Tips for Balancing School and Family Life

  • Aim for Excellence Rather Than Perfection
  • Practice Good Time Management
  • Make Healthy Choices
  • Be Present
  • Learn to Say No

Between attending classes, plowing through the necessary reading, completing assignments and studying, college students stay busy. However, they aren't just college students. Today's students are also children, grandchildren, siblings, cousins and even parents and grandparents with all the responsibilities that accompany those roles. The struggle to balance school and family life can leave students of all ages feeling like they are trying to force two separate jigsaw puzzles together to form one coherent picture; the solution can seem elusive. If you are a college student searching for more balance in your life, here are five tips that can help.

1. Aim for Excellence Rather Than Perfection

Perfection is the ultimate goal, right? It shouldn't be. In many cases, perfectionism is self-defeating because it leaves those striving for it chasing the unattainable, which sets them up for failure, guilt and anxiety. Instead, make excellence your goal. Recognize your personal limitations, accept imperfection and simply do the very best that you can. Welcome constructive feedback and view any mistakes that you make as opportunities to learn, and you'll be on a path that leads to both academic success and a balanced life.

2. Practice Good Time Management

Yogis say that they practice yoga because there is always something more to learn about it. A similar approach to time management is incredibly helpful. Prioritize your tasks, make to-do lists, and set goals and deadlines. Include school, family and me time as you plan your schedule so that you can use your time wisely to do both the things that you have to and the things that you want to do. If you find yourself in a time crunch, don't beat yourself up over it. Figure out where you went wrong and learn from your mistake so that you'll do a better job of managing your time in the future.

3. Make Healthy Choices

All-nighters may be a time-honored tradition, but they have consequences. As Business Insider reports, lack of sleep can lead to stress, emotional irritability, a weakened immune system and an increased risk of weight gain while negatively impacting your working memory and ability to concentrate. Of course, holding the occasional all-night study session probably won't do serious damage, but it's not a habit that you want to cultivate. Skimping on sleeping, eating right, exercising, spending time with family and enjoying some recreation will eventually catch up with you. Make a commitment to yourself to make healthy choices.

4. Be Present

It's easy to get caught up in worrying about tomorrow's test or what's still on your to-do list, but doing so means that you miss the opportunity to enjoy the moment. Make it a point to be present. When you're in class or studying, focus on the material you're learning; when you're spending quality time with family or hanging out with friends, concentrate on their company. Being present in the moment is refreshing and allows you to approach your various responsibilities with renewed energy and appreciation.

5. Learn to Say No

No is a simple word that many people over the age of two have an incredibly difficult time saying. Learning to do so effectively is crucial if you want balance in your life. How do you say no and mean it without coming off like a cranky toddler in desperate need of a nap? Be polite, assertive and firm. Don't explain or justify your refusal because this creates an opportunity for the person making the request to try and persuade you to change your mind. If you find yourself starting to waver, remind yourself that it's not selfish to take care of yourself so that you can fulfill the commitments that you've already made.

Balancing school and family responsibilities isn't easy, but it is a skill worth honing. After your graduation, you'll be able to apply what you've learned about maintaining a healthy balance to the challenge of juggling your personal, professional and family responsibilities.