I have not posted for a while. I am about to finish my last year of university so it's been a constant stream of coursework and my dissertation. My dissertation is due next Tuesday and then I am done with uni! I graduate in July, it still does not seem normal.
A lot of people ask how I manage to juggle coursework and studying with a toddler so I thought I would share some tips on how I get things done.
1. Make use of your child free time. We don't have a nursery/childminder for Michael so this year has been a mix of my partner, mum and aunt helping to look after Michael, thanks guys! Now before Michael, I would sit and do coursework and then check my phone, or go on facebook etc. Well no more when you know you only have 4 hours that day without a toddler, it's surprising how more organised and disciplined you become.
2. Organise, organise, organise! How I miss the days when I could pull an all nighter to make the deadline. That was fine when I could sleep all day, no it's a little more difficult! Manage your time so you know you will make the deadlines easily instead of leaving it til the last minute. Michael was ill around December a lot when it was coursework deadlines. Luckily most of the work was already done.
3. If you are at home with baby and have to do coursework... Work around naps and chill out time. Michael gets pretty restless if he is in all day. So I tend to take him to a activity in the morning and wear him out a little. By the afternoon he has a big nap and then will be quite happy to chill and entertain himself. Failing that one of the Toy Story films is guaranteed to keep Michael happy for 30 mins-1hr.
4. Make use of whatever childcare you can get. Student grants do give some help with childcare. We never wanted formal childcare with Michael so even though we are eligible, we never applied. So I use friends and family to help out a lot as well as work alongside my partner's shifts. So Monday & Tuesday Michael was at home with dad, tomorrow and Friday he with his beloved Nan-Nan and Saturday he is with his great-nan and cousins for a couple of hours. It all helps.
5. Don't feel guilty. One of the things I really struggle with is leaving Michael to go do work. I know it will benefit him when I have a degree but it does not make it any easier. The past few days I have hardly seen him and when I have my mind has been on my dissertation. So today we have played playdoh, cars, tea set, read, danced and just spent all day playing and having fun. Next week once the deadline has gone, I plan to take him out for the day, any suggestions welcome.
Studying with a child is pretty hard, but with support and good organisation, determination and discipline it can be done.
If you have any other tips with studying alongside a child, leave them in the comments below!