So you want to study, but you’re worried you simply won’t have enough time. There are kids to feed, school runs to do every day, netball tournaments to supervise and that ever-pressing pile of laundry that seems to just grow higher. Studying while you’re a mum is challenging, to say the least. But it can be accomplished. Many mums worldwide choose to study while their kids are young and make the best use of their time while the children are at school or in daycare. If you wish to become qualified in an accredited course to either rejoin the workforce or experience a career change, try following these tips to maximise your time and find that balance between study and the significant role of ‘mum.’
1. Study online.
We can’t stress how convenient and advantageous studying online is for mums. You choose when to undertake coursework in between all of your other commitments, rather than being restricted to a set timetable. No time is wasted travelling to and from the classroom either; you can study in your own home, even in your pyjamas if you wish! And don’t worry, just because you aren’t experiencing face-to-face lessons, doesn’t mean that you won’t have the support you need to carry out assignments and engage with your trainer. Study at your own pace, at a time that suits you.
2. Prepare meals ahead of time.
Let’s face it, preparing meals for the family takes up a lot of your time. There are school lunches and snacks to get ready in the morning, and dinner to conjure in the evening. And don’t forget yourself! You don’t want to sacrifice your own health by merely grabbing quick-fix snacks throughout the day. Eating well takes time. This is where meal prep can be a massive lifesaver. Pick one day during the week to be your meal prep day, and make the kitchen your warzone. Plan what meals you’ll be eating every night for the next seven days and get to work preparing whatever you can. Chop veggies ready for stir-frys, make a massive lasagne and portion it into containers for refrigerating or freezing and get the kids’ school snacks sorted and labelled. This will save you so much time during the week when you want to focus on study, not mum’s restaurant menu!
3. Get cosy with your local library.
Sometimes it can be hard to find a peaceful space to study in a big family home, especially on the weekends. If it’s raining outside and the kids are going crazy stuck indoors, the noise and distractions can override your ability to concentrate on coursework. If your partner, parent or friend is happy to mind the munchkins during these times, this is when visiting your local library can be a fantastic idea. It’s typically quiet, many local libraries have designated study nooks, and you’ll have a wealth of information at hand to assist you with any difficulties you may come across during your work. You’ll be surprised at how many extra services libraries carry out too, from resume advice to essay writing courses, these are often free and very valuable. Maximise your study time by making use of the services that your local library can provide!
4. Enlist assistance for school drop-offs and pick-ups.
Dropping off and picking up your kids from school can take a massive chunk out of your day, especially if you live somewhere prone to peak hour traffic jams. If your children are old enough and you feel comfortable with your town or city’s public transport system, perhaps it’s time to introduce the kids to the bus or train network. Walking down the road to meet them at the bus stop or train station will give you that extra two hours to study. If public transport isn’t an option, hiring someone you trust, a friend or relative, to help out with the school run will also maximise your time.
5. Encourage the kids to help out with chores.
Are your children old enough to unpack the dishwasher, hang out the clothes or take the dog for a walk around the block? It’s time to set up a family chore roster. Every little bit helps when you’re a studying Mum, and crossing off these small tasks can save you a lot of time.
6. Get a family calendar.
Speaking of rosters, it’s time to get your pens, pencils and colour coding skills ready, because a family calendar is what you need to keep everything running smoothly in your household. Encourage your family to pen in their regular activities and any special occasions that require your attention at the start of every week so that you can plan your study accordingly. This will allow for a more structured approach to your learning, and ensure that there aren’t any sneaky last minute surprises for you to attend to – like making a full Avengers costume for a birthday party with one night’s notice!
7. Consider a home delivery services for your groceries.
Now, this isn’t for everyone. We know many mums who enjoy the excuse to step away from study, leave the house and do the grocery shopping. It can be therapeutic and often results in a cup of coffee and a sneaky treat. But some mums can’t stand it! Grocery shopping does take up a lot of time. Consider ordering your groceries online and having them delivered to your doorstep. Many of the big supermarkets offer this service for a small fee, or you can choose a company such as Hello Fresh, which will give you new recipes to try every week, alongside all the ingredients you need to make them. Just removing the process of deciding what to cook can save a lot of time!
8. Have a routine that the kids can expect.
As many self-help books have banged on about in the past, having a routine for your family can be very useful for both mental health and simply getting stuff done. When you begin studying, it’s helpful to set some ground rules and have a semi-consistent timetable so that the kids no when it’s ‘Mummy time,’ and refrain from bothering you (too much). It might involve picking a spot in the house that’s off limits at certain times during the day, or having ‘quiet time’ in the form of reading or watching a movie, where you have the chance to get in an hour or so of coursework. Whatever the case, if the children get into the habit of knowing when you need to work, you’ll be more likely to get more done.
9. Get everything ready the night before.
A strategy that saves time not only for studying mums but every mum! Ensure that school uniforms are ironed and ready to go, that lunches are packed and sitting in the fridge, and that any notes and permission slips are signed and on the kitchen bench. This will drastically cut down on the running around you do in the morning, trying to assemble everyone to leave the house. Furthermore, you want to start your day right, with a healthy breakfast and a good cup of coffee so that you can get into the right headspace to start learning. Not flapping about like a headless chook organising everything at the last minute.
10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
As a mum, it can be all too easy to fall into that headstrong and proud mentality of believing that everything can be done by yourself. And we don’t doubt that you can do it! But the cost of burning out can leave you lacking in energy and lagging in grades. You don’t have to do everything on your own. It’s important to have a support network around you, whether it be your family, your friends, your classmates or even the regulars at your local library. Ask for help when you need it, and you may be surprised who steps up to the bar to give you that small slice of time you need to complete an essay, take a test or review your coursework.
Are you thinking of undertaking a career in education support, aged care or youth work? Career Keys offers flexible learning options for Mum’s so that they can gain the accredited training certifications needed to get into these fields. Contact us today to find out more.