The great balancing act: study and kids


Faculty: Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care
School: School of Education and Social Care
Course: BA (Hons) Primary Education Studies (Accelerated)
Category: Education

4 May 2020

With university students switching to online learning, how do you manage your day if - like Primary Education Studies student Katrina - you're also home-schooling two children?

Is it just me, or does the rest of the UK on Instagram/Facebook/TikTok seem to have heaps of time on their hands? They’re playing PC games, learning new dance routines, reading lots of books and binge-watching Netflix. There are many assurances to us to 'make the most of this time with your family, you will never get it again!'

Me? I’m trying to write four 1,500-word essays while simultaneously home-schooling/entertaining my two primary-aged children, keep the house clean, and stop the kids from annoying their dad who is working from home. I absolutely cannot start my day with Joe Wicks as if I do I’ll never get anything done! It’s impossible, and an adjustment of expectations is needed.

I know I’m not alone. There are other parents in a similar boat. So I ask myself: what can I say to you right now?

I don’t have the answers by any means – if I did, I wouldn’t be sitting here avoiding my last two essays by writing a blog, that’s for sure! What I can say to you is what is helping me a bit. Strangely, it’s two words which were very in vogue earlier in the year, but are more important now than ever before: Be Kind.

It sounds so cliché doesn’t it? However, it’s true. You need to be kind to yourself.

The most important thing right now is your and your family’s emotional health. Whether your child has...

  • done their times tables that day
  • practised their handwriting
  • done a science experiment
  • demonstrated their culinary capabilities in perfectly posed photographs for the school newsletter

...these can all, in no uncertain terms, be dropped. It doesn’t matter.

Whether you have produced a magnificent summative in the midst of what feels like a hurricane in your house isn’t realistic.

Our targets for the day need to be to SMART. I’m sure most of you know that acronym, but if you don’t here’s a refresher: S = Specific; M = Measurable; A = Achievable; R = Realistic; T = Timely.

What this means is, don’t spend five hours on a Sunday evening planning a week’s worth of schoolwork for your cherubs off Twinkl, with visions of them behaving perfectly, following your timetable and not climbing the walls and screaming to just watch Minecraft videos on YouTube. (I speak from experience here!)

When you are woken up in the morning, focus on being kind and being SMART. If the one thing you get done that day is getting dressed before lunch, it ticks all those boxes. If you decide you can’t bring yourself to do that, but you can sit on the sofa and cuddle your kids while they watch Teen Titans for the umpteenth time and you have a snooze, that ALSO ticks all of those boxes.

As for study tips, the same applies. Trying to concentrate right now is extremely difficult, even without the rumble of your kids fighting over the tablet in the background. I have found headphones with either some classical music, or even hard rock, can help to drown them out.

Don’t expect the world from yourself – you can’t work at your best in these circumstances. Split your tasks into chunks and if you sit down and it’s not working – learn when to walk away and come back another time.

The most important thing is to know when to ask for help, be that from your peers, your tutor, or Student Services. No-one has all the answers, but communication is key. If they don’t know something is wrong, they can’t help.

To all of the parents who are reading this, if you are feeling that cold sweat of fear that school may not resume until September… I feel you. I have another trimester to get through to the end of July. I think a Katniss Everdeen Hunger Games-type meme is required here, but you get the gist!

Stay strong. Be kind. Be SMART.

Looking to the future

Although our University campuses are closed at the moment, we're still accepting and processing applications for courses starting in September 2020.

If you're concerned about the impact of coronavirus on your studies, exams or university application, check our information and guidance for prospective students. We're here to help.


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.