kids

Studying when you've got kids: Three parents reveal their experiences.

Charles Sturt University
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Studying when you’ve got young kids is hard work. It’s also incredibly rewarding and can lead to a more fulfilling career. You might worry that you’ll struggle to manage it all but with the range of flexible study options at Charles Sturt University (CSU), you can study at your own pace from anywhere you can fire up a laptop.

We spoke to three mums who’ve managed to study while raising kids and they all said the same thing – while the juggle is real, they wouldn’t change a thing!

Jacqui’s story.

I completed a Master of Communication in 2016, when my sons were two and three. After school I studied musical theatre and pursued a stage career until my mid-20s. I had always loved writing so at 25 I decided to make a career change. I went back to uni to do a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing which led to a job working in corporate communications. I absolutely loved it and started to set my sights on a senior management position with a view to running my own consultancy.

I knew I needed further qualifications to achieve my career goals so I went back to uni to start my Masters. One year in, I had my first child and 18 months later, I had my second. With two kids under two, I quite enjoyed focussing on something outside of motherhood.

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Jacqui is proud of the example she set for her kids, Maxwell (pictured) and Hugo. Image: Supplied
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It wasn’t always easy but the best things in life never are. I remember trying to finish an assignment when my youngest crawled under the desk and unplugged the computer. With no extended family close by, my husband was an amazing support and doing online subjects meant I had the flexibility I needed.

Graduating with Distinction was one of the proudest moments of my life. Having a postgraduate degree has helped me achieve everything I set out to. I now work as a senior communications adviser while running my own communications business. I’m proud that I set my mind to something and achieved it. I think that’s a great lesson for my kids.

Jacqui’s top tips.

  1. Ask for help, especially if you’re heading into a busy period. If your friends offer to have the kids over for a play date, say yes!
  2. Write a list of things you need to get done. Ticking them off will give you a sense of accomplishment and reduce the overwhelm.  
  3. Be patient and take it slow if you need to. At CSU, you can opt to do single subject study and choose one or two subjects without committing to a full degree. Your subjects will count toward a related full degree if you decide to pursue one later.

Cathy’s story.

I have two girls aged two and four. After school, I worked at a supermarket for eight years, working my way up into management and thinking that was my lot in life. Not long after I got married, I quit my job and started teaching dance at a few schools. A few years later, I came across Happy Feet Fitness and became a subcontractor teaching dance fitness classes to kids aged between one and six.

I recently started studying a marketing degree because I want to expand my skillset and  improve the way I run my business. While I’m not looking for a career change right now, I know the degree will open up a lot of opportunities if I ever want to pursue something else in the future.

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Cathy is working towards her Bachelor of Arts while raising her gorgeous daughters, Stevie and Maggie. Image: Supplied.
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Studying online means I can study at any time and at my own pace. I usually fit in an hour of study between finishing work and picking the kids up from daycare and I also study in the evenings after they’ve gone to bed.

I’m proud that my girls get to see me working hard towards furthering my knowledge. I’m so lucky to have a supportive husband, mum and mother-in-law who are there for me when I need them along with a great network of extended family and friends. Studying with kids is not an easy thing to do but it’s 100 percent worth it.

Cathy’s top tips.

  1. Schedule everything! I sit down on a Sunday night and plan everything out – work, study, gym, free time, park dates with my girls and date nights with my husband.
  2. Hire a cleaner. I took on teaching an extra class so I could hire a cleaner once a fortnight. I now have more time to study or hang out with my family.
  3. Don’t sweat the small stuff. The washing can wait and noodles or nuggets are fine for dinner sometimes (or a lot of times).

Katerina’s story.

I’m a wife and mother of three children aged four, five and eight. Prior to having children, I worked in hospitality, retail and even dabbled in the travel industry, all of which I enjoyed.

When I was younger, I didn’t feel mature enough to commit to study. This year marks 20 years since I completed Year 12 and I thought,  if I can juggle three kids, home duties and renovation projects, why don’t I try studying something I enjoy?

I’ve always been passionate about renovating and I’m currently tackling my third home renovation. Earlier this year, I started studying interior decoration and I’m hoping to complete my Advanced Diploma which means two years of full-time study. My aim is to set up my own interior design company.

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Mum-of-three, Katerina has always had a passion for renovating, now she’s pursuing a career in interior design. Image: Supplied.

My husband was the one that encouraged me to go full-time with my studies. I won’t lie there have been a few nights of study that started at 9.30pm and finished at 2am. The late nights can take their toll but there is nothing like my husband ordering takeaway to take the pressure off cooking dinner, I love that man!

Having three kids under the age of four made me feel like I could achieve anything. It also made me really organised and great at multi-tasking – handy skills when you’re studying.

Katerina’s top tips.

  1. Don’t over analyse the road ahead, take every day as it comes and don’t doubt yourself.
  2. Always have a back-up plan and be super organised. This applies to both home life and study life.
  3. Enjoy the opportunity and the fact that you’re opening doors to a brighter future. Your dream career could be one course away.

Feeling inspired? Be sure to check out the range of courses at CSU. From on-campus to flexible online options, there is a course to suit every parent. Like the mums above, it may be one of the best decisions you make.

Would you go back to uni to study after having kids? Tell us in the comments!

Charles Sturt University

At Charles Sturt University (CSU) we believe in making a difference through world-class education – for our students, for communities and the world. Our ethos is ‘Yindyamarra Winhanganha’, a Wiradjuri phrase meaning, ‘the wisdom of respectfully knowing how to live well in a world worth living in’. It’s part of everything we do – from groundbreaking research to practical courses that mean you graduate ready to make your mark. The only person who will decide how far you’ll go, how high you’ll reach and how much you have to give is you. So discover how CSU can empower you to start now – and turn possibility into reality.

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