STORY AND PHOTOS BY VPOPR
Nerves of steel, childcare, military precision organisation and coffee – lots and lots of coffee – are just some of the aids I use to study with three children under the age of four.
There have been skirmishes, illnesses, hospital visits and sleepless nights that have threatened to undo all my long hours slumped over a hot Mac and Google Scholar. What kept me going was the need to catch up with a world that had moved on while I had been mothering and working part time for pre social media era employers.
Amidst it all I have two, going on three, diplomas to show for the past two years. I’m most proud of my Student of the Year Award that I dedicated to my parents for picking up the children when classes went on into the night. That and breastfeeding my youngest son until six months ago with the help of a very understanding Student Association, who let me use their boardroom every break between classes so that I could keep expressing milk and using their freezer to keep it in.
Parenting with a hangover is impossible and being a single mother I haven’t had to deal with lousy lovers or horrid bosses that may take up a lot of energy and brain space for regular students. But my responsibilities are different, and margins of error narrower.
One of the ways in which I found time to study was being strict with my time. After watching the news I turn off the TV and give myself 10 minutes for social media updates before hitting the books.
Because studying, writing or sometimes even thinking can be impossible against the din of family life I learnt that rather than be frustrated I wait until everyone is in bed before I begin to work. I became quite a proficient one-handed typist when my youngest wouldn’t sleep anywhere else but in my lap, and I used my diary to map out group work meet-ups.
Another essential item in my tool kit is a Gantt chart to break every assignment alongside the percentage of the grade they’re worth to work out how to best use my time.
That sure that I start working on projects when they’re important not urgent so that when things do hit the fan, as they potentially will, that I still have time to deliver them.