As a 28-year-old single mother and full-time student, I frequently feel like I am doing life backwards by getting married, having kids, getting divorced and then going to school for my degree. I often find myself trying to find a balance between work, school and being a mom.

Graphic by Kelsi Quigley/The Signpost
Graphic by Kelsi Quigley/The Signpost

That task is hard to accomplish because life sometimes gets overwhelming and hectic, especially when you handle the job of parenting alone. I can’t imagine why. It’s almost like three little kids outnumber one mom.

So how do you handle being pulled in so many directions? It’s not an easy thing to do. It takes patience, practice and, often, it takes pleading. I am not ashamed to admit that my children can occasionally run the house, and by that I mean shirts off and running around with a spoonful of cookie butter.

When I manage to have control in my life, I find balance by prioritizing the important things. I start with these steps to help reduce the craziness and bring in the calm organization.

Write it down

If you are like me, at times you can have too much on your mind to remember everything, meaning what you ate for breakfast or what you walked into the kitchen to get. If your mind is too full, make your life simpler by writing the things down that are important to you or take up your time.  This might include school, work, sleep, exercise, homework, playing with your kids, etc. If it is something you need or want to do, it is important.

Rate it

Go through your list and label the items as a need to do, want to do and unimportant, or whatever categories you like. It sounds ridiculous to label items like sleep as a need to do, but if you write it down and acknowledge it, it will take on more importance to you. Be honest about your ratings. Don’t give something more significance than it needs.

Trim it

Once you have everything written and labeled, you might find that you have more things to do than hours in the day. If that is that case, do what you can to cut out the unimportant or time-consuming things in your life that don’t need to be there.  Focus on the essentials.

Make room for fun

When you’ve gotten a prioritized list of what you need and want in your life based on your responsibilities to your work, your kids and your school, remember to leave time for yourself and time for fun. Our bodies need to relax and unwind. Life is stressful, and we can learn to manage it, but it isn’t a fun life if it is merely managed.

Not all of the students at WSU are also parents, but if you are, try to remember to spend the time you have with your kids with them. When I am home with my kids, I am doing the things that they want or need to do. I am gone from them more than I want to be.

I want them to be able to look back on their life and remember that when I was there, I was there. I don’t want them to remember the homework I had to do or the nights I had to work. I want them to remember the good times: the hugs, kisses, pillow fights, forts, snow cones, candy and snuggles. If that means that I do homework while they sleep, then so be it. That’s the way I have my list prioritized.

Take time out to prioritize your life, so you can truly enjoy it for all it’s worth.

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