Originally Posted by notneb
4 classes and 2 young children is a lot to manage without childcare.
I am taking 17 credits, 13 of which are lab sciences, 4 of which are calculus. Last semester, I took half the load, one humanities class, the other pre-calc. Before that, I did one class at a time (humanities). I have learned a few things:
Plan and schedule.
Do not do schoolwork at home.
Do not do schoolwork at home.
I'll be honest. I, personally, do not do online courses because the classroom interaction is important to me. Physically going to school puts me into the "I'm at school" mode. If I am at home, I am either in kid mode (frequent) or relax mode (infrequent). A couple of things happen:
1) If I am at home, my DH expects my full participation in kid-related tasks (changing diapers, wiping noses, fetching snacks, finding Thomas the Tank Engine in the couch cushions). He fully admits that even if he knows that I am trying to get something school-related done, it is difficult to make that connection if I am doing it on the couch or at the kitchen table,
2) If the kids are napping, I want to relax. It can be hard to go from all the work that taking care of kids involves to working on schoolwork without a break. But break too long, and the baby is awake. So naptimes are never a sure bet when it comes to schoolwork. Never make meeting a deadline rest on naptime. Because naptime does not always happen when you need it to.
3) If the kids are asleep for the night, I want to spend some time with my husband, or if he has been absent all day, finally relax.
Getting any sort of work done at home is nearly impossible. I can do light studying (reading chapters for the first time, coloring my anatomy coloring book), but anything where I need concentration (true studying, writing papers, math problems) means I need to be at the library or the coffee shop. Away from interruptions.
We had to schedule this time. Our weekly schedule has me away from the house often, but it is the only way that I can guarantee uninterrupted study time. My study time is as locked-in as my class time (where I am expected to be physically present). I use a planner religiously. And google calendar. Everything is scheduled, remindered, etc. Assignments, quizzes, and tests are highlighted in my planner. I have to-do lists and to-study lists.
I have an ideal set-up at the moment. DH lost his job, so he is the SAHD (Except when he is working one of his various cobbled-together part-time jobs. But those are scheduled around my study time). Last semester, when he was working, we tag-team parented. Before he lost his main job, we planned on utilizing daycare for my full-time semester.
When I was SAHMing, I took night classes and tag-teamed with DH. I was gone a lot of nights. If I had things due, I woke up really early (4:00 AM) to finish them. Some people can do school late night. I do better with super-early mornings.
If I was forced to do only online classes and was still SAHMing during the day, I would do as follows:
*Purchase a laptop computer (skip this if you already have one). This has been hands-down the best decision we made. I did it for a while without one, but last semester, we forked over about $500 for a netbook. Really, it is all you need - mine has internet access and the student version of Office. Granted, if you are taking online classes at a university with a nearby brick-and-mortar location, most likely, there is a computer lab that your tuition is paying for that you could use A laptop offers more flexibility, however. If you are attending the University of Phoenix, I would carefully research the field you are going into to make sure that all of your hard work will actually benefit you in the long run (just don't want you to throw away your money).
*If I had an online class discussion time, I would try my hardest to be out of the house at that time. Use said laptop/netbook to participate in the online classes in a coffee shop or a library.
*If you must do work at home, make a designated, separate place for your work. We have a 2 bedroom apartment and three kids. If I were forced to work at home on my netbook, I would probably convert a closet (ours are tiny the one I am thinking of is 3 ft x 2 ft) or teach the baby to nap in the kids' room (he naps in the swing) and put a desk in my bedroom.
If I was forced to use the family desktop, I would put it in the corner and partition off our living room with our giant IKEA Expedit bookshelf so that it seemed like a separate space. Something to send the "this is mommy's office" space.
That's all I have. The juggling act is hard and has a learning curve.
ETA. Guess that wasn't all
Those days that your DH has off are yours. Yours
. A full load of classes is equal to a full-time job. The math is as follows: For every hour in class, expect to study for 2-3 hours. The average on-campus class is 3-4 hours/week. Expect to study 32-48 hours/week for the course load that you have. Granted, if you are very intelligent and your courses are easy, you can shave some hours off of that. But if you are of average college-attendee intelligence and your classes are of average difficulty, this is what you should be doing. And that is not even counting the time that you would be in class if you were physically attending.
Take those neighbors up on their offers. Those hours could be invaluable.