Single mom of 3, disorganized, discouraged & stressed

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    I'm hoping to hear from parents out there who have almost full-time care of their children, who have struggled to study and be organized.

    To be fair, my kids' dad will help if I give him enough notice, and my mom lives with me, so making the time to study should not be an issue. I try to be organized, but I am disorganized, for one. I need tips on making a chart or SOMETHING that will help me be organized. I hear so many stories of the single mom who works full-time, goes to school full-time, cares for her kids and has a 4.0. It makes me wonder if there is something wrong with me. :-(

    Part of my problem is that 1) I feel guilty about leaving my kids with my mom to study, because she helps so much anyway and they tire her out; 2) When I study with the kids, they tend to interrupt a lot (they're 12, 8 and 7)--at least, the two younger ones do; 3) When they finish homework, the two younger ones eventually finish the day by bickering, so I end up referrining and counseling; 4) I feel guilty at leaving my kids because I miss them when I leave home to study at the library; 5) I'm one of those people who hates to ask (bother) others for help.

    How do I get over these issues and how do I become more organized? I'm not looking to be a superstar mom, but I'm getting worried because my grades are suffering and the nursing progams I want to get into are competitive, even at the community college level.

    Thanks for any advice.
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  3. 18 Comments so far...

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    I'm a married mother of one and I'm disorganized and stressed! I just take it one day at a time. I know I'm never going to have a 4.0 and I can only work a .6, or else it is just too much for me. It's all about managing expectations. I set myself an obtainable gpa goal each semester, because that helps me stay motivated (usually 3.5-3.75 depending on my course load.) At this point in my life, I have to be realistic about my priorities. If I don't make school the #1 after my daughter I know it just won't work for me. I make sure that I spend as much time with her as possible, but the better I do now, the more time we'll have in the future! I started taking my daughter to a very nice daycare center this year. This helps me with the mommy guilt (I'm not putting a burden on family) and it's great because they do lots of great lessons and art projects with the kids, so it really is money well spent. Even though it is expensive, I was able to get a child care grant to help pay for it.

    As far as organization, that is a daily struggle! I just keep each class' notes, lecture materials, and lab notebooks in three ring binders and keep them all color coded, so I always grab the right one in the morning. I keep tests and quizzes on my google calendar with email reminders a couple days in advance in case I get off track with studying. The hardest part for me is online classes, because it's so easy to get behind, so I try to take as many on campus as possible.

    I know it's tough, and you honestly have more on your plate than I do right now, but just try to keep your eye on the prize, because in a couple of years it will be totally worth all of this stress and hassle!
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    I'm in the same boat but married with four daughters and work 1 full time job and 1 casual and trying to get into a full time nursing program also very disorganized. Anyone please give us advice on how to manage time!
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    I completely understand how all of you feel. I'm a the mother of three (3 year old twins and a 4.5 year old), I work full time as a cardiology technician and full time student. It's a hard road to follow, but I truly try my hardest not to become stressed out.

    I no longer freak out when the laundry is not done, or the kids have trashed the living room. I don't feel bad if I have to feed the kids breakfast for dinner because it sounds like the easiest thing to make and I have an A&P test to study for. I don't let it bug me to much when the kids have watched 5 episodes of Dora while I am trying my hardest to study (at least they now know how to say "Horse" in Spanish). My husband doesn't mind watching the kids while I go and run 5 miles (as I listen to a micro lecture on my iPod) because it's the only time I get a moment to myself.

    I have learned to let things just happen, because if I try to make everything perfect it ruins my day. Heck when I graduate from Nursing School I'll have children speaking fluent Spanish and the best running legs on the block.
    vanshancass, anezt2, and MsAlba like this.
  7. 0
    Hang in there! I totally understand your angst, I have 2 little ones and I'm not in school yet but I am already getting a plan in place, so I can get my studying in. Sure some days my "plan" may not go as planned (that's motherhood for you) but I'm not going to stress over it. You shouldn't either. Life happens, you can only do the best you can but you do have to really get strict with yourself to make it through. 2-3 years of nursing school will fly by and this will all be worth it in the end. You just have to get through this and you can.

    First thing is to get yourself and your family on a schedule. #1 Try setting aside 2-3 days a week that you can regularily go to the library to study even just 2 hours of studying out of the home will help. Ask your ex to watch the kids 1-2 days and your mom watch them 1 or 2 afternoons or evenings. #2 If your kids don't have a set bed time, get them on a schedule and then study when the kids go to bed. Or set at 7:30 pm settle down in your room time for your kids and then tell them lights out by 8:30. Sure it may mean you have to stay up 2-3 hours after the kids go to bed to get some study time in but that may be what it takes. If you work, study on your lunch breaks or whenever you have a break and/or any down time. Wake up 2-3 hours before the kids wake up on weekends and study. Find any open window (even if only 15-20 mins here and there) to study and study.
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    I understand how you feel. I am a single mom, with only friends for help; his father and my family arent around. I work full time nights,and full time school while my son is in kindergarden. I feel guilty when I work, or go to class. I just tell myself its not forever, and that everything I do, I do for my son. Keep your eye on the goal
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    I think where we go wrong is feeling guilty about working or going to school. Of course, it's great to keep your kids in mind as you plan and to give them attention and all of those things. But I think ultimately it's important to remember that you're also teaching your kids a valuable lesson by prioritizing your school work, by requiring some extra responsibility and indepedence on their parts and demonstrating how to ask for assistance when it's needed. I was raised by a single mom with an extremely busy and important career. I would not change a thing and I feel I owe her for demonstrating commitment to her work and not making me feel like the world revolved around me (well, all the time--I was still quite spoiled really).

    I am now a single mom to three kids myself (10, 8 and 6). I've been taking my prerequisites and just got accepted to a BSN program to start in January. I've made it clear to my kids that there are times I have to study (or work) and that they must entertain themselves. We have a pretty rigid routine for mornings and evenings and bedtime is nonnegotiable (except on weekends--a little later). They are responsible for cleaning their own rooms, gathering up their laundry, cleaning the family room and other things that need to be done when I ask them. And like others have said, some days dinner is something super easy and sometimes the dishes or laundry isn't done and the house is a disaster zone.

    For me, I keep a calendar, usually a month in advance of what is due and what is going on with school and life. I focus solely on school, work and the kids. Not much social life, but I find the tunnel vision helps keep me on track. The best calendar I've used is one of those really big ones with the tear-off pages, because it's large enough to be in my way, so I can't ignore it, and I can fit everything on it.

    It's all a means unto an end. You can do it!!! And your kids will be all the better for your focus and your willingness to do as well as you can with school and furthering your career.
  10. 0
    I think it's impossible to study while taking care of your family. If I were you I'd get both your mom and ex to agree to watch the kids 2 evenings a week. Then go to the library or somewhere else to study (I like Arby's because the one near me is pretty quiet and they'll let me buy a drink and keep refilling for free).

    The other good trick is to get up an hour earlier than everyone and do school work then. It's hard to do, but you typically aren't interrupted and it's a good feeling to have your work done first thing in the morning.
  11. 1
    I am a married mom of two, 7 & 10 both boys. I feel like my hubby is my third child sometimes Just kidding. Kind of lol. I have a 4.0 so far in NS (finishing up the first semester now) and a 3.75 overall (would be higher but some was from old classes back when I didn't care).

    I think over half the battle is in organization. I am an organizer, it helps me relax & stay sane.

    Get a planner, color code your classes & write all your assignments & tests in it. I highlighted different classes in different colors, then bought matching folders to coordinate. That way you can easily see at a glance what is due when. That helps in planning ahead too (I'm also a huge planner).

    Some of the kids I see struggling are pretty disorganized & I truly think that's a big factor.

    Maybe get up an hour or two before your kids to study. That way you can avoid some of the guilt. I got up at 5am this morning to study for a patho exam when I would normally get up at 7am on Tuesdays. Take advantage of day light savings time & earlier darkness & make the kids go to bed early or at least have quiet play time or reading time in their rooms.

    I've also implemented mandatory chores for the boys which I think is good for them. A dirty house drives me nutty, but when everyone pitches in, it helps get stuff done quickly.
    Fearless_leader likes this.
  12. 1
    Mom of one and married here. I feel single most of the time though. My husband works 70-80 hours a week and we NEVER know what time he's getting off work. I am it for everything; son's school activities, sports, cleaning, shopping, dry cleaning, organizing family activities, etc.....The way I make it work is to stop feeling guilty! It's okay if you leave the kids a few nights a week. I cannot imagine trying to study with a couple of little ones running around. I couldn't possibly study. I have made it a point to leave for the entire day before our tests and a few half days per week, just to go to our school library and study. I'm hanging in there in my first semester of nursing school and had a 4.0 coming in.

    Here's what I have given up: most house cleaning, just stick to the necessities; all social life, I would rather spend the little time I have with hubby and son than my friends (they all said they'd be there for me in a couple of years).
    anezt2 likes this.


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