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How Can Teens Balance Work & School?

by Kay Uzoma, studioD

What teen doesn't want a little extra cash in her pocket? Finding a part-time job may solve the money problem, but create more stress for teens who need to find a healthy balance when fulfilling responsibilities such as school, a part-time job, extracurricular activities and duties at home -- not to mention having a social life. So what solutions can help teens restore a little sanity to their busy schedules?

Prioritize Responsibilities

Sometimes in an attempt to prove their independence, teens may think they can do it all. But they should know that school is their biggest priority and they shouldn't shirk it to put in more hours at work. Teens should assess how much time they need to do homework or other school duties and schedule work hours second. Keeping a schedule or calendar will help to streamline activities. A schedule can also let your teen know where she might be facing a time crunch, allowing her to adjust her schedule or even cut back activities.

Choose a Job Nearby

Working near home or school cuts down on the amount of time your teen spends commuting, which further disrupts that work-school balance. It also cuts down on travel fatigue, which can affect homework and classroom performance and extracurricular activities such as sports. Lethargy also causes irritability, which affects your teen's quality of life at home. Encourage teens to keep their eyes peeled for job openings within walking distance or a short drive of school or home.

Nutrition Still Matters

Eating a healthy diet can help teens struggling to balance school and work cope with stress. Nutrition is also important because teens are still growing. A busy lifestyle may cause teens to grab fast food on the run or to indulge in unhealthy snacks. Instead, encourage them to pack healthy, homemade meals to take to school and work. They should also drink lots of water, as dehydration can be misinterpreted for hunger and lead to unhealthy food choices.

Ask for Regular Hours

A fluctuating work schedule will create more stress for teens trying to find balance. They should ask for regular shifts each week, or better still, each weekend. Some teens may find working on Saturdays and Sundays more manageable than rushing to work before or after school. At the beginning, it's best to start with as few hours as possible. If they find they can cope, they can add a few more hours each week.

Take a Holistic Approach

Teens should know that support is there if they need it. They should let parents, friends, coaches, teachers or guidance counselors know what they have on their plate and ask for understanding or help. Also, employers should know if there's a conflict with the teen's school schedule. It's also important for teens to slow down and have time to do things they enjoy rather than always fulfilling obligations. They should also have an arsenal of stress-busting strategies ready, whether that's listening to relaxing music, swimming, meditating, walking or reading.


About the Author

Kay Uzoma has been writing professionally since 1999. Her work has appeared in "Reader’s Digest," "Balance," pharmaceutical and natural health newsletters and on websites such as QualityHealth.com. She is a former editor for a national Canadian magazine and holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from York University.

Photo Credits

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