As a mom or dad, you may have a hard time leaving every day to attend college classes at a local college or university. However, you can probably manage taking classes online towards a degree or certificate. Juggling parenthood and the responsibilities that come with online coursework won't be easy, but if you follow the tips below, it can be done.
1. Do some work when the kids are asleep.
If your kids wake up at 7:00 am, get up at 5:00 so you can get at least 90 minutes of class time in before they wake. Alternatively, you could put them to bed and study once they're sleeping. During this alone time, focus on your most demanding tasks—the questions you really have to think about, or that deep reading that you struggle to understand. Lighter tasks can be handled when they're up and running around, distracting you a little.
2. Don't take on too many courses.
If you were single and living alone, sure, you might be able to handle five classes at once. As a mom or dad, however, you'd be completely over-burdening yourself with this type of course load. Most parents can handle two classes at a time. If you have a lot of other work-related obligations or an active toddler, you may even want to stick with one class at a time. It's better to start off with a light course load at first. You can always take an extra course or two the next time around.
3. Hire a babysitter once a week.
Do you have an older niece, nephew, or neighbor who could come over and watch the kids for a few hours once or twice a week? They don't have to leave the home, just supervise them in the yard or a separate room so you can have some quiet time to get work done. Not only will the quiet help you focus, but scheduling a session with a babysitter ensures that you will stick to this commitment and actually sit down to do schoolwork at that time, rather than get distracted washing the dishes or picking up after your kids.
4. Stay ahead on classwork.
You never know when a child may trip and need a last-minute trip to the emergency room for stitches or when one may need to stay home from school with a cold. These little hiccups just come with being a parent. If you always try to stay a step ahead of your coursework, your schedule won't get completely derailed when something comes up at the last minute. Do your homework as soon as it is assigned, and stay a chapter ahead in the book. If you do have a parent-related emergency that causes you to miss a pre-scheduled chat session with a professor or other students, let them know ASAP so you don't derail their schedule.
5. Keep your school materials in one place.
It's an inevitable fact of parenthood—your kids will play with anything you leave out. To ensure you don't end up with pink crayon marks all over your notes, keep all of your course materials organized and together, preferably on a shelf that the kids can't reach. This will also save you a lot of time since you won't have to hunt for your items, and time is definitely money when you have a family!
With the tips above, you can stay on track with your online classes, even when you also have little ones to tend to. Remember to make school a priority and ask friends for help babysitting when you need it.