So after hours of organising I have finally got the children to sit down in front of the TV to watch their favourite show on Netflix. They have snacks, drinks and their favourite teddy bears. I should be able to get at least an hour out of them to finish working on my assignment that’s due at the end of the week, right…? WRONG! No sooner than I sit down and turn the computer on, I hear the dreaded “Muumm, Nate’s hitting me!” (insert frustrated face). I go down and sit them on separate sides of the couch and promise that if I can have just an hour to do some work, I will take them outside to play afterwards.
I know it’s not ideal, but bribery is one of the only ways I can get some time to work. Having 3 children ranging from 2 to 7 years old they are not at the point where they understand deadlines and “mummy has an assignment due”. So in an attempt to get a little time to myself, I resort to bribing them with TV, food, drinks and some play time afterwards. I know — bad parenting moment — but as a student, mother, wife, housekeeper and taxi (just to name a few of my roles) there never seems to be enough hours in the day to get what I need to get done.
Anyway, back to trying to steal an hour to do some homework. Did this end well? Did I get any work done? Did the children sit down and watch TV as planned? The answer to all of these is: NO! In between the dirty nappy, the spilt drink, the fighting and the crying, I achieved nothing. NOTHING!
So here’s my advice on trying to study with children: try and plan your week so that you get as much study done when you’re not home. Then when you are at home you can focus on being mummy and the many other roles you play. It is ok to say that this is important to me and I need some time without the kids to get it done. Ask your partner, your family and friends and, if finances permit, get a babysitter or try the kids in day care. In an effort to keep these two role separate on the days I am at Uni, I stay later and get my husband to do the school/day care pick up. This allows me time after my classes to get my study done. Then when I get home the kids can have my complete attention as I am not distracted with what homework I have to do. During the busy times when assessments are due I may even come out to the Uni on the weekends for a few hours and I achieve a lot more in a couple of hours than I would all day at home trying to bribe the kids.
If you do find yourself in the position of having to study while you’re at home with the kids I have found that the kids are happier to allow me a few minutes to myself if I break it into smaller intervals. Start by asking them to do an activity or watch a show for 20 minutes while you work and then you will come and play with them. If you continue this cycle you will at least reduce the stress on yourself.
Remember that it is ok to put yourself first sometimes, and don’t allow the parental guilt to creep in. You are important and what you are trying to achieve is important as well. Think of the positive role modelling you are doing at times when you feel you have been away from the children too much. Remember: it is the quality, not the quantity, of time you spend with the kids.