Figure out where to best spend your time to make going to college or grad school + raising kids easier.
I received a message from one of my Facebook followers about the challenge of studying while raising kids:
(My biggest study struggle is…) Actual hours in the day to study. I already don’t get to sleep much since I have young twins at home. By the time they go to bed, I spend an hour or so cleaning house, washing bottles and prepping for the next day before I can even think of having time for myself.
I not only get the challenge, but I am also living it right now! I am a mom of a toddler and realize raising little children is not for wimps. It requires so much energy and patience and at times it feels like all you can do. At least it balances out with an immense amount of joy and love. 🙂
College is also a consuming commitment and requires a lot of time. The good news is we can make time for studying while raising kids. Online courses are a great way to balance the two, especially when you are on top of time management. It isn’t always easy, but we can do hard things.
Use the 3-Day plan to jumpstart a shift in your time management and start studying more regularly.
Day 1: Analyse Your Time
The first thing to do is to track your time for at least one whole day. Try to pick a really ordinary day, like Tuesday. Tuesdays are never fancy, they are just normal life, right?
On the day, open up a document on your computer, or pull out a notebook and write down your activities in 30-minute increments.
It doesn’t need to be super detailed, but you do need a general outline of what you are doing with each half-hour. Here’s a quick example:
|6:00am||wake up, cook breakfast|
|7:30am||clean kitchen + living room|
|8:00am||play with kids|
I know it is a serious commitment for one full day, but you have to keep track of where you are spending your time so you can make some decisions. It’s like trying to create a budget—you have to know what your expenses are before you can set a realistic budget.
Day 2: Assess your commitments & make decisions
Now you have a good idea of where your time was spent for a full day, do some analysis. Ask yourself:
- Where are you spending most of your time?
- Does your time spent in each area reflect your priorities?
- What can you let go of?
- What can you delegate?
My biggest tip for time management is to question everything—all of your commitments.
For years I used my to-do list to manage household errands and set recurring dates to remind me when I needed to complete a task again. I loved my system for years. Last year I found my to-do list was feeling overwhelming. It seemed like every day had more things to do than I could accomplish. I did an assessment of where my time was going and saw I was spending way more time cleaning than I could afford. I couldn’t hire a housekeeper, so instead, I decided to let go. Instead of trying to dust every Friday, I just dusted when I noticed the house needed it. (Can you tell I am Type-A?) It has been AWESOME! I feel more in charge of my days and my time, and it honestly doesn’t bother me to notice when the house is dusty…I just dust when needed.
As you think about what you can let go of, remember this is a season of life, not your forever life. Choosing to think this has made it so much easier for me to accept being tired and stretched thin for periods of time because I can tell myself honestly that it doesn’t last forever.
You probably didn’t think it could happen, but your newborn did finally sleep through the night. You may feel you will never have time for yourself, but you will earn your degree and your life will change for the good.
Day 3: Start Studying While Raising Kids
By making some hard decisions, you should have been able to create some extra room in your busy schedule. The most important part of this strategy is to make a plan to use the time for studying.
Start planning one day at a time. Take a look at your non-negotiable commitments tomorrow and plan your time more intentionally around those things.
What other strategies help you to make progress in studying while raising kids? Leave a comment below and let me know what is working for you.
Try It Yourself: 3-Day Challenge
- Day 1: track where your time is spent all day long
- Day 2: assess where your time is being spent and decide where you can scale back
- Day 3: create a study plan for tomorrow
Full disclaimer: When I was working on my graduate degree I did not have children. Since becoming a mom I have earned four professional certifications while working full-time and raising a toddler, and I understand the struggle of balancing study + kids. I have done the hard work of studying while raising kids and know that it may not always be easy, but when it is important we can make it happen.