Starting a postgraduate degree as a working parent may seem daunting at first, but before you file it in the “too hard” basket, read our tips to make study and parenthood doable.
1. Simplify your life
Although your kids probably think so, you’re not a superhero. When taking on postgraduate study, it’s a good idea to try reduce your number of responsibilities so you have time to hit the books. Are you coaching your son’s football team, organising gatherings, as well as sitting on the school committee? Before you start uni, take stock of your responsibilities and see if you can cut back.
2. You can’t do it all
Reality check: perfectly manicuring the garden, hosting weekly BBQs, and keeping the house in pristine condition may not always be possible alongside postgraduate study (but since you’ve had kids, has it anyway?). Stop, and repeat after me: “I. Can’t. Do. It. All”. If you’re cramming to finish an assignment, the dishes can stay dirty for a little longer, and meeting up with friends can wait until next weekend.
3. Learn to say no
It's easy saying it to your kids, but don't forget to say no to other things too. Saying no to staying back or taking on yet another big project is not going to hurt your career progression prospects. Create some clear boundaries with your employer by prioritising your study. This means leaving work on time, resisting the temptation to go into work on your days off, and using your lunch breaks to study.
4. Don’t bring work home
Now that you’ve mastered the art of saying “no”, you’re ready to become a pro at keeping work and home life separate. Work is an ongoing process; it’ll be waiting for you when you get into the office tomorrow. Keeping work at work will give you more time and headspace for study and for family.
5. Schedule in your study time
Are you a morning person? Fitting in some solid study time before the rest of the house is up for the day could work best for you.
More of a night owl? Perhaps you’d prefer waiting until the kids are tucked into bed to tackle that next assignment.
6. Find your village
The old adage “it takes a village to raise a family” still rings true in the 21 century. Look to your extended family and friendship circle for help. The grandparents can spend some valuable oneonone time with the rug rats, while at the same time getting the kids out of the house so you can get stuck into some uninterrupted study.
7. Schedule in down time
While spare time will seem as rare as a matching pair of socks in a preschooler’s drawer, you need (I repeat, need) to make time for yourself. Think about stress-busting activities, like exercise, cooking or tinkering on the project car, that take your mind off work and study and set aside at least half an hour each day to indulge.