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Summer is one of those seasons that I anticipate, fantasize about, plan for, and then I blink and it’s over and I haven’t done half of the things I had hoped to do.

To fix that, two years ago I started my annual Summer Bucket List. My husband and I spent a few weeks brainstorming what types of things we wanted to do over the summer, made a list, and left it on our fridge so that we could check off each item, one-by-one as we did it. It was perfect for those nights when we wanted to plan a fun date, but couldn’t come up with anything creative.

summerideas

The second year, we decided to start our Summer Bucket List in May, because hot Texas summers prohibit a lot of our outdoor adventures after mid-June. Things like eating dinner on a restaurant patio aren’t nearly as fun when it’s 110 degrees outside and the metal chair burns a permanent reminder of your night into the back of your legs. So we have since declared that summer in our house offiically runs May 1 through Labor Day.

This summer our bucket list will be a bit different – we’ll be welcoming our first baby in July, and I’m not really sure what to expect yet. This year’s list may be all about simplicity and relaxing by the pool. I guess we’ll play it by ear.

But for the rest of you, here’s a free printable of a Summer Bucket List that you can use with your family to brainstorm fun activities.

Web

Download your own copy here

What will be on your list? Please share some fun ideas in the comments below. And, for more ideas, visit our Summer Bucket List page on Pinterest.

 

Bethe Wright is the Director of Marketing and Public Relations at North Hills Hospital, a wife, and a first-time mom-to-be this summer.

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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 Stephanie– wife and stay-at-home mom to two young children. (You can also check out Stephanie’s blog, Bless Our Little Nest, where she documents daily life with her family.)

Hi Stephanie! Tell us a little about your family:

My husband is in his mid-30s and finishing up an orthopedic residency.  I am in my early-30s and stay at home with our two kids – an almost five-year-old boy and a two-and-a-half-year-old little girl.  In a former pre-kids life I planned events and wore high heels every day.  I even had manicures.

 As a mom, how do you find balance?

As a mom, that is a comical question!   I feel like it’s more about making peace with the imbalance than actually finding a balance.  It took me several years into motherhood to realize that if I wanted to “do it all” I would need to have helpers. Because the people who I thought were “doing it all” actually had lots of people helping them to do it all.  If I am going to find balance, I have to prioritize what needs the most of my time and energy, and then I have to get creative about how I can do the other things.  And pick the things in my life that are “not for now.”

 What steps do you take to maintain your own health?

I recently joined the YMCA!  I felt like I was only kidding myself if I said I got my exercise from chasing my children.  I didn’t.  And I feel very strongly that my children needed to see me intentionally exercise and make my health a priority!  They also need to see me make healthy choices in the kitchen for myself.  I can’t expect my children to make good decisions regarding food and exercise if they don’t see me model those good behaviors.

Are your kids picky eaters? How do you create healthy eating habits for your children?

My son started off as a picky eater.  He was a typical “snackoholic” and “carboholic” toddler… feasting on puffs and goldfish and crackers.   I would rationalize things with the “organic” or “natural” labels… but actually, I just was just avoiding the very difficult task of making my son eat his good growing food.  I would offer good food at each meal, but if he didn’t like the fare he would hold out for something better at the next meal.  Or in his school lunch.  Or with his Grammy on Saturday morning.  

Then one day, I did something bold… I served his leftover dinner for breakfast.  And then for lunch again.  And by this point I had a very hungry little boy.  It was quite the ugly scene, but he knew I meant business!  And from that difficult afternoon when he was three-and-a-half, until now, we have been so much better.  He always tries everything on his plate.  He eats salad!  Loves raw carrots… just the other night we had wild duck and he loved it.  

 How do you promote exercise with your kids?

I make sure that we limit screen time, and I make sure they know that I make fitness and healthy choices a priority for myself.  (But let’s keep it real – as I typed this up my daughter watched PBS.  I have to be honest.)

 What tips do you have for managing your time in the midst of so many responsibilities?

One thing that I know I desperately need to implement is to stop multitasking!  If I have four things going on at one time I most certainly do not finish a task faster.  And I do believe that my work is sloppier!  I have also scaled back on my own commitments.  I would love to be more involved in community volunteer work, or make handmade gifts for my friends, or even volunteer at my kids’ preschool; however, I know that without a helper (either a babysitter or a housekeeper!) I would not be able to take care of my responsibilities.  I think as a mom, you have to learn your limits and respect them.  I am clearly still working on this!  

How has being a mom made you view sleep/rest differently?

So many moms I have talked to, myself included, feel the urge to stay up later to have some selfish time.  Watching a favorite TV. show, browsing Pinterest, catching up on friends’ blogs… but then, I am not well rested the next day!  Also, just to tackle deep cleaning projects often means I am staying up later than everyone else.  If I am inefficient with my time management in the day, I have to make a choice to lose sleep or leave the task incomplete.  Sleep is a luxury once you are a mom!

What mistakes did you make that you wish you could go back and fix?

I touched on this before, but a big mistake of mine was comparing myself to many other moms that I thought had it all together, all by themselves.  Everyone has a different set of circumstances, and to compare myself to anyone else is just plain silly.  I would see other people who looked so fit and refreshed… and I would wonder why on earth I didn’t… little did I know that they had a babysitter come to their house a couple of times a week so that they could go to yoga and run a few errands alone.  They didn’t talk about their sitter… and I just assumed that I just couldn’t get my act together since I didn’t have my act together like they did!  

 What is the hardest part of maintaining balance in your life?

Every couple of weeks there is something to throw the schedule completely off.  A good example is Halloween, another is my husband taking a week of vacation from his job.  When my schedule is out of whack… everything starts to go haywire.  My meal planning, my kids’ rest times/nap times, my own bedtime!  Rolling with the punches and keeping everything running smoothly is by far my biggest challenge, because, even when we are having fun, life goes on and there are loads of laundry to be done.

What does a balanced life for you look like?

A balanced life looks peaceful and calm.  Everything gets checked off the list.  Clearly… I don’t feel like I am there!   However, for me, for right now, a balanced life means I am intentional with my activities and time for my family, we live in a (relatively) clean house, and we eat healthy foods.  To have satisfaction with my level of balance, I have to let go of perfection.

What advice do you have for fellow women?

Be honest with each other.  Be honest with yourself.  So many people want to make everyone think they have it all together, but nobody has it all together all by themselves.  And everyone needs to cut themselves a little slack!

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 Meredith– wife, part-time employee, and mom to two beautiful little girls. (You can also check out Meredith’s blog, where she documents daily life with her sweet family.)

 

Meredith, tell us a little about your family.

I have been married to my college sweetheart, Walt, for six-and-a-half years.  I stay at home part-time with our two beautiful girls, Eloise Betty, two-and-a-half, and Emerson Caskey, one-and-a-half.  We also have a sweet little yorkie named Gracie Mae, who is almost seven.
 
As a mom, how do you find balance? 

Goodness, I think I struggled with this a lot once my second child came, seeing that my girls are only 14 months apart.  My husband travels a lot for his job, and we live no where close to family.  I love being a mom, and it definitely is the missing piece to our family link; however, I knew that I still needed to be able to live out my passion, which is teaching.  So, I found balance in staying home 2 1/2 days a week, and working 2 1/2 days a week. I feel I have the best of both worlds now…I have an identity as Eloise and Emerson’s mom, but I also have my own identity as a teacher, friend, and colleague in my work environment.  


 
What steps do you take to maintain your own health?

I try to be as active as I possibly can.  I make sure that I walk or run every day when I am home with my girls.  If it is too cold or rainy outside, then we turn on music and have a dance party.  I participate in afterschool workouts with other teachers on the days that I work.  I also make sure that I eat dinner when my girls do. This means eating early, but it has really helped out  because I am not eating late at night, and this has made a huge difference. 
 

Are your kids picky eaters?

My oldest, Eloise, is a picky eater.  I have had to be pretty creative with this little girl.  I’ve made “pictures” out of food, I have her “help” me cook, I’ve done cheers for her when she tries something new, and I have pureed vegetables and put them in sauces, batters, or breadcrumb mixtures.  Thankfully now, she watches me eat dinner and she wants to try what I am trying. If you have a picky eater, as hard as it is, don’t get worked up if they don’t want to eat something, and always have something healthy on their plate that you know they will eat. 
 
How do you create healthy eating habits for your children?

My girls watch what I eat, and I try to eat healthy, so I think this plays a big role in their eating habits. 
 
What tips do you have for managing your time in the midst of so many responsibilities?

I have a routine. My children have been on this routine since the day they came home from the hospital, and yes, there are days when the routine is messed up, but tomorrow is always a new day.  I have a life planner that I use to plan out my daily activities and keep appointments together, and a food calendar so that I know exactly what we are eating every day of the week. My children go down every night at the same time unless we have a prior engagement or we are out of town visiting family.  I have to do this so I can have time at the end of the day with my husband.  I also have certain days of the week where I clean my house.  Routine, schedule, routine, schedule.

How has being a mom made you view sleep/rest differently?

You know, at first, it was difficult. It really was, but I had to tell myself that every day will get easier and better, and it did.  Now, since I have my girls on a schedule, they sleep 12-13 hours a night. So, I can’t really complain about lack of sleep anymore.  But, there are some days where I am just beat. Maybe we did certain experiments or activities that really just wore me down, or I’ve been trying to clean a house and take care of 2 girls…so when they nap, I nap. I don’t feel guilty about that one bit. If my body is telling me, “Hey, I need to lie down for a bit,” I’ve learned I better do it, or else I will end up worn down and sick.

  
 
What mistakes did you make that you wish you could go back and fix?

Probably not to worry so much at the beginning.  I was so worried about when my girls were going to start sleeping through the night, or when was the right time for them to give up their pacifiers. One day I was at work and I realized, none of these kids have pacifiers, they all sleep through the night, these things will come.  I was not living in the moment the way I should’ve been.


What does a balanced life for you look like?

A balanced life for me is one where I hear laughter coming from the playroom, a husband who is happy and has a full tummy and the laundry has been folded and put away. 
 
What advice do you have for fellow women? 

Make sure you always do something for yourself…you always deserve it!

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!

This post is part of our series meant to encourage women in various stages of their lives to tune out the noise of society’s demands and find a balance that works for them, which in turn makes their whole families much healthier.

Meet Jennifer – single mom of two, full time physical therapist and community volunteer.

Hi Jennifer! Tell us a little about your family:
I am a physical therapist full time at North Hills Hospital and single parent to two daughters, ages 14 and 11.  I regularly volunteer at River Legacy Living Science Center and Mission Arlington.

What tips do you have for managing your time in the midst of so many responsibilities?
I make lists and keep a detailed calendar.  The list will show what needs to be done today and what can wait.

What are your best tips (or tricks) to get your family to eat healthy?
My daughters help with meal planning and grocery shopping.  When we go to the store, they each get to choose one item.  Last time the older one chose asparagus and the younger daughter cauliflower.  I encourage them to try different things and we find new recipes to try.

How has being a mom made you view sleep/rest differently?
I still make time to get plenty of rest so I can take care of what tomorrow will bring.  This might mean that something may not get done that day, but I will feel better the next day. Rest helps me to stay healthy and avoid illness.

What does a balanced life for you look like?
Having enough time for family, exercise, work and volunteering. 

What advice do you have for fellow women?
Make sure and make time for yourself to do the things you want.  Find out what is important to you.  This will help keep the balance and maintain your sanity.

In honor of organized women like Jennifer, we wanted to give you a free meal planning and grocery list download. Just click on the image to download your very own! This is only intended for personal use – not for resale.

What about you? What other tools do you use to stay organized while running a busy house? We’d love for you to share in the comments, or linke to your own blog post with some good tips.

This post is part of our series meant to encourage women in various stages of their lives to tune out the noise of society’s demands and find a balance that works for them, which in turn makes their whole families much healthier.

Meet Chelsea: wife, mother of two and small business owner (you may have seen some of her pictures on our blog or more recently the WBAP event pictures on our Facebook page).

Hi Chelsea! Tell us a little about your business and family.
I’m the owner and lead photographer for a boutique wedding photography business. Our business is the sole support of a family of four, and although we travel considerably for weddings and shoot two sessions a week usually on location, we’re officed out of our home.
 
As a mom of two kids, how do you find balance?
I wouldn’t say for sure that I have found balance, but I’m certainly better now than I was two years ago. We have made “modest home, rich experiences” our family motto, and we highly prioritize travel and adventures as a family. We work very hard, but we play just as hard. When we’re going to have a particularly busy month, we try to make sure that the following month leaves a lot of room for family trips and lazy day movie marathons with our kids. 

What tips do you have for making sure a working mom stays healthy while juggling work and family?
Eating! When I first started working from home, my meal schedule was completely wonked. I quickly learned that I needed to get up and eat breakfast every morning just like I would if I was “going” to work rather than working from home. I’ve also found that I feel healthier and more energetic as both a mom and a business owner if I get dressed and put on makeup in the morning. That sounds ridiculous, because no one’s going to see me, but the act of “getting ready” in the morning even if I’m just walking into my home office reminds me that I am a productive business owner and a member of the outside world!

Also, there are certain times of the year when I don’t have time for boot camp or my regular workout routine. During those times of year, we never miss Family Dance Party! We turn on Top 40 Dance hits and shake our booties around the house all together until we fall down in a big sweaty pile. It’s pretty much the most fun workout routine ever. 🙂
 
What tips do you have for managing your time in the midst of so many responsibilities?
Lists! I’m a list addict. We have a “What’s Happening This Week” white board that helps us all be able to see, at a glance, where we’re working, what projects are due, and what the kids have going on. Everything is color coded. I also set alarms in my phone that remind me to take a break. If I count on myself to just remember things, it’s never going to happen. I set myself up to succeed by having written schedules for work AND home that keep us all on track. 
 
How has being a working mom made you view sleep/rest differently?
I never knew what tired was until I was working 80 hour weeks running my own business with two children in tow. I wish I could go back and tell College Chelsea to hush up, because I had no idea what exhausted felt like. But you know what? I also had no idea what HAPPY was. I’ve started viewing exhaustion as my body’s way of saying, “Good job today.”

Now, there are definitely times when I realize I’ve pushed myself too far, and that’s not healthy for anyone. In those cases, I have learned to let work go un-done. It’s not going to be done up to my standards if I’m exhausted, anyway. It’s ALWAYS better to take a 2 hour nap and come back fresh than to work like a zombie and have to re-do something tomorrow because of mistakes. 
 
What mistakes did you make that you wish you could go back and fix?
I wish that I had more of these balancing systems in place when I first started working from home in 2009. I spent 18 months completely frazzled. The simple act of keeping up with daily and weekly To Do lists allowed me to feel much more in control of my workload, even though we’ve since added another child to the mix!
 
What is the hardest part of maintaining balance in your life?
The hardest part of maintaining balance in my life is knowing when someone needs a little extra. There are times when one child or the other, or even my husband, just needs a little more from me. It could be emotional, it could be when someone gets sick… any number of reasons why the normal amount of relaxing or “togetherness” time isn’t enough on any given day. As a person who’s addicted to lists and schedules, sometimes it’s hard for me to abandon those scheduling mechanisms. But it is always, always worth it.
 
What does a balanced life for you look like?
For me, a balanced life doesn’t mean I’m never exhausted, or I never feel overwhelmed. Owning a successful business, that’s just going to happen. A balanced life for me means that I always have something to look forward to. If we’ve got a crazy week at work, I’ve got a break with the kids at the zoo to look forward to the following week. If we’ve got a light month and lots of lazy family time, I can look forward to busy season returning because I’m lucky enough to love my job. My goal for life is not only that I’m always content with where I am, but also looking forward to what’s coming.

What advice do you have to fellow women?
You are not just a mother. Yes, you ARE a mother. That is perhaps your most important job. But if you are JUST a mother, then you aren’t training your children to be complete adults… and isn’t that our job, as parents? I set aside time to cultivate my relationship with my female friends, and time by myself, and prioritize above ALL my relationship with my husband. The choice to NOT put my children first in my life has made me such a better mother. Instead of a shell of a woman who resents her lack of autonomy, I’m a complete successful person who is proud of every facet of who I am. My husband, my children, and my customers ALL appreciate that!

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To women out there who are balancing a demanding job and raising children, what advice do you have for moms in Chelsea’s shoes? Remember – we want to build each other up and encourage each other to live balanced, healthy lives.

This post is part of our series meant to encourage women in various stages of their lives to tune out the noise of society’s demands and find a balance that works for them, which in turn makes their whole families much healthier.

Meet Marcy – mom of two-year-old twins, wife, and community volunteer.

Hi Marcy! Tell us a little about your family.
My husband Brian and I have been married for over eight years. In April 2009 we welcomed our twins, Charlotte and Jensen. Brian works full time outside the home and I am a stay-at-home mom. In addition to my mommy duties, I volunteer with the local early childhood PTA, my Moms of Multiples group, and serve on the board of directors for Golden Retriever Rescue of North Texas.
 
As a mom of young twins, how do you find balance?
It may sound strange, but I try to maintain balance by having a life outside my children. As a stay-at-home mom, it’s easy for me to have days in which the only people I’ve interacted with are my kids! I’m blessed with a husband who encourages me to spend time with my girlfriends as well as parents who regularly offer to babysit so Brian and I can have date nights. Maybe the most important thing for me has been to maintain a sense of self as far as maintaining the interests I had before having children, namely my involvement with Golden Retriever Rescue of North Texas.
 
What tips do you have for making sure a brand-new mom stays healthy while caring for a new family?
Aside from drinking lots of water and getting as much sleep as possible, I would say to go easy on yourself! Don’t stress if the house isn’t vacuumed or the laundry piles up. If you have a minute to rest, use it to rest! When friends or family offer to help, don’t be shy…let them make you dinner or feed a baby so you can have some time to yourself. 

What advice do you have to fellow women?
I think you can’t underestimate the importance of a support system of women who understand what you’re going through. For me, that was finding a group of other moms of multiples. For someone else, it might be a group of working moms. It is so nice to have other women who can offer advice, support, or just an ear to listen when you need to vent.

What tips do you have for managing your time in the midst of so many responsibilities?
I don’t know if I’m qualified to answer that! I just asked my mom the other day if I will ever NOT feel like I am running in a million different directions and constantly playing catch-up. I definitely have to make lists and write EVERYTHING down or else many things will completely slip my mind. Also, the Internet is a lifesaver for me…it’s much faster to order something from Amazon than to load two toddlers in the car and take them from store to store.
 
How has being a new mom made you view sleep/rest differently?
I always knew I wanted children, but I always dreaded the sleepless nights that come with having newborns! And those first few months of waking up several times a night were not fun! Even with the twins being two, sleep is still precious…you never know who’s going to wake up in the night needing mommy or daddy. One thing we did was reward ourselves with a nice new mattress when our kids started sleeping through the night; we figured we deserved it!
  
What mistakes did you make that you wish you could go back and fix?
Having newborn twins is extremely stressful…I think I made it worse by not letting go of some of my perfectionist tendencies. I got so stressed out by trying to do everything perfectly that I don’t think I enjoyed the first few months of my kids’ lives as much as I could have. 
  
What is the hardest part of maintaining balance in your life?
It can be hard for me to keep up with my kids and then find the energy to do much else! Despite the fact that there are a million things I should be doing when they’re in bed for the night, more often than not I just want to zone out on the couch. So I guess the hardest part of maintaining balance is probably finding the energy to do all the things I need and want to do.

What does a balanced life for you look like?
I guess I would say that a balanced life is a life in which you make room for what’s important to you. All women probably feel like they’re stretched a little thin at times, but I think if you go to bed at night feeling like you’ve spent your day doing the things you enjoy and accomplished the things that are most important to you, your life is probably pretty balanced.
 
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To moms reading this who have raised multiples, or several young children close in age, what advice do you have for moms in Marcy’s shoes? Remember – we want to build each other up and encourage each other to live balanced, healthy lives.

This post is part of our series meant to encourage women in various stages of their lives to tune out the noise of society’s demands and find a balance that works for them, which in turn makes their whole families much healthier.

Meet Karen Smith, MD – family physician, wife, and mother of five.

Hi Dr. Smith! Tell us a little about your business and family.
George and I met at Texas A&M where we were both President’s Endowed Scholars.  I was a pre-med major who changed to Education, thinking it would be a better fit for having a family. Then I quit college to marry George and we had Jeremy 9 months later!  We went on to have 5 amazing kids, 3 girls and 2 boys.  After 7 years I decided to finish my degree.  I earned a Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts, and a Master’s in Education before I realized that, while my family was still my first priority, professionally I was more interested in Medicine than Education.

I went back to medical school at 35 years old, with a husband, 5 kids and a graduate degree in another field.  I finished residency at 42 years old, worked for others for 5 years, and then started my own practice.  I love running my company, A Family Doctor, and taking care of our patients..
 
As a mom of five kids, how do you find balance?
I keep a very firm set of priorities, and use them to make decisions.  God comes first, along with maintaining my own spiritual, mental and physical health.  Then George–I don’t want to look at each other when the last child leaves home and say, “Who are you?”.  I still build my marriage every day.  Then my kids’ needs–I differentiate between needs and wants, but I try to always be there for them.  This is where running my own business is such a blessing–for instance, I close early on Fridays to be at football games and watch my youngest daughter perform.

Everything else comes after God and my family–and I consider everything outside the home “ministry,” whether it’s business or volunteer work.  We place a high priority on patients and are absolutely committed to them.  I also volunteer in several areas–at my church, at North Hills Hospital, and in our school district.   I’ve never quit thinking like an educator, and I teach classes at church on a range of subjects. But when there’s a conflict, I use principles and my list of priorities to make choices without guilt.

 
What tips do you have for making sure a working mom stays healthy while juggling work and family?
Church helps me by providing opportunities to hang out with other women and build relationships.  You have to have relationships with other girls.  My church also helps keep me focused on the principles I believe in, that under-gird everything I do.  If I start getting off-track, it seems something gets said to remind me of my priorities.
 
What tips do you have for managing your time in the midst of so many responsibilities?
Take care of yourself–spirit, mind and body. It’s not selfish.  It’s stewardship.  If you put first things first, other things fall into place.
 
How has being a working mom made you view sleep/rest differently?
I actually have made it a priority.  When I was in training to be a doctor, I could rarely sleep more than 5 hours a night, and on-call only about 2!  I was able to do it, but no one should do that forever.  Now I actively plan for 8-9 hours of sleep every day.  My absolute minimum is 5 hours, even on truly busy days.  It’s part of taking care of my body and keeping my heart sane.
 
What mistakes did you make that you wish you could go back and fix?
I would spend even more time with my kids.  It just goes so fast.  If you keep yourself healthy, there’s plenty of time later for everything else you enjoy.
 
What advice do you have to fellow women?
Learn to say no. It’s how you prove you have priorities.

What is the hardest part of maintaining balance in your life?
Making time to exercise.
 
What does a balanced life for you look like?
I like Steven Covey’s First Things First for an approach to maintaining balance.  It’s a constant effort to not be ruled by the “urgent” little details every day  (obviously I’m not thinking of medical emergencies).  A balanced life has time for reflection, time for quiet, time for solitude.  Then you go out re-charged to help others.  I enjoy both the busy and the quiet times!
 
 

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To working moms reading this, what advice do you have for moms in Dr. Smith’s shoes? Remember – we want to build each other up and encourage each other to live balanced, healthy lives.

 

We are excited to introduce a new series where we will profile women in various stages of life to discover how they achieve balance in family, work, and health.

The first woman we will profile is Sarah – a first-time mom to baby Luke and wife to Philip.

Hi Sarah! Tell us a little about your family.
I have been married to my wonderful husband for almost two years. We just had our first baby two months ago – his name is Luke and I am loving being a new mom. 
  
As a mom of a newborn, how do you find balance?
To me it is important to balance rest at home and getting out. I tend to feel cooped up if I am at home too much, so I try to run at least one errand a day or go visit a friend or family member. 
  
What tips do you have for making sure a brand-new mom stays healthy while caring for a new family?
Listen to your body. If you are feeling tired and worn out, allow yourself to lay down for a while. Let people take care of you so that you can take care of your baby.
 
How has being a new mom made you view sleep/rest differently?
I have learned that I don’t require as much sleep as I thought I did before having a baby. However, everyone tries to warn/scare you by saying you’ll never get to sleep again when you have a baby. I refused to believe that. Once you make it over the hump in the first couple of weeks of waking up several times a night to feed the baby, it is completely manageable.

What advice do you have to fellow women?
Every experience is different. If you are about to have a baby or have a new one, take other women’s advice but don’t listen to the negativity. I found that while being pregnant everyone wanted to tell you their horror story of birth. Then they would try to give us “advice” by saying that my husband and I would never have time for each other again. Or we will never sleep again. They would always say it with a smile or laughing but it begins to wear on you. Just know that many women have done this before and that you can do it too. Take the time to enjoy every day with your baby.


 
What mistakes did you make that you wish you could go back and fix?
I think I am a big multi-tasker. I like to be efficient with my time and do several things at once. Looking back on the first couple of months I wish I wouldn’t have been planning on what my next thing that I needed to get done was and just relax and enjoy the moment with my son. 
 
What is the hardest part of maintaining balance in your new life?
It is just a matter of making an effort and being aware. If I notice that I am feeling blah, I try and take Luke to go do something fun. For me that means going to visit friends. I like getting to interact with other people throughout the day and not just sitting in my house alone. 


 
What does a balanced life for you look like?
Being balanced to me is still maintaining a life while getting to incorporate Luke into it. The world doesn’t stop because Luke was born, we just get to show it to him now. It also feels more balanced to me when my husband and I spend quality time with each other. We still want to talk and act as if we were dating, but now we can have the added bonus of Luke too.

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To the women who have been in Sarah’s shoes before, what is your best advice for a new mom? Remember – only positive, balance-building advice for these first-time moms, or moms-to-be.