This piece was written months ago, but, with the uncertainty of Covid-19, the information in it is more relevant than ever. We are finding ourselves wearing many new hats while still trying to maintain family, careers, and our health. It is so important to take time for yourself in this chaotic season. Give yourself grace and realize we are all in this together. Hopefully this gives you some tools to help you get organized and realize that we are all struggling, trying to do our best in this new norm. I hope that you all can not only stay healthy physically, but also take time for your mental health as well.
As long as I remember I have always been busy. Since I was 16 years old I went to work full-time and school full-time. I studied hard and felt like I could do it all. That mentally put me in the crazy journey of going back to school for a dual Master’s, being a brand new mom, a student advocate, volunteer at church, wife and working full time. Wow, I’m exhausted just typing my responsibilities out.
This year has been one of the hardest yet most rewarding years of my life. I have a beautiful baby boy, a job that is so rewarding yet very difficult, and the opportunity to go to school for my Master’s and reach goals I never thought I could reach. Thank you National University! With all that being said it is important to understand how to stay on track and be successful as a learner with all the other responsibilities in life. We all wear many hats everyday with different responsibilities yet we need to learn how to prioritize those items while taking care of ourselves. Here are some tricks I use to be a successful student, mother, employee while keeping my mind healthy.
- It’s just a season. It is so easy to get overwhelmed in the day-to-day grind. Papers, projects, test, incident reports, dirty diapers, dishes, laundry, lack of sleep, and doing it all over the next day. One thing that helps me ground myself is realizing it’s just the season I am in right now. This is not a forever routine. One day my son will not be in diapers, one day I will be finished school and in a career I love, one day my 4 hours of sleep will be 8 hours of sleep at night ( at least I hope so!). It’s just a season and I can get through the season because spring is coming.
- Give yourself grace. As a mom and an NU Scholar I put a ton of pressure on myself. I want to be the best that I can be and when I feel like I am not giving my best I get so frustrated with myself. Have you been there? We tend to give out grace towards so many in our lives, yet don’t give ourselves any. We are not meant to be perfect, we all have short comings allow yourself to experience grace. You are doing the best you can and be proud of that not frustrated.
- Say NO! This is one that is so hard for me. Whenever anyone asks for help I always want to say “Sure I can do that!” Yet sometimes I need to say no so that I am home, I can get rest, I can focus on other priorities. Understanding that “No” is not a bad word but actually can be helpful for self-care was an important skill for me to learning
- Have a plan. You have schedules, assignments, and meeting to attend. Get yourself a planner! At the beginning of the month write down assignment in the syllabus, meetings you have to attend, and any other task that needs your attention throughout the month. This way you have a visual of what your month looks like and you can start assignments early. I also color-code my agenda book so I can look quickly and see what need of my time is. My colors are “RED” (extremely important, like doctors’ appointments or major assignments), “Orange” (school assignments) “ Purple” (NU Scholars assignments), “Green” (work assignments), “Blue” (self-care , like hikes, coffee dates, or a manicure). Try to make sure that there are a few “Blues” in your month! Planning ahead is key to success.
- Have a check-in with your professors. Let your professors know if you are struggling, need some extra guidance, or unexpected things happen in your life. They can’t help you if they do not know what you are facing. NU professors are so helpful and understanding, we just need to talk with them.
- Turn off the TV. It’s been a long day – all you want to do is sit and veg, but you that know assignments are due. Turn the TV off and finish the assignments, because, at least for me, the moment the TV turns on, time just disappears. Before I know it I am ready for bed and have gotten nothing done. If I come home from work and spend time with my little, take care of dinner, bath and bed, then sit and do my assignments rather than turning on the TV, I become much more successful and focused. I also sleep better because I accomplished things instead of looking at a screen, letting the evening slip away.
- Ask for help. Whether you need someone to watch your kids, help with errands, or just talk to, ask for help. We are not meant to do everything alone, it’s okay to have help.
By having goals and proper time management you can be a successful student, parent, and employee.