Welcome to Allnurses! You'll find a well of information here!
Also, congratulations on going back to school! Sometimes you'll wish you'd never had gotten yourself into this, but it will be well worth it in the end!!
About your question, how to make your application stand out, I would say try to get your CNA licence. This is what I did and I've combined working full-time as a CNA and taking 6-7 credits for the past six months. I do take online classes and work in a hospital, so only 3x 12hrs/week. Also, I've aced all my classes so far. However, currently I'm switching jobs and I'll be working part-time as a Monitor Tech/Unit Secretary. I'm also taking A&PI, Chemistry and English right now - which is why I really NEEDED to go part-time - LOL!
Anyway, I think getting a CNA licence is the best first step in becoming an RN. CNA's will be your eyes, ears and so often your hands doing the really nasty work. I think it's essential that you know what CNA's do for you as an RN. And honestly, you can tell those RN's that started out as CNA's! And seriously, what kind of RN doesn't know how to help a patient use the bedpan?
As a CNA you'll also gain valuable experience, you'll be interacting with patients and you'll be confronted with many conditions you'll see as a nurse as well. Also, you could become a part-time or 1 day a week Pool CNA, that way you can rotate floors and choose your own days.
Besides giving you clinical experience, it will also give you a chance to learn about how to interact with co-workers, how to approach leadership, etc. You'll be able to give many more examples during your Nursing School interview about teamwork, leadership, etc.
During that interview, show them your life experience, your determination, how you've been able to combine a family and school (and maybe even another job as well). Tell them about certain values you have as a mother, spouse, teammember of the clinical team, etc. Just pull out everything you've got! Basically it's just like a job interview
. If you want it, you have to put out everything you've got!
I'm sure you'll do great, but I'll wish you some good luck, too!!