Studying for the CPA Exam is difficult. But, for parents of young children, finding the time and concentration to study can seem impossible.
To meet the challenge, parents need to think creatively, and become experts at managing their time.
Here are our Top Five tips that parents can use to get started:
1. Create a Kid Zone
The key to making this work is to make it an exciting, fun and safe place for your kids to play while you study. The area can be a bedroom, a dedicated playroom, or even part of the living room. All that's really required is some open space. Once you've selected your area, you'll want to add a child-proof gate, just to keep the kids from wandering off and getting into trouble while you study.
The next step is to make the Kid Zone safe. The goal here is to have an area where your child can play freely without requiring much supervision. Make sure there are no sharp edges, heavy objects, or open electrical outlets. Anything that a child could realistically hurt themselves with should be removed.
Now, fill the area with the child's favorite toys. Be sure to include toys that make some noises. If you can hear your child playing, you won't have to get up from your studies to check on them as often.
While you're setting up the Kid Zone, consider letting your kids help you decorate it! Let them help you make it a fun and special place that they only get to visit when you're studying. This will keep the Kid Zone from becoming a prison, and, instead, turn it into a sort of reward.
Once everything is all set up, just add the children and let them have some fun while you concentrate on those Simulations!
2. Set a Schedule.
Successful educators know that children crave structure. It helps children focus when they know what to expect. By establishing and sticking to a schedule, you can provide the child valuable daily structure, while also giving yourself an opportunity to study.
The key is consistency and repetition. Once the child knows that he or she will be in the "Kid Zone" from 4:00pm to 5:00pm every day, they'll look forward to that time. You will, too.
Don't limit the schedule to planning for study time. Try to plan out your daily activities according to a schedule, and you'll be surprised where you'll find hidden moments that you can use to study.
3. Let Them Help You.
Even if your kids are geniuses, they probably can't teach CPA Exam review. But, they can help you study, and chances are, they'll be excited to be involved! Explain to the children that you're working on something super-important, and that you need their help to reach your goal. Then tell them exactly what you want them to do. Have them hold flash cards for you, or teach them some mnemonics! Just hearing your child singing "TT BPO 75 or 90" will spark your memory, and reinforce your learning.
Try to give your children a variety of tasks to prevent them from getting bored. And, make sure to thank them and tell them how great they are for helping you. You'll be surprised at how much your children are capable of, and how much of a help they can actually be.
4. Call for Help!
Sometimes, all of the creativity and good intentions in the world just won't work. There may be times when you need some uninterrupted studying, with no noise or distractions. In these circumstances, you should call out for help from those around you.
Set up a support network ahead of time. Let your friends, family, and loved ones know that you're studying for one of the toughest exams in the world, and ask them if you can call on them at some point for help watching the kids. Most of them will probably be happy to help. If you don't have a support network, try exploring daycare or even hire a babysitter. It may be a bit more expensive, but, consider it an investment in your family's future.
5. When All Else Fails, It's TV Time!
In our digital age, there is a wider variety of children's TV programming available than ever before. Take a few minutes to select some shows that will entertain and captivate your children, but be sure to set a limit. You don't want them to become couch potatoes!
The main principle behind most of these tips is to be creative with your resources, and to have the right mindset. Instead of thinking about studying and supervising your kids as two seperate problems to be overcome, try thinking about it as an opportunity to learn, grow and achieve your goals as a family.
Let's hear from the CPA parents out there: How do you study for the CPA Exam and still be a great parent?