Whether you’re looking to enhance your skill set, secure a pay rise or simply enrich your personal life, continuing your education after years in the workforce is never easy, and when you have kids to care for it can be even more difficult to juggle your daily responsibilities with coursework.

Difficult doesn’t mean impossible, though, and thanks to the many alternatives to the traditional university route that are available these days, it’s more realistic than ever for mums with young kids to keep their education going. So here are a few tips to help you plan ahead and multitask like a pro:

1. Look for flexible learning programs

The rise of online learning has made it possible for students to fit their studies around their lives, rather than modelling their lives around their studies. For working mums it’s especially advantageous, and according to one 2014 survey, 68% of online students are women, nearly 50% have children and the majority are working either full or part-time.

If you’re thinking of going back to school, it’s important to find a learning program that’s flexible but also provides plenty of support. Local universities are a good place to start, as some may offer fully or partially online degree programs. Shorter courses can also be beneficial to your career and there are a number of excellent online education providers in Australia that will allow you to learn at your own pace.

2. Use your prior learning and experience to your advantage

If you’re interested in going back to school, it’s a good idea to look into whether your work experience or prior education could help you achieve credit exemptions or even an accredited qualification.

The Australian government endorses recognition of prior learning or RPL, which enables you to convert what you’ve already learned through formal education, training courses, work and volunteer experience or even self-directed learning into an accredited qualification.

Not everyone will be eligible of course, but it’s definitely worth looking into if you think your previous experience has helped you develop demonstrable skills or competencies.

3. Find your most productive time of day

If you study at the right time of day you could accomplish more in half an hour than you’d be able to do in two hours at a time of day when you’re mentally or physically exhausted. When it comes to cognitive work, research suggests that we tend to be most productive in the late morning, and least productive in the afternoon from noon until around 4pm.

Everyone is different, of course, so it’s important to figure out what works best for you. This might mean waking up a bit earlier and getting some work done while the kids are still asleep, or fitting in some study time before you go to bed at night. If you’re not sure when you’re most productive, try keeping a daily journal for a week or two to understand your natural energy patterns.

4. Have a support system in place

Having a support system in place is especially important if you’re completing all or most of your course work at home. A responsive course instructor you can contact whenever you run into difficulties is a huge help, but even being part of a Facebook group or other online forum made up of fellow students or other studying mums can help you stay motivated.

Being part of an online community gives you a way to exchange tips and advice or celebrate milestones and accomplishments with others who are in the same boat.

5. Explain things to your kids and find ways to involve them

When you make the decision to start studying again, it will make things a lot easier if you can get your kids on your side. Sit them down and explain how important this is to you and why you’ll need to spend a bit more of your free time learning new things.

With school aged kids it can also be fun to find ways to involve them. For instance, you could have a special ‘family study hour,’ where you all sit at the dining table together. They could work on their homework or other educational projects like drawing or reading while you complete your coursework. If your kids are a bit older, you could also take them with you to library and let them read some fun comics or picture books while you do some studying.

Are you a working mum continuing your education? If so, what tips and tricks do you use to make time for your learning? Let us know in the comments. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com


  • Great advice and suggestions, thank you.

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  • yeah try online courses as they are flexible. May not be the best range of courses but that is still a viable option to check out

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  • Ive been doing education via distance for years, it is super versatile!

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  • Great advice ! Not that I’m thinking about doing another study lol. I like the idea of doing homework all together at the big table. Only thing is trap can be that you’re not as available to help the kids with their homework when they need you as you might be occupied with your own homework.

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  • There are some Uni courses which you can do part of them externally. e.g. at home)…also some you can do part-time. It takes you longer to get your certificates, degrees etc. but you can achieve them. However it can be difficult with a newborn. It may be a good idea to defer for a year. I know a Mum who wishes she had. Even doing part time courses, with one toddler and a newborn she found it extremely difficult and made her even more sleep deprived.

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  • Great advice, thanks for sharing!

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  • I’ve been thinking about undertaking a course of some sort and have looked over the local offerings. I would imagine doing it either online or during the day. Whilst I work 3 days a week, I’m trying to find something that would work around it. I’m 46, and just feeling like I need a change.

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  • It’s a good tip for me as i am considering to further my study.Thank you.

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  • good on you to all mums that study, run a home and raise a family – bless you all!

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  • Great tips – pity online schooling wasn’t around in my day.

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  • Great tips! I started a law degree before bub 1 and after bub 1 came found it hard to make the time. I am still motivated to finish but with bub 2 arriving any day it’s becoming a daunting proposition.

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  • i have been looking at doing a course and i don’t want to do it on line and they are all in the evening for this particular one which is so annoying! so it is kind of pushing people to do on line rather than face to face and group discussions.

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  • Flexible learning is brilliant and I love it!

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  • As with all things mothers want to do for themselves and, you need a good solid support network before anything else.

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  • Great blog, I am just about to start an online course and was feeling very nervous about it, with these tips I am feeling more confident! Thank you!

    Reply

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