Managing life outside of school...

by QueenAnnissa 9,038 Views | 39 Comments

Managing life outside of school can be a balancing act. As students we strive to achieve good grades and course objectives inside the classroom, while also attempting to care for the other areas of our life such as relationships, family, work, and home life. This article discusses the different ways to handle these many roles.

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    Managing life outside of school...

    I am about to enter the 1st semester of an ADN program and I'm curious how others with families manage home life. I'm married with 4 children, a 13 y.o. son, a 9 y.o. son, a 5 y.o. daughter and a 1 y.o. daughter. My husband is self-employed and runs a small manufacturing business in the converted barn on our property. (So he's physically close by, most of the time.) We live in a small farmhouse, that we love, but where nothing is level and something always needs to be fixed. I have been a stay at home mom for most of my children's lives. I currently am fortunate to be able to concentrate solely on school and family. I love school and enjoy learning, always have, and get a kick out of doing something finally that I've always wanted to do.

    My question is: How do you keep up with your families and their needs and your home during the nursing program? I have to clean everyday to keep up with all of us and there is laundry, dishes, dinner, grocery shopping, bath times and bedtime stories, football practice and dance class, teachers conferences and kids homework. (And a million other things, right?) I have a supportive husband who does a lot with the kids, especially their extracurricular activities, and he likes cooking dinner. He's enormously busy with his business, although it does slow down some from November through February/March. But there is still a lot going on and basically I'm really the only one doing the assorted cleaning and keeping up with the constant clutter (and who cares if it gets done, by the way) and it's draining at times.

    I've got my syllabus and course guide for the 1st semester and I am now truly aware of what I'm going to need to do to be successful over the next 2 years. I am just wondering how our not-so-little-family is going to survive this! I also have managed studying and doing my schoolwork at a table in the den of our house, but it's right smack in the middle of everyone and there isn't truly a way to avoid the constant interruptions. (Which sucks when your rhythm is broken in the middle of a paper or learning a difficult microbiology concept, for instance.) Sometimes I would wait until everyone went to bed but then I'm only good for a couple hours, at most, before I'm falling asleep at my desk. I also would occasionally get up at 5am and work for a few hours before everyone is up but I truly do not operate well without enough sleep. (who does, right?) Our small house doesn't give me many options for a study space, which sucks. And we live in a rural area that is about a half-hour from school, so there aren't a lot of places I could go for several hours at a time to study.

    I guess I'm just trying to sort through this all in my head and comparing it to life during pre-reqs and we had some tough times here and there, but it wasn't ever too bad. I got the laundry done, made it to the football games and dance class, we had a homemade meal more often than not, even if it wasn't fancy. The house wasn't a complete disaster and it didn't feel like hubby and I were fighting more than usual, LOL! I have a 3.8 GPA, and school has come easily to me so far. I was a supplemental instructor for A&P I and A&P II, I am the VP of our school's Health Professions Club, and I enjoy doing something I'm good at, who doesn't?! I think I'm in for a big shock when the nursing program begins because I've heard so often how much more difficult it is, how formerly 'A' student's grades drop and how differently you need to approach the material. (Critical thinking, application of knowledge, analysis and synthesis of material, etc.)

    I guess mainly I'm worried that all these balls I have in the air are going to come crashing down. I know that I have an expectation for myself to continue to succeed in school, but is it going to come at a cost?
    Last edit by Joe V on Aug 20, '13
    pinkiepieRN, Joe V, and Carpediem1012 like this.
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    39 Comments so far...

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    I'm not in nursing school yet, I am finishing up my prerequisites this semester and am hoping to start Fall 2014, but I am interested to hear other peoples responses. I am in a similar situation as you, I have four children as well ages 14, 9, 7, and 5. I actually find that studying amidst the chaos helps me. I have tried to study at the library and it is so quiet that I become distracted, lol! I'm sure this will change when I am actually doing my nursing classes, but we'll see. Good luck!!
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    I go to my college library to study before test days so I can focus without being interrupted (I read at home too while my kids are in school). Also I found my Crock-Pot is my best friend when comes to cooking dinner on clinical days or days I know I will be super busy. I also have my kids do daily chores to help keep the house semi-clean. My husband also helps with the kids. If my kids have extra-curricular stuff I take my books and with me to study on the go, or make flash cards on the computer that I can get on a app on my phone. Good luck.
    QueenAnnissa likes this.
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    Thanks for sharing your stories! I do need to utilize my crockpot more often, that would help. Any recommendations for a source for recipes?

    I'm thinking if I get my oldest daughter's clothes all into her closet, putting small stuff into baskets and things like that, I could put a small desk in her room. Her room is the farthest from the stairs in the house and therefore would be the quietest. (Our 1 y.o. shares our room for now, and my boys share a room. We have 3 tiny bedrooms and 1 bath, so we have to use every bit of space creatively!)
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    I should also add, I'm the only adult at home the bulk of the time. When the kids are in school, and I am in classes. He watches the girls, the 5 y.o. goes to a pre-k program 3 days a week. When I get home he heads over to the shop to work. He usually has to work long hours, weekends and evenings sometimes on installations or meeting with customers. (He has almost all residential clients.) So I have to find ways to keep up with house, kids and school on my own a lot of the time. It is what it is, and I'm looking for ways to keep up with it all when the hard part of this journey begins.
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    I depend heavily on my husband for help. I just finished my first semester of nursing school and I could not have done as well without his full support. I have one daughter and she was not always happy that I spent the bulk of my time studying. I did not cook much at all and my house was a mess. I literally had no time to clean AND keep up with my school work. I somehow managed to get the laundry done once a week. I was a SAHM before going back to school, so this was quite a change. I feel guilty about how much time I couldn't spend with my daughter. I'm not trying to scare you. Please keep in mind that every program is different and some people will tell you they had an easier time of it than I did. You may very well find that with a bit of organization, you will do just fine. Many have done it before you. Just let your family know how much you will need their support and understanding. I truly learned what people meant when they say nursing school eats your life and luckily, I had a supportive family. Good luck to you. You will be an inspiration to your children, I am sure.

    ETA: You probably won't be able to figure it all out until you are actually in it. You will have to see how much study time you personally need to succeed. There will probably be some times that are more stressful than others. You will find you have to make some difficult choices at times. But you may find doing things a little differently than usual does the trick most of the time.
    Last edit by Everline on Aug 11, '13
    Trust in Jesus and QueenAnnissa like this.
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    My kids are 10 and 13. When I decided to go back to school my husband, the kids, and I sat down and I told them that I would need more help and we came up with a chore list for each person. I had been a stay at home mom too, so I had been doing basically all of the household chores and cooking. Now everyone does their own laundry, the kids are responsible for cleaning their own bathroom on alternating weeks, they are responsible for taking out the trash and recycling each night and for feeding the cats. Before I started school their only chores were cleaning their bedrooms. My husband and I now split the cooking, and I also make and freeze a bunch of soups, sauces, and casseroles at the beginning of each quarter so if there is a night that we are hauling the kids somewhere, or if I just have to study, I can just heat one of them up. My husband is also amazing and helps out whenever needed.

    I still clean and cook, and it can be a lot with classes. I imagine it will be even harder in September once I actually start the nursing program, but if I could make it through A&P 2, Micro, and Chem all in one quarter and survive, I think I will be okay. I have learned to let some little things go, and sometimes my house is messy, and I have decided to be ok with that for right now.
    QueenAnnissa likes this.
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    I am in an ABSN program and just finished the first semester with 4 "A"s and 1 "B". I have five children who are 12, 9, 6, 5, and 5. It is very possible, but you will not be able to maintain your house and extracurricular activities like you once did. My laundry was never done, my floors were dirty and dinner was often bean and cheese burritos. That being said, I enlisted as many grandparents and friends to help love on my children. Special dates with grandma or hanging out with a friend were lifesavers. I did not come home to study! I left class and went straight to the library or coffee shop and studied with classmates. When I was home, I tried to just be home for my family. Also, I kept saying that I could do anything for a year! You absolutely can do this!!!! Try to make sure one day a week is just for your family. This helps you set parameters for your time and also gives your family the time they need.
    Tinker88, hazel30, QueenAnnissa, and 1 other like this.
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    Well said Jenn! Everyone in the family has to pitch in! Keep organized and have a system in place too.
    Tinker88, pinkiepieRN, and QueenAnnissa like this.
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    Find a quiet place. Many do not think about this because it worked for them doing prereqs, but after 2 semesters of nursing school I've made lots of changes. Finding a place to concentrate on just school work will save you tonnes of aggravation, in addition to help keeping organized. My 1st semester I had computer and books out in the open close by the family room, did not work. Second semester I moved into spare bedroom. Needless to say my GPA has gone up and I am able to keep my sanity. I also like studying or doing assignments in the dead of morning like 2-5am when the kids are sleep. I'm also realizing that the day before a test, just get out the house to study. A small argument with the spouse could break you and result in failing. Spouse support is critical. Talk about it now and make a plan. Help from family is also a good idea to get you and the husband 1 day of the month to chill out.


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