Being a parent doesn’t make studying online impossible – with a few clever strategies, it’s possible to successfully balance the two.
And going back to school as a parent can definitely be worthwhile. If you’re a stay-at-home parent, it can help you keep your skills/knowledge fresh for when you do re-enter the workforce. If you’re currently working, getting a higher level of education can help you land your next promotion or switch careers.
So if you’ve been thinking about studying online, but you’re not sure how to fit your degree around your family, have a read through these 6 tips. They’ll show you how to make it work!
1. Choose a course load which works for you
If being a parent means you can’t take on a full time course load, that’s okay! It’s better to earn your degree more slowly than overload yourself with too much work.
When you study with NAU Canada Online, you can choose how many or few modules you take each year. Plus, there are no tight deadlines or time frames for when you need to complete your degree. Which means you can study at your own pace, and easily fit your studies around your family life.
So before you start studying, have a think about how many hours per week you’ll comfortably have time for, then sign up for your modules. And if you find you have more free time than you thought, you can always increase your course load!
2. Get organized before your classes begin
Taking a little time to get organized before your studies start can help things go more smoothly, and it makes studying while taking care of your family much more manageable.
Before the semester begins, make sure you have all the materials you need for your studies (like textbooks and notebooks). And don’t forget to stock up on things like binders (having a separate one for each module is useful), post-it notes and pens.
Make time to do some planning too. Look through your syllabus and course outlines, then mark any important deadlines on your calendar. You’ll also find it helpful to create a study schedule for yourself, so you can stay on track with your assignments.
3. Make the most of your free time
Maximizing your time is really important when you’re balancing parenting and studying. You likely have more pockets of free time than you’re aware of, so make every spare minute count!
Quiet afternoons when your kids are napping (if they’re small) or at sports practice/a birthday party/grandma’s house (if they’re older) are perfect for getting essays done. And spare scraps of time, like when you’re waiting in the car before school pick-up or sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, are ideal for doing your reading or re-watching lectures.
Remember to take advantage of the hours when your kids are in bed! Whether that means studying for an hour in the evening or getting up an hour earlier to study in the morning, it’s the perfect time to get your work done. Plus, it means when your kids are awake you can focus on spending time with them.
4. Save time by simplifying your life
There are ways you can save time in your everyday life, too. And using these strategies means you’ll free up more time for your studies. Or just for rest and relaxation – those are important too!
You can save time on cooking and grocery shopping in a few different ways. Meal planning, then batch cooking and freezing meals at the weekend will free up time during the week. And getting your weekly groceries delivered to your house will mean you don’t have to spend time on last-minute supermarket trips.
You can easily save time around the house by getting your kids to help. Little ones as young as two years old can manage simple chores (e.g. putting toys away or filling a pet’s food dish). By the time your kids are aged 10 or older, they should be able to do chores like laundry or cooking a simple meal (with supervision).
5. Get the whole family involved
It’s easier to study successfully if you can get your kids, parents and partner involved.
Before you start your studies, have a chat with your family members and friends to see how they can support you. Could grandma babysit the kids for one night a week, so you can get your work done? Could you start carpooling to school so you can free up a few mornings each week?
Create a family calendar if you don’t have one already. Then mark any important coursework deadlines on it, so no one plans a kids playdate that day or invites the in-laws over for dinner.
Finally, get your kids involved. Make sure they understand exactly why you’re studying (to get a better job, or earn more money for the family). And if they’re at school, you can even do your homework together! Try creating a family quiet time when everyone is either doing homework or drawing/painting/reading.
6. Use your student support system
If you have questions about your assignments, want advice about your course choices or just need some support with your studies, there are resources you can (and should) use.
Studying with NAU Canada Online means you’ll have a personal advisor to turn to for support from the day you enroll. You’ll also have access to free tutoring and our Ask-A-Librarian service. Plus, your professors are only an email away if you have any questions about the assignments they’ve set for you.
If you start you online degree with us, you’ll have all the support and resources you need to complete it!
Are you ready to begin your online degree?
Still feeling unsure? We’ll be happy to answer any questions you have – schedule a consultation or give us a call on 855.210.5641