The balancing act
Enrolling in a university course can feel daunting when your schedule is already tightly packed with time-consuming commitments like kids and careers. But it’s far from impossible.
Mother of four Kim Wiseman shares how she handles her studies despite her busy work and family life.
Change of scene
As a mother of four teenagers and a full-time student at ACU's Canberra Campus, Kim Wiseman made some big life changes in her pursuit of paramedicine. “I was previously a teacher, but when the ACT brought in teacher registration, I was required to upgrade my qualifications from a Bachelor of Teaching to a Bachelor of Education,” she said.
“After careful consideration, I decided that if I was going back to uni I would pursue my paramedic dream instead, so I signed up for four years of study instead of one.”
It’s about time
Studying for a double degree with four kids is no easy feat, and Kim has learned to make every second count. “I diarise everything,” she said. “My diary looks like a rainbow as I assign a separate colour for each family member’s commitments.” Planning ahead and knowing she has to use her time wisely has been key for Kim. “I rarely get uninterrupted time to focus on uni work, so I utilise small blocks of time in-between kid commitments. You’ll often find me sitting in my car while my kids are at their extra-curricular activities working away on my laptop.” Kim is also a regular at the campus library and takes full advantage of the quiet, secluded space. “I’m a big fan of the library. I’m a lot more productive there than I am at home where there are copious distractions,” she said.
A team effort
In spite of Kim’s best efforts, she’s the first to admit that things aren’t always perfect and her entire family has had to pitch in to make it all work. “My husband has been incredibly supportive of me studying. He often picks up the pieces when things start to fall apart on the home front when I’m in the thick of assessments,” she said.
“I’ve also got the kids stepping up and helping out a lot more. I often say my whole family has worked hard for this degree, it just happens to be my name going on the piece of paper.”
Working it out
For students already in the workforce, juggling job commitments with uni can be a complicated balancing act. Kim’s solution was bringing uni and work together. “I’ve been lucky to have had several jobs at ACU, working as a student ambassador, a PASS leader, and a lab technician, and it’s worked around my class timetable,” she said. “I’ve also privately tutored primary and secondary school students in the evenings.” Along with flexible work, her lecturers have made her studies a little easier too. “My lecturers have been brilliant. When I’ve had sick kids or family hiccups, I’ve been able to talk with them about the situation and they have been incredibly understanding and supportive of me.”
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