Work School Balance. Or Imbalance??

Your working kid is really pleased because they’ve been offered part time employment following their summer job. The upside is additional income. Is there a downside?

In a world where a fair number of slacker young people spend all their free time on snapchat or far worse habits, what’s not to like about a kid who gets home after a full day of school, dons a uniform and commits to a full shift in the workplace. We beam as they set the alarm extra early to do homework and are proud of their commitment on all fronts. That said, there’s commitment and then there’s over-commitment.

Over-commitment in this context is a situation where a young person who is still growing and needs nine and a half hours of sleep (the recommended amount for a teenager) and may be getting substantially less.

Unfortunately, the downside can be far worse than being sleepy through class.

Fatigue dramatically increases the risk of injury in the workplace. It affects our ability to make good decisions, recognize risk, compromises our reaction time and our ability to recall details plus a long list of other symptoms that are regular prime causal factors in workplace injuries and fatalities.

It can also result in dependency on everything from caffeine to much stronger stimulants that further develop into full blown addiction.

As a parent or other adult influencer of a young person there is much you can do to make a difference.

First off, do the math. How many hours is your kid at school including the travel? How many hours are they working a week? How many hours goes towards homework or other extra-curricular activity? The number can eclipse 12 hours really quickly. Throw in the need to sit down and eat and take care of other personal needs like showering and household basics and sleep time can very quickly be infringed upon.

Another perspective is to identify the ‘gridlock’ days. These are the days when they are challenged the most. An early morning volleyball practice following by a full day of school, a work shift and study for an exam. Days like these can significantly impact your kid’s ability to focus and that includes focusing on hazards in their workplace.

All of the above doesn’t take into the account of the potential for stress that is caused by being tired and pulled in so many directions. Having that extra money for university will be for naught if they are so tired and distracted that they aren’t accepted.

If the above applies to your kid, have a conversation about it. Ask them if all this productivity has a down side. Are they tired? Does it feel like they’ve taken on too much? Is it causing them stress?

Explain to them the adverse effects of sleep deprivation on their health as well as it being a factor that could lead them to injury in the workplace.

Explore what the options might be. Can they reduce their job workload? Even one less shift a week might make the difference.

Most importantly show them that you care. Tell them that their health and well-being is far more important than their ability to juggle so effectively and make that extra money – there will be time to do that. Being proactive and supporting your kid in the above ways will go a long way in helping them achieve their goals and enjoy life along the way.

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