This post is part of our series meant to encourage women in various stages of their lives and to remind each other that as women, we’re all in this together. I hope this series will provide you with new ideas, or at least the reassurance that not everybody’s home looks like those pictures on Pinterest

Meet Rachel – wife and home-schooling mom of four.

Hi Rachel! Tell us a little about your family.
My husband David and I have been married for nearly 12 years. Now we have 4 rambunctious kiddos to keep us on our toes, and we live on a ranch in the middle of nowhere. The last few years have been a roller-coaster ride for us. After my youngest was born, I taught high school English for one year, and then had the unexpected opportunity to open my dream business: a retail store for babies and kids. For two years, I sacrificed family time and sanity to keep the business afloat. We were all commuting an hour each way to work and school.  It was grueling for all of us.  When the business closed this past summer, we made some drastic life changes, and I started homeschooling my rugrats.  It was a big shift, but one we are all ecstatic that we made.

As a mom, how do you find balance?
The single most important thing is realizing that it isn’t possible to do everything.  It’s not realistic. I can’t have a perfectly clean house, perfectly behaved children, perfect meals, perfect outfits, perfect school room….you get the drift.  Once you cut yourself some slack, things miraculously seem to be going OK!

What steps do you take to maintain your own health?
To be honest, this is an area I have spent many years struggling with.  But I am finally coming to learn that it is perfectly fine for me to prioritize my own health.  In fact, it’s necessary to prioritize my own health!  These little people that I’m in charge of are watching me.  They want to be like me.  I want them to have a mom who eats right and exercises regularly as an example to base their own life habits on.  While this is still a work-in-progress in my family, we try to make this a family affair.  I don’t have the luxury of running to the gym, so we run across the pasture!

Are your kids picky eaters? How do you create healthy eating habits for your children?
I have one picky eater, but for the most part my kids eat very well.  We have always had a firm rule:  you eat what you are given.  The kids are required to try at least one bite of a new food.  If they TRULY don’t like it, they don’t have to eat it.  I always make sure there is at least one vegetable or fruit at every meal that they do like, so they always have a healthful choice that they enjoy.

How do you promote exercise with your kids?
One of the benefits of homeschooling my kids is that we have P.E. every day!  We go for a jog or a hike, we play outside and ride bikes, and we jump on the trampoline.  We also are lucky to have lots of room to roam around, so I usually kick the kids out of the house once or twice a day and tell them to run around outside!  We also limit TV and video game time, so it’s a real treat for them when they get it.

What tips do you have for managing your time in the midst of so many responsibilities?
You have to have a battle plan. For school, I create detailed lesson plans so that I know exactly what each kid is supposed to be working on. We have a chore chart for the kids, and we require them to help so that our house runs smoothly. I make a menu every week so I know exactly what I’m cooking for dinner.  Pre-planning these things keeps me from having to make a zillion decisions in a day, and keeps me from feeling so overwhelmed!

What mistakes did you make that you wish you could go back and fix?
I wish that I had not spent so many years worrying if I was doing everything “right.”  I wish I could’ve given myself a break a lot sooner.  It’s much easier to enjoy your family and your life when you’re not worrying if you’re screwing things up.

What is the hardest part of maintaining balance in your life?
The hardest part of maintaining balance is keeping a realistic picture of what balance really looks like.  It is not perfection.  Balance is contentment with what you have and where you are, and knowing you have done your best to get there.  It is striving for your best self every day, and giving yourself grace when you don’t quite live up to what you think you should be.

What does a balanced life for you look like?
For me, a balanced life is having the wisdom to focus my energy on the things that are important to me, and to let the other “stuff” in life go.

What advice do you have for fellow women?
My biggest piece of advice is to just stop judging yourself and comparing yourself to others.  We can never live up to the hype, no matter how amazing we are.  There will always be someone with a better job, a nicer house, more money, better behaved kids, whatever.  But behind closed doors, any mom will tell you, we’re all just trying to keep the house and the kids in one piece!

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If you or somenoe you know should be featured in our Balanced Women Series, leave us a comment and we may just feature you!

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