Balancing family and school
Transitioning into post-secondary can be a challenge for anyone, let alone, having to juggle parenting at the same time.
Janaia Hutzal, a single mother of two, is in her second-year of the journalism program at SAIT.
“Parenting, in general, is constantly choosing the lesser of evils and the greater of loves,” said Hutzal.
“Last year was one of the hardest years of our lives.”
Not only was this Hutzal’s first-year back in post-secondary, but her son Connley Mcquaig moved away to university, and her daughter Jaelene Mcquaig started high school.
“We did it, and here we are all entering the second-year,” said Hutzal.
Nora MacQuarrie, a counsellor at SAIT, works in Student Development and Counselling, specializing her services to meet students’ individual needs.
“The goal is to be a good enough parent, not a perfect parent,” said MacQuarrie.
Parenting is also an adjustment for the children of parents going back to school.
“When routines are changed for family and especially kids, there can be some changes in behaviours,” said MacQuarrie.
“I’m not the same mom as I was a few years ago and that can be threatening to them,” said Hutzal.
“In the long run, it’s hands down the best thing.”
MacQuarrie said putting things in place to help children transition, and setting up a good support system for yourself and the kids is important.
“Parents are pretty smart, that’s the good news,” said MacQuarrie. “Parenting is one of those jobs that you can’t fake.”
However, parenting is a full-time job and can leave you feeling depleted.
“School requires that you come with reserves,” said MacQuarrie.
MacQuarrie suggested being intentional and active about self-care.
Caring for the body, mind, relationships and emotions can look very different for different people.
“Make workouts a priority, kids thrive with time outdoors and activities,” said MacQuarrie.
Student Development and Counselling recently increased their hours to extend over lunch and into the evening.
While accessing a psychologist in the community can usually cost up to $200 an hour, at SAIT the services are provided for free.
“You can usually get in the same day and drop-in appointments are available,” said MacQuarrie.
The counsellors are available to help connect parents with financial resources and study plans as well as emotional and relationship support.
“Our number one concern with parents is usually sleep deprivation,” said MacQuarrie.
Hutzal said she is just starting and is ready to say that she will have a career one day.
“I’m building my future, as I’m doing my assignments, everything I do I’m hoping will be applicable in the future,” said Hutzal.