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It does not matter how old your children are. The reality is that taking on a new course at college as a parent is always going to be a demanding undertaking – but that certainly does not mean that it cannot be done!
If you dream about furthering your education despite having little ones (or big ones!) to look after, you might be wondering how to go about it and boost your chances of success in both of these important aspects of your life. Here is a guide to balancing parenting and online learning to follow as you plan to begin this exciting new chapter.
Why consider online learning?
Online learning provides you with the opportunity to spend your time at home while still pursuing a degree or diploma. Between studying, attending virtual lectures, and completing assignments, you can master potty training, help with homework, prepare meals, and more with minimal stress. It also means that you will not have to worry about organizing costly childcare for the duration of your studies.
A number of ambitious individuals might shy away from online learning because they worry that it is not the right path for them. The truth is that it is an approach to tertiary education that fits in with the majority of different types of lifestyles and personality types. Throw in some discipline, hard work, and careful planning, and there is no reason why it should not work for you.
Are you concerned that the specific course that you are keen to apply for will not be available in an online format? Worry not. Nowadays, you can study almost any course in any field online. For instance, you can apply for accelerated BSN nursing programs online – even if you hold a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing discipline. When studying nursing online, most colleges allow you to complete almost all of your coursework virtually, followed by clinical work in the field. That means that you can remain at home for as long as possible before any need to make alternative arrangements for the care of your children arises. It reduces stress and saves you plenty of time and money.
Set up a strong support system
Juggling your studies and childcare is no easy feat. Hence, it can prove extremely helpful to have a solid support system in place that you can turn to when you need an extra pair of hands to make it through everything on your to-do list. You should be able to rely on your partner to take on extra work around the house and ply you with comfort food and drinks when you’re having a challenging day, and in turn, you should be able to support them as well – it is all about give and take after all.
Your support system should also include any friends or family members that you have nearby to help you out by watching the kids while you get that last-minute assignment finished.
Along with organizing help with your children, it is also wise to set up a support system concerning your studies. Ensure that you have the necessary contact details for lecturers and mentors should you ever need to ask any important questions or request tutoring.
Create realistic goals
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that goal setting plays a huge role in paving the way to success. Simply stating that you want to obtain your Bachelor of Science in Nursing isn’t enough. While it is vital to remain aware of your ultimate goal, it helps to set smaller, attainable goals throughout your studies.
Do your best to set daily, weekly, and monthly goals and to tick them off as you go. For example, your daily goal could be to get through two chapters in your textbook and to revise the work you learnt before bed that evening. Your weekly goal could be to complete an assignment a day or two ahead of the stipulated deadline, and your monthly goal could be to feel 100% prepared for your upcoming exams.
Implement a kid-free zone
As a parent, you know all too well how those little ones love to be in mom and dad’s space as much as possible! Make an effort to dedicate your undivided attention to them at various times throughout the day, but also set up a kid-free zone where you can get your work done undisturbed. Set boundaries right from the beginning so that the children know that they are not allowed in this specific area unless there is an emergency and be strict about enforcing these rules. Juggling childcare and studies are difficult enough without focusing on your coursework with kids wrestling with each other right at your feet.
Obviously, only venture into your kid-free zone if there is someone else around to supervise them on your behalf, or if they are old enough not to be a danger to themselves when on their own!
Stagger your studies
It can be tempting to set the evenings aside to study once your partner gets home from work. However, this can lead to you feeling over-worked and exhausted, especially if you do not have any time for yourself to unwind after a long day. If possible, try to stagger your studies throughout the day, grabbing an hour to work or revise whenever you can.
For example, you could study for an hour in the mornings when your partner gets ready for work and can oversee the kids’ activities. You could also take advantage of your children’s hour-long nap time to get a few tasks done, and again when they are enjoying their daily screen time. When evening rolls around, you will already have made a decent dent in your to-do list and will be able to enjoy some me-time and quality time with your partner as a result.
Balancing parenting and online learning
Balancing parenting and online learning need not be the challenge that you expect. Keep the aforementioned advice in mind, and you will be one step closer to obtaining your degree, all the while ensuring nurtured, happy, healthy kids. Best of luck as you embark upon this rewarding journey!