What it's like being an online student and a full-time parent

06 December 2023

A bench in a park in Birmingham
Lajeela's bench
Type: Text
Category: Studying

This piece was written by Interior Design BA(Hons) (Online) student Lajeela about her experiences of studying online while looking after a family.  

As an online student and a mom, one needs patience, dedication, resilience, and a positive attitude to achieve academic and personal goals while caring for family, and it was through an experience earlier this year that I realised that learning as an online student has tangible advantages for people like me who have other responsibilities.  

It was the month of July and the last two modules of my first year on Interior Design BA(Hons) (Online) were coming to an end. I had two different assignments to submit, and the deadline was approaching fast.

Suddenly, one of my kids fell sick, and I rushed her to the hospital. As I sat there waiting, I couldn't help but worry about how I was going to submit all my work and catch up with the missed lectures.  

Falmouth did offer me help, and an extension on my submission – but I didn't want to take the offer; I realised that I needed to prioritise my work and remain calm. Thankfully my child was discharged from the hospital, and when I found time, I rescheduled my timetable and worked overnight to submit my work on time.

Being an online student and a mom is challenging, but it's also rewarding. As a mom, I must balance my family responsibilities with my studies: I have to juggle multiple tasks such as taking care of my children, picking them up and dropping them off at school, doing household chores, and attending online classes.  

However, being an online student also has multiple advantages. We have the flexibility to schedule our study time around family life – for example, I can't study on weekends because of the time I prefer to spend with family, but others who are full-time employees prefer to study on weekends. I also save time and money on commuting to and from university.  

To make it work, it's important to have a support system in place. This could be your partner, a family member, or a friend who can help you with childcare and household tasks when you need to focus on your studies. For me, I appreciate my husband supporting me as much as he can.  

It's also important to prioritise my time and set realistic goals. I make a diary, carving out time for myself and mental space which is also important. In fact, the picture on the cover of this article is a place just ten minutes from where I live, and it's a comforting place for me. I take my kids there and just sit; looking out at the whole city from that bench. It's calming and relaxing.   

After completing my first year, I noticed significant changes within myself. I became more confident, resilient, and optimistic – all of which I will need for the future. 

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