized will help minimize stress.

Find Childcare Support

Reliable childcare is essential when you have classes, research, and study obligations. Look into on-campus childcare if available, university babysitting services, or nearby childcare centers. Ask trusted family members or friends if they can help with babysitting or school pick-ups/drop-offs. Consider pooling resources with other grad student parents to cover each other’s childcare needs. 

Communicate Expectations

Have open and realistic conversations with family members about what to expect during your graduate program. Explain how their support will be needed and appreciated. Schedule regular family meetings to touch base and get on the same page about schedules, responsibilities, and division of labor at home. Manage expectations upfront to avoid misunderstandings.

Set Boundaries

Be clear and consistent in setting boundaries about your study time and academic priorities. Let family members know when you are unavailable and explain the importance of uninterrupted study blocks. Respect your own boundaries by minimizing distractions and not feeling guilty about prioritizing school at necessary times.

Share the Load

Don’t try to take on too much yourself. Look for ways your partner or older children can help out more with household duties, driving siblings to activities, meal prep, etc. Accept help from others so you don’t get overburdened. Maintain reasonable standards for housekeeping and simplify family meal routines when you are busiest with school. Doing it all is not realistic – utilize your support system.  

Prioritize Quality Family Time

Make the most of the time you have together as a family. Be fully present and engaged when not working on school. Protect family dinners when possible for bonding and catching up. Schedule dedicated family time that fits with your schedule, like Saturday morning park trips. Say no to extra activities that encroach on family time. Quality over quantity is key when time is limited.

Involve Your Family

Find appropriate ways to involve your family in your graduate school experience, like bringing your child to department events or having them help you study with flashcards. Share what you are learning and celebrate achievements together. This can help kids feel pride and make the experience a family journey. Validate their sacrifices and contributions to your success. These are the few things we seek to deliver at IB Singapore.

Seek Campus Resources

Find out what family resources your campus offers, like lactation rooms, family housing, support groups, or seminars on grad school/family balance. Take advantage of these resources and connect with other student parents who understand the challenges you face. Don’t be afraid to ask your university for what you need.

Is Grad School Right for You?

If you’re still undecided, this article on should I go to grad school may help answer some questions. 

Juggling grad school and family requires constant adjustment and trade-offs. Control what you can and let go of perfectionism. Keep perspective by focusing on the bigger purpose and short-term nature of this busy season of life. 

With planning, support, and resilience, you will find your way through.