As a wife, mother and student, one of the most common questions I get in reference to school is, “How do you juggle work and life?” I suppose that it’s apparent that my life is particularly hard to ignore, especially when it’s asking for chicken nuggets or date night, and even when you’re desperately trying to finish a manuscript draft so you can stop making trips to the bathroom when you see your advisor approach your office. Thus, it is an issue I continually assess. I’d like to say, “I consistently keep a very tight schedule in which I write for four hours a day, take care of non-writing academic tasks for another four, and then go home and dedicate all my attention to my family and my hobbies.” This, indeed, is my goal, and I do work with such a schedule in mind, because I know myself well. Just this morning I outlined for my husband the times of day in which I write well, so that he would understand why it’s important I get up before the sun to spend my morning in front of a computer, caressing a cup of coffee. It’s because I know that, by afternoon, I’d much rather use my computer to read website after website about Doctor Who (if you don’t know what that is, you are not a nerd). As I learn more about myself, this self-awareness has actually made me more productive. Now, I’m more likely to make efficient use of my time and energy, rather than panicking because I can’t seem to produce a comprehensible sentence between 2pm-6pm. But I also have learned to accept that balancing is a continual ebb-and-flow, and I adjust accordingly. Some days are better than others. This week, I’ve stuck to my schedule. Last week, not so much (but I had a great week with my kids!). This Saturday, as my kids visit their grandparents for the weekend, I will probably write all day. I have found it most effective to remind myself I love my family and work, and that they are most enjoyable when I stop worrying about balancing them. Then, they don’t seem like burdens, but, rather, like privileges. Because what else is getting paid to write a paper of interest to only 0.001% of the population but a privilege?
Oh, one more thing—I make sure I find time for the small things. Speaking of which, time to go get the nails done!
About the Author
Ebony Reddock, Ph.D. Student, Health Behavior and Health Education
Published in: Student Voices