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I am in the process of getting my degree online with the OU and it takes up a lot of time, especially as I am trying to do it in 4 years, the rate of a full-time student.
With work, the school run, blogging, volunteering, studying, taking care of the house and parenting sometimes these activities overlap and even with the kid at school during the day it means that on holidays, weekends and evenings I may have to study while he’s around (which is easier said than done).
Toddlers are different from babies because they are looking for more mental stimulation and before you ask, the reason I don’t stop studying when he’s around is because I want him to see that learning can be done at any age and I am hoping it will encourage him to be more academic as he gets older! (he already enjoys reading and handwriting so hopefully, we are off to a good start!).
That being said, obviously studying is partly selfish, I didn’t go to college and although I wasn’t ready at the time, I am definitely ready now and I don’t think that I should stop trying to fulfil my dreams just because we have a family (although I am sure many of you would call that selfish as well! so be it).
What I am trying to say is that, toddlers and studying just don’t mix and yet sometimes I have to make it work! So for anyone out there who is trying to further their education, has decided to do a course or just wants to get a little more academic, here are my tips for studying with a toddler.
Prioritize Easier Tasks
I like to organise my workload so that easier tasks such as notetaking or planning are done while he is awake so that the time he is in bed is spent doing more in depth reading or researching. Spending a little time organising your workload and prioritising the easier tasks means that you can go straight into them and make use of the time you have. Plus it’s motivating to strike things off of the list too!
Little and Often
You can’t expect toddlers to amuse themselves for hours on end, and I don’t like the idea of using the TV as a babysitter all the time (although admittedly it has been done before). So I like to set a timer for 15/20 or 30 minutes and do smaller increments, he tends to respond to my studying better if he knows it doesn’t take up all of my time.
Games and Rewards
This is the obvious one, bartering and bribery are definitely my friends when he is in a bad mood so at the moment I promise to play board games or do something specifically together straight after I finish a certain point. He got kerplunk for Christmas so at the moment I let him know that when I am done he can thrash me at that and all of my attention will be on him! (and he does beat me at Kerplunk terribly!)
Give Them “Work” to Do
One thing I have noticed is that when he acts up for attention, it is normally because he want’s to do what I am doing so I have found that giving him, his own “work” makes him feel included and important. Some days I give him handwriting sheets and he practices in his book and on others it is just coloring in, but the act of sitting up at the table with me makes him feel more included. (plus it is a great time to get his homework or handwriting practice in, if he has any).
Make Use of Meal Times
It’s not very often that I eat at the same time as the toddler so while he is nomming away I can get quite a bit done. Luckily he isn’t fussy and can feed himself now which definitely helps me get in half an hour (sometimes more) of planning, reading or writing if necessary!
Accept You Can’t Do Everything
I can’t do academic reading while the cat in the hat is on the TV or when he’s playing cars because I am busy trying to keep one eye on him and his activities which is not conducive to reading in depth about management from theories in the 1800’s (shocking I know). Sometimes this is all I have left and so I just can’t get my reading done while he is awake, however, I can make notes or plan assignments or even do the washing up or tidy up which ticks things off my list, so that later on I have the time to sit and devote to it later.
So there we go, I know that academic studies and toddlers don’t go hand in hand but these tips definitely make it easier! Personally I have learned that if I give him quality attention, he tends to allow me to focus much better (although that’s not to say he doesn’t have his days of being a pain) but it is what works for us!