Balancing school and family life can be a challenge, even for online learners. While many older adults choose to continue their education through the internet, they often find their study time interrupted by spouses and children who miss them and dont understand the need for alone time. Here are a few suggestions for maintaining good relationships with those you love while studying online.
1. Set some ground rules for all parties. Chances are youll need some peace and quiet to get your work done. Setting specific times and posting a schedule on your office door (or kitchen fridge) can be a great way to form a common understanding and keep resentments from forming. Let your family know when youll be available and when they shouldnt disturb you. If youre in an online chat meeting, for example, you may want to hang a do not disturb sign on the door. Let children know what instances are appropriate for interruption (a stuffed bear causing the toilet to overflow) and which are inappropriate (they have a sudden urge for ice-cream). This street goes both ways, however, and youll also need to set some ground rules for yourself. Be available to your family during your off-hours and give them the attention they need. Let them know that they can trust you to be available when you say you will, and theyll be more willing to wait.
2. Dont forget play time. Online courses can get intense at times, particularly if youre enrolled in more than one. But, dont get so caught up that you forget to have fun. If need be, set aside a family night to play games or find entertainment with your children or a date night to spend a little quality time with your spouse. Youll get much needed relaxation and theyll appreciate seeing you in a less stressful mood.
3. Be an example. If you have school-aged children, use your own studies to set an example for how they can succeed in their own classes. Try setting aside a study time each afternoon when you study along side your kids. Serve a nutritious snack (think smoothie and apples rather than green beans) and play relaxing music. Chances are theyll mimic the study skills you model and their grades will benefit. Meanwhile, youll get a chance to complete your own studies while spending some time with your kids. Its a win-win.
4. Involve your family in your learning. Dont just slink away into the back room and come out, red-eyed and silent, after a few hours of intense studying. Let your family know youre accomplishing something meaningful. If you discover something interesting, bring it up at the dinner table or discuss it while driving your kids to school. Let your spouse tag along on field trips to the art museum or city counsel. Chances are theyll enjoy being involved in this part of your life and youll appreciate the chance to share it.