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Parenting and a Ph.D.

Monica Beyer is a mom of four and has been writing professionally since 2000, when her first book, Baby Talk, was published. Her main area of interest is attachment parenting and all that goes with it, including breastfeeding, co-sleepin...

Making it all work

Erika is a do-it-all mother — she is currently working toward her Ph.D. while expecting a baby, parenting her 9-year-old son and planning a wedding.

Tying it all together

SK: Tavin is thriving, your education is becoming more complete, you’re expecting a baby and planning a wedding. How do you do it all, and do it all well?

EF: I don't know that any mom thinks they "do it all" unless she is defining what "it all" means to her and only her. If we were talking about someone else's vision for their family, maybe mine wouldn't measure up, but, to me, I am doing it all every day. My goal is to simply raise a happy and healthy family, including nurturing my son's interests and talents and fulfilling my own ambitions in life.

I have been engaged for almost a year, and my fiance, Brady, has been a tremendous addition to our little family. Not only does he encourage me to complete my own goals, but he is the most wonderfully helpful partner in life and parenting I could ever imagine having. Doing "it all" is certainly easier when you have someone like that in your life.

SK: What do you do for fun?

EF: As I mentioned, we live in a city, and there are so many fun things for families to do here, especially since we experience all the seasons to their fullest. We love seeking out family-friendly events on weekends (tonight we are going to see the Holidazzle Parade, a yearly event here in Minneapolis).

When Brady and I get some time for adult-only activities, we like to seek out new, sometimes fancy, restaurants or bars, although now that I'm six months pregnant we are more likely to be cuddling on the couch and falling asleep early! Of course we like to spend time with our extended families and friends as well.

SK: What advice do you have for moms who struggle? How can they be more motivated and prioritize their time better?

EF: I think that depends on the realm in which someone is struggling. If it's financial, choose an attainable goal that will get you into a more comfortable position in the future. If it's a time issue, find out what time of the day your work or studying is most productive (and don't try to parent and work or study at the same time; you will end up feeling like a failure on both accounts!). For me, that was often in the morning.

Find out what your priorities are and be resourceful in order to attain them. Motivation is essentially internal and something that can be tough to muster up as a single or young parent when you have more pressing concerns, though it never hurts to surround yourself with people who energize and motivate you. I find, even now, that being around other Ph.D. students gets me excited about my project when I have been in a lull. Parenting during school can be tough and exhausting, but the personal fulfillment is great and a happy and fulfilled parent is bound to be a better one.

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