I’ve finally taken the plunge to study again and I’m well aware that it’s going to be challenging to be a working-studying mom again. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you will remember that I last studied in 2017 when my daughter was about a year old, and now I’m doing it again with a 9 month old, 4 year old and 11 year old.
I believe in life-long learning and that we shouldn’t keep still – we are here to evolve, contribute and keep ourselves motivated on this journey, whether it’s for professional or personal reasons.
Since this is the second time I’m doing an online course, while managing children and working full time, I wanted to share some for fellow working moms who also want to study:
It’s important to plan ahead:
Taking the time to study will surely affect other areas of your life too – so it becomes important to plan how you’re going to manage your studies around your other responsibilities in your home.
Some things to consider in your planning:
- Preparing meals in advance – this will ensure that you’re not worried about cooking every night.
- Firming up your children’s routine – a good start is to try to get your children to bed a few minutes earlier, so that you free up some time in the evenings to focus on your studies.
- Quality family time – set aside some time to just focus on the children and get your mind off work and school. Do something fun in this time – play, swim, paint, dance, visit the zoo or park (post lockdown of course). Let them suggest some things they would like to do, they’ll always have plenty ideas.
Get everyone onboard:
- You will need a solid support system while you balance parenting, working and studying. It’s important to get your partner/nanny/family onboard from them beginning, so they can understand and assist you when you have assignments, exams and online lectures. There will be moments where emotional support is needed too, don’t be shy to speak up!
- Involve the children as well. Tell them that you’re studying and explain it in a way that will make sense for them, so they understand when they see you with your laptop or books. If you have older children, study together on certain days. For younger children, plan activities that they can do next to you.
- If your family and work-life will affect other classmates (e.g. group work assignments) or impact the ability to deliver on your coursework, ensure that the relevant parties are informed well ahead of time.
Be as flexible as possible
I think it’s important to be realistic. Due to your other responsibilities, you may not be able to take on as many modules as you would prefer, or finish as quickly as you would like to and there is no shame in this. Appreciate the process and know how much you can realistically manage.
Thankfully, there are lots of institutions who offer flexible, online studies for working moms like myself. So if this would work better for you, look for institutions that can accommodate you (see the list below).
Don’t feel guilty:
In the midst of everything, it will also be important for you to take some time off for yourself. You wear many hats as mom, employee/business owner, partner, friend, sibling and student. It’s exhausting, so don’t forget about yourself. Watch your favorite series on Netflix or treat yourself to a long bubble bath.
Investing in your personal development is nothing to feel guilty about. As human beings, we are here to keep learning and growing. Sure, it will take away some family time, but YOU are worth it too! Your family will be proud of you and you’ll set a great example for your children.
Where to study online:
We are blessed to have a lot of free and paid online learning platforms and institutions. It’s important to research the skills in your industry that will keep you relevant in the future of work.
I will list a few below:
- Google Digital Skills – free digital skills programmes
GetSmarter – paid courses from univerisities across in local and international universities
- Skills Share – combination of free and paid courses in a variety of industries
- Udemy – Choose from 100,000 online video courses with new additions published every month
- Coursera – offer courses, certificates and degrees online
- Future Learn – offer a variety of free and paid courses
- Master Start – offer courses from the University of Stellenbosch Business School
- LinkedIn Learning – if you’re already active on LinkedIn, this is one of the best tools to brush up on your professional skills.
Have you studied online before? Do you have any working-studying mom tips? I would love to hear from you – please leave me a comment or share this post if you think it will be helpful to another Mama.
Modern Zulu Mom