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Studying at OU with very young children

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Applying to Uni? Let Universities come to you. Click here to get your perfect place 20-10-2014
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    Hello,

    I currently have a 20 month old daughter and my son is due in August. I have been studying English AS since September and will be sitting the exam in 2 weeks. I currently can study up to 5 hours a day, 3 hours while my daughter naps and 2 hours after she has gone to bed.

    I will be starting an Openings course on 1st June which will be running until October so I will give birth during the course, not ideally by any stretch of the imagination but it was the only way I could qualify for the transitional lower prices of OU courses.

    I am going to be off work from 1 July to mid-May 2013 on Maternity Leave and also intend on doing a 60 credit course in February.

    Today a friend with no children laughed at me when I explained my study plans and said that there is no way I'll be able to study for a 60 credit course with 2 small children. She has studied with the OU and had a bad experience of attempting 90 credits at once whilst working full time. I'm inclined to think she has no experience with children and had herself taken on too much maybe her advice is not that accurate but I can't help worrying about it. I love studying, it keeps my mind active and I even find myself going slightly stir crazy if I don't study for a day or two.

    Has anyone been in a similar situation to me? Eg. studying with young children. How did you find it. I appreciate it won't be easy but I want it so bad that I will do my best to achieve this degree!

    Thanks
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    (Original post by Denver2010)
    Today a friend with no children laughed at me
    That's always a bad sign :P

    The way I'd look at it is, can you put ~16 hours per week in to studying a 60 pointer? If yes, then go for it.
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    (Original post by Moggs)
    That's always a bad sign :P

    The way I'd look at it is, can you put ~16 hours per week in to studying a 60 pointer? If yes, then go for it.
    Lol! Thanks!

    Yes, I easily do 4-5 hours a day now and 16 hours equates to 2 hours a day after kids are in bed plus an extra 2 hours a week. My husband is very understanding and I will be able to disappear to the library for some decent study time once a week or so should I need to.
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    You may not even need to 'disappear to the library' as the OU has an online library of resources!
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    Two small children at a 2 year gap is pretty much the nightmare scenario. As a parent already, you must know how much work is involved, but having two at that kind of age has a multiplier effect.

    In a practical sense, I have a feeling it would get really tough in about two-three years time when they can both run about and hit one another, and it's pretty much a given that their sleeping/eating patterns won't be particularly congruent.

    Which is not to say it's impossible, but it does sound like a mammoth undertaking unless you have some strong support in place. What are you actually intending to read at Open University?
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    (Original post by Denver2010)
    Hello,

    I currently have a 20 month old daughter and my son is due in August. I have been studying English AS since September and will be sitting the exam in 2 weeks. I currently can study up to 5 hours a day, 3 hours while my daughter naps and 2 hours after she has gone to bed.

    I will be starting an Openings course on 1st June which will be running until October so I will give birth during the course, not ideally by any stretch of the imagination but it was the only way I could qualify for the transitional lower prices of OU courses.

    I am going to be off work from 1 July to mid-May 2013 on Maternity Leave and also intend on doing a 60 credit course in February.

    Today a friend with no children laughed at me when I explained my study plans and said that there is no way I'll be able to study for a 60 credit course with 2 small children. She has studied with the OU and had a bad experience of attempting 90 credits at once whilst working full time. I'm inclined to think she has no experience with children and had herself taken on too much maybe her advice is not that accurate but I can't help worrying about it. I love studying, it keeps my mind active and I even find myself going slightly stir crazy if I don't study for a day or two.

    Has anyone been in a similar situation to me? Eg. studying with young children. How did you find it. I appreciate it won't be easy but I want it so bad that I will do my best to achieve this degree!

    Thanks
    I haven't studied with OU, but I did a UoL distance master's degree which I started when my younger child was one, with a full time job. I got a distinction for the degree, so it definitely can be done. BUT that said, it takes a lot of discipline and ideally you need some support (eg is there someone who can take over if one of the children gets sick the night before you write an exam?). I needed to do 15-20 hours a week excluding assignments, and the only way I managed that was to be extremely disciplined, with a supportive partner, as well as my company being generous with study leave for exams. Between the job, kids and studying something had to give, and I basically gave up gym and an hour or two of sleep almost every night! My routine would basically be: arrive home from work at 6 (I start around 7.30-8am), do kid stuff - bath, supper, play till bedtime for them at 8-8.30pm (luckily do not have issues with them going to bed on time), study 8.30-11.30pm. You can do it, but it will need a lot of focus. Good luck!
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    (Original post by Clip)
    Two small children at a 2 year gap is pretty much the nightmare scenario. As a parent already, you must know how much work is involved, but having two at that kind of age has a multiplier effect.
    I don't think it's particularly helpful telling the OP that the intended age gap of her children is a nightmare! it's not as if she can do anything about it.:rolleyes:

    Denver, you obviously have study skills and are a better mother for it so I would refrain from talking about your OU degree with your friend. Sometimes you have to weigh up someone's reaction with where they're coming from and quite often it's not from a lovely, supportive place.

    I would think getting baby into a routine asap would be a good thing.

    If I were you, I'd be a bit worried about the time when you go back to work. Are you full-time? I'd be looking to do two 15 points now and maybe a 30 credit one in May? Course, it all depends what course is running when.

    Lots of mothers work, have babies and study. It is hard so I guess you need to be really clear about why you're doing it for those "I wish I never started this" moments.

    Not sure if I'm allowed to say it here but Mumsnet has a student parents bit on their forum populated with people in your situation.

    Good luck with both studies and baby!
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    (Original post by Denver2010)
    Hello,

    I currently have a 20 month old daughter and my son is due in August. I have been studying English AS since September and will be sitting the exam in 2 weeks. I currently can study up to 5 hours a day, 3 hours while my daughter naps and 2 hours after she has gone to bed.

    I will be starting an Openings course on 1st June which will be running until October so I will give birth during the course, not ideally by any stretch of the imagination but it was the only way I could qualify for the transitional lower prices of OU courses.

    I am going to be off work from 1 July to mid-May 2013 on Maternity Leave and also intend on doing a 60 credit course in February.

    Today a friend with no children laughed at me when I explained my study plans and said that there is no way I'll be able to study for a 60 credit course with 2 small children. She has studied with the OU and had a bad experience of attempting 90 credits at once whilst working full time. I'm inclined to think she has no experience with children and had herself taken on too much maybe her advice is not that accurate but I can't help worrying about it. I love studying, it keeps my mind active and I even find myself going slightly stir crazy if I don't study for a day or two.

    Has anyone been in a similar situation to me? Eg. studying with young children. How did you find it. I appreciate it won't be easy but I want it so bad that I will do my best to achieve this degree!

    Thanks
    Its a bit of an impossible question to answer really. You sound very organised and have had experience of coping with study and a small child so you have every chance.

    However I would say that every baby is so different. You might be lucky and get another child, much like the first, who fits into a routine etc. However, having had three myself, I have to say I was startled by how different each one was and how they each had very different needs and routines. In addition the dynamics of the whole family, including child one, can change. So in a way its impossible to plan exactly what will happen.

    You'll have to just try it and see. If it doesn't quite work out for any reason then you can re-assess and re-plan. Just bear in mind that its not some endurance test and if it does happen to get too much you can always take a break or adapt your plans. I'm sure that in the end you will be successful and get that degree.

    Good luck!

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    Thank you all for your replies. I feel alot more reassured now. I figure as long as I am organised and can keep my motivation up it should be ok

    I will return to work Part-time at 19 hours a week. I will be studying for a BA English Literature mainly for personal pleasure, but ultimately if it gives me better job prospects I'm not going to complain!
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    (Original post by Soup Dragon)
    I don't think it's particularly helpful telling the OP that the intended age gap of her children is a nightmare! it's not as if she can do anything about it.:rolleyes:
    It might reassure the OP to be told that there's 22 months between my daughter and 1st son, and 25 months between my 1st son and 2nd son, and I find the age gap perfectly fine

    It may NOT reassure her to be told that I ended up dropping out of uni because I found the pressure of uni and 2 kids (only had 2 at the time) too much to handle. That being said, it wasn't so much the work that was the problem - it was all the travelling to uni to go to lectures. It might have been different if I had been studying through the OU, who knows.
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    Of course it can be done! You appear to be very organised and know what you're taking on. I had 3 children all under 18 months when I started uni, was a single parent and I managed to get a 2.1 in Biochemistry. As long as you are disciplined with your studying, don't leave things til the last minute, but also make sure you have some quality time to spend with your partner and children.

    You're lucky you have a partner. I remember trying to write an essay about diabetes with a vomiting toddler sitting on my lap, and the other two had chickenpox. It wasn't the best time of my life.......I also had to sit an exam in a tutors office with one child who couldn't go to nursery cos she had diarrhoea....oh the joys!
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    As a father of 2 young children who works full time, I'd say start off with 30 credit points first.

    I've just completed a HNC, and that required a lot of work at home, and I struggled.

    I'm not one that buys into this 16 hours per week for set number of points, or 30 hoursp er week for these set of points. It all depends on other factors. IE: how much overtime you may have to work. In November/December I'll work all hours under the sun to provide a decent xmas, so those 2 months are bad months for any spare time. My partner would look after the kids, and I'd be home on a Friday at 9pm every single Friday, missing a long afternoon/night in studying.

    Then there's sickness that kids are prone to, school nights like discos and so on, a 2 week holiday abroad perhaps in the summer? All kind of things come into it now and again where 16 weeks every single week just isn't possible with a young family, then there's the days where you just need to chill for a night or 2 before getting back into it

    It's up to you though, and how well you are able to carry this out, and if you have a lot of family/friends that may be able to give you a nights peace every now and then (my partner and I don't have this luxury) and how good sleepers your kids are. Mine are 2 and 6, and like to take turn about in getting up, or any excuse to stay awake, which means that although we put them to bed at 7pm, that doesn't always give me the rest of the night, because it can be 9, half 9 before we get sat down, and at that time, it's sometimes too late to function..
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    Conversely, having children at all, whatever their age, makes studying that bit trickier.

    Some of mine are teens, which means they're up late, making snacks, wanting to chat about their friend's mum who's, like, being *so* mean to their friend, oh and can you help with this tricky maths question.

    Then they need chivvying to start their bedtime routine (which involves ages in the bathroom), picking one or two of them up from somewhere sometimes...

    I often think the early years when they were packed off to bed at 7.30 were the easy years *takes off rose tinted specs*
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    Yeah, life was easier before hormones......
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    I'm studying with 5 children ages 6, 5, 4, 2 and 8 months :lol:

    I have a very supportive partner, like yourself. It can be a little tricky, but I am finding it manageable so far! You can do anything if you want it bad enough x
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    (Original post by sweetiepie82)
    I'm studying with 5 children ages 6, 5, 4, 2 and 8 months :lol:

    I have a very supportive partner, like yourself. It can be a little tricky, but I am finding it manageable so far! You can do anything if you want it bad enough x
    At last! Someone else,daft enough to have five kids! Although mine are 16, 15, 15, 11 and 9. But please don't think it gets easier as they get older.....just a different type of problem.....hormones are such wonderful things!

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