When I started, my youngest was only a year old. She was at home all the time and I could get some work done when she was asleep (and the three yo boy was watching "High School Musical 2"). But it meant that I did just one subject and so it's taken me a while. I have done more subjects this year because Abbie has been at preschool.
I also get lots of "how do you do it?" comments. I'm going to assume for the sake of this post that is a genuine question (rather than a subtext of "are you mad?" or "I wish I could do that").
So how do I do it?
- I aim to do a little bit everyday - even just reading some posts on my subject forum, reading an article - keeps my brain thinking about my subject. It's amazing how much you can get through even with half an hour a day.
- I try to be disciplined about not doing housework/shopping/paying bills when I have allocated time to study. This is a real challenge. It is so nice to have time without kids to get jobs done, but I've learnt that I have to work out other times to do these jobs. I try to think about study as a job that I need to get done - imagine I'm working at home.
- I set myself goals in what I'd like to achieve in certain amount of time - breaking down tasks into lots of smaller tasks makes me less panicky and overwhelmed.
- I have a husband who is willing to pick up the pieces when I do get overwhelmed and need to spend a weekend writing an essay due on Monday. I have found it hard to take time away from time together as family - but it's usually very shortlived and that's part of being in a family. We share the pressures of life together. I also think it's good for the kids to see that I'm not just their cook and cleaner.
- I've learnt to be content with mediocrity. I do have years of practice of being Ms Average but at times I have found that I have to be happy with just getting through and not getting high marks. Of course I would love to be able to be completely absorbed by my study and learn everything there is to know about a topic (I am a mature age student after all!) but that's not the stage of life I'm in.
- I find studying energising. So learning new things is fun for me and this creates its own motivation. The sense of accomplishment upon completing an assessment is lovely. So much of my life has no sense of completion.