By Tegan Sutton

I read one day that you are never too old to set a new goal, or dream a new dream. So one evening, feeling inspired by some of the amazing teachers I know/love/work with, I decided to go back to uni and become an early childhood teacher.

I enrolled in an online degree, and a few years later I can confirm that there has been no O-week fun, jelly shots or toga parties – but there have been plenty of late nights, all-day PJ parties and tears!

I live in a rural area with my husband, three kids, six chooks, fish and a cockatiel. My closest university campus is around a 2,500KM round trip away (a little too far to go to attend a lecture!).

I need the flexibility to study on my own time, around my job, my kids, and my husband’s roster.

Tegan admits juggling mum life with university is no easy feat.

Planning is everything

I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t been hard. So. Stinking. Hard! But I have found different tricks and tactics which have helped. I have become a ‘planner’.

On Sundays, I plan out our week ahead – from the kids’ sports, dinner each night, and my husband’s shifts. I also do my groceries online to pick up on Sunday afternoon. I start this on a Monday and then add to it all week.

I’m a big believer that when you are organised for the week ahead, the week is easier.

Every second of every day really does count for me, so I have found myself studying and completing assignments while at gymnastics, soccer, AFL, and touch football training.

I’ve attended lectures online not just from my home but also from North Queensland, the Northern Territory and even Uluru on family holidays, just to name a few places.

With the help of a weekly planner, Tegan is super organised.

Listening to her uni lecture while on a family road trip.

No one demands as much as you demand on yourself

I’ve also learnt to lower my expectations. Buying cookies instead of baking them doesn’t make me a bad mum.  You are also not a bad mum if you ask for help.  The saying is true, it really does “take a village” and asking for help is not a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of strength!

Universities offer plenty of support services for online students these days too – for example I absolutely would not have made it to the end of my degree without the support of Studiosity.  They provide feedback, ideas, and the dreaded referencing help when my tired mum eyes can’t focus for a second longer – they also operate 24 hours a day, so I can submit an assignment today and get detailed feedback within a day, or I can even chat in real time with a specialist. They are the real MVP’s of online study.

Tegan with her daughter.

The juggle is hard, but we can do hard things

Working, studying, and being a mum is tough and exhausting but it is possible! The flexibility and convenience of studying online means I can access recorded lectures and content 24 hours a day, so I can juggle my schedule to keep all the balls in the air.

Nevertheless, I wouldn’t change it for the world.  I can’t wait to graduate and have my favourite little people there, cheering me on – I know it will be worth all the sleepless nights, missed birthday parties and stress. I love the fact I am showing my kids that you can improve yourself at any age – and that you are never too old to set a goal and follow your dreams.

“I love the fact I am showing my kids that you can improve yourself at any age.”

Tegan Sutton is studying BA/Bachelor of Primary/Early Childhood Education online.