1. Home
  2. Education
  3. news
  4. I went to college at 40 while raising my 5 children. I had to make some parenting sacrifices.

I went to college at 40 while raising my 5 children. I had to make some parenting sacrifices.

Victoria Marie Lees   

I went to college at 40 while raising my 5 children. I had to make some parenting sacrifices.
  • I decided to go to college at 40 when I was busy raising 5 children.
  • My schedule was chaos, and the kids had to skip some events because of my studies.

My college journey began at 40 years old when I enrolled in a community college.

Not only was I starting college later in life, but I was also doing it as a mother of five children — ages 8 to 14. I decided it was time to start my education again because I wanted to prove my father wrong. When I was young, he told me I wasn't smart enough to attend college. I finally had the confidence to give it a go and majored in English and communications. I wanted to prove to myself and my children I could do it.

As my schoolwork ramped up, my family obligations didn't let up. I was finally a student, but I was also the taxi driver, the laundress, the cook, the teacher, and the religious educator. I drove my children to three different schools each morning.

With the help of my husband, here's how I got my college degree and raised my kids.

My schedule was chaos for years

Motherhood is a full-time job, but I had to find a way to fit my classes and schoolwork into my week.

I quickly learned that coursework is performed more outside of class than in, so I had to make time for reading, studying, written work, and research papers. I included the children in my studies, sharing what I learned in the classroom at dinner or while driving them to activities. It helped me to understand if I explained the material to someone else.

I didn't realize most colleges began classes before the public school system started their school year, which only complicated things. Plus, my spring breaks didn't coincide with the children's school breaks either. I used a neighbor to keep the children company while I was in class.

Initially, I attended classes while my children were in school, praying no one got sick. Sometimes, I had a night course. Since my husband worked during the day, he was home at night. He took over helping the children in the evenings.

To make the schedule work, one thing had to go and that was cooking. I cooked only when absolutely necessary, which was on weekends. We reheated during the week or got pizza. Baking cookies and making bread as a family was a thing of the past for us.

I also had to say no to some of the children's activities. Sports, scouting events, and church functions disappeared. I just couldn't accomplish everything.

I had all my children help out around the house

From shopping and meal preparation to laundry and cleaning, everyone helped — regardless of their age. I had to discard those perfect housekeeping standards and just accept that my house wouldn't be perfect for a few years.

Whenever I did have to do something around the house, I multitasked. I recorded class notes on tapes and listened to them while doing laundry or preparing meals. When the children got tired of the recording, they left the room.

Food shopping became a family affair — performed only when the cupboards were almost bare. Since I used the time when the children were at school to attend classes and work on group projects with classmates, I had to go grocery shopping when they were all home. That meant they went with me to the store; it wasn't easy.

I'm glad it all worked out in the end

With the children growing up before my eyes, I decided to continue my education after community college. I earned a prestigious scholarship and enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania.

After 10 years, I earned my degree in English. I now write for magazines and anthologies and facilitate writing workshops.

Looking back, I can see my kids definitely looked up to me. They realized how I tried not to let my attending college interfere with family responsibility. For that, they are grateful, especially now that three of them are parents. And I helped all of them get into and excel in college.

I may have started college to help my children and to prove my father wrong, but I finished to help myself. I learned that college is worth the effort.

Popular Right Now