We asked our peer mentors for some tips on balancing student-family life. They’re students with family care responsibilities just like you, so they’ve got some pretty good insight.
Here’re their top recommendations to make juggling your busy student family calendar a little bit easier:
Organize Weekly Family Meetings with Your Partner
These check-ins allow both of you to air your grievances productively, plan your weekend and family trips, and hopefully alleviate the inevitable bickering that occurs when working with an overflowing schedule.
Take Social Breaks to Reduce Isolation
This could mean joining a club or participating in a weekly collective outing. Whatever it is, having a social outlet outside of your home and classes is key to remaining grounded. Befriending those in situations similar to your own helps you to stay on track and can inevitably lead to the sharing of resources. (Stuck in a daycare pinch? Call on a friend!)
Keep an Up-to-Date Agenda Book
Plotting out the milestones of your program can help you feel more in control of your time. If you record all of your deadlines in a planner you’ll be able to keep track of the upcoming work you need to do, something that will ultimately lead to your greater efficiency. If you’re using an online calendar app, schedule reminders one week and then two hours before the item’s actual due date. This way you won’t experience any last-minute shocks!
Be Honest and Transparent about Your Limitations
This includes anyone you must be accountable to- your partner, professors, children. Online classes may be an option available to you, but one that isn’t readily advertised. Ask your registrar or faculty about creating a schedule based on your needs.
Being an Individual Superhero is an Unrealistic Goal
Building community is essential to successfully completing your studies while caring for your family. If and when you need assistance, it’s important to allow people to help the way that they help. Undoubtedly they’ll do things differently than yourself, but at the end of the day what is most important is that you were supported in a time of need.
Make Yourself Known on Campus and Self-Advocate
This isn’t the easiest tip to employ, but it’s essential to seeing that your needs be met.
Access Campus Resources
There are fantastic resources at UofT to support you in this. Some of these include the Academic Success Centre, the Graduate Professional Skills program, and the English Language & Writing Support service available to graduate students. Obviously you should also take advantage of the tons of family-related workshops and seminars that we have at the Family Care Office and sign up for one of our one-on-one appointments with a family care advisor.
Get to know our peer mentors today! They’ve got drop-in hours on Tuesdays between 1 and 3pm and on Wednesdays from 9 until 11am.