Back to school for caregivers

As students begin the annual back-to-school traditions of August, one group of students is perhaps underserved in the tradition: the student caregiver. It can be a challenge combining a busy school schedule with a caregiving job (whether that is for a family member or as a professional). Finding the time in such a whirlwind to complete homework, balance class and work schedules and fulfill the needs of your senior, but there are a few tips to help you stay on top.

1. Define Your Schedule and Plan Ahead

A clear and defined schedule — one that includes both the classes, tests, papers, and ongoing caregiving expectations — is the first thing any caregiver should create to help stay on top of the game. The more preparation and mapping done for school, work and caregiving you can do, the more prepared you will be.

2. Group Your commitments

Look for classes and caregiving roles that allow you to minimize drive times, lost time and general craziness in the schedule. Take all your classes on Tuesday and Thursday, or always in the afternoon. These are more manageable times for most caregiving commitments. The more you can combine commitments into parts of day, or by place, the easier it will be to succeed.

3. Stay present

It’s easy to always have the mind on to the next thing, especially when busy. But it’s also a recipe for mistakes, carelessness and unnecessary stress. Remember to stay present; when you are working, work. When relaxing…relax!

4. Manage expectations

Don’t run from your busy schedule — loop employers, seniors, families, teachers and classmates into your plans. Letting an employer know that you can never stay late on Wednesday will make it a lot easier to leave on time than simply hoping you aren’t held back. Most people can work with you, especially when they understand up front what your needs and expectations are.

5. Use time wisely

For all the little things in life — reading schedules, paperwork, personal shopping, laundry, cleaning, etc. — find the time between. It can be easy to flop down onto a couch and stay for a few hours the first chance you get, especially if you are busy all the time. But if you make the most of your little time windows, you will move the ball forward in your life where it would easily not otherwise advance. Those little moments are where the great workers, family members, caregivers and students capitalize.

Balancing it all can be hard. In fact, balancing it all IS hard. But with planning, commitment and a little self-care, anyone can be the kind of caregiver, the kind of student and the kind of person that others admire.

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