Summer fun was wonderful, but, as a mom who works and also attends school, I always felt guilty for relaxing with my boys knowing I had an incredible amount of work that also needed my attention. The issue here is that a parent shouldn’t feel torn when it comes to work, household chores and children. Unfortunately, we live in a time where it’s imperative to learn how to balance and manage each without skipping a beat.
Don’t beat yourself up. There is a happy medium. I know first-hand that it’s extremely difficult to find a balance. But, I found that the tips below help. You’re only human. Sometimes you have to take a step back to recognize an issue before it gets out of hand. You don’t want to look back with regrets, but rather with your head held high because you managed with strength. These chaotic years will always be the best years of your life.
- Be flexible. There are only certain kinds of studying that you can realistically expect to do around children and other kinds of studying that are hopeless to even attempt. If you expect to be interrupted a lot, use this to your advantage. Carry flash cards to use as you cook dinner or while supervising children’s homework or playtime. Quiz yourself, preview chapters, skim summaries, review definitions, do a set number of problems, brainstorm ideas for a paper, outline a speech, review equations, match plant specimens, sketch a drawing, explain a chapter out loud. Save the work that requires concentration for time alone.
- Communicate expectations. Children as young as three and four years old can understand that you need quiet time. Make certain that they have lots of quiet activities to keep them busy when you are working. Small children can color, play with clay, or do puzzles when you are working on other projects. After quiet time, you can take a walk, read, or cook dinner together. Clear communication and expectations can save you time at home, school, and work.
- Increase your energy. Find ways to revitalize yourself. Put time into keeping yourself healthy. Exercise, dance get enough sleep and rest, and eat healthy foods.
- Find good day care. This is essential for school and job success. Line up at least two backup sources of day care. Explore public and private day-care centers, preschools, family daycare homes, parent cooperatives, babysitting pools, other family members, and nannies. Explore renting a room in the basement or attic of your house to a child-care provider. Part of the rent can be paid with child care and light house cleaning. Trade off times with other parents.
- Create positive time. Don’t buy your children toys to replace spending time with them. They don’t need expensive toys or elaborate outings. You can enjoy each other as you study, garden, shop, do household chores, eat, take walks, read, play games, or watch a favorite television show. The activity is secondary to your uninterrupted presence. Spend time at bedtime sharing you day, talking about dreams, reading a story, and expressing your love and appreciation to them. Make this a positive time and avoid quarrels or harsh words. They will remember and cherish this warm and special time forever. So will you.
- Model successful behavior. Returning to school is an act that sends an important message. You are saying that learning, growth, and being able to juggle family, a job, and school is possible, worthwhile and rewarding. It is important for children to see their parents setting personal and professional goals while knowing that the family is the center of their lives. You are providing a model by demonstrating the importance of education, setting goals and achieving them, and creating balance.
- Delegate and develop. Clarify expectations with your children so that everyone contributes to the family. Even young children can learn to be team members and important contributors to making the family unit work. Preschool children can help put away toys, fold napkins, set the table, and feel part of the team. Preteens can be responsible for a simple meal one night a week and doing their own laundry. When your children go to college, they will know how to cook, clean, do laundry, get up on time in the morning, and take responsibility for their lives. An important goal of being a good parent is to raise independent, capable, competent, and responsible adults.
- Create a support system. A support system is essential for survival. Set up study teams for all your classes. Make friends with other people who have children.
- Get organized. The night before, take showers; lay out clothes; pack lunches; organize homework in backpacks; and check for keys, books, signed notes, and supplies.
10. Balance your life. Make certain that you take time each day to do at least one thing that you like to do. Take time to relax, exercise, meditate, walk, and read for pleasure. Remind yourself that you are blessed with a full and rewarding life.”
Thoughts, comments, questions? Email me, JennKaysen@gmail.com
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