Trying to take on the roles of parent and student simultaneously can be overwhelming. Whether you have recently given birth, or you have toddlers running riot around the home, many moms decide to go back into education, which can help them gain new skills, climb the career ladder, and open up more opportunities than ever before.
As a mom, it feels like there is never enough time in the day to get everything done. If you’ve chosen to go back into education, finding the time to put your full focus and efforts into your learning can be challenging with little ones around. To help make things easier, here are 12 tips on how you can manage studying while having children.
Schedule Study Time
First and foremost, you must be as organized as possible when going back into education. Trying to juggle looking after the kids while studying for a degree can be overwhelming. It’s important that you schedule in study time that can add structure to your day and give you the window of opportunity to focus on your learning. To begin, you should pencil in study sessions on a calendar or planner, so you know when and where you can study. Understandably, you may find it difficult to adhere to this schedule, but being as efficient as possible, and having minimal distractions will help you get the most out of your at-home study time.
Try and cram in studying while your children are occupied. For example, once you’ve put your little ones to bed, you will have some time to concentrate solely on your learning. If your parenting duties and other responsibilities change daily, you may want to consider making a rotating study schedule.
Create a Home Study Space
If you have little ones running around the home, finding an area where you can focus on your studies can be difficult. If you have the space, creating a place that you can get stuck into your learning with minimal distractions can be a big help. However, for this strategy to work, you need to make sure that the space is strictly off-limits to your children.
If you don’t have enough space in your home to dedicate towards studying, just having a drawer or box that you can store all your learning materials in will mean that they stay safe. This way you know where they are when you have time to study. You may also benefit from getting out of the house and studying at your local library or coffee shop.
Fit Your Studies Around Family Commitments
Whether it’s taking your kids to and from school, going on family fun days out, or simply running daily errands, fitting in your studies around family commitments can be another obstacle to face as a mom student. What you may not realize is all the opportunities that you have to do some studying while performing day to day chores.
For example, while the pasta is boiling, why not do a bit of reading? Or while you are waiting for your child to get ready for the day, you could use this time effectively to do some revision. There never feels like there are enough hours in the day to get everything done. However, thinking outside of the box and even getting a few minutes in here and there can make a big difference and help you to keep on top of your studies.
Involve Your Kids
If your kids are old enough, why not assign them some chores to do around the home while you are focusing on your studies? Not only can this be a great way to keep your children busy, it’s one less job that you will have to do once you have finished! Lots of children like a challenge, so giving them something to do can mean you are all being productive at the same time. Teaching your kids a strong work ethic can help drill into them the importance of completing tasks and the sense of accomplishment they will receive at the end of it.
If your kids are too young to complete chores, you can still assign ‘fake’ tasks like sweeping that they may see as fun rather than a chore. Also, creating a rewards or points system can make tasks more fun and give your kids more motivation and drive to complete the task. There are lots of rewards that you can hand out, such as 30 minutes of TV time, if they have worked hard.
Talk to Your Partner
If you live with your partner, getting as much support as you can while studying can be hugely beneficial. Before you sign up for a course, it’s important to let your partner know what you are doing and the changes that will need to be made to ensure you get the most out of your degree. Having a sit down with your loved one and laying out your planned study times will help keep them in the know. Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance from your partner, as they can take care of the kids while you are studying.
Teamwork makes the dream work, so you must have the respect and support from your other half. We all know how stressful parenting can be. Having someone else to look after the kids for an hour or two can take the weight off your shoulders and give you the time to concentrate on your studies.
Hire Outside Help
If you’re in the financial position to hire outside help, you may want to consider paying someone to come in and look after your children while you are studying. Whether it’s to help out with the childcare, or perform daily household tasks like cooking and cleaning, having someone there to step in and help will give you the time you need to concentrate on your learning fully. If you have decided on hiring someone to babysit while you study, make sure that you let them know your schedule so you can get the most out of your learning.
If you can’t afford to hire outside help, why not ask a family member or friend for some help instead? Having a strong support network around you is crucial. If you’re a single parent, having your nearest and dearest close by can not only be beneficial when it comes to looking after the kids but gives you someone to talk to should you have any worries or concerns.
Believe in Yourself
As a mom student, it can be all too easy to dwell on negative thoughts that can cloud your judgment and affect how you study. Whether it’s worrying that you have not studied enough, or that you are older than other students, you need to believe in yourself and remember all the positives of why you have gone back into education. Remember, you are studying to better yourself, so having the support of your family and friends during this period is crucial.
Keep on Top of Coursework
Understandably, your children come first no matter what. However, with the amount of money, time, and effort you will put into your learning, the last thing you want is for it all to go to waste. There will be times where you find it difficult to keep on top of your coursework, but taking the time to plan ahead can make a big difference. If you have exams coming up, factoring in plenty of revision is key to succeeding in your course. Being prepared for whatever comes your way will help reduce the risk of you falling behind.
It can be all too easy to take your eye off the ball. However, the longer you put off studying, the more you will have to catch up on, so it’s best to stay as focused as you can throughout your course to reap the benefits. Try not to be too hard on yourself either. Do a little bit of revision each day, rather than trying to cram everything in before your exam is advised. If you’re having difficulty keeping up with your coursework, don’t hesitate to ask for extra help from your learning provider.
Set Realistic Goals
No matter what way you look at it, being a mom student and parent is no easy feat. Instead of putting too much pressure on yourself to succeed at everything you do, it’s better to set attainable goals that you know you can reach. Your educational goals should be based on what you hope to achieve in the long run, without them interfering with your family and personal life. There are various questions that you need to ask yourself, such as whether you’re taking a class to have some fun, or you’re hoping to climb up the career ladder.
Working out what you need to do to pass your course, staying committed to it, and taking pride in anything extra is a bonus and will give you the drive and motivation to succeed. If you are struggling with your course, or you fail a module, try not to feel too disheartened. Instead, ask your tutor for help to get you back on track to ensure you achieve the goals you have set out.
Have Some Time for Yourself
If your life revolves around looking after the kids, studying, and even working at the same time, you are at a higher risk of burning out and falling off the wagon. We all need a break from time to time, so don’t feel guilty about having some me time. Whether it’s by going for a walk around your neighborhood, calling a friend for a catch-up, or taking up a hobby that you’re interested in, we all need some breathing space at times.
Try Relaxation Techniques
After a busy day of studying, running around after the kids, and completing household chores, your stress levels will likely be through the roof. You must get enough sleep each night to ensure you wake up feeling fresh, alert, and ready for the day ahead. If you’re struggling with your sleep, why not try out some relaxation techniques? Many moms practice deep breathing, yoga, and meditation, which can leave you feeling calmer and at peace.
While you’re bound to feel stressed at times, the last thing you want is for it to take over your life. Luckily, there are lots of simple tips that you can take on board to help manage and lower your stress levels, such as avoiding caffeine, stop smoking, indulging in physical activity, keeping a stress diary, and managing your time effectively.
Find the Right Course
When it comes to finding the right course for you, the decision process can be difficult. The last thing you want to do is pick a subject that you have no interest in. Being passionate and driven are key traits that will help you succeed as a mom student, so thinking about what interests you is crucial.
For example, if you’re a registered nurse who is wanting to further their career, you may be interested in completing a DNP online (A Doctor of Nursing Practice). There are various institutes that you can study for a DNP, such as at Baylor University Online. Studying for a degree online can give you more flexibility, allowing you to study at your own pace while looking after your kids.
Scheduling in study time, creating a quiet zone for you to work, fitting your studies around family commitments, as well as hiring outside help to care for your children are just a few key tips on how to fit your studies around your kids.
It’s important that you set realistic goals. Have some time to relax and unwind. Try out relaxation techniques to reduce stress levels, as well as pick a course that you’re passionate about. There are lots of mom students out there, so if you feel like you’re on your own, there are various forums that you may want to consider joining where you can engage and network with those in the same boat as you.