I made the decision to finish my degree at CSU Global for a variety of reasons, but most importantly, the coursework is 100% online. As a wife, mother of 3 children, and a full-time employee, I knew that attending a traditional school would not work for me and my family. I knew we’d have to adjust to balance both family life and my school responsibilities, but I was surprised where we felt the biggest impact: Dinner. As the primary meal preparer in the house, I was used to spending a significant amount of time on creating a weekly meal plan, finding coupons, shopping, organizing, and cooking. These tasks usually took up half of my Saturday or more! That was fine when I wasn’t taking classes, but now that I had to begin balancing school and work, I knew that I needed to allocate that time for my coursework. Sure, finding uninterrupted time on the weekends was challenging, but the weekdays were even harder. After leaving my full-time job for the day I was responsible for taking my kids to their after-school activities, reviewing homework, listening to the events of their day, and of course, dinner. That meant preparing the meal, serving the meal, and cleaning up after. Depending on when the kids went to bed, sometimes I wouldn’t get to my school work until after 10 pm.
I was exhausted and overwhelmed. I knew there had to be a better way for me to balance the requirements and joys of family life, with my personal goal of completing my degree.Managing Work and School I knew that I had to reprioritize my responsibilities where I could. I started by taking mandatory tasks off the table: working full-time, taking the kids to their activities, and spending quality time with my family were must-haves. Then I went through the non-mandatory tasks I was spending time on and the one that stood out most was dinner. Not just dinner, but everything that went into it. Why was I the only cook in my kitchen? Why did I have to do all the meal planning, coupon finding, shopping, organizing, and cooking alone? What about the rest of the family? The youngest of my kids is 10 years old and my husband is way older than that. Now was the time for them to pitch in. My husband took over meal planning, coupon finding, and grocery shopping. My kids have a range of cooking experience so they agreed to prepare dinner during the week. Of course the transition didn’t happen overnight and I wouldn’t call it easy. There have been a couple nights when no one made dinner, and so no one was happy. There have also been quite a few breakfast-for-dinner nights because it’s such an easy meal. Regardless of the daily ups and downs, I try to return the support I’m getting from my family. With their help I can now spend my Saturday logged into CSU Global instead of at the grocery store. My weeknights are spent studying and writing instead of cooking and cleaning. Having achieved much better school-life balance, I feel better equipped to not only handle my coursework, but to excel and gain a deeper understanding of the course material. Tips for Working Students Could you benefit from reevaluating your priorities and asking for help? The next time you find yourself asking how to balance work and school responsibilities, try following this simple time-management process:
- Make a list of your responsibilities or the tasks you do 3x a week or more.
- Prioritize the list with mandatory tasks at the top and non-mandatory tasks at the bottom.
- Concentrate on the non-mandatory tasks and consider any outside help that may be available. Do you really need to be the one doing everything? Can anything be broken down into smaller tasks and then delegated?
- If you can’t pass something onto others, consider how many times you do it a week and how long it takes you. Can time or frequency be cut down?
- Evolve with your plan. Depending on the week, you may be able to take on more or less. Things can also change with the season, so always be flexible with your schedule.
- Always thank the people helping you.