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Why call this balancing act the Dynamic Trinity, well it takes a certain kind of individual to take on the responsibilities and obligations that entails managing a family, progressing along the career ladder, and embarking on a journey of knowledge, all at the same time. It takes tenacity, determination, resilience, confidence and faith to juggle these three very heavy containers. I mean have you watched a juggler, that skill is dynamic.
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The thing is balancing the Dynamic Trinity seems normal to me. And its actually the norm for so many of us - single dads, working the mid level position while attending online classes for that MBA; the 20-something sister who helps her older sister out with childcare, while attending GED/CNA classes 4 afternoons a week; or the at her prime, career shifter, who decides to go back to school and get that degree in Interior Design because she always aspired to have her own design boutique. The list goes on.
Photo Source: Association for Nontraditional Students in Higher Education
So how can WE successfully balance the Dynamic Trinity? Several colleges and universities offer their students handbooks and brochures on balancing work, life, and school. These are good place to start, because they offer you information specific and relevant to you. If you're already in school, check with your school's student affairs office.
Photo Source: University of Wisconsin @ Green Bay
Here are a few tips, gained from experience:
- First & foremost, you need to identify your support system. This is the group of individuals who understand, support, motivate, and are rooting for your success. They can be your family, your friends, fellow classmates, co-workers, professors & supervisors, anyone that can offer you genuine support. Trust me, you CAN'T do this alone. Remember, to take time to thank your team, keep them in the loop (your schedule, career and school plans) and spread the love.
- Time Management is a MUST! I'm not the most routine individual, so a planner (both print and online) definitely saved me from forgetting parent-teacher conferences, monthly staff meetings, and deadlines for school assignments. Schedule time for you to study, to spend time with family, and some time for yourself. It might seem odd, scheduling your life but being aware of your schedule, whether weekly or daily, helps you stay on top of everything, which decreases stress. The less stress, the better you'll feel and able to tackle everything on your plate.
- Listen to your body. If you're feeling tired, overwhelmed, exhausted, stressed, etc., take time out to center yourself. If that means taking a "mental health day" and staying in bed, DO IT, you've earned it. While the journey is long and at times rough, there is no need to overwork yourself. You have to be at your best if you're gonna make it to graduation!
- Set realistic goals, then be flexible. It took me an extra year to get my undergrad degree due to taking time off due to a high risk pregnancy. When I returned, I had a new job and gained experience from a brief stint in AmeriCorps. I was actually better prepared that last year. If I'd let that time off knock me off track, I probably wouldn't be where I am today. Don't let setbacks derail you! Life happens, better to change with it. The end game is the same, the journey doesn't have to be.
- Look at all the options. Is it possible to take hybrid (online classes with some face-to-face days) or online only classes? Is your employer flexible regarding time/schedule or even book or tuition reimbursement? Does your school offer child care services? Explore every opportunity to better support your goals, accepting help and advocating for yourself is one of the main aspects that will get you through the journey.