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5 minute read

Reskilling and Upskilling for Working Parents: How to Juggle Your Responsibilities while Learning

It’s certainly not the easiest to balance parenting duties, work, and that upskilling course you’ve been planning to do. Here are some tips.

We understand that parenting can feel like a full-time job by itself. Most days, being a mum or dad while balancing the needs of career and work is already hard enough, and it can be really stressful to throw studying and classes back into the mix.

Yet, with today’s growing inflation and increasingly competitive job market, nothing can help more than upgrading our own skills and maintaining our personal productivity at work.

As Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a previous National Day message, only then can our wages “go up higher than inflation, and Singaporeans can earn more in real terms year by year!”

Ultimately, the goal is to “sustain economic progress and social resilience, investing in our people to reach their full potential, taking care of our elderly and vulnerable, fostering a common identity, and building a brighter future for our grandchildren and beyond”, he added.

Of course, it’s not going to be easy. Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong acknowledged the challenges of juggling family responsibilities with upskilling and reskilling at the annual Singaporean Economic Policy Forum last year, saying: “For mature and mid-career workers in their 40s and 50s, they are more likely to have heavier obligations taking care of both parents and children at the same time, which make it difficult for them to take time away from work for extended periods.

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“We must develop a system which can cater to their needs and help them continue to provide the best for their families.”

For parents who are already taking courses or classes to upskill or reskill, or considering starting a new learning journey, here are some further tips on how to manage it all.

First, set realistic expectations

Some days won’t go as planned despite your best efforts. Attempts to join online classes will be disrupted by home broadband failures, or a class presentation you’ve been working on for weeks will get derailed by your child coming down with chicken pox.

It’s ok; you’re not alone, and it won’t always go perfectly. Just explain to your coursemates or colleagues when things are getting into the red zone, and defuse stressful situations one strand at a time – starting with your child, of course!

Time management matters

As the adage goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Don’t just assume it’s just class time you have to budget for in upskilling and reskilling. Make sure you build a weekly schedule that includes time for the following:

  • Time for studying
  • Time for attending classes
  • Time for homework/revision before your next class

And, of course, plan for some quality time with family too. Ultimately, it’s crucial to stick to your schedule and remain consistent about it. So even if that new K-drama has just popped out on Netflix and you’re dying to binge it this weekend…tahan!

Think creative

If you can, find ways to combine parental duties with some studying. For example, if it’s naptime for the kiddo or you’re waiting to pick them up after school, use that time to review notes or listen to recorded lectures. Always try to keep some coursework ready on your phone or tablet for these pockets of time that pop up.

Bring the kiddos into the equation

If your kids are old enough and have already started school, it’s not the worst idea to actually tell them that Mummy or Daddy is also going to be studying. It makes a great joint experience for them to see you hitting the books too, and you may be able to learn some studying tips from them since they’ve clearly been in the swing of things more recently than you.

All the best with your upskilling or reskilling efforts, and study hard!

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