By: Erin Bast, Vice President External
I’m not going to lie; this is not a topic I am a fan of discussing at the moment. I am in the process of moving…my life is the definition of messy right now! I guess I shouldn’t say that – I have a roof over my head, food on my table, happy children, and things are starting to come together. But I am the type of person that thrives when my life and house are in order. Chaos, clutter, and all the things that come along with moving right now are just not helpful to me, especially while juggling school, work, and kids. I think I also forgot to mention that my husband works away…so yeah, I have a little bit going on!
Trying to function while attending post-secondary and living in a chaotic state is hard. You all probably have your own tricks to juggle all this successfully but for me, being organized is key. First, I usually try to have a clean and organized home. This allows me time to focus on other areas such as school, work, and my kids. I would be so lost without my day planner and Outlook, I have to write everything down in these! But, it isn’t pretty…there is a lot of Whiteout happening in my day planner but I also know that I need to be flexible because things happen, and schedules can change last minute. Even if it’s something that I am looking forward to attending, I look at it as either more time spent with my family or more time available to do schoolwork. And because of this, I try not to take things personally when it doesn’t work out one way or the other.
I think it’s important to know where and how things rank against each other. When it comes to my life, my family is number one; everything else comes second. Yes, I choose meetings or events in the evenings or on weekends when I am away from my family, but the kids are having fun with Nana and Papa or hanging out with their fun babysitter. However, if they are sick, it’s their birthday or Halloween, I am doing my best to juggle things and put them first.
Knowing that we would be moving, I decided not to put my kiddos in any extracurricular activities this semester, and you know what? They are fine!! They are enjoying the downtime of not being rushed around town and always being on a schedule. And honestly, so do I! The rush and need to have our kids in every sport, every activity, and excel at everything is so exhausting and as parents, we are adding so much pressure and stress to our lives! I’m tired, and they are tired. This downtime is one thing that I am happy to have experienced; slow down…you’re not gonna get there faster by being busier unless you’re headed to the grave, that is.
Since being elected as the Vice President External with the Students’ Association, I maintain office hours now. So, instead of heading to the Nova Learning Common to complete my schoolwork, I have meetings, events, and reports to get to. That, combined with my home life, time is no longer on my side. I realized that I spend a lot of my available class time not working on assignments. This is something I am aware of that needs to change in order for me to be successful with my education. So now, when I have the opportunity to tackle an assignment, I pop in my earbuds and drown out all the noise that inhibits me from getting to work in class. This has been such a massive help in my personal and school life. When I think about all the extra hours I have now because I am mindful of how I use my time, I wonder why I wasn’t doing this before!
I know that this is such an ick thing to hear, and I feel gross saying it but eating properly, working out, and getting enough sleep plays a massive part in whether I am successful and feeling good. Trust me, nothing turns my crank more than a big ‘n juicy curly fry poutine from the Far Side, but if that’s the only real meal a girl is eating in the day, your body is not going to thank you for it. In turn, your body will take it out on you by messing up your train of thought, focus, and mood. This may seem like adding more to a person’s plate by encouraging them to meal prep but it’s truly a life saver!! Chicken, rice, veggies, done! So easy! And working out can be a tricky thing to get into, right? But once you’re in it, it’s so good and becomes necessary. It feels so good to feel good and it’s actually something I need to get back into! I miss it and I love Studio Pilates! (they offer student discounts btw.) I’ll get back at it once I’m all moved in and organized. Let’s talk about sleep…I’m a night owl, an anxiety-ridden night owl; thank goodness for anxiety meds (which I have been on for many years now and cannot recommend enough!!). They help with the nighttime struggles, but I don’t think I will ever not be a night owl. I just get more accomplished between 10pm and 2am then during the day! This coming semester, I have an 8am class and I am not looking forward to getting to bed early and waking up super early!
At New Student Orientation, one of my instructors told our class that the people we were sitting next to will more than likely be lifelong friends. In my head, I’m like, “Nope,” I wasn’t here to make friends. I was here to learn, get an education, and work my butt off. I wasn’t a young kid anymore; I was a 40-year-old wife and mother of 3. I didn’t have time to make friends, I already had friends, and they are enough trouble. My first year, I was the nerd in the Nova Learning Commons before and after every class. To me, it didn’t matter if people joined me or not. I was there for my family, myself, and our future. Then Covid reared its ugly head again in the winter of 2021. We were shut down for what seemed like an eternity, and I found that I became closer with some of my classmates while we were shut down. Once we were back in person, I did my best to stay close to them. Sometimes school, family, and work take precedence, but we are all there for each other when needed, and that’s what’s most important. Knowing that I have a group of people I can rely on if/when my kids or I are sick to pass on class notes to me or hand in an assignment for me or if I wanna complain about my husband or others that are grinding my gears, they are always there to help and lend a listening ear. These people have kept me sane during some pretty difficult times. Their dorkiness, humour, tough love, and support are what everyone looks for in a friend. I may be the least present person in our group chat, but even reading through the chat after a long ass day of endless responsibilities they bring me back up or get me back down right where I am meant to be. Their love means the world.
Filling Your Bucket
Balancing everything can be tricky and it’s such a balancing act! Between day-to-day responsibilities, school, work, families, it can be hard to remember that we need to fill out own buckets. I found my happy place and it’s volunteering. I have volunteered at RDP Counselling Services for over a year with Linnea, and it has become a place that helps chills me out. No matter how much I have on my plate, volunteering puts me in check and reminds me of what’s important, why I’m attending RDP, and who I’m here for.
Good luck to everyone trying to make it work and remember that everyone in your life is rooting for you – including me! But if you need a little extra help along the way, there are so many great and free resources here at Red Deer Polytechnic to get you through this.