Returning to study is an exciting and sometimes stressful chapter for new students, and none feel the excitement and stress more like students juggling families.
While the payoff from study opens new doors and avenues for career development, there’s no denying that while the course is underway there’s a lot more that has to happen behind the scenes to make study a success.
One of the most common reasons why mature students drop out of their studies is because they find their family life negatively hampered by the new commitments. Yet, with so much to benefit from, the choice to continue education for a new future is well worth the temporary sacrifices.
So how can you support your partner when they return to study?
Encourage your partner to be open about their study schedule
One of the key issues mature students face is being open about their study schedule. Many returning students find their schedules intimidating for not only themselves, but also their family. A schedule needs to take into account lectures and tutorials as well as at-home research, assignment planning, reading and further studying.
The more open your partner is about their schedule and what they think they need to do to meet the criteria, the better prepared you and your family can be to tackle and manage competing time schedules.
Explain to all members of the family how important your partner’s studying is to you and your family
Sometimes, members of the family may not understand just how important it is for your partner to start and complete their study.
From children and siblings to parents and in-laws, there are occasions where your partner’s dedication to furthering their career can be mistaken as a sudden “flight of fancy”.
Discourage any sort of interference and make it clear that while your partner completes their study, everyone has to do their part to make the process as easy as possible. Younger children may need greater encouragement to respect their parent’s new demands.
Schedule activities that share responsibilities
One of the hardest elements of mature-age study isn’t the studying and attendance, it’s the fair sharing and division of home responsibilities.
Partners that are transparent and honest about their capacity for responsibilities are less likely to build long-term resentment.
The simplest way to ensure that your family and home does not fall into chaos is to list responsibilities and divide these fairly between yourself and your partner, understanding that your partner may have to limit some of their duties due to study commitments.
Make time for fun, family activities
All work and no play make Jack a dull boy – and no truer phrase can be said for students with families.While it is important to make time for chores, the same importance should be said for fun activities that the whole family can bond over.
A bit of fun with the family offers the perfect opportunity for your partner to relax and unwind from the stresses of study, and helps you and your children shake off the tension that a new student can inadvertently bring into the home.
Make having fun with your partner and family a priority, and opt for activities that are physically engaging too – such as a game in the park, swimming in the local pool, going for a hike and more.
Allow some quality alone time for your partner, and enjoy that time for yourself
Take advantage of your new found alone-time and schedule something special for yourself when you know that your partner will be busy studying. If you have children, consider arranging a babysitter to give you a few hours of quality time with friends, seeing an exhibition, looking after yourself or enjoying a hobby that you don’t usually get time for. This extra time for yourself will offer you a little reprise from an otherwise hectic family schedule as you support your partner.