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Self Care in Academia: Balancing studies and a family

Today, I have the pleasure of hosting Fouzia Choudhry in the series on Self Care in Academia. Fouzia is a full time lecturer, a mother of 4 and a part time Doctoral student at Staffordshire University.

Due to my busy lifestyle I carefully plan each day, week and month. I find sleep is very important to keep me going so although I start my day at 5 am every week day, I go to sleep early at around 9pm. By doing this I avoid feeling tired and am able to focus well on my writing as well as my other daily jobs.

The key thing for me is not to feel stressed out at any point and not to neglect the kids as a result of my studies. Therefore, I read and write first thing in the morning, whilst the kids are asleep. Achieving at last two hours of study first thing in the morning, keeps me happy and motivated all day. Keeping fit makes me feel happy, energetic and motivated too, so although it’s very difficult to arrange for a babysitter whilst going to a gym, I have set up my own space to exercise at home, with some equipment I would use maybe once a week.

The other important routine I have is to cook healthy for myself and the family. As I plan what I will cook in advance, it makes it easier as I have the ingredients required and don’t have to run to the shops last minute.

At the weekends, I have a strict routine of spending the Saturday getting up-to-date with the housework and the kids homework. On Sundays, as my husband is home, I aim to spend between four to five hours studying and I take the kids out or spend time with them for the rest of the day. In order to cope with the demands of studying, my job and the kids, I have a cleaner who comes over every Saturday. This is very important because if I am not up to date with housework, I don’t feel mentally ready to study and it would stress me out. Initially, I moved to a bigger house during the first year of study because I felt I needed more space where I can lay out my books and have more than one area in the house to study. However the down fall to that was the bigger the house, the more cleaning.

I believe that including social activities is also part of my self-care habits. However, during term time I keep this to a minimum unless it’s course related such as conferences or meeting with course tutor or mentor. I use the school holidays to visit the library, friends and family.

Overall I would say it is how I plan and manage my time allows me to include self-care habits into my daily routines, whilst keeping on target with my other duties.

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