Student Focus: Balancing a Family, Full-Time Employment and School
Having a full-time job, being a parent, and juggling completing an online degree program is a big challenge. As a matter of fact, it’s a challenge that can only be successfully managed by learning one very important skill – time management. There are only 24 hours in a day and in order to really achieve your goal of earning a degree while still being a great parent, you must master this necessary skill. This may sound simple, but any parent knows that at any given day a calm moment can turn into chaos. Take, for instance, juggling PTA meetings, taking care of a bruised knee; all while you’re trying to remember how to solve that last algebra question in your online quiz. Here are some helpful tips to mastering time management.
Make a list of your priorities for the week. This can be done by writing them on a calendar or simply writing them on a sheet of notebook paper and sticking it on the refrigerator. Amy Crump Storch, a recent graduate of the Health Information Technician Degree (HIT) Program and mother of three, made a list of her weekly responsibilities and then set deadlines for them to be completed in order of their importance. As she completed each task she would check them off. Make sure that your set deadlines are realistic, and give yourself plenty of time for emergencies.
Make sure to tell your family and friends about your schedule so that they are aware of your availability and your commitment. Have open conversations about how they can best support you while you are earning your degree. For instance, while I was in school my brother would watch my son at his house for a few hours on Saturdays while I used the time to study. It was a great way for me to stay on schedule for my courses and for my son to spend valuable quality time with my family.
Remember that you are only human. Have patience with yourself and ask for others to do the same. You are not able to be in all places at the same time, nor should you try. It is okay for you to learn how to say “no”. You may be able to get the notes from the PTA meeting from a friend, which allows you to have more time to study.
Delegation is a key tool for having time management skills. There may be laundry that needs to be done and dishes that need to be washed. Ask for help so that you will have time to study, also. Involve the children in some of the household chores so that you can bond with them while staying on schedule.
Stick to the schedule that you have created as best as you can. There are times when we all fall short of our goals, and if that happens, make sure to persist in your effort to try. It may involve having to adjust your schedule or focus on prioritizing, planning, or having patience.
Maintain balance and make sure to reward yourself. According to a first term student at Rasmussen College, exercise and prayer keeps her grounded and motivated. Do things that you enjoy in order to reward yourself. I have a weakness for banana splits, so my reward for completing my tasks by their deadline is taking my son to the local ice cream shop and sharing a banana split covered in cherries and fudge.
If you make sure to follow these simple steps then you will be well on your way to mastering time management and successfully earning your degree. There are only 24 hours in a day, but if you stick to your schedule, then you may find time to enjoy them all.