It amazes me to think that my readers out there must think I have fallen off the face of the earth at a time when I feel like I have to be everywhere at once. That was especially true Thursday evening. I had three meetings at work at the same time in three different cities while I was receiving text messages from my dad about evening plans and how early could I get home while a group of my fellow students was patiently waiting for me in a city almost two hours away and the doctor's office was calling wanting me to go in and see them as soon as possible. To say I was feeling overwhelmed and frustrated is an understatement. Yet somehow I managed to juggle everything with minimal effects on othe people. I know some of them were a little annoyed (okay one was actually angry) that I couldn't be in 5 different places at the same moment in time, it all worked out okay in the end.
It can be hard to meet all of my responsiblities at the same time. It is during these very busy times that I seem to drop off the face of the earth to many people, not just my readers.I begin getting emails and phone calls from friends wondering why I have been so quiet and wouldn't I like to spend some time with them? Of course I do and I will. Just maybe not this week.
So how do I juggle the responsiblities of a demanding job, children (who are sometimes demanding and should be), school and family obligations? I prioritize. I can say I have gotten pretty good at prioritizing and time management in the past two years. People often ask how I get everything done and the answer is time management, prioritizing responsiblities and remembering to take care of myself and my own needs.
Here are the ground rules I have made for myself:
1) My children come first. No, they don't get to have everything they want and they do sacrifice some time away from me but I work hard to make those sacrifices as few as possible.
2) Work is a priority right after my children's well-being. My former employer has often stated that work comes before children and family but I have always refused to go along with that. It created tension at times but that is just the way it is. Thankfully, my new employer is much better about this juggling act and agrees children come first.
3) My children's social activities are probably my next priority. The reason is that their activities relate back to rule #1. I am a strong believer in having children in sports or other age appropriate activities. It helps build self-confidence, teaches social skills and is known to help prevent more serious problems such as drug abuse and school problems as the children get older.
4) School is my next priority. I only have a limited amount of free time so I have to spend it on school work. Especially as the school semester enters the final six weeks. It is this time of year that I feel like I need to clone myself to get all of the papers and projects done. It is also this time of year when I begin questioning whether or not I am really capable of meeting all of my responsibilities.
5) Sleep. I will get at least 7 hours of sleep most nights preferably 8. I will also allow myself a nap on weekends if I am feeling tired and overwhelmed. I don't see this as a waste of time. It is needed for mental and physicla health.
6) My own health and needs. I had some medical problems the past few weeks that have resulted in several doctor appointments and some extra time in bed. I will have several more appointments in the next few weeks but things should hopefully be improving now. It has been a good reminder that I won't be able to meet all of my responsibilities if I don't take care of myself and my own needs.
7) Relationships. This goes back to meeting my own needs. While I can't spend as much time as I would like with friends, I make sure I see them occassionally and talk to them regularly. I don't want to suddenly come to summer and fewer school responsibilities and find I don't have anyone to relax with. Plus those friends are supports during the crazy times (like right now).
So for those of you who keep asking, how does she do it? There is a short answer. That and with help from friends and family (including wonderful babysitters and day care). Now, back to the four major assignments due this week and kids who are asking for breakfast.