Tips From a Student Parent
Tips and Tricks for Student Parents
I am currently a level 5 student at the university. I have 3 young children, I also have a husband who is currently a level 4 student. Juggling university and home life can be a challenge sometimes, especially when you have children to take care of. I have compiled a list of some tips that have helped me and other student parents whilst studying. I hope these are helpful.
1. Organisation – this is key to studying in general but more so when trying to balance studies and a busy home life. Try keeping a large calendar or planner on display in your home, somewhere that this will be seen regularly. Put important dates on there such as assesment deadlines, birthday parties, school plays, term dates, etc. I have become extremely forgetful since starting university and this really helps to make sure I don’t miss anything! I also always keep a personal planner in my bag, it’s great for writing down any important dates on the go but the calendar in a phone works just as well.
2. Scheduling – Schedule time to study. I have found this helps to keep me in check. When the kids have gone to bed, all you want to do is sit with a large tub of ice cream, maybe a glass of wine, favourite tv show and chill. Without a schedule, this would be my night every night. A schedule gives me the motivation to get stuck into the books. Pick days that you know are going to slightly more relaxed. For example, if you have a full day of lectures, then you have to pick up the kids, cook dinner, bath them, do their homework with them… the last thing you are going to want to do is sit and study. Take those nights to relax. I pick evenings where my day is not so busy. Also use any free time when the children are school or childminders to study. I find this to be most productive.
3. Library – Sometimes you can schedule time to study and, in a house, full of children, distraction can be everywhere. Try heading to the library. The library is open till midnight (I have made use of the late opening hours a lot!) and is full to the brim of any literature you could possibly need. Take a thermos of coffee and you are set.
4. Child Care- There is a nursery within the university grounds. I have no personal experience of it, however I do have peers who use this facility and have heard lots of positive feedback. My youngest is with a childminder. It can be difficult when searching for childcare, so make sure to use reputable sites such as childcare.com. For school age children, many schools run after school clubs which can be handy for those afternoon lectures. These also tend to be cheaper than looker for other options.
5. Communication – sometimes things happen, and you may not be able to attend university due to child sickness, lack of childcare, etc. Speak to your lecturers, they will understand and may also be able to offer advice on how to catch up. Good communication with your peers is extremely valuable in situations like this, you may be able to copy some notes and get an idea of what you have missed.
6. Support – Good support networks can help to take some of the strain off. If you have people who will babysit for you on a day when you have work, let them. Don’t be afraid to ask people. If you need help, ask for it. The chaplaincy and the student union are always there if you need an ear. They are always there to help when they can, and you can always contact the student officer for students with caring responsibilities.
7. Get Involved – The university puts on family friendly events. It’s a good way to meet other parents and are cheap fun events for the kids.
8. Finance/Funding – make no mistake, student finance is confusing. My advice would be to apply for everything. You will be surprised at what you may be eligible for. You can get help
with childcare costs and extra allowances on top of your student maintenance. The university has financial advisors who can also advise you on what you may be entitled to and how to apply. The university also does bursaries so check if you are eligible. You may also be entitled to help with housing costs, child tax credits. Also, being a student gives you a council tax reduction so make sure you apply for this.
9. Student Discounts – TOTUM, Student Beans, Unidays. These are just some of the companies that will help you grab a bargain and save money. Check them regularly as there are always new offers being added. I also always ask “do you do student discount?” It never hurts to ask.
Written By Danielle Diamond