When I first found out that I was going to be a father the cocky young man in me thought I’d easily have the whole parenting thing in the bag.
‘How hard could it be?’ I thought to myself.
‘I mean sure, everyone says babies are hard work and take up a lot of time, but what do those people know? I’ll be right! I already juggle work and study, how much of a difference could a baby make?’
Meet the little lady who changed it all, my beautiful daughter Isla.
Well, pre-parenthood-Shane, you’ve certainly eaten your words buddy! See, what I’ve discovered since Isla came along is that the single act of raising a baby doesn’t seem that difficult, it’s fitting in everything else that life throws at you while still trying to raise that baby as best you can that’s the difficult part! It’s very easy to get snowed under and start to feel very overwhelmed with it all when you’re trying to fit everything in. Which I guess brings me to my first tip-top tip ...
No one expects you to be superman or superwoman, running around being the perfect parent while studying and keeping up with the housework and a job and socialising and everything else! If it doesn’t need to be done, don’t feel bad about leaving it for a bit to take a break or spend some time doing something you want to do, not something you need to do. The dishes can be dirty for a little while longer, bathrooms smell perfectly clean with the help of a scented candle or two, and that grass looks better longer anyway, right?
Ok, so maybe don’t put off the mowing for this long …
These days, I find study opportunities slide down the list of priorities a little easier than they used to. But I don’t need to tell anybody reading this that if you fall behind while studying it’s fairly difficult to catch up again without some hefty sacrifices. If you stay on top of it as best you can, you’ll reap the benefits later. Even studying small amounts at a time, you’ll end up having more time to spend doing other things that may or may not be far more enjoyable than studying! Remember, you do have the option to drop a course or go to part-time study, even just for one semester, if you need that bit of extra breathing room with your studies. Just keep an eye on your USQ calendar for ‘last day to drop’ and ‘census’ dates.
I used to quietly chuckle at those who used a timetable, but turns out this was another time I had to eat my humble pie! It seems to happen a lot, I’m finding. With everything that’s going on, it can be very, very easy to lose track of what day it is, let alone what assignment is due when. It’s helpful to make a weekly timetable to keep track of your commitments as well as an overall semester one for those larger scale projects (hint, assessments). USQ also has a free goals planner template to help you keep your eyes on the prize when things are getting hectic.
Welcome to life as a studying parent!
So here’s a fact; you will have guilt. Oh boy, will you have guilt! Even when you know that it’s only logical that you have to take time away from the family to get study done, you’ll still feel it. Because in your mind you’re thinking ‘How dare you leave your partner to do all the work while you just ‘chill’ in here studying?’
Just stop. Study takes time and effort and there’s no other way to get the work done than to sit down and just get it done. Stop wasting time stressing out over what else you should be doing. If you’ve managed to find some time to study, make the most of it so that you can get back to your family knowing your study goals are on track.
I think I’ve got the hang of this ‘dad’ gig.
Study is an awesome experience and parenting is hands-down one of, it not the best thing I’ve ever done. Doing the two together though has presented some pretty interesting challenges that pre-parenting-Shane never saw coming. But I’m happy to tell you that it can be done and while it’s not a walk in the park, it’s definitely worth it!
Best of luck to all the studying parents out there. We’ve got this!
USQ has some great support and resources for studying parents, so if you’re trying to adjust to life with a new baby or have added study into your existing family routine, make sure you check out the resources on Social Hub.