THE BLOG

The Balancing Act

08/19/2013 03:48 pm ET | Updated Oct 19, 2013

My husband and I are raising five beautiful -- and very active -- children with ages ranging from a 3-year-old preschooler to a 13-year-old teenager. I work full-time, run marathons, volunteer at my church and now have added earning my degree online to the mix. Might sound crazy, but the truth is, I refuse to make any more excuses for pursuing what I want in life, which is a happy family, a successful career and an education that I can be proud of.

As you might expect, my typical week is pretty hectic, but the feeling of accomplishment before I go to bed each night and put my children to sleep is worth the extra effort. On the average weekday, I wake up around 6:00 a.m. to get my kids and out of bed and out the door. By 8:00 a.m., I'm running with my 3-year-old in a jogger around the neighborhood (which restores my sanity!) and by 9:00 a.m., I'm working remotely from our playroom at home while also looking after my youngest son. My younger three children get home around 3:00 p.m. and I settle them down with their homework until the piano instructor comes over for lessons and my oldest daughter returns around 4:00. I'm lucky to have a husband who cooks dinner while I begin my studies around 5:00 p.m. Dinner is usually around 7:00 and then I'm back to the books until it's time for bed.

It may seem like I spend a lot of time away from my family but in reality, they're my first priority. As my kids get older and begin to consider college, I want to show them the value of an education. It's important to be home with them, but it's also important to teach them that education is not an option, it's a necessity. I also want to be able to contribute more financially to our family, which is a challenge without a degree. I've been with the same company for almost two decades and am ready to be a partner, but a bachelor's degree is necessary to even be considered. I've been contemplating going back to school for quite a few years, but life kept getting in the way -- more kids, more responsibility at work and more bills to pay and the list goes on. When I finally took a moment to weigh the excuses, I realized there would never be an "ideal" time to go back to school so I finally took the plunge and enrolled.

Between working full-time, raising five kids and training for marathons, the flexibility of an online program has been paramount to my success. I'm living in South Carolina but taking my courses through Arizona State University online. It holds the same accreditation as the university's traditional program and my classes are taught by the same professors who teach on the ground -- which means a great deal to me. The credentials from my degree in technological entrepreneurship and management will be vital for potential upward mobility at work.

So how do I do it all without falling apart?

First of all, I have amazing support from my family. My older children help the younger kids with their homework and the younger kids take on additional chores. At the same time, my husband always makes himself available to provide feedback on my projects and help me prepare for exams.

Secondly, I have become a master at multi-tasking. I exercise and study at the same time by riding my exercise bike while I'm reading my assigned chapters each night. It's honestly the perfect solution because I know if I sat on the couch to study, I would fall asleep within minutes. When I'm on my bike, my body and mind are active, and I have the adrenaline to keep going. When studying at night, I'm also aware of what my children are up to and can intervene if they're watching too much TV or bickering with each other.

My biggest challenge has been missing time with my husband and kids so I dedicate my Sundays to my family and make a trip to our beach house one weekend a month. I am a firm believer that achievement is met through constant improvement, but it's also necessary to take occasional breaks to maintain my sanity. I may miss a few moments that count with my children, but honestly, if I can inspire them to achieve success, then I know I won't have any regrets.