Studying while you are a parent can be intense. Juggling your responsibilities to your children and your education can be a daunting thought for those who are considering going back to school. It’s no longer as laid back as strolling into a class a little late and pulling all-nighters to get the assignments in, as when you come back from school, you have a home to run and children to occupy. That, on minimum sleep, is not maintainable and could put a strain on your family relationships, as well as your study. Nevertheless, being a parent-come-student can work, and when it does, it is gratifying. With structure, planning and perseverance, you can be a brilliant parent and a great student.
There may be a particular time of day where you find yourself a little less busy, just after the children have got home from school, gone to bed, or before they’re awake for example. Mark this on your calendar or in your planner as your designated study time each day, and try your best to stick to it! Of course, obstacles may get in the way of this now and again, so it might not always be possible. But, if you have a set time daily, you are more likely to get into a successful routine of studying. You can always add in extra study time, too – without overdoing it, however. Trying to fit too much in causes chaos and is counterproductive; you may lose focus and motivation. Regarding time spent studying, again don’t overload yourself. It is much better to spend a smaller amount of times, with well-needed breaks in between, than it is to spend hours on end trying to remain on task and motivated.
When you’re studying parent, it can sometimes feel like you’re missing out on valuable time with your children. This will inevitably pull on your heartstrings, but remember why you’re doing it, and that in the long run, it will all be worth it. Having said that, you don’t want to replace time spent with your family with studying. Instead, try and do snippets of work throughout the day while you have a free minute – this being the extra study time mentioned previously. Another great way to keep your family schedule exciting is by choosing a set day where you will take the children out for a whole day, no talk of study until they are in bed. A picnic, a theme park, whatever it is, both you and your children will greatly benefit from this, and you will feel refreshed and guilt-free afterwards!
To avoid distraction and increase your productivity, it’s important to designate a specific area for study. It doesn’t matter where it is, as long as it’s somewhere you are comfortable, relaxed and able to concentrate. Ideally, this space will be away from your children and needy pets (or partners!). This also assists with your routine, as well as making organisation much more manageable, with all of your paperwork and resources together in one safe place. If creating a study space isn’t an option in your home, allocate a drawer in a cupboard to at least store your study materials. You may also find tips on where is good to go and study outside of your home on the school’s website.
Support from your spouse
Another way to ease the load of studying while being a parent is through support from your partner. It’s a good idea to talk through what you’re hoping to achieve from your studying and when you want to do it, and see if they can assist you. This could be through doing a few extra chores around the house for you, comforting your sleep avoiding child after bedtime, or just being moral support for you when you may have a lot on your mind. While the children are up, your partner could help them to do chores, or cook the evening meal, giving you a few minutes distraction-free, and them a little bit of responsibility and feel good factor from helping you out.
Studying while being a parent is not easy, but it is achievable, and you will be extraordinarily proud of yourself when you succeed – as will those around you! Keep up the hard work, ask for support and structure your time well, and it will absolutely pay off.