Reality of distance learning – with kids

Hi5 studiers, how's the hard work going?

Since my kiddies are prone to eating and sleeping under a roof, the only viable option for me to study interior design was to take up a distance learning course whilst I juggled a day job.

At this point I had successfully gotten skilled up in financial management, via distance learning.......back when those chunky desktop towers had floppy disk drives. The girls were pre-schoolers so I maintained an awesome work ethic and hit the books regularly once the kiddikins were all tucked up in bed. When I signed up to finally do an interior design distance learning course, I thought it’d be a breeze because:

I did it before and was very disciplined! 

Here’s my experiences that I'm sharing with you so you're in the know about the actual reality of distance learning with kids:

  • Talking mini people like hobbies

A few months into your course everything will be going great. You'll get into the swing of essay writing and flicking through huge amounts of magazines in the aid of acing the next assignment. Then will come the first unexpected halt, which comes in the form of “Mummy, I want to play football (this came be replaced by any number of kids activities that rob you of time, money and sanity)”. 

For me, this wasn’t a few games in the park, but a proper development team gig requiring two evenings a week and every Saturday of our time. So out goes the routine & here comes the soccer mum life. 


  • When you have more than 1 mini person, the other will follow suit & want to take up a hobby, but a different hobby.

That’s right, between muddy footy boots and water logged pitches, there were now drop offs to Brownies, stints of acting classes, and judo, tennis, and whatever else that happens to to taking place in the opposite direction of home.  Attempts to submit another assignment became enough more side-lined.


  • School Holidays & Distance Learning are like oil and water

School Holidays and studying at home do not mix. DO NOT MIX! Despite toys, kids TV channels, other siblings to play with, the mini people want to go out and get fresh air during the holidays. That's your cue to grab your coat. 

There’s the days at the park, museums, walks to nowhere in particular, swimming, and taking the mini people to see other children who are also holidaying. All are awesome family days out..... and a preparation for a nap later in the day....none help you get an A grade.

Holidays mean study begins way later in the day. Let's just call it evening or 1am after you battle sore eyes and later bedtime schedules. Oh, and tackling the extra laundry because children are allergic to keeping clean. 

On the rainy days you stay indoors so the sound of warring children drives you half past crazy. Study is not really a sensible option but you try to get started regardless. You'll read a sentence, or get as far as putting pen to paper. Sometimes you'll even open up a document and start typing, but that's when the noise escalates so much you transform into referee to break up another effin fight. 

Eventually the kids will play in separate corners to keep the peace, all is bliss and you are attempting to commence study session part 2. But bellies start to rumble and now you got to make crustless sandwiches and carrot sticks. 


  • Mini people like to celebrate birthdays, mourn imaginary friends & revive the drowned pet fish


Let’s be honest, birthdays aren’t just one day. There’s the days leading up to the actually day to decide on what present to buy. Then you have to find time to actually go buy it. Just when you think you’ve gotten it all together you realise you've forgotten to buy the card, or the badge to remind them how old they are. Shit!! What about the obligatory bag of sweets for their school friends?!

Of course, the birthday prep has eaten into your study time. During non-birthday week to compensate for being busy, you study along your commute or during lunchtime. But birthdays mean that you can’t do that because you're running round get those last few bits to make your kiddies day awesome.

So the birthday day arrives, you already know you’re not going to open any sort of text book any time soon. You switch off totally and enjoy a day of exhausting celebrations. After cleaning up the last bit of icing and finally sitting down to a nice cup of tea you glimpse at the text book gathering dust. You think to yourself, I need to dust.


  • There ARE days when everything goes to plan

After the drop off at the school gate you dash off to start the commute and the train is on time. Even better, there is ample room to sit, take out your sketch book, laptop, tablet or whatever and make progress with your studies before you reach your stop. Awesome. 

There’s no meeting eating its way into your lunch time, and in the usual morning rush you didn’t forget your sandwiches. You get to sit at the desk and continue working on getting that qualification. 

Before it’s time to clock off you’re already received a text to say tonight’s training to cancelled. There’s more info in the message but after the words cancelled tonight you stop reading. Leaving work early is a joy. The journey to go collect the mini people has gone smoothly and they're back holding your hand telling you all about their day. You can whip up that 30 min dinner in 40 mins tops (since 30 mins cooking takes longer than 30 flipping minutes) and get bedtime routines on the way. 

Sure, you need to go around the house tidying up, but those added hours you've gotten from football being cancelled puts an extra spring in your step.

The minis get tucked up, the house is a conducive study environment and you actually feel in the mood. Brilliant. Opening up the text book, you read the question and get it straight away. Your churning out an essay, citing along the way and you ready to print out that baby and get on with the next. You happily hi5 your damn self for being such a beast and tell yourself, this is how it’ll be from now on. Right? Wrong?


  • As one kids coughs, another spews

The next door neighbours kid had chicken pox so you usher the kids inside as quickly as you can. Phew you've missed that one. But when you greet a lumpy faced kid at the breakfast table you mutter "FUCK" under your breath. While you don't hesitate to cancel the play date, study however has cancelled itself out without saying zip.

The more kids you have, the more times you'll say FUCK! This word may or may not be accompanied by its buddies For and Sake.

But you'll tend to sick child blotting on Chamomile lotion here, there and just about everywhere, whilst genuinely concerned that you can't recall if you had chicken pox as a kid. Then along comes the other child(ren) who despite you warning them to stay away from the sibling they normally can't stand, has helped pick the spots and gotten chicken pox too. 


  • But kids grow up, so it's all good

Err no! Older kids are savvy piss takers who expect taxi services 24/7 but want you to leave them alone at all times. Yes, the teenage years is an train ride of hormonal grouchiness teamed with "where the fuck did all the food go?" and "you're grounded" speeches.

All the time you could spend studying is now taken up by driving to the not-so-mini people to matches, parties, award shows, and recitals. Any other spare time is dedicated to food shopping, because despite them looking like a stick insect, they hoover up food into their gobby little mouths like there's no tomorrow. Online shopping may have cut it at the start of the week, but the supply is long gone and so are any delivery slots. 

You speed round the aisles like you're on Supermarket Sweep, lug shitloads of food only to find you also have to cook it too. Another time consuming pass time to zap you of study time and sanity.

However, the good thing about older mini-people is the holidays. Since they prefer spending time with anyone but you, you can study till your fingers fall off. This is where progress can be made on churning out credible work, you're pleased as punch and then comes another hurdle.....


  • The hell hole of exam season

With every exam you get a free dose of stress. Yes, no longer can the mini people help out with chores, close the front door or make your parched mouth a cup of tea, they have exams. 

There's text book piles to trip over, study cards spread over the kitchen table and endless streams of scribbled on paper for notes. The house is a tip with their revision pack explosions every flipping where. 

But being all encouraging means their studies take priority since you can delay yours and they can't. You coach them to have that positive mindframe, whip up study snacks for the hoards to study buddies who flock to your house at the same time as doing what seems to be filing for your kid.

And there'll be that 1 kid, staring at you awkwardly when you offer them a fudge brownie. 

When you do squeeze in study, one kid WILL ask you to help figure out a maths question. The calculator method you used to use back in the day doesn't work for this equation and so you now are googling as fast as you can when the mini goes for a pee. 

Telling them they can leave that question with you, you muddle up the paper in your own notes, when you return to hit the books hard, they don't make an ounce of sense because that fly away piece of paper doesn't belong. However, so tired from exam prepping you don't noticed how off topic it is, and convince yourself you just don't know the subject. SHIT!!! 

Do you have any tips and tricks to master the art of distance learning studying? Please leave a comment below.