Studying With a Toddler

Studying can be a challenge for many students. Many of us work and take a full class load and struggle to find the time to study for our exams. When you add a toddler into the equation studying can be very difficult. It is very difficult to find time when you are a single care free teenager, I know it was a juggle for me when I was 18 working a full time job and going to school fulltime. Since I got my associates degree times have changed and after running companies and building an impressive resume, I found myself in a position where I no longer met the educational requirements for the employment I was seeking. I decided to go back to school and get a bachelors. The week I left my good job with benefits and vacation time to go back to waiting tables and go to school, I also found out I was pregnant.
I am definitely a non traditional student. I have gotten divorced and had a child, who I am raising as a single parent and that has added a whole new dimension to the typical strains of studying and finding time to do my homework. My daughter is 20 months now and is at the stage where she needs constant supervision and attention which limits my "me" time dramatically. This also limits my homework and studying time dramatically as well. I have found some ways to make it easier and hope that these tips help other single parents who are trying to further their educations as well.

  • Daycare, Daycare, Daycare. I understand not everyone can afford a full time preschool or daycare but if you're going to school than someone is watching your child for at least part of the day. Try to see if they can watch your child for a little longer so that you have time to study. If your preschool or babysitter can't help you out, then try a friend or family member. Grandparents usually can't wait to get their hands on the little ones anyway and I have found that my friends and family are willing to help me succeed in school in anyway they can, including watching my daughter so I can have time to do my homework and study. Sometimes it seems hard to ask for help but the response I have gotten when I do is tremendously positive. It can't hurt to ask, even if the answer is no.
  • Take advantage of nap time. My daughter takes about a two hour nap in the afternoon and I utilize this time to study. Not all children take naps but hey do eventually go to bed. Having an early structured bedtime can be a great tool to success at school. My daughter is in bed by eight and that gives me a couple of hours at night to get in some studying before my bedtime.
  • Include them. My daughter is extremely curious and most of the time she just wants to be a part of whatever it is I'm doing. While I make my note cards to study, I give her a stack and some crayons and she "helps" mommy study. As a bonus, you get some great pictures to hang on the fridge. Now that we are in the age of technology, a lot of our homework is done online. This becomes a hurtle as my daughter really likes to" push buttons". My solution to this is to allow her to watch Baby Einstein or another educational show ON the computer and then explain it's mommy's turn after her show is done. This generally appeases her because, again, she just wants to be a part of whatever i'm doing.

  • Plan, Plan, Plan. We have a general idea, thanks to our syllabus teachers provide for each of our courses, as to when each assignment is going to be due or when we have a test coming up. Plan ahead to make sure you are leaving yourself enough time (including time for interruptions from your child) to complete the tasks. I have found that there are too many variables to "cram" for a test the way I did when I was 18 versus 31. Children get sick, they teethe, they just get grumpy sometimes. If you are a parent, you know that the best laid plans typically don't work out the way you'd like them to when you are raising a child. Make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to get your homework done. Don't procrastinate, which I know is difficult being a natural born procrastinator myself, if you do you will find yourself unprepared for tests and sometimes unable to complete your assignments on time. If you want to succeed, you cannot procrastinate.

I hope these tips help other single parents trying to further their educations. Once you have a child it no longer becomes about getting that degree just for yourself, we do it to also make a better life for our children. You can do both well, you just have to figure out a way to make the time. For more tips on how to study with children try looking at Parents Magazine online at for some more helpful information, tips and blogs.

*If Daycare is too expensive or you only need part-time sitting for your little one(s) there are additional outlets to look at such as:
while these sites are usually paid for sites they do occasionally offer discounted membership prices or in the case of if you are a military family you have free membership offered by the DOD contracting (

*If you like baby Einstein, you may also like to try out BabyfirstTV with your local provider. It shows TV shows that range from sign language to colors and songs.

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