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What to Invest in for Your Kids as a Parent in College

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What to Invest in For Your Kids as a Parent in College

The demographics of college students have drastically shifted from that of previous generations. A significant portion of the college population are parents. Additionally, many more college students hold full-time jobs than in previous years. These factors are additional sources of stress for parents who are in college.

What to Know About Being a Parent in College

Being a parent in college certainly does hold a lot of responsibility and will likely come with many challenges. Unfortunately, parents who attend college are more likely not to complete their degrees when compared to individuals who don’t have children. This is often due to a lack of support or financial obligations. Conversely, parents in college do have statistics on their side regarding GPA. This is likely due to parents’ determination to set a good example and improve the living situation for their children.

What Struggles Do Parents In College Face?

There are several things that can contribute to the stress levels of parents who are attending college. One of the most common challenges that this population faces is reliable childcare. While parents are dedicated to attending lectures, taking notes, and studying, these things are not possible if they don’t have a safe place for their child to be. Finding reliable and affordable childcare is not always easy and instructors are not always understanding of or used to their students also being parents.

Another common challenge that this population can face is financial struggles. College itself is expensive, especially if it is not covered by grants. That leaves parents to either commit to loans or work additional hours. Beyond the cost of tuition, there is the cost of books, internet, supplies, etc. While all college students share these expenses, parents have the additional expenses of feeding and clothing additional people, larger housing, furniture, school supplies for kids, and the aforementioned childcare.

The most important resource is time and for parents in college, there is far from enough of it. Parents in college often feel that they are not able to fully dedicate themselves to either role and this can make them question whether their investment in college is worth it. College is a large time commitment. Students are expected to attend lectures, study, fulfill homework assignments, research, etc. Again, these are all obligations that all college students have, but parents also need to dedicate time to their children. They need to bath them, cook for them, read with and to them, play with them, etc. Often the syllabi that describe the course expectations are not built with parents in mind.

How Can Parents Address These Struggles?

One of the key aspects of reducing stress for parents in college is for them to identify reliable and affordable childcare. While it is easier said than done, there are programs available. Parents should discuss this need when exploring colleges to see what resources are available. They should also be upfront with professors about the fact they have children. This may result in receiving some understanding and flexibility regarding coursework or potential missed classes.

Parents can also attempt to buy back time by reducing clutter in their homes. They should carefully consider what items they need versus what they don’t. While it may be tempting to buy children more things to keep them busy while parents study, this can actually be harmful to the child’s development and will increase the parent’s workload.

What Should Parents Invest In For Their Kids?

Investing in the right items rather than more items will developmentally support children while reducing parental stress. The right items should include items that allow the child to build and express their imagination. This would include items such as blocks, legos, and magnet shapes. Another type of toy that is important for development is toys that allow them to express scenarios that they see in day-to-day life. The primary example of this would be people figures, houses, and animals. These allow kids to express their imagination and sort through scenarios they encounter. Of course, children need books as well. Exposing children to books early and regularly allows them to become familiar with letters, words, story structures, and sentence structures.

It is also critical that children engage in physical play regularly. If you have an outdoor space, a swingset is an option to allow them to independently play in a safe space, while working off some of their energy and obtaining the benefits of sunlight and fresh air.

If an outdoor space is not an option, there are some indoor solutions, such as small jungle gyms or specific types of exercise equipment. Parents should also consider if their children would benefit from sensory toys as well. Trampolines, spinning seats, bouncy ride on toys can be great options as well.

While being a parent in college does come with many challenges, it can also be a great investment that benefits both the parent and the child. Parents should consider all of the challenges, seek support, and obtain the right things and resources to meet their child’s needs while going through school.

Written by Taylor McKnight, Author for Vuly

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