Victoria Dalton - BA (Hons) English Literature student - shares her guide to balancing family and study commitments
Embarking upon gaining new qualifications when you have the responsibilities of caring for a family can be daunting. Studying in Higher education is a huge financial commitment. Finding time to study around a busy family life can be challenging both physically and emotionally but it is possible! I am proof of this!
Being in the right mindset regarding who benefits from your studies is huge. When I first started out, I felt a great amount of guilt with regards to the time I was able to spend with my kids. However, as time went on, I realized that it wasn’t just for me! I started to recognise that it was beneficial to my children as well. Suddenly, they started to take an interest in higher education. I would hear them talk about ‘which uni they liked’ and ‘what they were interested in studying’. Then I realised that I was improving my children’s educational aspirations through being a role model. Not only this, but I have been able to support my kid’s education from a position of greater knowledge which has done wonders for their confidence and mine.
It is important to strike the right balance in order to get the most from your time. This way you will gain the skills to change your life and theirs. With the right organisation and support it can be unbelievably rewarding. These are my Top Tips for striking the right balance between family and study:
Organisation and planning
Invest in a family planner and keep it on display where everyone can see it. This is a great way to reinforce the concept that everyone’s commitments are equally important. A visual reminder of how much parents must do and think about is a great way for kids to gain empathy and independence as they grow.
Plan your study time in. If you have young children try and study during their nap time. School age children will benefit from studying at the same time as you. This will not only help with regards to time-efficiency, but they will learn that planning study time is important so that fun times can be spent together.
Create your space
Creating a dedicated study spot is a great way of focusing your mind on the task at hand. It is also a good way of showing your kids that you need to concentrate. When you are in ‘your’ area you need quiet. By claiming ‘your’ special space you are emphasising the importance of your commitment to study.
All About Balance
Quality, not quantity! Time spent with your family is essential to everybody’s emotional health. When you are not studying try and concentrate solely on them. Don’t let your mind wonder to that assignment due in or that exam that is looming. Take this time to free your mind of worries concerning study. You will benefit as when you return to ‘your study spot’ you will do so with a clear head. The time you spend with your family is precious and you will never get these years back, so spend it wisely!
Make sure your tutors, lecturers and fellow students are aware of your commitments. It is amazing how understanding people can be once you have explained your situation and, in turn, how much help you can access as a result!
So, those are my top tips for balancing family life and higher education! Good luck!
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