6 Tips for Balancing School & Family
Balancing your family, work, and school can seem like an impossible task. However, with a little planning and help, you can succeed. Use the following strategies to find the right balance for you and your family.
Set Reasonable Expectations and Priorities
It is impossible to give 100% to your school, work, and family 100% of the time. Priorities have to shift if you want to be successful in some of these areas, and you’re going to have to make sacrifices along the way.
To succeed at school, sometimes you may have to miss a child’s school program or a work party for your partner. You might have to learn how to say no to added responsibilities at work (when possible and necessary). On the flipside, you might not do quite as well on an assignment because work or home interfered.
If you expect perfection, you’ll likely be overwhelmed and sometimes feel like a failure. Don’t strive for perfection, strive for balance and achievement. You’ll have to work hard, but it’s possible to meet your goals in multiple areas at the same time.
Use Tools to Manage Your Time
Managing your time effectively doesn’t happen by accident, and it rarely happens by simply blocking out spaces of time in your head. It is an intentional process that works best when you take advantage of time management tools that work for you.
If you prefer to keep track of things digitally, use tools such as online calendars, various time management apps, and digital to-do lists. If you prefer something more tactile, invest in a planner or physical calendar that meets your needs.
You only have so many hours in a day, so map out how you plan to use that time. Block off immovable time slots such as work or school or family responsibilities and then plan time to work on homework and other responsibilities. Once you visualize your entire week, it’s easier to plan meaningful time for your family while keeping on top of your other responsibilities.
Develop a Routine
Unexpected bumps in the road happen from time to time of course, but for the most part, you can probably anticipate what your daily life includes. Plan ahead—don’t try to face each responsibility as it comes up. Develop a routine, especially if you have a family and kids to worry about.
Decide who gets the kids ready for school or daycare each morning. Set up a meal plan including who is responsible for preparing different meals. Create shopping lists, and build a chore chart. Streamline your home life so meaningful time spent with your family can be maximized.
Accept Help and Delegate When Necessary
You can’t do everything all on your own. If you try to take on everything yourself, important things will start to fall through the cracks. It’s okay to accept help or delegate when you start to feel overwhelmed.
Perhaps a neighbor has volunteered to drive your kids to school, or a classmate has offered to take on extra responsibility in a group project. Say “yes,” “please,” and “thank you.” Perhaps you aren’t able to help out around the house as much during finals week; ask your partner or kids to pick up the slack for a while so you can power through the end of the semester.
Know your limits and develop lifelines, and you’ll avoid drowning in responsibilities.
Create Special Moments
Family time doesn’t have to look like it belongs on the front of a holiday card. You can find family time even in the midst of chaos and responsibility. If you have kids in school, work on your homework together. Grab an inexpensive ice cream cone at the grocery store and turn grocery shopping into an impromptu date night with your significant other.
Create family rituals. If your schedule allows, you can try to always eat dinner together. Or you can watch a movie together every week on the same day. The specific activity doesn’t matter, but a tradition of spending time together does.
While these special moments may not always look like a Norman Rockwell painting, they can still be meaningful. Remember, you won’t be in school forever, but these memories you make might last the rest of your lives.
Don’t Forget “Me” Time
When trying to balance all of the duties in your life, carving out a little me time can seem unintuitive or simply impossible. However, without planning in a bit of time for yourself, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, stressed, and even anxious or depressed.
This doesn’t have to take up large swaths of time. You can exercise, meditate, read, watch an episode of a television show, take a long bath, get a massage, etc. Find something that can help you unwind that works with your schedule and commit to it.