Juggling Class and Diapers

Think college is hard? Try it as a parent.
Think college is hard? Try it as a parent.

College students have plenty to juggle between classes, homework, friends and work.

Some students also discover the difficulties of raising children while attending school.

“It’s not hard, but compared to what life used to be like [before having a child] it’s like, ‘Man, it was so easy back then,’” junior Chris Sims said. “It’s just kind of hectic, and we have tight schedules.”

Chris Sims and his wife alumna Britnie Sims have a daughter, Miley, age 20 months, and they are expecting a second child in June. Britnie Sims graduated from Oklahoma Christian in the winter of 2009, and works full time as a social worker for the Department of Human Services.

Chris took some time off from school early in their marriage. Now he is taking 15 hours at Oklahoma Christian while working at CVS pharmacy 15 hours a week.

“It was harder going to school [than working] after we had Miley because you have stuff to do when you come home,” Britnie said. “At work you can just leave it, and you don’t have to come home and do things. It’s also easier now that she’s older. She’ll play and color by herself now, and she’ll tell you if she wants a banana or something, so that makes it easier.”

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For junior Daniel Neuhold and his wife Elizabeth Neuhold, college life changed drastically just over a year ago when they had their first child, Alexis. Elizabeth decided to drop her 16-hour course load for the semester to care for her child. Daniel attends classes at Oklahoma Christian while working at IT Services.

“I left classes to stay at home, which is a really hard decision because it costs a lot,” Elizabeth said. “But I can finish school anywhere. As hard as [raising a kid] is, it’s worth it.”

Although Daniel still plans to graduate on time with a degree in computer science, he also commented on how having a baby altered his college experience.

“College life was relatively easy before [Alexis was born],” Daniel said. “I got to hang out with friends, and I could get homework done easily. With Liz not going to classes it’s easier, but the hardest part of getting homework done is not playing with [Alexis] instead. Once you have a kid, she means everything to you.”

As a single mother, senior Lindsey Lewis must handle her school load, raising two children and supporting them by working at Lassiter Drug making medicine. She has a daughter Kyra, age 6, and a son Colin, age 2. For Lindsay, time management is essential to accomplishing all of her responsibilities.

“I get up about 6 [a.m.] – maybe a little bit earlier – plan out my day and get the kids ready, get them fed breakfast,” Lindsay said. “Then I take my son to school, take my daughter to school and go to school myself. Some nights my daughter has dance practice, so we don’t get home until 8:30 or 9. I do physics and chemistry, [and] then get to bed.”

Aside from the time constraints, raising a baby adds a massive financial burden with diapers, food and babysitters. Britnie Sims said having a baby to provide for gave her a new outlook on struggling to make ends meet.

“If I didn’t have a good-paying job, there’s no way we could make it,” Britnie Sims said. “Before I had a full-time job, it was really tight, but we didn’t have as many bills as we do now. We didn’t have student loans and everything, but it seemed like we had a lot at the time.”

Despite the difficulties of being a single parent, Lindsay said she enjoys being a mother and can handle all of the challenges that come with parenthood. She plans to graduate with a degree in chemistry this spring.

“I wouldn’t give up [being a mother] for the world,” Lewis said. “Wait to have kids; it’s very difficult. It can be done, but it’s very hard.”

 

This article was reprinted with permission from the Talon, a student newspaper at Oklahoma Christian University.

 

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