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The work, study and family balance: Finding the time to study

03 May, 2016Gabbi Stopp

Gabbi Stopp is the Head of Employee Share Ownership at ProShare, and is currently studying for a Diploma for Financial Advisors (DipFA®). Gabbi is also a wife, and mother to a three-year-old boy.

In this blog series, Gabbi takes an honest look at what it's like to study, while working and managing family commitments.

Gabbi StoppMonday 7 January 2016

According to those in the know, today is ‘officially’ the most depressing day of the year due to the seasonal financial ‘hangover’ from Christmas and lack of proximity to payday. Not to mention the appalling weather! I plan to get through it with the aid of coffee and croissants in the morning, and a quick trawl of my local stationary shop for some completely essential on-sale stationery, fluorescent page markers and coloured pens for my DipFA study notes. I may even elevate my procrastination to another level entirely via a colour-coded study timetable.

Wednesday 13 January 2016

It is my son’s third birthday today and our dining room table is swathed and festooned with Thomas The Tank Engine banners and merchandise. Although it is a Wednesday, it is officially a day off from studying (for me), and work (for me and husband), and all about our son. We plan a lunch at his favourite food pitstop – currently Wagamama’s - and a Facetime session with his Spanish cousins.  The joys of absorbing the FCA’s Conduct of Business Sourcebook and customer definitions will just have to wait a day.

Sunday 14 February 2016

Today being Valentines Day, my husband and I decide to hit the heights of romance by running a half-marathon in our home town. One set of the ‘grandies’ aka grandparents agree to have our son for the morning so we are child-free for a whole morning. We are fortunate to have their support. I manage to shave a whole ten minutes off my previous half-marathon time so I am actually as happy as if we’d been out for an over-priced ‘romantic’ dinner for two.

The study begins later, and several chapters further into my FSRE textbook/study guide and I am finding myself settling into a routine of Sunday morning study, supplemented by an evening study session or two at the office after my formal working day has finished. There are definite pluses to deferring the journey home – I can get a seat on the DLR, for one. I’m also rediscovering the benefits of a quiet environment in which to study, alone with my thoughts, textbook and fluorescent markers. There is little space or time for peaceful contemplation and reading at home as the ground floor of our house is almost entirely open-plan, and covered in primary-coloured plastic blocks and noise-emitting playthings belonging to my three year old son. 

In a family where both parents work, we find that time is at such a premium and now it is further stretched by my study commitments. I find myself pining for my early ICSA study days when I was still (just about) living at home and had so many fewer commitments to manage. It’s a cliché to say that I don’t know what I did with my time, in retrospect, but I almost feel guilty for spending time studying when I could be playing with my son. I suspect this will need to be managed through earlier and later study sessions while he is still in bed!

Read Gabbi's past posts or find out more about DipFA