One question I often receive from prospective and current nursing students is, “How do you balance school with being a mom, and life in general?” Deciding to pursue nursing school, especially with a family, is a huge commitment. But it is doable. I have been able to attend family events, take trips, and enjoy time with my friends while in school. Sometimes it just requires some sacrifices in other areas of life.
- Be open with your friends and family. Not everyone realizes the demands of nursing school and may not understand when you must say “no” to certain things. There will be a time throughout your schooling when you will have to decline an invite to focus on studying, an assignment, or a project. The more open you are with those in your circle, the more they will understand and support your decision to put your studies first.
- Keep a monthly planner, then consistently update, and use it! Being able to see your week or month at a glance can help you assess your workload and determine if and when you have time to do other things. One week may be lighter allowing you to either get ahead or schedule some extra time with friends or family. Another may be heavier, and you can set time to get together the following week. Understanding your workload and knowing how to prioritize your work will be helpful in maximizing your time.
- Determine what you are willing to sacrifice. You can do anything, but you cannot do everything. You may have to combine exercise and watching your favorite television show to save time. You might have to stay awake later or wake up earlier in order to spend more quality time with your children during the day. Figure out what your top priorities are and make sure those are the things that get done, then go to moderately rated priorities and finally the “extras”. This may seem like a simple thing to do, but you may find that your priorities will shift over time or throughout your schooling, and that is okay! Adjust your schedule as needed.
- Grow a support system. Having classmates and friends who understand what you are going through is extremely helpful during a high-stress program. Being able to relieve stress and discuss specifics about your schooling can be therapeutic. Having fellow students who can empathize with you not being able to do certain things, running off of limited sleep, and cramming for exams will provide you with a bond that few will understand.
- Schedule study times. Setting alarms throughout the day as reminders to study or complete assignments has been very helpful for me. If a reminder goes off and I realize that I only have a few minutes to get something done, I do it. This saves me extra time to do something later in the day or week that I enjoy. Holding yourself accountable and realizing when you are not using your time to its fullest potential is integral to optimizing time management. You must be honest with yourself and identify when you are wasting time doing nothing and when you are getting things done early so that you can do more of what you love, later.
Making the commitment to go to nursing school will come with some sacrifice. It is a difficult, rigorous, and time-consuming field of study. But ultimately, these are short-term sacrifices being made for long-term gain. A growing number of parents have decided to take the leap and go back to school and get their nursing degree, while continuing to be an amazing role model, and you can too!