Archive for the ‘Single Mom Tribulations’ Category

101 Things to Do in the Summer with Your Kids

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Summer is a time for slowing down, released from after school activities and homework.  We all hold our childhood summer memories dearly, close to our hearts.  Here are just a few ways to make more summer memories with your kids:

  1. Go to the beach!
  2. Make homemade popsicles
  3. Run barefoot in the grass
  4. Have a movie marathon
  5. Jump rope
  6. Try yoga
  7. Go to the park (one with sprinklers is even better)
  8. Have a picnic dinner or lunch
  9. Kick around a soccer ball
  10. Chalk + sidewalk = inner artist
  11. Play video games together on a rainy day
  12. Play dress-up
  13. Go to a museum
  14. Go swimming
  15. Visit a local botanical garden or community garden
  16. Dance around the living room with abandon
  17. Visit the library
  18. Look up free concerts, movies, etc. in your area
  19. Go camping
  20. Eat watermelon
  21. Go strawberry or blueberry picking
  22. Taco Tuesday
  23. Have a spa day at home
  24. Host a sleepover
  25. Bubbles
  26. Play kick the can
  27. Make your own summer salad buffet
  28. Roast marshmallows
  29. Ride your bike
  30. Go on a hike
  31. Visit a flea market
  32. Make pet rocks
  33. Have a lemonade stand
  34. Go to an amusement park
  35. Plant flowers
  36. Watch fireworks
  37. Make homemade waffles
  38. Go fishing
  39. Write a letter to someone and actually mail it
  40. Catch fireflies
  41. Visit the zoo
  42. Ice cream sundaes
  43. Have a family basketball tournament
  44. Create theme weeks, like animals, space, or whatever your kid loves most.
  45. Make a blanket and pillow fort
  46. Go horseback riding
  47. Visit a farmers market
  48. Sno cones
  49. Play cat’s cradle: http://www.wikihow.com/Play-The-Cat’s-Cradle-Game
  50. Go to a street fair
  51. Eat a pickle on a stick
  52. Go to a baseball game
  53. Fly a kite
  54. Go roller skating or skateboarding
  55. Family game night!
  56. Make a summer tote bag
  57. Write a song
  58. Wiggle your toes
  59. Make a fruit salad
  60. Learn how to hula hoop
  61. Play mingolf
  62. Have a scavenger hunt
  63. Dance contest
  64. S’mores
  65. Go bowling
  66. Play tennis
  67. Make a watercolor painting
  68. Have a science day
  69. Breakfast for dinner
  70. Learn origami: http://www.origami-fun.com/origami-for-kids.html
  71. Frisbee
  72. Obstacle course
  73. Make a sandcastle
  74. Give the dog a bath
  75. Make shirts
  76. Visit a farm
  77. Hopscotch
  78. Make homemade pizza
  79. Visit a planetarium
  80. Make a bird feeder
  81. Go on a boat ride
  82. Make a nature collage
  83. Bake cupcakes
  84. Visit a thrift store
  85. Go to a carnival
  86. Make suncatchers
  87. Go for a walk at twilight
  88. See a play
  89. Slip’n’slide
  90. Play stick ball
  91. Science experiment
  92. Playdoh
  93. BBQ
  94. Make a summer photo album
  95. Finger puppets
  96. Star gaze
  97. Volunteer
  98. Have a sidewalk or garage sale
  99. Enjoy the sunshine
  100. Learn something new
  101. Make a list of activities you want to do this summer and hang them on the wall so the kids can check them off.

Life of a Juggler

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

My life is the life a juggler. Work, school, motherhood, and some kind of social life (how I do not know). I have a handful of clients, two of which I am fully committed to for over 20 hours each a week. In addition, I am taking four classes this semester, my last, including a Spanish and Chemistry class. Two kids, a boyfriend, dog, and a home to care for are also priorities. I wake up each day unsure of how I will juggle all of this and not fall flat on my face. I am dedicated and persistent, that is all I can sum it up to. I want nothing more than to squeeze time in to write everyday, but it gets shoved aside for more important tasks. It is frustrating, but I know that one day I will accomplish this as well, the writing ball will be thrown up into the air with the rest and I will be able to keep it up in the air.

Today I have work to do for a few clients, a Spanish quiz, an English paper, a trip to the doctor for a checkup, and a million other errands and chores to complete.  I have reading assignments to do while on the train, the only time I can manage to get those done as I pour over my textbooks with a highlighter as the subway car rocks me to and fro.  My daughter has state tests coming up for middle school, which she is nervous about and is practicing endlessly for.  My boyfriend is also in college full-time in addition to his 40 hours per week at work,  he is as busy as me most days and we try to carve out a few sleepy moments to catch up before we fall asleep each night.  Life is hard, but it is also interesting everyday.  I try not to become overwhelmed with the sheer busyness of it all and most days I succeed.

Best thing to happen so far today?  A cup of coffee from my favorite cafe Norma’s.  Hope my Spanish quiz goes as well!

Alternate Side Suspended

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Today I jolted out of bed panicked, for the first time ever I forgot about my car and alternate side parking!  I dashed down three flights of stairs with bed-head hair and pajamas, my car keys in my clutched fist.  I ran outside bewildered and ran to my car anxiously trying to unlock the club before I got a ticket, no orange piece of paper yet decorating my windshield.  An old man standing by the car in front of me graciously offered to move his car up so that I may get out easily.

This is when it dawned on me that while I was in my rushed state of panic I hadn’t noticed that the block was full of cars.  No one was frantically running to pull out and grab the open spot across the other side.  No one else was worried that it was a whole half hour past the alternate side time plastered on that little red and white sign.  Of course, being a skeptical New Yorker, I walked down to a man four cars ahead of me and asked him if alternate side was suspended.  He said yes, it was a Jewish holiday, today and yesterday.  I thanked him and walked calmly back to my car to put the club back on my steering wheel.  I was relieved and then I had no choice but to laugh at myself, bed head and all.

I think it is time I print out this, the alternate side suspension calendar! http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/motorist/scrintro.shtml#calendar2011

Clothing Wars

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

I remember a time, not too long ago, when I enjoyed shopping for clothes with my daughter, Elisabeth.  My son, Alex, was eight years old when she was born.  Which meant that I was quarantined to the tiny boy’s section for eight whole years; drowning in khaki shorts and rugged blue polo shirts.

I could pick out Elisabeth’s clothes, cute little funky dresses, fun little striped tights, green and purple shoes, adorable hair accessories.  The world was my oyster and I didn’t do too bad for someone on a very tight budget (most of her clothes came from second-hand stores and Children’s Place Monster Sale).  She happily donned whatever I gave her and never complained about a stitch of clothing, not once.

Forward to real-time, ten years later, approximately one hundred Disney pre-teen episodes in, and a true calling to craving “stylish” and God forbid “cute”- Elisabeth has become a full-fledge individual.  I have encouraged this individuality is so many ways, wanting her to have the strong female self-confidence that was denied me growing up.

So why is it that now when I take her shopping, if I so much as graze my hand over something it is then tainted with “Mom-ness” and is forever to be shunned by her?  When did this happen?  When did she get so picky?  For now dresses will only be tolerated if forced for special occasions.  Skirts and skorts are no longer cool.  She prefers to simply wrap her hair in a plain ponytail with a plain headband each and every day.  All I can think is why won’t she let me pick out her clothes?  Of course, I still have final say on all choices.  I have only lost my ability to say yes, my no is still intact and will remain so for awhile to come.  I can still say yes, pick something out, go home with it, but it will lie in her drawer probably praying to see sunlight just once.

In retrospect, I wrap my hair up in a ponytail, I don’t wear makeup or jewelry, I prefer solids to prints.  I fall in love with a pair of shoes and will wear them until I feel like I have to have a funeral at their demise.  Did I pass this plainness to her?  She is so beautiful and so cool, why won’t she let me pick out the clothes I wish I could wear?  Perhaps my own longings are the issue here.  Even as a teenager I had long hair I almost never cut, no makeup, wore a plain t-shirt and jeans.  That’s it.  I always looked at the girls that could pull off funky, stylish clothes and wish I could too. I didn’t have it in me.  Later I learned to dress a bit more individually, shocking my friends at times with my eclectic style.  However, more often than not, I choose comfort every time.

So after I weigh all of the facts and causes, I should be happy that Elisabeth is becoming a self-confidant and individually strong young woman.  I rarely ever say “inappropriate” when she chooses something and there is nothing wrong with her decisions.

I should be content with this, but there is always a pang in my heart when I pick something up and her eyes begin rolling, a “Really?!” about to roll off her tongue as “This is so cute” is about to roll off of mine.

Double Parking: My New Pet Peeve While Driving to Work

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Driving back and forth from Brooklyn (where I work) to Queens (where I live) has been a wild adventure into the chaos that is NYC streets.  While I have found less congested routes, thanks to my resourceful boyfriend, Robert, I still feel apprehensive every time I embark on this journey.

The main reason driving to and fro is mindboggling is: double-parked cars or worse, double parked trucks.  Why is it that if my meter runs out, I am plastered with a ticket in a second after those numbers become 0:00?  However, no matter how many traffic cops I see, I never see anyone ticket a double parked car?

This week I encountered a whole new style of double parking on Dean Street.  Alternate side of the street parking rules were in effect, at least 5 cars remained parked on the wrong side, presumably waiting for the ticket fairy to come.  I don’t care if people want to get a ticket, however there is a bike lane on this already incredibly narrow street, most likely made originally for horse carriages and not motorized machines.  I have no problems with bike lanes either.  What I do have a problem with is people that are obviously too lazy to search for a proper parking space, parking next to the bike lane and the legally parked vehicles along side of it.  These people actually LEAVE there cars on the street in long lines, crowding the entire street!  When they are double parked parallel to a parked car on the other side of the street, it becomes almost impossible to safely pass.

I don’t know why this is allowed to happen.  I don’t understand why this allowed on such narrow streets.  I do know I am tired of this peculiar obstacle course that I need to embark on when driving to work.

According to DOT: Double parking of passenger vehicles is illegal at all times, including Alternate Side Parking Regulation days, regardless of location, purpose or duration.

I understand that parking is hard to find in certain areas of NYC, who are we kidding? All areas of NYC. However, this local tradition of double parking and the authorities turning a blind eye, should perhaps be contained to streets wide enough to accommodate this practice.

Procrastination

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

Why do I feel as if I am waiting for my life to begin as I am living? Does everyone feel this way to some extent? I need to start writing in earnest and stop procrastinating. My blog awaits and I have to focus around the daily hustle and bustle to get it done. Perhaps tomorrow I will begin….

We just moved to a new apartment in a new neighborhood in a new borough.  The past year has been the hardest in my life and I am looking forward to pockets of time that I may be completely bored.  Bored like a kid on a summer day, staring at cracks in the ceiling and bouncing a ball on the pavement for an hour in lieu of nothing better to do.  Contemplating whining to my mother, ” I am so bored!  There’s nothing to do!”, even if she just got nasty and screamed to “go outside and play already!”

I wish I could go back and tell the younger version of myself to savor those hours of boredom that will be ripped away from her as an adult.  Those sweet moments of sheer nothingness that I would love to have within my reach now, my head clear and full of nothing but a canvas of imagination and no worries or responsibilities.

This is my delicious and recurrent daydream.

101 Things to Do with Kids in the Winter

Monday, December 20th, 2010

We all have busy, stressed and chaotic lives.  Perhaps this list can inspire some families, to slow down a little and enjoy the simpler things in life.  Children want you and your attention and time.  More than the newest toy, afterschool activity, video game or TV shows.  Be creative and you will see with a little time and effort, and very little money…you can give your children a slice of you and a time we fondly remember of our own childhoods!

  1. Go ice skating
  2. Hot chocolate and cozy up with some books
  3. Make a snowman
  4. Visit a science museum for kids
  5. Cut out paper snowflakes
  6. Bake a cake-just because
  7. Learn a hand clapping game
  8. Put the music on loud and dance around
  9. Play thumb war

10.  Watch A Christmas Story

11.  Color

12.  Bake apples

13.  Tell them a story about your favorite childhood winter memory

14.  Celebrate Chinese New Year

15.  Make paper airplanes

16.  Snuggle

17. Make s’mores- (graham crackers, 1 piece of Hershey’s chocolate and then nuke the marshmallow for 10-15 seconds, top with another graham cracker) Yum!

18.  Go to the beach or the park after it snows

19.  Go Bowling

20.  Make sock puppets and put on a show

21.  Have a tea party

22.  Play a card game

23.  Have a pretend it’s summer night-make summer foods and pretend it’s warm outside

24.  Bake homemade bread

25.  Teach them how to sew

26.  Play charades

27.  Go sledding

28.  Re-arrange their room

29.  Play charades

30.  Have a pillow fight

31.  See how long you can keep a balloon in the air

32.  Play cat’s cradle

33.  Learn the lyrics to a song and sing together

34.  Learn how to juggle

35.  Make a snow fort

36.  Warm apple cider

37.  Roast corn

38.  Play a board game

39.  Think of your own ideas and make a family idea jar, take turns picking out fun stuff to do

40.  Visit an art museum

41.  Learn about someone famous- like William Shakespeare or Helen Keller, etc.

42.  Play chess

43.  Play checkers

44.  Find an indoor flea market

45.  Go to an arcade

46. Make Monkey Bread-http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/grands174-monkey-bread-recipe/index.html

47.  Volunteer at a local soup kitchen

48.  Have a 70s night fondue and play Twister or Yahtzee

49.  Have a snowball fight

50.  Shovel the snow together

51.  Start a book club for kids

52.  Make homemade pizza

53.  Make a fortune teller folding game http://fun.familyeducation.com/holidays/gifts/45260.html

54.  Play hide and seek

55.  Have an indoor picnic

56.  Make a fort with blankets and chairs

57.  Paint

58.  Breakfast for dinner!

59.  Play with bubbles

60.  Make a bird feeder

61.  Jigsaw puzzle

62.  Go to the library

63.  Play dress-up

64.  Start a collection

65.  Visit a toy store

66.  Try to break a world record

67.  Learn about another culture

68.  Read books about winter

69.  Family movie night

70.  Make a huge pot of chili and cornbread

71.  Learn how and why it snows

72.  Have a tickle fight

73.  Talk about all the places you would like to visit

74.  Make up a game and play it while going to school

75.  Take a walk around your neighborhood

76.  Go to a concert or play

77.  Play with clay

78.  Take a yoga class together or rent a yoga video

79.  Make paper dolls

80.  Go to an indoor playground

81.  Ride bikes together

82.  Write a haiku

83.  Make a paper plate mask

84.  Play 20 questions

85.  Tell jokes

86.  Go hiking

87.  Make snow angels

88.  Learn how igloos work

89.  Write a story

90.  Make green eggs and ham after reading the book

91.  Create a treasure box and decorate it

92.  Make caramel apples

93.  See how long you can hop on one foot

94. Spend some time going over those math problems or spelling words they just haven’t mastered

95. Make spaghetti tacos- ala iCarly

96.  Look at baby pictures-start a scrapbook

97.  Exercise together

98.  Challenge them to a staring contest-first one that laughs loses

99.  You tube your favorite childhood show and watch together

100. Give them a big hug

101. Enjoy the winter months

Old Town Alexandria-Day Trip

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

With Fall here, a part of me longs for trips up north to Vermont.  My mother lived there before she passed away and the crisp breeze calls to me.  However, with an insane school schedule and lack of funds, it is not an option.  While I remember my love of travel, I think of one of my other favorite places to visit here in the Northeast.  Old Town Alexandria, just outside of Washington, D.C.

Last Memorial Day Weekend, my kids and I, visited Old Town Alexandria. I have been there previously a few times, and every time I go back I am even more enchanted. There are tons of things to do while there. I wish I could say that we visited all the amazing art galleries, museums, or even trekked down to the famous Gadsby’s Tavern Museum. Which was frequented by George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. However, we didn’t.

We actually took the Metro in from our hotel, L’Enfant Plaza to the Kings Street stop . Since we had spent the better part of three days making our way through the amazing, yet vast Smithsonian Museums we decided a simpler day was in order. So, the following are not the best of Old Town Alexandria, but they are fun little things to try not to miss when visiting (especially with kids):

·           Historic Alexandria is just a quaint, serene, beautiful little town. Cobblestones, pretty flowers hanging from the street lamps, a free old-fashioned trolley that runs through town, and a beautiful dock surrounded by a grassy field. Sitting on rocks by the water, a boat house, and a giant anchor that no child can keep from climbing.

•Historic Alexandria (Virginia) Visitor’s Center 

This is the best place to start before wondering around the town. There is so much information, extremely helpful and polite people to help with questions, a rest room, a sweet garden and a great place to find out if any special events are happening that day.

http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMXZG

• Historic Alexander History Center & Museum Store

We didn’t actually make it to the Museum; however there was a very nice center with a coloring corner, Revolutionary dress up corner, a Civil War tent and other interesting information wagons.  My daughter had a fun time here; despite ourselves the adults did as well.  To be honest my teenage son wished he was anywhere else and he was starving!!!!! So whether or not you make it to the museum (we plan on it next time), don’t miss this little hidden “play place”!

http://oha.alexandriava.gov/oha-main/oha-historycenter.html

Shopping

We weaved in and out of such cute shops!  There were folk art, book shops, wine shops, cheese chops, fancy shops, toy stores, antique stores, and artisan shops.  We found a particularly adorable toy store where we picked up old fashioned small toys, like tops and things.  They even had little grab bags for $1 in paper lunch bags…which delighted my daughter with little treasures.

Eats

This by far was the most exciting thing.  After a sunny afternoon walk and hours of wandering around we were all famished.  Especially the previously mentioned, teenage boy!  The one problem we had in Washington D.C. was figuring out where to eat with kids.  Old Town Alexandria was the first place that we had options.  We finally decided on a fascinating chili place called: Hard Times Café.  Not only did it have an amazing history, lots of cowhides and vintage cowboy stuff, but it had amazing chili.  They even bring out a sampling platter of their four chilis!  The cornbread was so good. Family friendly and the waiters were extremely polite and helpful.  In fact this was one of my favorite parts of our visit.  The homemade root beer was so decadent and rich it was practically dessert, the best root beer any of us have ever had.

http://www.hardtimes.com/

Overall, we had a wonderful day, I think we all returned to the Metro (on the free trolley of course!) wishing we had some more time to look around.  We also spent very little and got the most from what we did spend, in this tight economy that was a plus! Next time we visit Washington, D.C., I have every intention of staying in Old Town Alexandria instead of by the National Mall.  Waking up in such a pretty place, taking a morning stroll with coffee along the City docks sounds like a great way to start a day full of museum visits with kids in tow!

Electronic Handheld Devices Have Increased Rudeness in our Society

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Electronic handheld devices have increased rudeness in our society; in particular cameras, iPods and cell phones are causing increased rudeness in our society.  You may wonder why this is important or why I am talking about this.  It is because rudeness and lack of manners affect everyone in society.  I want to figure out how to teach my children manners in a technological enhanced lifestyle.Most of what I am about to say is from personal experience, however I did some research and I will share that with you as well.

Last year, I visited MOMA to see an Edward Hopper exhibit.  While I was there, people were taking photographs of the works of art, even posing with the paintings!  It was difficult to enjoy the art, because people were pushing or standing directly in front of the paintings. Not only were these people oblivious to those around them, it was as if they weren’t even there.  It was more important to take a picture of the moment, than to experience the moment.  In the book, Technology and Human Values, written by Watkins, published in 1978, this technological side effect was foreseen, and should be addressed.  “People realize the impossibility of living with others if each considers only himself.”  It is important that we retain this concept as technology increasingly becomes integrated into people’s everyday lives.

This brings us to iPods.  It has now become common place for people to walk around with earphones permanently attached to one’s ear.  Never mind that one can no longer hear if someone is talking to them.  I have actually thought seriously about creating some sort of parental iPod sign language with my own teenage son.  This has created a strange illusion of being excused from manners all together.  If someone walks into a room with the volume so loud that other people can hear the music too, it is not seen as being rude.  Being oblivious to your surroundings and the people in it is never an excuse for rudeness.  According to the book, Technology and Society, technology is creating an environment that author, Brent Staples feels that, “…teenagers miss out socializing, the real world experience that would allow them to leave adolescence behind and grow into adulthood.” For instance, you can no longer even say bless you or excuse me to someone, they can’t hear you with all the music blaring in their ears.

This brings us to the device that a decade ago we couldn’t have fathomed what it truly was, and now few of us can not only live without one, they consume us.  Can anyone guess what this device is?  Yes, it is the cell phone.  This device not only incorporates the camera and iPod capabilities, which cause the rudeness I mentioned previously, it expands it greatly.  Donald Norman said in the book, Technology and Society, “Cell phones are weird…look at people who take cell phone calls in the middle of the street and go into a trancelike state.  They have left where they are physically and focused on interacting with a person on the telephone…the problem is people are not having this experience privately…others are forced to participate.  Obviously, talking loudly in public is the rudest of cell phone behavior.

Recently, a New York Times article mentioned, the opera singer, Gabriela Pochinki was arrested in New York City for speaking loudly on her phone in a restaurant.  We all know how rude this behavior can be.  Along with ringing phones interrupting  events, Hugh Jackman, recently went out of character during a Broadway show to scold an a person in the audience for not turning off his phone.  According to an ABC News “20/20” survey about “Rudeness in America” done in 2006, “Making Annoying Cell Phone Calls” and “Using Cells or Email Mid Conversation” was in the top five rudest behaviors.  That was four years ago, cell phones are far more prevalent today, it would be interesting to see a newer poll and what it would indicate.

The cell phone has another feature that has increased rude behavior in our society.  Texting and emailing.  Ever walk down the block and someone is walking in front of you slowly or just stops short?  Ever try to walk down the subway stairs and people are just standing in the stairwell texting or emailing?  Or have a conversation with someone while they continually text to someone and expect you to wait while they blatantly ignore you for someone that isn’t even there.

We as a nation have become obsessed with this new non verbal form of communication.  We have also become addicted to social networks like Facebook , Twitter, or Myspace, in such a way that it is more important to update the virtual people in our lives with our cell phones, rather than pay attention to the actual people that are physically surrounding us.  Interestingly enough, when the phone was originally invented, The Times posted an article in 1897 that stated, “We shall soon be nothing but transparent heaps of jelly to each other.”  Over a hundred years later this seems less funny, and truer than any of us could have ever realized.

People must treat other people with respect and kindness. It is important to be aware of the tangible world around oneself.  It is imperative that as a society we can adapt our existing manners and etiquette to our new technological lifestyles.  While I do not have an answer as to how we might resolve this, I noted that it is extremely important to be aware of the issues and to begin thinking about being less rude while using electronic handheld devices.  Amy Alkon, just wrote a book, due out this month called, I See Rude People, in it she talks about people that are rude, “They are going to inflict themselves on you, and the only way to stop them is to show them there’s a cost.” Perhaps we all need to figure out just what that cost is.

Haugen, and Susan Musser.  Technology and Society. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2007.

“Poll: Rudeness in America, 2006.” ABCNEWS.com. 3 Feb. 2006.  ABC Network.  3. Feb. 2006. <http://abcnews.go.com/2020/US/story?id=1574155>

Quenqua, Douglas.  “As the Rude Get Ruder, the Scolds get Scoldier.” New York Times. 15 Nov. 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/15/fashion/15rude.html?_r=1

Truss, Lynne. Talk To The Hand, #?*! The utter bloody rudeness of the world today, or six good reasons to stay home and bolt the door. New York: Gotham Books, 2005.

Watkins and Roy Meador. Technology and Human Values: Collision and Solution. Ann Arbor: Ann Arbor Science Publishers Inc., 1978.

College Students vs. Time Management

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

It is Friday night and after an extremely busy week taking care of my children, working and attending college full-time I begin to panic.  I sign into my online class and I realize that I forgot to do one of my assignments, an essay which requires reading a chapter and posting by midnight looms before me.  My eight-year old needs me to help her with her homework and my sixteen year old is whining about dinner. I glance at the time, my heart is pounding.  Life becomes a time squeeze, running from one obligation to the next.

Most college students struggle with responsibilities and it is often due to lack of time management.   College students must attempt to achieve their goals whilst struggling with life responsibilities, children, punctuality, distractions and procrastination. With these pressures, balancing our time to truly meet our needs and reducing the inevitable stress that follows is a juggling act indeed.

Many students, burdened with responsibilities, fight to beat the clock. Stacyann Brower, a mother of two and a grad student at LIU said, “My children do not allow me to get my work done and if I wait until they are asleep I am too tired to tackle it.”  Stacyann also spends a lot of time assisting her children with their schoolwork and shuttling them around to activities. Organizing classes around our lifestyles in a realistic way may help reduce the stress we feel and help us to succeed with our present situation.  For example if your child is having trouble at school, it would be helpful to reduce the number of classes you take or find a tutor.

Mia Baker, a more traditional college student at a college in Vermont, works at the dining hall once a week in addition to making time for friends.  Mia said, “I personally try and get all my work done and I do not have to stress about it.” Many college students face a variety of outside responsibilities that demand their attention, full-time and part-time jobs, long commutes, social obligations and families.  Often time management is the only means of balancing their lives.

Keeping track of homework, reading assignments and test dates in a planner can be a crucial step in staying organized.  Prioritizing schoolwork and focusing on ultimate goals are important tools when implementing a routine.  Choosing to focus on school, work and children leave little time to do much else, it is important to understand this when committing to classes. Verity Baker said, “I have a calendar for work and school, as well as one for homework.”

Study habits and setting aside time for assignments can be difficult as the semester moves along.  Mia found this strategy useful, “Sometimes I feel overwhelmed but I just take everything one step at a time and calmly go through the things that need to get done.  Once they are done though, it feels like there is a weight off my shoulders.”

Some students felt that the assignments professors gave were fair; however they often found conflicts with the time they needed to devote to other activities.  Multi-tasking may be a technique that can help some to catch up, such as reading on the subway while commuting to work.

When asked if they were often late or unprepared at school, many students felt they couldn’t keep themselves on track with their assignments.  Stacyann remembers when she was an undergraduate, “…I did my homework in the car just before class or at down-time during work.” Finding a quiet area and keeping books in one place can assist students in keeping track of workload and handing assignments in on time.  Careful preparation, planning and avoiding procrastination can help to alleviate tardiness.

Stacyann feels that although she is never late she works very hard to meet deadlines in her grad classes, “I feel like I am always doing it at the eleventh hour because there is just not enough time with two kids, a house to run, a husband, etc.”   Prioritizing schoolwork, leaving time to handle unexpected obstacles, and keeping track of due dates is an important part of being a successful college student.

“I’m just going to check Facebook for a minute.”  Texts messages, emails and tweets flow to and fro.  A friend comes over and tells you about a wicked party going on down the hall.  Before we know it, hours have passed and the work we planned to do isn’t done.  Distractions, they are everywhere, if you can name all the people on Jersey Shore but not the digestive system for your biology class, then you need to reevaluate how you spend your time.  Verity said, “Facebook is definitely a culprit…but I also like to compulsively clean my room in order to procrastinate.”

Daniel also said, “Yes Facebook, friends, texting and the internet easily take up my attention and eats all my time.”  Monitoring your time when distracted is an important tool when focusing on what needs to be accomplished.  Using a timer may be helpful in order to maintain focus.

Perhaps the most important question of all is how time affects student performance and quality of lifestyle.  Often we will put aside something or give up early on, without pushing through.  We often become frustrated when our plans haven’t turned out as we wanted.  Do you feel that because of time management issues you are unable to achieve what you set out to do?

Verity said, “Definitely! Unfortunately I have been a poor time manager since middle school so I don’t know if there’s much hope for me…”

“Yep, I feel that I won’t be able to achieve my goals since I don’t have any sort of time management in place.” worried Daniel.

Stacyann commented, “Not really.  Luckily I work well under pressure.”

Mia answered, “All the time, it’s really bad.  I need to learn some time management skills ASAP!”

It is apparent that many college students are not sure how to organize their time set up and follow a routine, and or where to seek help.  Many colleges have onsite counseling which help students with personal issues.  There are also clubs and workshops available that allow students to focus on their goals and alleviate stress by being socially involved.  Self-help books, internet resources and chats with friends can be useful.  In addition, it is important to discuss concerns with your family or friends and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Finally, be mindful of the task at hand rather than always multi-tasking will help with focus issues.  Remember to take time to relax, it will help to reenergize mind and spirit, whether it’s yoga, a night out or even a ferocious game of monopoly against a competitive eight year old!