Studying when you have a family sounds daunting, but with the right mindset, organisation and support, it can be one of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself and your loved ones. Read on for our top 5 tips for studying when you have a family.
Organisation is key
Keep a timetable of the family’s activities in an area where everyone can see it and make sure you block out time for your study. It’s a great way to reinforce that everyone’s commitments are equally important –plus you can easily point it out if anyone’s trying to distract you.
With smaller children, nap time is the best time to sneak in extra study or reading. School-age kids will benefit from getting their homework done at the same time as you study – both for efficiency and to for you to model the importance of learning and study. Think of it as ‘all-hands-on-desks’!
Look for courses that offer audio lectures. Download them onto a portable device such as your mobile phone and sneak in 20 minutes here or half an hour there as you get the housework done, cook dinner or ferry the kids to activities. When combined with reading, listening to learning material can help lodge it more effectively into your brain, and the rest of the family might learn something too.
Find a dedicated study spot
Creating a dedicated study space is a great way to focus your mind and signal to the family that you’re hunkering down into study mode – do not disturb! If spare rooms are an issue, look for areas of unused space in larger rooms that could convert to a study area, such as under a stairway. A small desk set up in your bedroom might be the way to go, or even a corner of a balcony where your laptop can still access your home’s WiFi.
For parents with younger children, dedicated office-plus-childcare venues are just beginning to appear in Australia, and will almost certainly grow in popularity soon. Sydney’s Bubs and Boardrooms offers quiet office space at an hourly or daily rate, and the little ones are looked after by qualified childcare professionals on site. You can even take care of your printing and photocopying. Local libraries also offer regular kids’ activities, such as story time, that could give you short opportunities to get some of your own reading done.
Two is better than one
Consider recruiting a study buddy. Know another mum or dad who’s looking to expand their qualifications? Sign up to study at the same time and you can help each other out with babysitting, revision at exam time or second opinions on essays. Even just studying with both families together so the kids can occupy each other can make a big difference to your concentration time. If you don’t know anyone, try joining a parent’s group in your local area – Kidsize Living is a great start in Sydney, or try meetup.com for the rest of Australia – and ask around to find out if anyone has upcoming study plans.
If you sign up to study with Open Colleges they offer ‘find a buddy’ services through their online learning portal Open Space; a great way to “virtually” meet someone doing your course to share tips and encouragement.
It’s all about balance
Remember that simply mucking around and having fun with your family is not just enjoyable, it’s an absolutely essential way to rest and reboot your brain. So don’t overload your timetable to the point that there’s no time left for relaxing and letting go. You can have the best of both worlds if you plan carefully and stick to your goals.