Planning online study when working and parenting

Parent and child at laptop

Online study can be perfect to fit around your other commitments such as work or parenting.

But to be successful, it requires lots of planning and discipline, so if you are looking at returning to study while working and being a parent, read on for some tips on managing your time and sanity!

Study can be full on

Before you enrol, assess how much study you can realistically take on with your other commitments. If you are working full time, say 40 hours a week, you need to really look at how much time you have to take on additional obligations.

At Charles Sturt University, each 8 credit point subject expects approximately 10-12 hours of study commitment each week. Meaning a full-time study commitment is equivalent to a full-time job at 40-48 hours per week.

Once you factor in sleep, work and study you will be left with maybe 24 hours in a week (or about 3.4 hours a day) to commit to your other obligations – this would include your family, health, home and any commuting required. Take this all into account when you look at your timetable.

Personally, I find 2 subjects a study period to be the right amount to take on – any more than that I feel the pressure, but you will need to find out what works best for you.

If you want to see how you go with a higher subject load enrol, see what you have been able to achieve in the first few weeks of the study period while taking note when census date is on the calendar.

If you find you are behind on any readings or study commitments, then look at decreasing your study load before census date to avoid financial penalty.

Some other helpful tips

Meal Plan: prepare your meals early and cook in bulk so you can freeze portions for later on days where you may be short on time.

Plan your time: Get a planner (wall, paper, or electronic – whatever suits you) and plan your commitments. Block out the time you are working and the time you plan to commit to studying.

Communication: Talk to your partner and family about your commitments. Discuss what you need from them to help you succeed. If you are taking this on solo, then discuss with friends about if you can share babysitting responsibilities so you can get some kid-free time. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child.

When you can’t get kid-free time try going somewhere your kids can play while you get some work done, a playground, play café or even McDonalds can get you some time to catch up on readings.

Study Smarter with your smartphone! Have a look at some apps that can help you out. You can do anything on your phone these days, meaning you could squeeze some additional study time in while on public transport, during your lunch break, while waiting at an appointment or waiting to pick up kids.

Lastly, expect the unexpected. While you can’t plan when you or someone else may get sick, remember these things can and do happen and generally right when you least expect it.

Try to work ahead wherever possible, and if you or your loved ones do get sick and you have due dates coming up then talk to your lecturer about possible extensions.

Good luck with your studies!