7 tips for balancing online schoolwork with family
Whether you’re going back to school for a master’s degree or you’re starting fresh with a bachelor’s, as an adult learner, you’ve probably noticed that you’re facing a different set of challenges now than you might have when you were younger—and one of those may be balancing classes and homework with kids and family life.
Sometimes, it might seem impossible to get it all done—but with extra foresight, communication, and planning, you can take measures to head off or minimize excess stress. Here are seven of our favorite tips for keeping all of those balls in the air:
1. Master the art of time management.
Once a week, make it a priority to sit down to review your schedules—both yours and your children’s. Take note of any important papers or assignments, field trips, sporting events, and meetings and mark them on your calendar. When you know what’s happening this week, you can prepare ahead for any time crunches you see coming. Minimize the surprises and you’ll always feel like you’re a step ahead.
2. Lean on your advisor for support.
When planning your class schedule, make sure you’re upfront with your advisor about your home life and daily demands. Let them know that you’re nervous about balancing classwork and family—it’s okay to talk about it! They are there to listen. Plus, your advisor can help you think of ways to arrange your schedule in a way that’s unique to your situation. And of course, they’re always willing to give a little extra encouragement and support when you need it. They want to see you succeed!
3. Make homework time a family affair.
If your children are older, chances are they’ll have homework, too. Why not make time to work on your schoolwork together? Prepare some healthy snacks or treats ahead of time—even if it’s just a store-bought pack of cupcakes or sliced fruit—to make the occasion feel a little more special.
4. Strategically plan play dates or activities.
Sometimes, you really just need peace and quiet. Try to coordinate a time for your children to spend a few hours at a friend’s house, and offer to host a playdate at your place some time in the future. If that’s not an option, try looking for kid-friendly groups or local activities through resources like Macaroni Kid or your local library.
5. Make sure your family knows when you’re working.
Sometimes, you’ll have to study at home while the rest of your family is there. Help them understand that there are certain times when you can’t be disturbed. Give them cues so that they know when you’re working—for instance, when you have your headphones on at the kitchen table or when the office door is closed, tell them that those are signs that you’re doing your schoolwork and need uninterrupted quiet. If possible, ask your spouse or a family member to be on standby to handle boredom situations or minor emergencies. The most important part is communication! Make sure they know and understand these cues, and be clear with your younger children so they know when they should approach you.
6. Schedule in some dedicated family time.
Relaxation is just as important as the daily grind—but sometimes, we can get so caught up in the day to day that we forget to commit time specifically for having fun! So make sure to fit in some time to completely walk away from your school work to give your full attention to your kids for a few hours. Schedule a trip to the zoo, plan a movie night complete with popcorn and pizza, play some board games, or go to the park. If you can’t spare that much time, make it a point to sit down together just to read a story before bed or listen to your child talk about their day.
7. Allow yourself a little bit of grace.
Balancing family, school, work, and life can be daunting—so remind yourself that it’s not about perfection. Sometimes, your priorities will slip, and there will be moments when you feel like you’re not the best parent, employee, or neighbor. It’s okay to feel that way, and it’s okay to realize that you can’t be everything for everyone. This too shall pass! Take a moment to breathe, gather your thoughts, or pray for a little extra strength and guidance.
Explore the flexible, online degree programs offered at SWU below:
Master of Business Administration (MBA) (Learn More)
Career-focused concentrations available. Designed for professionals tasked with ensuring success in today's business operations.
M.S. in Management and Leadership (Learn More)
Career-focused concentrations available. Focuses on key areas of management integrated with the best leadership practices.
M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision (Learn More)
Designed for South Carolina educators who plan to become principals at the building level and supervisors at the building and district level.
M.Ed. in Classroom Leadership (Learn More)
Endorsement coursework available for: Teacher Leader, Read to Succeed Literacy, Learning Disabilities, Gifted and Talented, Early Childhood Special Education.
Ed.D. in Curriculum and Assessment (Learn More)
Designed for professionals aspiring to be assessment and institutional effectiveness experts in education or nonprofit organizations.
RN to BS in Nursing (Learn More)
Intended for RN nurses looking to complete their bachelor's degree for greater career advancement opportunities.
B.S. in Business Administration (Learn More)
Concentrations available in: Accounting, Economics & Finance, General Business, Human Resources, Management, Marketing, and Supply Chain Management.
B.S. in Early Childhood and Family Studies (Learn More)
Intended for individuals with a deep passion for influencing young lives in grades pre-K through third grade.
B.S. in Human Services (Learn More)
Intended for individuals seeking more advanced work in the human services field.
A.A. in General Studies (Learn More)
Take core classes in English, science, technology, communication and history to further your career.