March 11, 2016
Just like you, I thought about it and decided to jump in this adventure with both feet: and what an adventure! I questioned my intentions (why do I want to go back to school?), and my motives were good, so I started thinking about solutions. I wondered how to organize my everyday life to make time for everyone (kids, spouse and work). Here are some tips to make your life easier… because I never said it would be easy!
Talk about your project and your intentions
Make sure the people around understand why this is important for you. Projects like this one are sure to change your day-to-day life, so your family should know the positive impact it will have. At first, you might be faced with resistance and discouraging comments. No matter what, keep your focus on your objective, remember everything good your project will bring and surround yourself with positive people.
You should also talk about your project with your employer, see the flexibility he or she has to offer. Some employers can review your work schedule depending on the time of the year, or can even let you work for home. Go over all options with yours: it doesn’t cost a thing to try.
Furthermore, you could benefit from meeting with people who were once in the same situation as you, trying to find some balance between their families, their jobs and their studies. You could share your insecurities and get ideas as how to better manage your situation.
We are not superheroes. There are times when we have all the energy and motivation we need, but there are others when it all leaves us. In these moments when you question yourself, find someone near you who can listen to you. Sometimes, all you need is a phone call or to go grab a coffee, and there you go! Your energy and motivation are back!
Delegate some of your responsibilities
You don’t have to do EVERYTHING! On Saturday mornings, my husband does the groceries with the kids; meanwhile, I can go over my assigned readings and homework. My children also help by putting away their clothes, unpacking the groceries and, now that they’re older, by cooking with me. Be creative: maybe grandma could sometimes come over to help? Or maybe the neighborhood’s babysitter could take over and bring the kids to the park? Think: what tasks can you delegate and who can help you?
Save time in the kitchen
Thank you, meals that can stay in the oven all day! Long live the slow cooker! Beef cubes, ham, chuck roast, pulled pork, chicken… The Internet is bursting with recipes that can slowly cook for hours. For a mom like me, this is both simple and delicious: a winning combination!
Another idea is to prepare ingredients in advance for a quick hearty meal soup. During the weekend, I prepare, along with the rest of the family, some vegetables that will be used in a soup. By just adding broth and your favorite type of meat (small meatballs, tortellini, etc.), you’ll have yet another tasty meal.
Celebrate small successes with your family
Your everyday routine can be demanding. Life itself isn’t always easy, so you should take time to celebrate even the smallest of successes. Every day you get closer to your goal: isn’t that a great reason for celebration?
Last summer, I had to hand in a paper for one of my courses. I told my children that, once I was done, I would crank up the music and we’d dance! A few weeks later, I came out of my office and when I turned up the radio, we shared an amazing moment! So celebrate your victories with your family, whether you do so by having a drink on Friday because the week is over, or by buying doughnuts because you’re done with your course.
Don’t compromise on sleeping hours!
You can’t allow yourself to be tired. Your immune system needs sleep, and now is not the time to get sick: you need all the energy you can find to carry out this project. What’s more, lack of sleep also makes you more vulnerable to stress and anxiety.
A good night’s sleep also helps with your ability to concentrate and puts you in a good mood, both of which are key elements towards successful balancing between work, family and your studies.
Finally, you should keep this in mind: “If plan A doesn't work, the alphabet has 25 more letters” (Goodreads)
I wish you every success!
Julie Provencher is a mother, an education consultant and a doctoral student. If plan A works, she will get her doctorate in the fall of 2017!
Follow me on Twitter: @Pouvoirdelire