Second Career Nursing Students: On Balancing School and Work/ Family Life
Starting to get a career through nursing school is in itself is challenging but it becomes even more so when you have to balance it with work and family. Nonetheless, some do it and are successful. But how? Here are some strategies to help survive life when it involves balancing the three:
1.Set realistic goals. It is helpful to set daily goals, goals that you are able to complete in a day. Do not set yourself up for failure by making an extensive to-do list. Rather, make a list that keeps things in perspective, keeps you on schedule, and allows you to feel as if you have accomplished something at the end of the day. Be sure that some of the goals relate to school and some relate to your personal life. Additionally, it might be helpful to break larger tasks into small parts. For instance, if you know that you have a paper due during the same week that relatives are visiting, write several paragraphs of the paper weeks ahead of the due date, and/or prepare food for your guests ahead of time and freeze it.
2.Set a schedule. A schedule makes achieving goals more feasible and also keeps you on track. For instance, if you designate your studying time as 7-8 pm, keep that time and do not allow for interferences. Then, when it comes time for the exam, preparation for a nursing exam will be easier and less intimidating.
3.Stay focused and organized. Organization is essential. Organization parallels setting a schedule and setting goals. Use a calendar to plan time for studying, work and other affairs. Nursing school is definitely more challenging when you have to balance it with a job and personal responsibilities; therefore, mark on your calendar the end goal: A degree. This will help you stay focused.
4.Learn to say, “No”. When you are in school, working and managing a family, it is imperative to learn to say “no”. Only assume tasks that you know you will be able to complete, otherwise it could lead to nursing burnout and/or resentment. Taking on too much can result in the completion of work done poorly. If is more practical to go to school on a part-time basis versus a full-time basis, so be it.
5.Ask for help. Remember that you do not have to accomplish everything by yourself. If you are working and you have a demanding school schedule coming up, find out if you can switch your work hours or even take some time off. Similarly, ask family members or friends to help out with errands and/or household chores. This lessens your work load and allows you the time and energy to fulfill necessary responsibilities.
6.Make time for yourself. Despite having a busy schedule, personal time might seem out of the picture, but in order to prevent burnout, personal time is essential to maintain wellness in nurses. This might mean taking a hot bath after work or having a nice meal with a friend one evening. Investing in yourself will make you more productive in the general scheme of things.
These are only a few strategies to help manage life when trying to balance work, family, and nursing school. Preparing for a nursing career is not easy—the keys are preparation, organization and dedication. Having a good support system is also helpful, as is the ability to say, “no” when you need to. Hopefully these techniques will prove useful and will enable you to accomplish your goals and maintain balance in all areas of your life.