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Six tips for parents returning to study

This article appears in:
All, Future & Focus, Parenting, Time & Balance

You’re already a multi-tasker and decision-maker – and now you’re adding study to the mix. Start study on the right foot and reduce unnecessary stress and guilt.

It’s ok to do something for yourself

Being a Mum or Dad is all consuming and you may feel guilty doing something for yourself. But it’s not just ok, it’s essential to explore other parts of who you are. You’re a role model to your kids, and studying is a great way to encourage a love for lifelong learning. No matter whether you started study but stopped, never had the chance or are ready to change careers; with online learning, study is much more achievable around your family and work commitments.

Talk to your family and friends

Starting a degree means there will be changes to not only your life but also those closest to you. It’s important your family and friends understand your goals and aspirations so they can support you throughout. It will also help them understand when you make changes to your social life.

Create a family timetable

Your family will be most impacted by your study. But it doesn’t have to be a negative experience. You can be a role model for your kids about learning. 


Kids: Involve your children in planning a family schedule for joint homework times, chores, family fun nights/outings, TV time and when you need study time. It will help them adjust to the changes and know you are still there for them when they need you. 


Partner: You partner will also be impacted, so make a date to discuss what changes may occur. They may need to help more with cooking, cleaning or helping with the kids. And don’t forget to schedule date days/nights for you both to be together.


Family: If you have family close by, they may be able to help with baby-sitting around assignment or exam times. Even a few hours may help you get some solid study completed.

Create a study nook

Your kitchen table or bed probably isn’t the best place for you to get uninterrupted study. So find place you can make your own where you can read, type assignments and listen to recorded lectures. If you don’t have a spare room, consider turning a closet into a study nook. (picture from Pinterest)

You can also make use of your local library or another university library. Some dedicated time there will help you focus when you need distraction free study.

Give yourself a break

Study may feel overwhelming to start with and you may want to spend every spare minute in your books, but that will only lead to burn out.

Take some time for regular exercise to stay healthy and keep your mind sharp. It also provides a great release for stress around exam times.

Don’t forget your friends! Make dates to catch up even if it’s for a quick coffee or cocktail. Or plan a night out to celebrate the end of a semester. Staying interested in their lives helps you stop from being too introverted and overwhelmed by your own life. Friends are also great encouragers to keep going when times are tough.

Prepare for the unexpected

Even the best made plans are not immune to unexpected interruptions. Kids get sick, family events or work commitments can cause a bump in your study plan. Recognise that sometimes you can only do what you can. You may only be able to squeeze in blocks of 20 minutes to study. Speak to your lecturer early if you think you may need an extension. Don’t wait until the eleventh hour to reach for help.

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This article appears in:
All, Future & Focus, Parenting, Time & Balance

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