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April Challenge
 This page was last updated on 15-Jun-02

      The Student Nurse Challenge:
    April Challenge
he challenge topic for April, 2002 is "What is your best tip for balancing school and family?"  All entrants will be included in a random drawing to win a Quick-E Medical Surgical Clinical Nursing Reference book from Bandido Books! This fantastic quick-reference book is designed for the nurse-generalist. It includes laboratory values, an assessment guide, nutrition and drug sections, as well as the 1999-2000 NANDA diagnoses classifications. Quick-E's fit in your pocket for maximum portability during clinicals - you will love this book!

Here are the entries received to date:

From Tracy W. of Ft. Walton Beach, FL:
Besides setting specific study times, I basically give everyone a break on not so essential chores. "Don't sweat the small stuff, it will be there when it's over!" That way no one stresses out.

From Sherrie H. of Greendale, WI:
Remember why you entered this program. Everyone is different, so my advise is simple: When times are tough, ask for help. Not everything needs to get done today, so set your priorities wisely. If you become completely ovewhelmed and find it hard to see any possible way, look deep inside yourself and muster up the strength that has brought you to one of the most difficult yet rewarding career goals possible. Nursing is not something you do, it is who you are - remember that.

From Kassy P. of San Antonio, TX:
Here are my tips for balancing school and family. I have four children and a husband. After school, I study with my kids. When there is a TV program my children want to watch, I will watch it with them and study during commercials. If I have to take my children to any doctor appointments, my books and study material comes along with me. In the evenings while my husband is reading or working on the computer, I will sit right next to him and study. There are even times where my husband will study with me and will test me. He has even made "self tests" for me to help practice taking the tests. But I will pick one day a week or even several hours a day where I will not study. And I spend those days or hours doing whatever my children want. Depending on what is happening with school, I will mark those days on the calendar. This has worked well for my family. :o)

From Amy of Kansas City, MO:
Balancing school and family is stressful at times, yet with a little bit of extra work, balance can be achieved. I find that organizing my life helps me in school, and helps my family deal with the student that I am. For instance, I have made out a daily schedule for each day of the week that hangs on a bulletin board in the kitchen. It includes the chores I need to do around the house, as well as what I expect from each member of the family. I also have a meal planned for each night of the week-and I usually stick to making very basic stuff and I use a crock-pot a lot.

On my daily schedule, I have set aside specific study times for myself. For instance, my kids take 1-2 hr naps each afternoon. I use the first hour of this as study time, and the rest for free time. My kids also go to bed at 8PM. 8-9PM is study time, and free time is after that (although I have had to go the extra mile here and study even later). I always try to stick to my schedule and I always give myself some time each week to do "me" stuff, like shopping by myself at the mall for an hour, having a manicure, or spending time at the movies with my friends. I always thought being organized would be stressful, but I have learned that without organization and my little schedules, my life would be chaos, and my family would definitely suffer the consequences.

From Jenny A. of Savannah, GA:
I think that the plan for this problem is to set aside either one full day or an hour a day just for family. I personally set aside one hour a day no matter what is going on and just devote it to my family. It works well for me because it gives me time to wind down and spend time with them.

From Diane M. of Rome, GA:
As a single parent, I attend school while my son is in school, and I am at home when he is at home. I study at night when he is in bed, and I study in between classes at school. Our time together is then virtually the same as it was before school, when I worked while he was in school. I now work on the weekend as a Student Tech at a local hospital. I have been blessed as I have entered the college population, 20+ years after graduating high school. This has been difficult, but rewarding in many ways; I love nursing, this is a life dream becoming reality.

From Heather W. of Coral Springs, FL:
Every day, my 3 kids and I do our homework together. It gives us a sense of "being in the same boat," shows them how important it is to do your best and have a good work ethic on a concrete level, gives us a chance to spend some time together, lets me see how they are doing, and sometimes I even get MY homework done, too!!

From CJ M. of Davis, CA:
It's very simple: You need to first have the support of your family, second keep a detailed daily schedule and thirdly, be organized.

My family always knows when I'll be home, where I am and what they are expected to do. My husband takes the kids to school in the morning, I pick them up. If I have clinical and can't pick them up, they are prepared to walk home. They have set chores and homework time. I also make sure they have snacks. I carry a cell phone with me so I can reach them and they can reach me. One day a week is for laundry and cleaning, the rest of the week is maintenance. Basically, your house cleaning is of the least importance. My husband also does the cooking for the family- but you can always use one day a week to prepare and freeze food.

When my kids study, so do I. They have set bedtimes, and I study once they are asleep. I take every open free time to do assignments ahead of time. I keep a nursing bag in my car with all my nurse equipment. All my notes are organized by test and keep together in a bound notebook. I have a "to go" bag with snacks and coffee cup for times I don't have time to eat. I always know where I need to be, what I need to have with me and when I need to be there. I carry a detailed calendar with emergency nurmbers and class calendar.

To balance family and school, you need to always expect the unexpected - sick kids, car breaking down etc. and have a back up plan. Remember, sometimes things just don't get done. Don't be afraid to have a messy house or skip a bath. (I carry diaper wipes in the car.). And the most important thing to do is NEVER think about how hard it is to balance family and nursing school - just keep truck'n.

From Michelle of Fork, SC:
Take it one day at a time. Learn to appreciate the support and accept the negativity as a learning experience. Lean to God for spirituality and answers in times of stress and never be ashamed to ask for help from your loved ones. Give respect and when it circles back around to you, it will be very much needed and appreciated. Try to include your children or spouse with skills that you might try to practice at home and they won't feel left out. And last but certainly not least, keep smiling. You'll definitely need those natural endorphins for that little extra "feel good."

From Theresa D. of Winnipeg, Manitoba:
Best tip for balancing home and family is to write things down even if they aren't important at the time. Keeping an up to date Day-Timer is how I keep on track with school and family. My husband has been with the Military on OP Appolo and trying to keep track of all the important dates is hard if you don't write things down. Keep family time just that - family time. And don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Have a good sitter or daycare. These are just two to three of the things I do to keep the fine balance between school & family.

Beth A. of Tifton, GA:
The best way to balance family and school is to make sure you have time for both! If you have older or younger children, get them to help with everyday chores around the house. Make it a game! Let them plan what they want to eat during the week! Make sure they know you have specific study times and are not to be disturbed. I usually go to the library because I can find all kinds of things to do at home, if I stay there, instead of studying. Tell them daily that you love them but that you have decided to become "An angel of mercy" and you need their help to be able to help others!

From Connie P. of Laurens, SC:

From Gina C. of Mandeville, LA:
After becoming discouraged from the realization I was GAINING weight and LOSING quality time with my children, a delightful resolution soon came to mind that would be a sure remedy to both. With the spring and summer ahead of us, we have begun to take daily afternoon walks through our neighborhood. It didn't take long before I began to lose those pounds and gain that quality time back again.

From Katherine B. of Jane Lew, WV:
Take 1 hour out of your day to do something fun that you and your family will enjoy. Sit down and plan something fun with your children for the next time you have free time. Playing a sport with them will help decrease stress on your self and your family will enjoy spending time with you.

From Leticia F. of Los Angeles, CA:
I believe that family is very important, but because of that same reason, I have to dedicate alot of time to my education, studying to provide for a better future for them. I spend at least an hour every day playing with the family. Spending time with the family releases some of the pressure I feel from being stuck in the books. My husband and son understand that I have to be at school alot of my time and they understand and support me.

From Rea M. of Delano, CA:
My tip for balancing school and family is to set aside time both. Make a schedule plan so that you don't miss out on any important tasks you have to do. Let your family know that being there for them plus going to school at the same time is pretty tough, and ask for their support. If you let them know what you are going through, and they want you to succeed, they will, indeed, be supportive and help you out.

From Lindsay R. of Mandan, ND:
I am only 20 without any children, husbands, or even boyfriends. I really don't know how you all do what you do! I can barely cope with having my older parents understand that I don't have time to drive 3 hours every weekend to see them or call my friends every night. College was supposed to be an all-out sprawl to party right? Wrong, not if you are a nurse. You learn what it is to grow up real fast and exactly what the real world is, at least a window of it. I try to send a little quirk of an e-mail to keep in touch with everybody and use the e-mail greeting cards to remember other people's birthdays. I can't imagine how you guys do it with raising children and managing relationships...mine can only last until the next hard exam comes up!:) So congratulations to everybody with being able to manage...I definitely look up to you all with respect!!!

From Delena R. of Maynardville, TN:
Sleep a little, eat a little and study a lot, but always find the time for a special kiss and "I love you" for your spouse and children.

From Natalie of Oliver, British Columbia:
Balancing school and family the past 3 years, I've learned to completely immerse myself in whatever I'm doing at the moment, without thinking about what I could/should be doing. Whether playing Lego on the floor with my daughter, or sitting in lecture, I totally ''get into the moment," and so far I have absolutely no regrets about fulfilling any of my roles, as I know I've given my fullest attention possible to each situation.

From Theresa M. of Midland, TX:
I would have to say that enlisting your significant other's support and assistance prior to beginning nursing school is paramount!  My husband agreed to take on greater portions of the household chores and help fix meals (or bring home something!) and take more time and responsibility with our 3 children. Without his endless support and love, I couldn't have made it this far!! My 2 older kids support me and understand that I need study time and rest time, etc... and they are real good about helping with the youngest so I can keep studying, instead of having to stop every 5 minutes to get juice, change the TV, get a toy off the shelf, etc... and they're a HUGE help!! Both my husband and girls have left me little notes of love and support when they sense I'm getting too stressed or frustrated and I'll tell you......they made the difference in my mental attitude!! Knowing that you're loved and supported whether or not the house is clean, dishes are washed, laundry put away, etc... has made the difference for me. Without the support of my immediate and extended family (who help in times of emergency child care/sick child care), there's no way I could be where I am!!!

From Denise C. of Morristown, NJ:
I actually balance home, school and a full time job - so finding time to study is tough. With the endless use of index carding my notes, I am able to have a "mobil" study system. I steal time whenever I can to review my cards - waiting for class to start, breaks at my desk, waiting for a meeting to start at work, during breakfast, etc. When it comes time to really buckle down and prepare for a test, the material is already familiar, so I don't need to spend as much time away from my family studying in my home office or the library.

From Vikki P. of St. Louis, MO:
As a single parent, balancing work, school and home has been more than a challenge. I work full time and I'm carrying a 16-hour course load. I'm on campus only two nights a week, but I have to put in many hours of study at home. So, I've commissioned my family to cook a few meals for us during the week. On other days we either order out, or have an "every man for himself" night. Friday night is study-free night. School work is "outlawed" until Saturday evening. We do housework and run errands on Saturday mornings. It also helps that my son is involved in various activities. Now I don't feel so guilty for being a non-traditional parent. Also, it leaves more time for me to concentrate on my studies. It's not easy, and there is no right or wrong way of balancing the different aspects of your life. It comes down to what works for you and your family. I remain spiritually grounded, knowing that there is a higher power working with me, constantly providing and working miracles in my life. I just do the best I can until I can do better.

From Linda T. (location not given):
First of all, school is hard enough by itself. I try to work on my work after classes and before my husband gets home and then spend a little bit of time with him (even if it may be while we are eating dinner together or if he is fixing him something to eat). Most of all, I feel that if you have a husband, boyfriend, etc. they should be supportive and understanding and if it is true, everything should work out fine. Yes, there will be rough days but you know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Make a date, schedule some time together and for yourself.

From Christine R. of Athens GA:
Remember to keep the 4 F's in priority:
Keep your faith in your higher power - this will get you through the hard times. Keep your family involved, share your break time and don't forget to include them in your success. Fundamentals are essential, learn them well, especially in the begining - they will never fail you. Make time for fun! A good sense of humor can get you through everything. It's ok to put down the books for a few hours (if you don't have a test the next day) to rumble with your kids, a pet, or a special loved one!

From LouAnn S. of Waldron, MI:
My 12 year old son and I do our homework together and quiz each other for upcoming tests! We benefit from the time spent together both emotionally and academically!

From Krista M. of Homosassa Springs, FL:
How to balance school and family? Well... that is probably the hardest thing of all. As you all know (or will soon know), nursing school is not easy and requires a lot of work. First... sit down with family ahead of time (if possible) and explain that Mom (or Dad) is going to need lots of time studying and completing paperwork. Set aside at least 1 day a week were you can devote your time with your kids/husband (or at least a half of a day). You know, that quality vs. quantity thing. I also had two study days (mine was Mondays and Thursdays) where 4 hours in the evening were called Mom-time. No one could bother unless there was a DIRE emergency. The rest of my studying time I got in when and where I could. So definitely set a schedule and stick to it as much as possible. Even if you're caught up (caught up? what''s that?), read a little ahead. Oh yeah, and remember... do you really need to watch Friends???

What is your best tip for balancing school and family?  Let us know and be entered to win!
Use the submission form here, or e-mail!  Put "Challenge Submission" in the subject line of your e-mail.  Entry deadline for this month's contest is May 15, 2002.  The winner will be announced in the May, 2002 edition of The Student Nurse Advisor, our free monthly e-zine for nursing students.

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