For parents who are looking to return to study after they've had a child, it can be important to sort out how they will manage child care. Child care can be challenging for university student parents as they often have a limited budget and have needs that can change between semesters (as well as not requiring child care during breaks). Here are some tips to help you manage child care during your study.  

Look for in-house or preferential child care places

Many universities have an on-site child care which can be very convenient for students and these places are often run a subsidised rate. Other universities have arrangements with nearby child care centres to give preferential places to the students and staff of the university. There can be heavy competition for the places so it's important to sign up early. These centres usually let you suspend or reduce hours over the break as well as using partial days if you don't need a full day of care. 

Try to organise your days around child care

While it can be tempting to put of study until the end of the semester if you have limited child care it is very important to keep up your study during the semester as you will struggle to 'cram' with a kid in tow. Make sure to maximise the ways that you use the child care you do have by doing revision, catching up with study groups and spending time in the library or laboratory when your child is in care but you don't have contact hours. That way you can maximise your study efficiency and ensure that you can spend quality time with the kids when you are both home. 

Combine care when you can

If you struggle to get suitable placements with a long day care system you can combine care modes by using some family day care, as well as using informal care by sharing a babysitter or nanny with another student. This can be particularly suitable if you have some tricky class time including night classes, which can be tricky to fill with formal care options. See if your university has any child care cooperatives or message boards so that you can can see how other students manage child care. 

If you are a university student with a child it is a good idea to work out child care early on by placing yourself on waiting lists or organising a babysitter early.