Before pregnancy, I worked as a marketing manager in one of the local firms. When my son was born, I took a three-month pause, and then started to work part-time. Breastfeeding, lack of sleep, and little strength worsened my enthusiasm, and without my husband’s support, I wouldn’t have been able to deal with this situation. After half a year I understood that if I wanted to earn more money and be more successful in my field, I needed to get at least a masters degree in marketing. I decided to choose the Walden University distance learning courses, and I survived. It was clear that combining work, studying, and motherhood would be hard, and I would need powerful time-management skills to get all things done.
So, how can you plan time correctly? How can you combine work, studying, and motherhood? What’s the secret? Here I want to share with you some tips from my own experience.
- Plan your time.
Proper planning is the main key to being a happy mother. If you want to get everything done, the best idea will be combining daily and weekly plans. This will allow you to set the goals for the week and correct the everyday plan according to the situation. Typically, I consider the following main points:
- Meal plan. If you don’t use restaurants and food delivery as a source of your daily meals, use the food planners which are available on many devices. Personally, I use Mealime, Yummly, and just a piece of paper to make weekly meal plans and point out the products to purchase.
- Work and study plans. Every work task and homework assignment should be planned appropriately. Be aware that the real amount of time you spend on one task may take longer than you expected, so don’t forget to look through your planner at the end of the day.
- If you spend all day with your children, try to give sufficient time for playing with them. Spend some time to plan and prepare some educational activities to make your bored child busy. Also, plan all trips to kindergarten, school, and classes.
- Me-time. Don’t forget about yourself. You may be laughing, but it’s important to find time for yourself. Plan at least 45 minutes to have a bath, make a face mask, or read a book. Make something that gives you positive emotions and refreshes you.
- Don’t let your workload influence your relationship with your husband. Plan indoor dates and romantic evenings. Even watching a movie will make your relationships better.
The best thing is to put all events into one calendar like Google Calendar. Update your tasks, set priorities, and be realistic. Don’t get desperate if your plan fails – the next time will be better.
- Set the priorities.
To save time, you can use the classic Eisenhower matrix. First, do urgent and important tasks (for example, feed a child, submit homework before the deadline, make a call to the client, etc.), then non-urgent important tasks (reading course books, implementing the work task, etc.). Next, do urgent unimportant tasks (telephone conversations with a friend) and minimize non-urgent unimportant tasks (surfing the internet). Review the list of daily tasks. Is it necessary or done out of habit? Perhaps there is no need to iron some clothes, or you can delegate some work to your husband.
For example, Vanderkam’s book “168 Hours” has helped me define the right priorities and plan my time wisely.
- Enhance your studying productivity.
Any help and assistance may be valuable. Use everything that can save your studying time and help you become more productive. Here are some suggestions that may help you:
- Make a list of studying activities and contact your professors as soon as the course begins. This will allow you to build a good relationship with teachers and plan a schedule for the semester.
- Join online learning platforms. Usually, distance courses give you access to a resource where all students can collaborate with each other. Use these means to contact your classmates for moral or academic support.
- Take online courses. Explore new topics with Khan Academy, Coursera, TEDx, etc. It helps to fill in learning gaps and give you more information regarding your specialty.
- Use completed works as a source of inspiration. For example, I have used this gmo persuasive speech to help me in my speech and writing classes. Make your own list of trusted websites and find out whether your college gives you access to a database of previously written works.
- Use student services. Your college may propose distance learning students the same services as for those who are on campus. Online tutoring, peer mentoring, writing departments – all of these options may simplify the studying process.
- Use studying apps. You can save time on writing and editing texts with applications like Hemingway, Evernote, and Grammarly. If you need to make calculations, you can use online calculators and problem solvers like Chegg and Mathaway.
- Build effective communication.
Everyday communication may be perceived as something ordinary. But here I want to tell you about effective communication. Use all means to maintain good work and personal relationships:
- Contact your manager or boss to discuss the current state of affairs.
- Join an online college community forum or discussion board.
- Contact your college instructor to clarify some details of your homework.
- Speak to your children about their life and feelings.
- Talk to your husband not only about problems.
Effective communication, in turn, aims to understand the views, feelings, and opinions of others. When two parties listen to each other, both win.
- Create a pleasant work environment.
You need to organize a workplace at home. Add a table in the living room, expand the window sill, buy a card table – any options are possible. The workplace should be available at any time of the day, and the child shouldn’t have access to it.
Reduce all distractions. If you need time for working or studying, turn off your mobile phone, block social media websites and applications, and turn down all messengers. I usually use blockers like Strict Workflow in Google Chrome to block all distracting websites like Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.
If your children are too small, get up earlier to work in total silence or use the time during their daily nap. For older kids, make a rule of two or three hours when you shouldn’t be distracted. Make sure that your children have access to food and drink, and know what to do with their time.
Always get cleaned up every morning. A person who looks good is much more productive, so do not allow yourself to relax, even if you work at home. Always change out your pajama into regular clothes.
- Ask for support.
If you need to deal with work tasks outside the home, take a decision on whether to take your child with you, ask a relative, or use the service of a babysitter. Don’t turn your business meeting into a disaster, take it as an interesting adventure.
Make a backup plan for various situations. Have the contacts of the nearest childcare services, carpooling services, and your neighbors. Ask your relatives when they can spend time with your child and use this free time with the most productivity.
- Get your kids involved.
Discipline is the key to healthy children. If you want to have time for your own needs and at the same time have a happy child, involve good discipline from the very beginning of their life. The child feels for boundaries and when they can be broken, and skillfully does it. You are the one who can set the limits and organize the life of your child.
Set the time for play depending on the child’s needs and age. You may spend thirty minutes three times a day to spend quality time with your child. This doesn’t mean that you watch the TV while your kid is playing with a toy. You need to dedicate yourself fully during this time.
In conclusion, each of us has our own story and our own experience after childbirth. Realize your desires and everything can become real. A working and studying mother is not a unicorn. Everybody can do it. And you too!