Happy New Year!
I’ve been thinking a lot about the past year and all the wonderful things that have happened. Going forward, I would like to write more helpful posts pertaining to grad school and not just updating you all on how I’m doing
although there will be plenty of that too!
This first post will talk about being a mother in grad school and how I’m trying to make it work. I’ve only been in class for a week but I haven’t felt like I’ve missed out on anything studying while caring for my almost three-year-old twins. It hasn’t been easy, but with some planning, I’ve had a pretty successful week!
To keep myself organized I use a planner. The one I have is from popflexactive.com and it has everything I need; a monthly calendar to put important dates in, like quizzes and exams, a weekly schedule with space for goals, ideas, reminders, projects, and things due, and daily to-do lists, space for water intake, food journal, workout journal, and notes as well as a doodle space. This one is sold out, but I’m sure they’ll have a new one for the next school year.
I’ve used planner since 2016 but I had to force myself to use them. After finding one that was specifically made for school I’ve actually looked forward to writing down everything. It helped so much last semester when I wanted to remember when my biostats assignments were due! So far, this semester it has helped keep me accountable for studying for the MCAT, which is the hardest thing for me to study for (Physics and I don’t get along).
Here is what my last week looked like:
You do not need to get a fancy planner like this. You can use a notebook and personalize it however you want or use an app on your phone. For me, writing it down and being able to see it without using my phone is more beneficial; I’m more likely to start studying without going through Facebook.
So now that I have a schedule, how do I use? It’s easy to write stuff down, but it gets more difficult to actually follow it. If we’re being honest, I don’t follow this exactly; it just isn’t realistic when you have
potty-training toddlers. However, if I have it written down, I know what needs to get done that day and will try to follow it. Certain things I do not move, but they don’t have set times during the day. The best example is my MCAT prep; if the kiddos are napping, mama is studying! The time varies but it’s usually 1-3 PM during weekdays. I’m hoping to put in closer to 3 hours a day during the weekends; I’m making a study group with some friends from school to keep each other accountable. According to my Kaplan course, you’re supposed to take one day off a week, but I schedule it in any way to keep things neat.
Another thing that has helped a lot has been meal prepping. You know, that thing everyone tells you to do and you say you’ll do it but never get around to it?
Or is that just me? On Sundays, I take a couple hours to find vegetarian/vegan recipes, prep them, and put them in gallon-sized zip lock bags that go in my freezer. I take whichever one I want to have for dinner out the day of and thaw it a little bit before throwing it in my slow-cooker. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner; it saves me so much time! You can do this with every meal, but so far I’ve only tackled dinner. I might start doing it for my breakfast smoothies as well, so we’ll see how that goes!
As far as my study schedule goes, I try to study while I watch the boys play. I take plenty of breaks to join them in the fun and take them to the potty. Sometimes I put on a movie for them if I need to get something done right away, but I try to avoid this since I don’t want them watching too much TV. This isn’t really the greatest way to study, but it’s more of a quick review to make sure I get it done. That means I do a quick review in the morning and MCAT prep during nap time, so what about the rest of the day?
When they wake up from their nap it’s time for me to spend uninterrupted time with them. We eat together, make silly jokes, and play until our wonderful nanny gets here so I’m able to get to school early. Some self-care takes place on my drive to school; I’ve been listening to the Harry Potter audio-books while I drive. 10/10 recommend the British version; the voice actor is fantastic! If I’m not listening to books, I put on my favorite music and pump myself up for class. Once I’m in school I take the time to preview my lectures and whatever time I have left I use it to finish reviewing previous lectures. I get home around 9:30 PM and this is where my schedule is a bit more flexible and where most of my self-care takes place.
Let’s take a moment to talk about self-care…IT’S SUPER IMPORTANT! If you don’t practice self-care you WILL burn out! My self-care during the day is focused on my kids so I feel like I get a little break throughout the day, but by the time class is over I’m pretty tired. I take this time to do things that make me happy!
This is what my self-care looks like:
If I haven’t worked out, I will do a quick 15-minute workout. I’ve been following the daily workouts from Tone It Up and I love it! It’s simple and it doesn’t take very long, which is exactly what I look for in a workout. I try to do this at least every other day, but I’m going to try to get it in every day since I always feel better afterward.
If I don’t work out that night, I take a 10-minute break before I start reviewing the lectures from the day. I will do this until 10:30 PM, but sometimes I don’t do it at all. At that point, I get ready for bed and try to relax by spending time with the husband, watching TV or makeup videos on YouTube
I’m obsessed, and texting family and friends. I like to play video games, but I can’t keep those sessions to 30 minutes so I try to avoid them during the week. I usually save it for the time after an exam when I’m too exhausted to do anything but play Sims 4 mindlessly while the TV is on. I’m trying to find books to read as well, so if you have any suggestions let me know! I’m concentrating on pre-med books right now, but I also love fantasy. I’m still working on the third Eragon book; I keep forgetting I have it on my phone! The boys wake up around 7 AM, so I try to go to sleep by 11:15 PM to get enough sleep. Make sure you get enough sleep! I function best with 9 hours of sleep, but that doesn’t happen unless it’s the weekend, so I aim for 7-8 hours. Residency will change this, but until then I plan on getting plenty of sleep!
The last thing that needs to get done during the week is the cleaning. I take one day a week where I clean EVERYTHING. I did it yesterday by myself, but I usually do it on Saturdays or Sundays so I can get my husband’s help. The only thing I do during the week is wipe down the table and kitchen counters, take care of the dishes, and clean up any food that falls under the table. Sometimes I do laundry if my sons are out of clean underwear, but I try to leave that for the weekend if possible.
That’s it! That’s how I’ve been trying to make it work and I’ve honestly been surprised at how much I’ve been able to get done. I was really nervous about it before classes started, but a bit of planning and some help goes a long way.
I hope this was helpful! If you have any tips and want to share them please leave a comment! 🙂
Have a wonderful weekend!