When just getting through the day seems like a marathon achievement, it might seem impossible to juggle parenting with study. But more and more mamas out there are taking on further education. They’re enrolling in degrees, diplomas, and courses to upskill or fulfil pre-childbearing dreams, as providers offer more flexibility than ever.
In fact, new research by Studiosity has found that around 13% (or 1 in 10) locally-enrolled Australian university students also care for a child or another family member. We all know that raising a family is basically a full-time job in itself. So figuring out how to balance study alongside that can be a huge challenge.
Here are some tips from some studying mums who are smashing the juggle daily…
By Mama Disrupt®
1// Your schedule is your best friend
You may not have been a hyper-organised person before having kids, but that’s about to change. Once you try to juggle parenting with study, you might start to love your schedule! Making a plan and sticking to it ensures you feel like you have full control over your time, and you’re able to fit in all the tasks you need to get done.
Claire Field, studying a Bachelor of Nursing from the University of Canberra, says “Schedule everything! Plan set times for pre class readings and lectures and pre-tutorial work. Set time aside for assignment prep with time for revision. And make sure you have nothing crazy happening the weekend before an assignment is due. Some weeks are definitely less hectic than others.” Try setting a morning ritual to kick-start your day.
2// Seek assignment feedback early and often
One of the best ways to set yourself up for success at uni is to seek feedback on your assignments before you submit them. It’s usually best to do this several days beforehand, so you have time to make any edits before the final deadline. You can seek feedback from your professors, from family and friends, or by using your university’s ethical 24/7 online study support service.
“I wear one AirPod and listen to lectures and the textbook while doing chores like dishes or mopping.”
As a busy parent, you may not always have the time to focus on one task at a time, and that’s okay. You could find ways to combine tasks, or multi-task. For example, listening to audio recordings of lectures while you run errands or cook. That way you can save your pockets of uninterrupted concentration for activities requiring the highest level of focus: writing assignments and preparing for exams.
“I wear one AirPod and listen to lectures and the textbook while doing chores like dishes or mopping,” says Kristi Estes, studying a Bachelor of Psychology at University of South Australia. “Then when I’m kid-free I can focus on things that require a computer, like assignments or activities.” (Just beware of mashing!)
They say consistency is the key to success, and it’s true! You’ll be better off chipping away at your workload day after day, rather than setting aside a huge chunk of time right before an assignment is due. Especially with kids, you never know what could pop up last minute. So it’s best to always be prepared, and start working on things early.
“Consistency with adherence to a study plan is key,” says Emily Centofanti, studying Master of Business Administration at AIM Business School. “Do what works best. Persistence will get you over the line. Get the family on board and no doubt you will be repeating yourself over and over. Lean on your study coach and resources for support.”
5// Choose a course that offers flexibility
One good thing to come out of the pandemic is that studying online and working from home are now far more common. However, some education providers are better at catering to the specific needs of parents. Trying to balance studying with raising a family is a unique juggle. So, select a provider that offers online course delivery, or hybrid/flexible arrangements for parents. This includes adequate study support that is personalised, and available when you need it. It’s also a good idea to find or create a support network of other parents. They may have similar experiences to you. And they can share valuable advice about how to juggle parenting with study.
Completing your degree while raising kids can be challenging, but if you’re passionate about what you’re studying it’s ultimately a very rewarding experience. With a few tips and tricks, flexibility and support, you’ll make your way through. And probably even have fun along the way! Ultimately you’re inspiring the next generation to take on hard challenges and work on them until you make it happen – and what could be better than that?