Considering going back to uni, but worried about studying with kids?
Hi, I’m Sana, a full-time student and a mum of two. I started studying in 2012 and graduated 3 years ago. With the support of my husband and his family, I’m currently studying a postgraduate course. Here’s my journey as a student.
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Let’s set the scene. You’re a stay at home full-time mum, and you love what you do. You’re fulfilling all your responsibilities towards raising your kids. Whether you’re thinking of enrolling in a course or you’re a returning student after pregnancy and birth, it’s like a fantasy to start your education, isn’t it?
As a mom, you have a few options, such as if you ask your husband to help with house chores, or you can choose to study part-time. But again, studies can be occasionally overwhelming.
I certainly understand what you’re more worried about: Studying with kids! ‘How can I concentrate on studying while the toddlers are around? Will I fail to balance between my responsibilities towards my children and study? How will I cope up with other chores and family commitments during assessments?’. These are the concerns you often have.
Hey Mom! Don’t worry at all. In this blog post, I’m sharing how I’ve been able to balance between studies and kids from the last 8 years!
1. Schedule your study time
I used to leave study time until the end of the day, in the hope of kids falling asleep at night. But it was impossible to make it a reality because after a long tiring day of house chores and job, I had no more energy left to focus on the assignments.
Then, I hung a day planner on the fridge door. Since then, I’ve been able to manage my study time within house chores as I get reminded of my day plans every time I use the fridge (Must be at least 100 times a day!)
This simple planner sheet I found on Nurse Clara’s Blog has been beneficial. Just write your tasks for each day, and tick whatever is completed. Ticking all the boxes provides a sense of accomplishment in general. You can also schedule your study time around your kid’s napping time. Find more ideas HERE.
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2. Study small portions
You’ve got a written organizer on the wall to remind you of everyday tasks, but remember, you need to plan it wisely. If you believe in studying all at once, consider changing this habit. Because it’s impossible to study for long hours when you’re a mum.
Formerly, I often set a specific day to study all four subjects. It was stressful, as I was continually running out of time to prepare for the assessments. Later, another mum in my college (now my best friend!) advised me to divide my week into shorter chunks of study rather than piling all tasks for one day.
I then achieved my study targets, and I felt prepared for the assessments way before they’re due, without rushing for time.
3. Avoid longer travel time from home
As a mum, you have limited time to study. When you study on campus, you’re leaving behind plenty of tasks at home, including your toddler’s nappy change! If you’re considering enrolling in a new program at a university, your best bet is to search in your local area.
If you can’t find a preferred program around your residence, try to get as closest as possible to your area.
Shorter distance to commute between home and college saved heaps of my time. Such as it used to take 50 minutes from my former suburb to the city on a public train. It was such a waste of time! But instead of changing the college, we moved suburbs. The present house just takes 20 minutes total travel time. It was an utter relief, as I had the opportunity to spend more productive time with my family.
4. Be attentive during the lecture
I absolutely understand that the thoughts of your kids and home often don’t leave you alone when you’re away from them. Though you shouldn’t, you still feel guilty.
Trust me in my experience, if you focus on the lecture and actively participate in the class activities you’ve already prepared half-way for your next test. I adapted this strategy since I began studying.
You can prepare notes if you have gaps between the classes, search resources in the library, and brainstorm for the upcoming assignment. If you add up all, you’ll actually save multiple hours on studying at home, which in turn allows you to rest and brings the opportunity to spend quality time with kids.
5. Schedule shorter classes
On-campus study has its own drawbacks, including when you leave your kids behind at home. But you can still find the right balance between your tasks if you choose shorter classes. You can do this by dividing various lectures on different days.
Let me explain this further: A few semesters back, I selected two, 4 hour-classes for 2 days in a row, considering that I’d save money on public transportation. But quite frankly, I made a significant mistake, as I was away from kids for 8 hours straight! In the later trimester, I selected 4 lectures on separate days. With all honesty, I was better able to stabilize time around my responsibilities, as I was spending longer hours at home each day.
6. Keep the study pressure low
You were a high achiever of your school, you’re a strong competitor, and you study hard. But when you’re a mommy of young ones, the circumstances are entirely different.
As a mother raising a toddler and a 7-year-old, I find it especially tough to compete for high grades. A few years back, I continued to feel pressured to excel for a couple of trimesters, excessively craved for high grades, and urged to beat the competition in the classroom.
But one day, my husband felt that I was off balance between personal commitments and my study time. He saw me getting anxious, frustrated, and disrupted by kids. Of course, it was unhealthy to remain like this in the long run.
I followed my husband’s advice to stop fretting about grades and instead to just focus on what I’m achieving in the long run while balancing the study and personal life. His advice works really well, and since then, I’m learning to gain knowledge and understanding of the subject. I often feel eased, and I plan my study structure meaningfully.
7. Don’t wait until the deadline
Quite often, your lecturers and tutors have asked you to complete your assignments way before the deadline to ensure you don’t miss the due date. But right now, I’m advising you this as a mother and a homemaker.
Of course, you have to fulfill responsibilities round the clock, so you’ll leave the assessments for the last minute. Quite confidently, you’ll feel rushed, panicked, and upset as the due date will get closer.
Last year in April, I was busy socializing too much that I was leaving my assignments till the due date. It was pretty hard to catch up on all the unfinished work, along with caring for kids.
All in all, I don’t want you to get in the same sort of situation as mine. Plan ahead for your assignment and complete bits over the week. Specify a day for research & sourcing, and write at least a paragraph or two each day.
Balancing your personal and study life is tough. You need planning, hard work, and the support from the loved ones to achieve your goal. As long as you’re willing to take risks and grab opportunities for learning that arises by the time, be confident you’ll gain what you dreamt of.
We hope these 7 tips will be helpful to you in this journey, and it creates value for your time.
In the end, I’d like to share a quote for all parents out there:
“Raising children is a creative endeavor, an art rather than a science.”Bruno BettelheimTweet
Thank you for reading. We’d love to learn your thoughts on this post in the comments box below.