I am a full-time college student and a stay at home mom to two little boys. Everyone always asks me how I do it but it’s not as hard as everyone assumes it is. I can’t even imagine trying to work full time and go to school full time! However, I do have some tips and tricks for you to stay on top of whatever you have going on in your life.
ASK FOR HELP
Most people can’t work from home while their kids are awake and around simply because they require a lot of attention. I am the same way with homework, I cannot effectively study and do homework while the kids are away or around. My lifesaver has been our gym. The gym we are members of has 4 hours of daycare every day which means I get 4 hours of uninterrupted homework time every day. For a working parent, it means 4 hours of uninterrupted time to work or just to relax.
Anyone with kids knows they can be extremely stressful and frustrating. They take up a lot of time and effort. My first piece of advice is to ask for help. I don’t know about you, but I have always had such a hard time asking for help when it comes to my kids. Call it pride, call it ego, call it whatever you want, but I couldn’t bring myself to ask for the help I desperately needed. It took me having a second, more difficult child, to start asking for the help I needed.
When I am feeling overwhelmed I have started to ask my husband to help and take the kids for a few hours so I can get some homework done and/or relax a little bit. I usually ask him to take them during nap time, which is something I need to work on. I should be able to ask him to take the boys at any time, but we are all a work in progress, right?
Another facet to this is finding quality childcare. We have lucked out finding an amazing nanny that the boys and I love. I can leave for school for the day and not worry about my kids because I know they are being loved and taken care of. I know she gets Cash up and ready for school on time. I know she makes Tate nap and eat even when he doesn’t want to. If I didn’t have her I don’t know what I would do. I wouldn’t be able to focus on school that’s for sure.
This is easy for me simply because I like to see things neat and orderly but I understand being organized isn’t always a trait that comes naturally to some people. And if I’m being completely honest not everything in my life is organized. My kitchen and backpack, for example, are both a complete disaster.
You need to find a system that works for you and what you want organized. My personal blog, for example, is all organized through Excel. I have a column that lists every date of the year and broken down into weeks, a column for the type of blog post (interview, repost, original, etc), a column for the name or idea of the post, a column to state whether that post is ‘in progress,’ ‘finished,’ or blank if it’s not started, and the last column is for me to know which posts have been posted on my blog. I know that sounds like a lot of work for some people so you need to find a system that works for you. It may take a few different trials to get it down right, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
When I’m getting organized for the semester I get my syllabi and pray the professor gives us all the dates of our tests. If they do I put them in my google calendar and check it every Sunday so I know what I have coming up that next week. If I have important projects or papers due I also put those in my google calendar just so I can’t forget about it. My first semester I tried writing everything out in a planner and it just didn’t work for me. I felt like it took too long and was a messy way of keeping track.
Staying organized can also help with your morning routine. I always pack my backpack the night before as well as Cash’s backpack for school. If I know it’s going to be a crazy day for me I will pack their gym bags at night as well so I can get home from school, grab those, and head out the door again.
TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF
Finally; you need to take time for yourself. I don’t know if it was because I started growing up and became more mature, or if it was because I was overwhelmed by constantly being with my children, or if doing homework and getting that quite but I realized how enjoyable alone time is. Whether it’s alone with your friends or alone by yourself it is necessary. It’s a good way to recharge your batteries and face whatever obstacles you have with a fresh mind and a better attitude.
If you’re managing your time wisely you should be able to fit in some much needed ‘me time.’ Do something you like to do. Find something relaxing that will allow you to recharge. If it’s an especially busy week use your commute time to take that much needed ‘me time.’ When my commute was longer I used to listen to audiobooks in the car. I would also call friends from home and use that time to catch up. It’s the little things that make you feel human again.
These three little things have changed my life in so many ways and I am constantly fine tuning these aspects of my life. And these can apply to anything, not just school. They can apply to work, school, kids’ lives, etc. Like I said before, life is a work in progress and we are never truly finished. Every hardship you’re going through will pass and when it does I want you to have a sense of accomplishment that you made it through, even if it wasn’t as graceful as you would have liked. It’s all about the journey!