How to Balance Academics and Caregiving

Categories: Caregiving Moments

During National Family Caregivers Month, we’re grateful to guest blogger John Ross for sharing this post written for caregivers who are in school.

How To Balance Academics And Caring For An Ill or Aging Family Member

adult daughter and father hugging

If you are the caregiver for an ill or aging family member while trying to balance your caregiving responsibilities with school, things can often feel overwhelming. We understand that stress! Here’s a list of actionable tips you can use to limit your anxiety while effectively caring for your loved one and exceling in school.

Tip #1: Make Time For Yourself

Trying to balance caring for a sick or aging relative, work, and studying for the GRE or another grad school entrance exam can feel overwhelming. The truth is, many people put themselves on the back burner when they have other responsibilities that seem more important. Self-care, however, is incredibly important. You can’t pour from an empty cup.

Schedule actual time on a planner, notebook, or calendar for “you time.” Whether this is a half-hour of downtime to catch a favorite TV show and have an adult beverage, or a whole day to get out of the house and go for a small daycation, take care of your mind and body.

Tip #2: Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is much more important than many people realize. Sleep allows your mind a period of time to refresh itself and rebuild neural structures. It gives your body time to rest and recuperate, rebuilding muscle fibers and allowing your entire system to reboot.

If you deny yourself adequate sleep, you are going to end up hampering your academic performance. You may be stretched to the limit with caring for your loved one and getting your daily dose of studying in, but sleep may be more important than reading that last chapter. When you are tired and fatigued, your critical thinking, reasoning abilities, and reaction times all suffer. Make sure you get a solid block of uninterrupted sleep as often as possible.

Tip #3: Ask About Accommodations

This is one that many people neglect. Ask what kind of help is available. Academic institutions often have varying degrees of accommodation they can provide, such as flexible scheduling with some or all of your courses. You may also have access to discounts for some sort of home-based help or assistance.

Resources that can get you help at home with your ill or aging loved one may be helpful. Check for school resources that may allow you more time to help with your family member either at the beginning or end of your day, or perhaps longer breaks to stop home during the day.

Tip #4: Keep Your Goals In Mind

adult son and father looking at paper

We often get caught up in the day-to-day routine. Work, school, home, caring for your family member, sleep, repeat. But we sometimes forget how helpful it can be to remind ourselves of our goals and aspirations. Whether you are just starting college, preparing for the GRE, or already attending grad school, keep track of a benchmark achievement that is within reach.

Maybe it’s your graduation date, perhaps it is a test date when all your hard work will pay off, or maybe it is just a few weeks down the line when you have a couple of days off in a row and you have some rest and relaxation planned. Keeping a goal in mind can help make all the other struggles worth it.

–by John Ross

Images shared from Test Prep Insight.

caregiver support, caregiving, national family caregivers month, students
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