By: Guest Blogger Sophia Mulliner for All Things NP
When people find out that I am in grad school, have 3 young kids (5 1/2, 4, 2 1/2 yr) and also work they often ask, “Wow- how do you do it all?”. Well, the answer is, I don’t do it all.
Many days I feel that I am giving every part of my life about 33.333% because I’m stretched so thin. There is no magical formula for juggling the demands of grad school and a family. I will say that there is no way I could do what I’m doing without an incredibly supportive husband. He has been by my side since I began my nursing career many years ago and has always encouraged me to continue my education.
I think that a few things must be in order before attempting an endeavor such as school and a family.
Reliable, trust worthy childcare. First, you must set up a childcare situation that you are happy with. Fortunately, my mom lives nearby and takes care of our youngest two children when I have class, clinical or work. Our oldest is in kindergarten and my husband takes her to school every morning.
Set realistic expectations. I learned early on in grad school that I have to maximize my time as much as I can. Unlike most of my single peers in school I don’t have the luxury of studying hours on end, through the weekend and basically whenever I want. I have to schedule time to go to the library if I want some peace and quiet or I wake up at insane hours (4:30 am) to study. Also, if I don’t do as well on an exam as I would have liked, I have to be okay with that. I have to remind myself that I am the only one in my class with 3 small children. I can’t obsess about not being an A+ student all of the time.
Family and schoolwork don’t mix. When I come home each day I set my backpack down and I don’t open it again until after the kids are in bed. I’ve tried working on projects or studying while they are around but as you can imagine, I am constantly interrupted. I can’t blame them- I’m their mom, they have no idea why I’m sitting behind a computer and not playing with them. Our evenings are busy just like many other working parents and are filled with a mad rush to make dinner, do homework, practice piano and our weekly activities.
Make time for yourself. I try to hit the gym or go running at least 4 days each week. I have always been a morning person and I know this might sound crazy, but I absolutely love waking up early. I’m usually up by 5:30, work-out, shower and have all this done before most of the kids are up. This is my time to clear my head, energize my body and do something for myself that I enjoy. If I let too many days pass by without exercising, it really affects my mood. I need to do it for my own sanity. If exercise isn’t your thing, then find something that is and fit it into your schedule. You will be better for it.
Going back to school and juggling the demands of a family has not been easy but I know when I am finished, it will definitely be worth it. If you’re thinking about taking the plunge it can be done. I will complete Penn’s NP program this summer and will start job hunting soon. I’m excited about the possibilities that will come my way as a result of going back to school.
About Sophia: Sophia Mulliner has worked as an ICU nurse for 7 years and is currently attending the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program at University of Pennsylvania. She will graduate this summer. Sophia blogs at All Things NP.