To Russell Gaede, navigating through his PsyD program at Forest Institute of Professional Psychology requires balance in juggling his coursework and dissertation with making time for his wife and three children--Christina, 7, Dallin, 4, and Mary, 1.
"All my children have known is daddy being in school," says Gaede, 35, who is in his third year in a clinical psychology program and graduated with his master's in mental health counseling from University of Phoenix-Utah Campus.
Being married with children can be useful in a psychology program, he says. For example, at his college's clinic, a classmate counseled a mother whose children were taken away. Gaede was called in as co-therapist to assist since he is a parent as well.
Maintaining good grades and finding quality time to spend with the family can be a challenge, Gaede admits. "What it came down to is I had to decide what my priorities were." At first he went through phases, focusing too much on school and not enough on family, and vice versa, he explains. Now he says he has found a healthy balance.
"I had to think about my priorities and what I was willing to give up," says Gaede, who realized that a 4.0 grade point average would not be likely (he currently has a 3.6) so he could make more time for his family.
Gaede arranges his schedule so that he has time to volunteer at his daughter's school once a week. At least once a month he and his wife of nearly 11 years, Jennyfer, have a "date night" where they trade off with another family in the psychology program who baby-sits. The family also has "family night" every Monday where the children pick out an activity, such as a game or movie.
"When I'm home, I'm home," Gaede says. "When I'm at school, I'm at work." He does very little studying when the children are awake.
But sometimes school can interfere. On Halloween night, Gaede was stuck in class so his wife brought the children in their costumes to the university. Gaede packed his pockets with candy to give them. "Sometimes we have to find creative times to see each other," he says.