It’s never too late to go back to school. Whilst parenthood is traditionally a time to focus on your kids’ education, it can also be a time to reconsider your own education as many modern moms have started doing.
Of course, studying a college degree and looking after kids is no easy task. Both require a lot of commitment and can interfere with one another if you’re not careful. Here’s how you can survive studying with kids.
Consider an online course
Studying on campus means having to travel to a college each day or stay in dorms (the latter of which isn’t likely to be an option if you have kids). You’ll also have to attend lectures and seminars at set times.
An online course could give you the freedom to study from home so that you’re not wasting time traveling to college and so that you’re closer to your kids. On top of this, you can study in your own time – there may still be recordings of lectures that you can view online, but you can view these at your leisure.
Almost all subjects can now be conveniently studied online – even subjects like nursing are available through MSN NP online programs. You may also have a greater range of courses to choose from as you won’t be limited to college courses within your area. There are lots of places online where you can research and compare online courses.
Find a sitter
It’s possible to study without someone to babysit the kids, but it’s very difficult. There may be times when you really need to concentrate while reading or writing an essay – even if you have the most well-behaved kids in the world, they’ll likely still be a distraction. Some parents are able to study whilst the kids are at school, whilst others may find time late at night whilst the kids are in bed. However, these times may not be possible for everyone (if your kids are still infants, they may not be in school yet, and their sleep pattern may not be regular enough yet for you guarantee study time).
Having a sitter allows you to study when you want whilst being able to concentrate solely on your studies. You could hire a babysitter or childminder, or you may be able to simply rely on a partner, family member or friend. This is something you’ll want to get sorted before you start your course.
Schedule your study time
Whilst choosing an online course could give you the flexibility to study whenever you want, it can be beneficial to still have a routine. This will make it easier to secure a babysitter from week to week as you’ll be able to provide them with a weekly slot. It will also make it easier to keep on track with your studies – rather than finding time to study as it comes, you’ll be able to plan your study time and make sure that you’re getting in the hours each week.
Choose a schedule that fits your lifestyle. You could choose to study at the weekend if weekdays are too busy, or you could keep your weekends free and schedule a time for a couple of weekday evenings a week. You may even find you have more concentration in the morning and that this suits you better.
There may be weeks where you have to adjust your schedule. If you have a large assignment in, you may need to find more hours to study that week. Similarly, there may be times when events such as school sports days or parent’s evenings or birthdays interfere with your scheduled study time – you can always try and catch up the next week in these cases so that you’re not missing out on important events with your kids. Getting your priorities right may not be easy in all cases and there may be times when an assignment clashes with one of your kids’ birthdays. In this case, you may have to rejig your schedule in advance or talk with your professors about having an extension.
Study in a suitable environment
It’s unlikely you’re going to get much studying done in front of the TV while the kids are playing around you. Ideally, your environment should be as free of distractions as possible so that you can focus on your studies.
You could consider converting a room within your home into a study. This will give you your own private space to concentrate. If you don’t have a room available to convert, consider converting part of a room. Your bedroom could be a good choice – this may already be a room that the kids rarely go into and so it will be easier for your kids to associate this as your private space.
Alternatively, you could choose to get out of the home entirely in order to study. You could go to your local library – this is a common place to study as it is quiet and full of resources to help you study. Another option could be to study in a coffee bar – lots of people use coffee bars to work from due to their calming atmosphere (although you may want to avoid visiting during busy times of the day). Getting out of the house could ensure that your kids aren’t able to distract you.
If you plan to keep working, you may be able to study on your lunch break in the office. Some people may also be able to study on their commute (if you travel by bus or train, but possibly not if you travel by car). These are environments where you’ll already be away from the kids and in which you may already be in concentration mode.
Study together (if possible)
If your kids are old enough that they have to do their own homework, it may be possible to all study together. Your kids will be more spurred to do their homework if they see you doing your own studies. They also won’t be playing during this period, so you’ll be able to concentrate more. This may not work if your kids are constantly asking for your help with their homework – you may find that you can’t concentrate on your studies as you’re having to help with theirs. Still, it could be worth trialing.
Connect with other studying moms
It could be worth connecting with other studying moms. You may be able to study with them or simply share tips and support.
There are online forums that you can join in order to talk to fellow students with kids. Meanwhile, there may be people on your course that a course director or college staff member can connect you with.
Alternatively, you may be able to find moms in your area that are also studying. There may be a local group already set up for studying moms with kids. If not, why not start your own group? By advertising on local community social media pages and putting up flyers on local noticeboards, you may be able to find other moms that are in the same boat as you.
Look into financial support
Studying with kids could be a financial struggle. Whilst you may be able to pay for course fees with a student loan, there may be other costs to consider such as hiring babysitter and the college reading list. If you have a job, you may even have to cut down your hours to fit study time in, resulting in less income.
Fortunately, there are source of financial support out there for studying moms. Some colleges may offer grants and other imbursements to students with kids (especially single moms) – you’ll usually have to inquire about these with college staff, otherwise, you won’t be offered it.
There could also be local charity aid to consider if you’re on a low income. Some charities will be more than willing to help you out if it’s a case of paying for education and your kids’ needs – only by making an application will you know if you’re eligible or not.
Allow yourself free time
It’s easy to burn yourself out whilst trying to juggle parenthood and studies (and possibly work too). Make sure that you’re rewarding yourself with your own personal leisure time. This should be time spent without the kids in which you can relax. Studying may well be something you enjoy, but it’s still likely to be mentally strenuous and you need time when can give your mind a break, whether it’s watching TV or having a hot bath. On top of this, make sure that you’re getting a good night’s sleep.