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Full-time employed parent? How to study and keep your hobbies

Creatives often have a constant dilemma on their hands; how do you stay creative, keep your job going, and enjoy life to the full? Creatives are often multipotentialites, which means that crafts and design aren’t their only interests. It also means that we may go through many careers in our lifetime, which can be hard if we have families to look after too. If you are currently in the process of considering a new career or are looking to go back into studying, here’s how to keep your life balanced, creative, and healthy. 

Online education

If you have a busy lifestyle, it doesn’t mean you won’t be able to obtain a degree. While studying, coursework and hard work is still part of any qualification; you don’t necessarily have to visit a university to qualify. For full-time parents, this is a relief. Just because you have kids in tow doesn’t mean you should have to forfeit your ambitions or hobbies. For public-sector or on-the-go jobs such as law enforcement or criminology, you can still find ways to study online. You can find a criminology program online that allows you to pass with a qualification without having to quit your job or attend lectures every other day. 

Prioritize your studying time

In order to make the most of the time you spend being creative, you will need to prioritize the time it takes to study. While you are in the process of studying for a qualification, you will need to make the most of the current time you have available to read and absorb as much information as possible. That way, the time you do spend on your hobbies can be spent entirely guilt-free. If you have a family life to work around too, this time may feel all the rarer. Therefore, the best way to find reading time is to deliberately schedule it. Booking off an hour or two an evening to get down to business with studying and practicing is the most efficient way to make the most of your time off in the evenings. Whether you do this after the kids have gone to bed is up to you. 

This process of scheduling in studying time can be laden with guilt as a parent. However, it’s important to remember that this isn’t forever. The time you spend studying is not just for your future, but also your family’s. Explaining to your children that you need some quiet every now and then to work might be hard to convey to them, but it will ultimately be worth it once you receive your qualification.

Be clever with your free time

If you look at your calendar and realize that you magically have an hour free on Friday afternoon – don’t waste it! If you’re feeling particularly tired, pick something soothing to do: if you haven’t painted in a while, or want to take up a craft, use that hour to make something or do a bit of research. While you might not have a whole day to indulge in your interests like you used to, you will at least have the satisfaction of knowing that you at least got to enjoy some free time being creative. If you have kids, using the hour or so during sports practice to draw or read – every little moment of free time counts. Some creative activities such as cross-stitch, knitting, sketching, and watercolor painting can even be done in front of the television on your nights off from studying.

Budget effectively 

Keeping your full-time job will give you some more disposable income; however, taking up a new degree or course can take away some of that income. This will require you to budget effectively. It may require some sacrifices in your day-to-day life, but the money you save will ultimately be worth it. Here are some ways to increase the amount you put away each month:

  • Bulk-buy: Take a look at what you as a family get through each month. If you get through tones of pasta, rice, and tinned vegetables, see if you can buy these in multi-save or bulk packs. These large quantities are often sold at a much lower price. 
  • Avoid major brands: Your canned good, sauces, dishwasher tablets, and other grocery staples can all come at a much lower price if you avoid big brands. Just because you are buying from a famous company doesn’t mean the quality will be any better. 
  • Avoid impulse-buys: Some people use the 24-hour method to avoid unnecessary splurges. This can prevent you from throwing your cash at items that you want, but don’t need. Ultimately, these items may just end up in the recycling like many other impulse-buys. 

Use your hobbies as down-time

When you take up studying alongside a full-time job and family, it will become very easy to feel stressed and overwhelmed. Therefore, it is incredibly crucial that you take time for you. If you feel yourself becoming hyper-sensitive or feel as if you can’t multi-task, talk to your family members. You may need some time off to enjoy activities that are purely for your own well-being. It’s important, therefore, that you don’t see your hobbies as another ball to juggle. Use your creative streak as an opportunity to relax and take your mind off your responsibilities. 

Pick a day for you

If you’re struggling to fit it all in, whether that’s studying, painting, childcare, or all three, pick a day for just one at a time. If you’ve started to resent the idea of only being able to spend the odd hour on painting, crafting or other hobbies, then there is nothing wrong with picking a day that is just for you and your interests. Telling your family that you have a day planned for your hobbies is perfectly reasonable. After all, it is only a day. You may have to occasionally return to parent duty or pick up the odd errand, but it’s far better than longing for time to resume your creativity. 

Involve your children

If you have kids thrown into the mix too, the change to resume your hobbies might seem all the more distant – this is where a bit of group activity comes in handy. While children are certainly messier, including them will keep them occupied while you get back to enjoying your former hobbies. If you wanted to get back into the swing of oil painting, then encouraging your children to play with poster paints (or any other water-soluble paint) will keep the havoc to a minimum. Being creative with other people, especially children, can have its own unique benefits. 

Be a bit stricter

Depending on your parenting style, this may come as a bit of bad news if you’re planning on taking up part-time or online study alongside a full-time job. However, laying down the law may be incredibly useful to you if you have to make the most of your time. It can be hard to be extra strict with your children, particularly if you’re already stressed, but if you need the time to study, you may have to set some ground rules. Reassuring them that you will be available as usual for fun and games once your studying period is over can help sweeten the deal. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to establish that your studying time cannot be intruded upon on some occasions. 

Ask for help

The pressure to be a good parent, study, and keep everyone entertained (including yourself) is an enormous amount. If you feel as if you haven’t had a night off in months, or you feel as if you can’t cope with the pressure, always ask for help. It has been found to be incredibly beneficial to parents who are taking up a degree again to get the support of friends and family around them. It’s also a good idea to ask some of your loved ones if they have ever taken up any education alongside their job and parenting duties – you might be surprised at the answer. Asking for help not only gives you peace-of-mind that your goals are achievable, but also some people to confide in. There’s nothing better than finishing off a hard week with a conversation over dinner with some great people. 

Asking for help can also take the form of asking for some time to babysit. If you’ve been dying to go to a pottery class, spend some time painting or attend the gym for the first time in a while, a babysitter can help you out. There’s no shame in asking for hired help if you need a little time to yourself. 

Being a full-time parent in full-time work is tough enough at the best of times, even without studying for a qualification on top of that. However, with organization and some realistic expectations, you can still enjoy life to the full. Keeping your hobbies going alongside your family and educational responsibilities will help you to get some relaxation time that’s just for you, and provide you with a mental oasis. 

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