Balancing Act: Juggling Kids, Spouses, Bosses and Professors
(Continued from 1)
- Make time for the two of you. Dedicate one night a week to your spouse, no
exceptions. This doesn't need to be an entire night; just getting a sitter for a
few hours while you go have dinner is often enough time to remind yourselves that
your relationship is solid. And unless you have something due the next day,
go to bed together on date night. Reading those chapters can wait.
- Let them know you appreciate their support. A partner who is willing to pick up the
slack is a godsend, and should feel like their hard work is noticed. Preparing
dinners, handling bedtime duties and taking the kids out when you’re on a deadline
are all huge contributors to your success as a student. It is all too easy to fall
into the mindset of expecting these things, when a simple thank you or token of
appreciation here and there can let them know you are grateful (it doesn't hurt to
praise their support to others, either).
Such simple things can help ease the tension that studies can create between
couples. As stated, they are things that we should all be doing in our relationships
anyway. But if one half of a couple has returned to school, they become absolutely
If you are lucky enough to have a supervisor that you’re on good
terms or even friends with, it can be a great help to obtaining your
degree. For those who aren't so fortunate, there are still things that can be done
to make the work/school balance a little smoother.
- First and foremost, remember that
despite the fact that you want more for your future, you have a
job to do right now. Underachieving at work is no way to get the support you desire when you
need time off for an exam. In fact, putting in extra hours or going above and beyond
your duties can go a long way when requesting alternate hours or leaves of absence
Additionally, many companies have policies and programs that encourage employees to
further their education; learn what the opportunites are and use them to full advantage.
- Remember that if your immediate supervisor isn't accommodating with something, the
next level of management may be more knowledgeable
in ways to help with less hassle.
Of course, there are
supervisors that will not budge for an employee regardless of the cause.
Remind them that what you are working toward is valid. Share with them your excitement for learning and demonstrate how it will benefit them as well. The more involved others are in your success, the more they will be on your team if you need them.
If you are married with kids and returning to school, you are likely to fall behind
at some point. Luckily, most of the professors you’ll ever meet in your life would
actually like to see you succeed, and allow the occasional transgression. Many of
the professors I’ve encountered worked towards their Masters or PhD’s with young
families. This helped immensely when I submitted an essay that appeared as if it was
written by two different people (the last few pages were written while on two hours
sleep, causing the rest of the work to suffer). Knowing my situation, the professor
of the course stated he’d rather give me a day to re-submit the paper than bring my
average down. It was a much-appreciated gesture and showed the support of the
Another option students have is to ask for an extension. Not that this is something
to make a habit of, but most professors and teacher’s assistants have no problem
granting extra time to students who are really in a bind. In cases like this, it
helps to have a bit of foresight. If you know that the second half of the month is
going to be particularly hectic with the kids’ sports, various appointments and
other commitments, ask for an extension right away. Don’t wait until the day before
a deadline and risk not getting it.
It is important for those returning to college to realize that they will face more
stress than the average student. We can’t stop being parents, companions or reliable
workers simply because we’re trying to better ourselves. The workload is tough and
the balancing act is daunting, but success is attainable. Just remind yourself that
sleep is going to be limited and that you have people around you for support. It’s
simply a matter of rolling up your sleeves and getting to work!