Getting an Online Degree as a Stay-at-home Parent
Raising a child or children is certainly a job in itself. So when you throw trying to get an education into the mix, it can be a catastrophic addition to the life of a stay-at-home parent. An individual can feel completely overwhelmed by all the duties and forces tugging for their attention. It can be difficult enough to concentrate when the pot on the stove is boiling over, the two-year old is screaming, the phone is ringing, and the dog is scratching at the door to go outside. When you toss in trying to write a term paper or study for a test among all that chaos, you can be asking for real trouble. There are however, ways that you can create a successful learning environment in which to get your online degree while still managing your household duties.
What are the benefits to a stay-at-home education?
Thankfully, the flexibility of courses and degree schedules available online make for an education that can be structured around your schedule, not the other way around. This means you can choose not to be bogged down with a full course load while at that same time burdened with the duties of home and family life. Since many online programs offer the flexibility to work when you see fit, you avoid the pressure and stress of a degree program with a set schedule. You can choose to take on a much or as little educational work as you like and find an amount that will work with your living situation.
If you have a child or children who are already in daycare or kindergarten for part of the day, then you might be able to squeeze in close to a full course load, where as if you are still caring for a newborn or toddler you might only have enough spare time for one or two classes. Either way, children and their activities either inside or away from the home can cut into your time and make it difficult to organize your life in a way in which you can focus on your education. It is therefore important to make the most of the spare time you have available.
Proper time management
Maybe the most difficult aspect of getting a degree online from home can be time management. Having to be husband or wife, mom or dad, and home manager can leave you scrambling just to keep your household and parental duties in line, let alone having any time for educational work. With a little practice and some organization though, you can find ways to squeeze in study time for getting your online degree. Since you are master of your own degree timeline, you can choose a time management style that best fits into your home situation. Consider the following tips to help determine when and how much work you can take on.
- Early birds — We all have times when we work best. Some of us are morning people while others are night owls. Find the time when you work and learn best and look for ways to focus on your studies at this time each day. If this time is morning, make the kiddies some breakfast, and find something like educational programming on television and let them watch an hour or two or let them play quietly together or with games or toys while you get your work done.
- Mid-morning/afternoon — These times can be great periods to buckle down and get some work done. While the little ones are down for their naps, you can get some quality study time in before they wake up. Some kids sleep better when you are nearby. If this is the case, try to keep your work area close to where they sleep.
- Night owls — If you are a night person, you probably have the best study time of all since the kids have hopefully gone to bed. Try to make bedtime for the kids as early as possible to give you maximum study time and allow you to get the most out of your online education.
- Friends and family – Utilizing friends and family members can be extremely helpful in completing your online education. When important due dates and deadlines arise, having a friend or family member help out by taking the kids for an afternoon can give you the time and peace of mind to get your work done.
In the same token, a husband, wife, or partner can be extremely beneficial in helping you accomplish your educational goals. While sometimes it can be difficult for this person to understand your work and time commitments since they are at work all day, they must understand that you are doing two jobs. They might have to start helping out with the dishes, making dinner, doing laundry, and keeping the kids out of your hair for a while when they get home. Sit down with this person and explain your schedule, what you would like to accomplish, and where you need his or her help. Then decide how best they can help you with your goals while still maintaining an equal balance of work on both sides.
Maintaining focus and building a routine
We all have different schedules when it comes to our daily lives and routines. Doctor and dentist appointments, play dates, daycare, illnesses, temper tantrums, and other activities and events can throw a kink into our regular schedules. It can therefore be important to build a routine and follow that routine as closely as possible. As a stay-at-home parent, it is impossible to predict how your day will unfold and how much energy you will expend. However, having a regular routine can help you maintain focus and create a daily schedule that can help you complete you education in a timely fashion.
Consider laying out a timeline of your typical day. Start the timeline from the moment you (or you little one) wakes each morning, and progress hour by hour until you go to sleep. Try to do this for each day of the week, especially if your days vary widely in their activities. Once you are done with your timelines, look for periods of down time in which you might be able to squeeze in some extra study sessions. Then highlight these times of planned study/educational related time on the schedule and try to focus on making these habitual periods to work each week. Have no illusions, it probably won’t be easy, but hopefully you’ll find the time you need to not only be a great parent, but get your education online as well.
If this sounds interesting, take a look at all the schools that offer an Online Degree