Posted on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 at 9am
by Nadine Cavigioli. See more of my posts here.
Alongside my day job as a tutor in the Lifelong Learning Centre, I am also a student parent; I have a seven year old daughter and am in year two of a Doctorate in Education. This situation allows me to empathise with many of our learners in the Lifelong Learning Centre, who are also juggling study with work and family commitments.
As anyone in a similar situation who is contemplating a return to education will know, time constraints are often a concern. It can seem quite a challenge to imagine how you will fit extra hours into your already busy week, and this means planning your time is vital. I find the following works for me:
- Look for short chunks of study time. As a student parent you learn quite quickly that long stretches of study time are quite rare. So, I look for short chunks of study time, such as reading on my 20 minute train journey, or switching off the television to study for an hour after my daughter has gone to bed. I find that the time I do set aside to study is nearly always productive, as I know I have to make progress and cannot afford to get distracted.
- Aim to do something study related five days a week. Even just 30 minutes can help as long periods without study can result in you feeling stressed. We all have times when our motivation to study is low, but setting yourself a study goal and rewarding yourself with a treat can work (such as socialising with friends when you reach your set hours of study).
- Try not to feel guilty. I know it goes with the territory but try not to lose sight of the benefits for your child of seeing you studying. My daughter knows how much I enjoy my studies and I share my learning journey with her, we often do our home work together and she already talks about when she will go to University.
- Make as much time as possible for your family. I study most Sundays for around five hours, while my daughter spends time with her dad. It is important for us to make sure there is one Sunday a month set aside so we can spend the whole day together as a family. I also have friends in a similar position to me, and we take turns to entertain each other’s children, allowing one of us to focus on study.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. As with anything in life, the next phase can seem unattainable and we can assume that our situation creates barriers to stop us progressing… but the Lifelong Learning Centre has a wealth of support with student parent mentors who are more than happy to share their own tips for achieving, allowing you to succeed and be a role model for your own children.