Returning to school is a great ambition. You just know that you are going to do well. You are going to study every spare moment, ace every test, and turn in every assignment early. Right? Well, you will try. Then, right in the middle of your study session, your three-year-old has a meltdown. What were you studying again? Listen, it happens. We are not here to discourage you. Quite the opposite. There is a way to get schoolwork done AND be a parent. It is not easy, by any means, so here are a few tips to make it better.
Nursing can be a lifesaver when if comes to getting in some quality study time. Setup your couch with any books you need or a laptop, plenty of pillows, and snuggle in with your little one! Although it typically takes a bit of readjusting throughout the feeding session, having the right support under little one can help free up your hands to flip pages and take notes.
While your children rest or nap, study! You can usually get some nice, quiet and quality studying done at this time. This is an excellent time for writing papers, working on challenging assignments or watching video tutorials for your classes. There are fewer possibilities for distractions during this time.
More often than not, your kid needs your undivided attention. Too much time without interacting with them means that they may feel neglected. Sometimes, taking 30 minutes to play a game with your kids will allow you more time for quiet studying later. If they can get the attention they need, this makes room for the study time you need later on, without feeling that they are taking a backseat to your education.
If your kids are also in school, study while they do homework. It may not be a completely interruption-free study session, but you can all study at the same time. This models good study habits and allows you some quieter study time.
If your kids have something to occupy them, they are more likely to engage in self-play and less likely to interrupt you. If you’re cooped up inside the home for extended periods due to COVID-19, occupying your kids’ time can be even more challenging. They may be tired and socially under-stimulated, especially if it has been raining for several days. Use this time they play in their room, watch a movie, or play in your workspace. Allowing little ones to watch something age-appropriate and educational on Netflix for a short time while studying or working can be a game-changer. No, it is not a silent environment, but with a snack and a television show or movie, you can often get 30 minutes or more of studying done.
Call your kids’ friends’ parents and see if they can come for a play date. Try to work out a system where you can take the kids to the friends’ house one or two days a week and have the kids at your home one or two days a week. This will allow you distraction-free time but not make it seem like you’re constantly sending the kids off. Ask grandma/grandpa or other family members to babysit one or two days a week for a few hours. Most grandmas are more than willing to spoil the kids on a regular basis. There are also community centers, libraries, and other resources that allow parents to do drop-in childcare. If the event is at the library, drop your kids off for the event, and go to a quiet area for studying. This minimizes driving time lost for studying.
Keep your expectations in check! It is not going to be easy to study and go to school with a family, but it can be done. Do not expect miracles. Sometimes, you do not get to do as much studying as you want. Other times, it will be fantastic. Your grades will be fine if you work as hard as you can, and you discuss any extenuating circumstances with your instructors. Keep notes and a planner for remembering material and dates. You will do fine.