Going back to college to study is not a decision most parents take lightly. It’s hard enough studying for a masters in social work when you have no responsibilities, but once you have a family to take care of your workload will quadruple.
WHY GO BACK TO SCHOOL?
There are many reasons why it’s a great idea to go back to school. A further qualification can help you secure a better-paid job or a promotion. It is also worth retraining if you don’t have any useful skills. For example, if you left high school with no qualifications, you might decide to go to college to learn new skills, as it will help you get a better job. Whatever your reasons for studying, the tricky part is juggling study and childcare if you are the primary caregiver for your family.
There are two ways to study. The first is to attend a local college or university and attend classes every week. The second is to sign up for an online course, such as an online social work masters qualification. Both are perfectly acceptable, but if you have a family, you will probably find online study more flexible.
The beauty of studying online is that you don’t have to leave the home to attend classes. Everything you need is accessible online, including study materials and your tutors. You can study at times that suit you, which is much easier when you have younger children.
FITTING IN STUDY TIME
Whether you are studying online or not, you will still need to fit in study time around your childcare responsibilities. Depending on the age of your kids, this can be accomplished via a variety of different strategies.
*Babies and toddlers typically take a nap at some point in the day, so use this time to do some studying. An hour here and there makes all the difference, so forget about doing the chores – just hit the books instead.
*Older kids can be kept occupied with a DVD or the TV for an hour of studying. Don’t feel guilty about using screen time as an unpaid babysitter. As long as you don’t rely on it too much, your kids will be fine.
*Organize playdates with other parents when you need to study. Explain why you need a break from the kids and offer to take their kids for a playdate on another day.
*Fit study time around your kids’ extracurricular activities. For example, take your textbooks with you when you take the kids to swim lessons or gym class. You should be able to fit half an hour of study time in while the kids are fully occupied.
*Ask for help from family members if you are struggling to complete your assignments or you have an exam coming up. Grandparents are usually happy to do their bit, as long as you don’t take advantage of their kindness.
Be as organized as possible if you are trying to juggle studying and family. Household chores are the least of your worries right now, so don’t feel guilty about not doing the ironing.