When becoming a parent, it’s only natural to want to do everything you can to ensure your children get the best start in life. Providing a loving and stable home is a given. Many parents decide to go back into education to improve their career. Going back to school can lead to earning a higher salary to provide financial security for your family. As someone who has taken classes while parenting, I thought I'd share 8 practical strategies for balancing studying and parenting.
8 Practical Strategies for Balancing Studying and Parenting
If you’ve decided to embark on a course, you need to be prepared for a large chunk of your time to be taken up by learning. Trying to juggle looking after the kids while studying for a degree can be challenging, so here are 8 practical strategies to balance education and parenting that can help.
Establish Your Balance
Once you’ve decided to go back into education, thinking about a good balance between parenting and studying should be your first step. To do this effectively, you should jot down all your parenting responsibilities and study commitments for the following year. Breaking it down by days and weeks will give you a clearer idea of the commitment each requires.
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Create a Study Schedule
After enrolling in your course and receiving your syllabus, you can begin to plan out your study schedule. This will help you find the right balance between looking after the kids and education. Some of the key benefits that a study schedule can give you include:
- Enhancing productivity levels
- Giving you more time to prepare for examinations
- Providing structure and routine
- Improving time management skills
If you have examinations to study for and coursework to complete, be sure to plan for them. Creating a schedule will help you allocate time towards your learning and looking after the kids. If you live with your partner, it’s important that they have a copy of your schedule, so they can help when you are studying.
Study with the Kids
If your children are of school-age, you may prefer to combine the two priorities and allocate time to study together. When you’re concentrating on your coursework and assignments, your children can do the same with their homework. You may find that your children get enjoyment out of spending quality quiet time together with you.
Prioritize Your Health
When finding balance between learning and keeping your kids healthy and happy, it’s vital that you don’t neglect you. Your own health and well being are important. Feeling run down and low on energy can have a negative effect on your parenting and learning. There are lots of tips that can help you stay healthy and motivated, such as:
- Incorporate simple changes for a healthier life
- Getting a good night’s sleep
- Incorporating regular exercise into your routine
- Following a balanced diet
- Practice healthy habits for your mental health
If you need extra support from your family and friends, don’t be afraid to ask for it. There's no shame in asking for help or support. The last thing you want is to leave your course and have all your hard work go to waste. Running a busy household while studying can be challenging. If you have older children, make sure that they help you with chores. You may want to consider hiring a babysitter if you have young children. Having a regular sitter as can give you the time to fully concentrate on your work.
Take Up a Hobby
Studying and parenting at the same time can be tough. Your main priorities will be caring for your kids and getting the grades you want from your course. It’s also important that you factor in time for yourself, too. Planning to take time to do something you love can bring some normality and excitement back into your life. There are lots of hobbies and activities that can reduce stress levels, such as:
- Doing puzzles
- Taking up a sport
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In addition to the hobbies that combat stress listed above, using relaxation techniques can help you feel calmer and more relaxed.
Deep breathing exercises can help in many ways, such as:
- Detoxifying your body
- Improving posture
- Reducing inflammation
- Improving blood flow
Find a Quiet Space
To get the most out of your course, it’s important that you find a quiet area in the home. The ideal space has no distractions. With children running around and making noise you may wonder how to concentrate and study as a parent. Make sure that you establish boundaries from the beginning so your children and partner are aware that you are busy. Some of the advantages of a distraction-free environment include:
- Helping you concentrate
- Helps you retain more information
- Produce higher quality work
- Saves you time
Factor in Family Time
It’s important to dedicate as much time as you can towards study, but family time shouldn't take a back seat. Young children may find it difficult to understand that you’re not always around like you used to be. Teens may resent that you're going back to school. Avoid feeling guilty by making sure that you factor in quality time together throughout the week. There are lots of things you can do as a family. Many of which can give you a much-needed break from learning, such as:
- Spending an afternoon in the park
- Going to the beach
- Playing games with your children
- Going for a family meal
Wearing energetic children out may give you the time you need to study. 😉
If you're going back to school, it’s essential that you find the right balance between studying and parenting. If you aren’t sure where to begin, these strategies can help divide your time better between your kids and your learning.