Friday, April 26, 2013

Q&A: Balance

Forever and ever ago, I did a Q&A post and some readers commented with questions for me and I promised I'd answer them all, and then I just... didn't. Oops. But better late than never, right?

I'm going to try to get through them one-by-one over the next few weeks (or maybe a couple at a time for the easier questions), and then maybe when I'm done I'll do another Q&A post for my newer readers. :) 

To start off, here's a question about balancing everything as a law student:

Q: I'm curious how on earth you manage to balance everything you do. I just got accepted to two law schools and I'm still waiting to hear back from PhD programs, but before I start the next step in August, I'd love to hear from you about how you balance school, marriage, actually cooking dinners (I barely have energy to cook while taking masters level classes), keeping up with friends/family, DIY projects, etc. Where do you find time and energy to do all this? Because I'm pretty terrified of going crazy this fall!

A: Ha! If I give off the appearance that I have everything balanced all the time, that's a complete falsification because I SO don't. Sometimes I go a little crazy. You just have to know that you might have a little breakdown once or twice a semester, and it's okay. Last semester I made it through finals without ever crying about finals, and that was a HUGE deal. Haha! But I'll try to explain a few things that have made life as a law student/wife/daughter/sister/blogger work for me. First of all, family stuff comes first. Birthdays, holidays, our anniversary, and important life events like weddings and graduations trump everything else (well, except for the Bar exam, which falls on our anniversary this year - haha!). I also put things like Sunday church in that category (when my relationship with God starts to falter, everything else crumbles, so I make that a huge priority too). I make sure to get everything on my calendar WAY in advance, and then I just make it work. Past that, I try to schedule casual dinners/lunches/whatever with our families and friends in advance too. It's so hard to do anything last minute as a law student (because you always feel like you need to be studying), but if you plan ahead you can get ahead on school stuff and not feel guilty hanging out with friends/family.

I tell 1Ls a lot that it helps to divide your life into "law school" and "breaks from law school" (I'm sure this applies for other sorts of professional school as well). If you look at things like making dinner or cleaning the kitchen as "breaks from law school" (rather than placing that in a "no fun chores" category) it helps you to not get burnt out. That way, if all you have time for in a given week is (1) law school, (2) cooking and cleaning, and (3) sleeping and showering [albeit not as often as you'd like], you still feel like your life was mostly your own. Haha! 

Past that, I try to have one-on-one time with Jeff as much as possible. When we're both really busy and don't get to talk enough, etc., we both can tell, and we're usually on the same page. When that happens, we just schedule a date night (even if it's just at home, watching Netflix and eating dinner), and I stick to it regardless of what else is going on. It's helpful to have something scheduled sometimes because then you feel like it was time you intentionally took away from studying and budgeted for (rather than feeling guilty that you skipped out on the Torts reading to be with your husband). A key thing about being married while in law school is that you HAVE to communicate your school schedule and school stresses to your spouse. I always keep Jeff in the loop about what tests, papers, and Law Review deadlines I have coming up when, and how many hours of study/work time I expect to need in the coming week/weekend, and then we decide together which hours I'll spend studying. Vacations are also key (even if it's just a quick road trip to San Antonio or something)... it helps to have something to look forward to when you're going through the super-busy times.

As for cooking dinners, I use cooking and baking as a stress reliever, so that has kind of just fallen into place (there's a LOT of stress in law school... haha!). Dinner is almost always my responsibility, but during finals Jeff takes a two-week period and he's in charge of dinner for those nights. We started doing that my third semester, and it makes SUCH a world of difference. He knows he's in charge, so he plans ahead and goes grocery shopping for easy meals, and I don't feel guilty about not cooking, and I have the time I need to cram for those finals. 

And DIY projects... my list of DIY projects that I want to do is always about 40 items long. And it gets longer and longer and I'll never catch up to it. Haha! But I do things whenever I have time, and I just don't worry about it when I don't. DIY projects should be fun, not stressful!

And most of all (although this may not help anyone who isn't a religious/spiritual person, which describes a lot of law students), I pray. I know I can't do it all on my own, and I pray everyday that God will help me to get through it all and succeed and use the gifts I've been given to do some good in the world and bring some glory to Him. And you know what? He does. Again and again. I'm graduating in a couple weeks with grades I'm really proud of and my mental health intact and my husband still in love with me, solely because of the amazing grace that God has given me over the past three years. It's incredible how prayers get answered. I really should have led off with that, because it's what makes all the other stuff possible, but yeah. Prayer is huge. 

At the end of the day, law school's hard, and you just do what you have to do (you can see some of my Day in the Life posts from 2L year here and here). There's nothing like law school to make you feel like you really can accomplish anything you set your mind to, but I sure am glad I don't have to go back and do it all over again. :)


  1. Hi Katie :) I found you through Kelly's blog and will definitely start reading! I don't blog myself, but read a lot, and am happy to add you to the mix!

    P.S. I'm excited to see that you are Catholic! I'm a new Catholic (3 years)and am always trying to grow in my faith, so I'm always glad to see the world through the eyes of another Catholic Christian!

    I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  2. You should be a poster child for girl power! I cannot imagine balancing all of this.