Let’s face it: nursing school is a big commitment and a lot of work. Whether you have already started school or are waiting to get accepted, you know it’s a lot of work. If you have kids, you might have a few concerns about how to juggle classes, clinical rotations, and assignments while still being a good parent.
Being a parent itself is a lot of work. Whether your kids are little ones or teens, parenting is a big responsibility. If you are a single parent, life may even be a little more hectic. Although it’s perfectly normal to have a moment of self-doubt, you can do well in nursing school and still be a great parent. Consider some of the following suggestions:
Keep it simple: Being a good parent does not mean you have to prepare gourmet meals every day or handcraft your kids Halloween costumes. During nursing school, it might be easier to simplify your home life. Prepare easy to make meals, and don’t worry about keeping a spotless house. Limit grocery shopping and laundry to once a week. If you have older kids, it’s time to assign chore so they can take some of the load off you. Your kids don’t expect you to be supermom or dad, so don’t put that on yourself. They just want you to love them, and you already got that covered!
Don’t miss the big stuff: Life is about making choices. When you’re in nursing school as a parent, you might not have a lot of free time, which is why prioritizing is essential. There may be times when you have to miss a baseball game or skip a cub scout meeting, but don’t miss the big stuff in your child’s life. So what’s the big stuff? That varies with every family, but you probably know what it is. You might have to juggle things around and get creative. Remember, your kids grow up fast, and you don’t get this time back.
Just say no: You only have 24 hours in a day. That’s all. No more. There may come a time when you have to say no to a few things. Remember, prioritizing is key to balancing everything you got going on. So if you have to say no to baking cookies for the PTA bake sale or coaching your daughter’s soccer team this season, it’s OK. You’ll buy goodies, and you will cheer from the stands.
Communicate honestly: Always keep the lines of communication open with your kids. For example, talk to your kids about why you’re working so hard and the importance of taking school seriously. Very young kids probably won’t get it, but older kids may understand. Also, don’t make promises you can’t keep. For instance, if you can’t play a game because you have to study, don’t say you will later if you know you won’t.
Be present in the moment: Your kids want your attention, but even if you’re there, you might not always be there. If you have a million things to do, it’s easy to think about something else while you’re playing checkers or tossing a ball around. But it’s hard to enjoy the moment if you aren’t present, and then you both miss out. While you’re spending time with your kids, be there, not just physically, but mentally as well. Put your phone away, forget about school and just be with your kids.
Recruit a support system: No one said you have to do it all alone. Remember the saying it takes a village to raise kids? While you may not have a village, you can rely on your partner, friends and family to help out. There is nothing wrong with leaning on your loved ones from time to time. For instance, have a contingency plan for if your kids get sick and can’t go to school. Having a support system in place can make all those little emergencies manageable.
Keep your eye on the prize: Some days you might worry that you’re not spending enough time with your kids. Other days, school may seem overwhelming. You may have days you think you can’t do it all. But you can. Remember, you don’t have to be a stellar student or perfect parent every moment. When everything seems too much to handle, remember why you are doing it all. The good news is, nursing school won’t last forever. In the meantime, you’re teaching your kids to reach for their goals, which is a great lesson at any age.