Alaska Sleep Education Center

How to Balance Work, Home and School

Posted by Stefanie Leiter

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on Mar 19, 2018 3:30:00 AM


It is 6:30 a.m. Half-awake, I replay the routine: shower, wake the kids, feed the puppy, get myself ready, heat up some oatmeal to eat in the van, drop the kids off at school, and head to work. It starts over with each new day. In between, my routine changes causing unbalance. As a professor on a small campus, I teach classes, meet with students, grade assignments, and prepare lessons that vary daily depending on schedules. It then changes with each semester and break. 

And all of this balance does not include how to be successful at home as a mom and wife. How does everything fit in 24, short hours? How do you also make certain you are eating healthy and sleeping consistently well? Without a healthy balance, you cannot maintain it all. Something breaks the routine and schedule.

Throw in starting a graduate diploma or going back to college in your 30s and you have a further challenge to balance it all. Following these tips, you too can balance it all while maintaining a sleep schedule that promotes a way to do it all.

1. Mornings

As a mother of one, two or five kids, balance is important. You may have kids in elementary school or daycare who still need close watching in the morning or you may have kids scattered at three different drop-offs. 

Whatever your situation, start your morning routine the night before. Check book bags, make lunches, set out outfits, and create a space where everything is centrally located. Keep the electronics tucked away and focus on the routine to get out the door on time daily. It is the first step to morning balance.

2. Motherhood

Yes, you are spread thin but take care of your family. Plan activities. Have outings. Go on special dates with your kids one-on-one. Listen to their concerns. Talk to your employer so you can have lunch at the school or volunteer at a class party. Without a healthy home life, everything else will suffer from an incomplete person showing up for other daily responsibilities.

3. Marriage

Remember your roots. It started with you and your partner or spouse so keep the connection strong. 

Have dates even if they are a weekday for lunch. Talk before bed so you can let out any stress or anxiety from your day. Lean on them for support. This will sustain a healthy relationship and help ensure restful nights. 

4. Household

Think about how large your house is or how large your family is. How many loads of laundry are needed? And if it seems low, the kids will start to grow causing more loads. Do you own a two-story house? While working full-time and raising a family, you need to work as a team to clear the clutter to live in an environment that will be healthy, happy, and clean. 

According to Women’s Health Magazine, a 2014 study revealed that “men are more likely to hold stereotypical beliefs about male gender roles, whereas women are more likely to believe the stereotypes about female gender roles.” But when working to balance busy schedules for the entire family, drop the gender roles. Cook as a family. Create a cleaning schedule (and rotate the bathroom duties). 

Princeton University neuroscientists studied the behavior of organized home environments versus disorganized. The study discovered stress and anxiety dominated the cluttered home. Keeping house needs to be an all-in game the family participates in weekly.

5. Routines

A warm bath, bedtime stories, lullabies, and sound machines. They all help a baby or toddler fall asleep. How can you transfer that energy to adulthood to create a bedtime routine? Adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep at night. Set an alarm to start the routine. Turn off the electronics and curl up with a good book bedside. Stay away from caffeine and heavy snacking after 8 p.m. When it is time to turn in for the night, try some stretching, meditating, yoga, or journaling.

6. School

The University of Southern California School of Social Work offers practical tips to balance work, motherhood, and graduate school. Yes, these can be applied for any person either single or in a family, but they are valuable to anyone searching for more sleep who are battling a number of responsibilities. 

In 2017, Brigham and Women’s Hospital invited 61 full-time Harvard College students to be studied for 30 days. The research compared irregular and regular sleeping patterns in students. Each student received the same amount of sleep but fell asleep and woke up at different times during the REM cycle. The results found worse academic performance from the students who lacked a routine and consistent sleeping pattern.

How can you cut out extra-curriculars or say no to a packed schedule? It may be time to look at the calendar and plan out your day hour-by-hour for yourself AND each family member to make room for school. How can you work ahead on homework, papers, or projects? It becomes even harder if you need to attend a class 3 or 4 hours a week as opposed to balancing online learning. But when you do carve out study time, keep it as study time. Stay off social media, work email, and Netflix.

7. Wellness

There are various ways a person needs wellness: spiritual, emotional, and physical are just a few. Many may discount the act of spiritual wellness to a healthy balance but University of California Davis defines this as a way to “find meaning in life events and define our individual purpose. Spiritual wellness can be defined through various factors including religious faith, values, ethics and morals.” This does not tie you into a specific religion but helps define how you make decisions and live with those decisions to create balance.

Exercise including yoga, meditation, or running can help unwind your anxiety and release the toxins clogging your mind and body. By pursuing the right mix of physical activity, a short 30 minutes creates the balance needed for a restful night and a clear conscience. According to the Sleep Foundation, a nationally representative sample of more than 2,600 men and women, ages 18-85, found that 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a week “provided a 65 percent improvement in sleep quality.”

Not only does a healthy physical physique improve the mind, but talking out your anxieties with a professional can help promote emotional wellness improving sleep quality even further. Your family physician or obstetrician asks at your yearly check-up if you have any recurring issues with sleep, anxiety, or depression so open up. Be honest. If they feel you need additional help, they can provide a therapist or sleep clinic to get to the root of the issue.

If you are struggling with getting enough sleep, or would like some expert advice about the connection with anxiety from an overwhelming schedule and sleep, connect with a professional sleep specialist at Alaska Sleep Clinic.


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