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Friday, December 20, 2013

The Having It All Project: Diane Thies

I started reading Diane's blog, Dollops of Diane, just before we met a Springboard last year. She's a blogger who manages to seamlessly review a product without forgetting that you're there for the story of how she used it too, which I really appreciate it. Plus, she's a planner, and has kept many of us Boston bloggers connected to each other with non-sponsored events where we just get to be together. I love that about her. Here's how Diane is having it all.

Briefly describe your life and what you think makes it unique.
My father passed away when I was only two months old, so my brother and I were raised by mother in a small town outside of Boston. Unfortunately, my mother developed a rare muscle disorder that meant her health continued to decline throughout my life until her death in 2009. By the time I was finishing high school, she was wheel chair confined but always maintained her smile. After high school, I attended college where I received a bachelor's degree in Marketing with a minor in Finance. I started a job right out of college with an insurance company and several years after that married my husband. In 2007, we started our family which meant and I needed to take a leave from my position as Disability Claims Manager (isn't that what everyone uses their Marketing degree for?). I had every intention of returning to work full time but once I was home with our Isabelle I felt it was right where I needed to be. I did return back to work but only for a couple of months since my heart was at home. It ended up working out well since we discovered shortly after I quit that I was pregnant with baby number two (surprise!). Just fourteen months after Isabelle's birth, we welcomed Henry to the family. Once we had two children we figured what's one more? So nineteen months later we welcomed Daniel to our clan. That meant that we had three children under the age of three. Everyone thought we were insane. Honestly, the first couple of years of motherhood are kind of a blur. Isabelle and Henry were great babies which was followed by Daniel the Demon. He had a milk intolerance, he spit up everything, and he cried all the time. He eventually outgrew that phase but continues to be my biggest challenge. He can be sweet and caring one minute followed by unruly and screaming the next. It's amazing just how different children can be from each other! But I do feel lucky that I have the opportunity to stay home with them. Besides taking care of them full time, I keep busy with being active in our local Moms Club, doing volunteer work, and writing a blog. I am a do-er and prefer to be busy.

What are some of your favorite tips and strategies for coping with the chaos?
Chaos and Diane are two words that I try not to put in the same sentence. I exist most happily in a world full of order and lists. My calendar is my best friend. The Notes section of my iPhone is the runner up in the best friend category. I learned early that if I don't write things down then it won't get done. With each child I've had I've become more and more of a scatterbrain – lists and calendars keep me in check! Something that I struggle with is accepting and handling when things don't go according to plan. However, it's something I'm aware of and is a work in progress!

I also find it's very important to make time for the things that are important to you. Shockingly, exercise has become something that is important to me. That means that I get up at 4:45am several times a week to fit it in before anyone else gets up. You know what else is important to me? Facebook. It allows me to connect with other people besides the mini tyrants that occupy my home. It's an outlet for me and something I enjoy so I make time for it. What's important to you doesn't have to be scholarly and world changing – it just needs to be an outlet that makes you happy. Find it and do it daily!

Please share a moment where it all broke down, and how you got through it.I've conveniently blocked out any specific horrible moments from my life. However, there is definitely a time when frequent breakdowns occur – mornings. You'd think that you can get a schedule set up and get out of the house on time each morning. It just doesn't seem to happen here. I wake up at the crack of dawn (or even before!), I lay out outfits the night before, I pack backpacks the night before, and yet something always goes wrong. Henry, who never sleeps late, will surely be passed out still when it's time for him to get dressed. He'll never be able to find his coat (Hint: It's in the same spot every single day). Isabelle will need to argue about the shoes she's wearing and try to convince me to let her bring two additional pairs of shoes in her backpack. Daniel is actually the constant each morning – he fights me tooth and nail on everything that needs to be done. I find myself yelling at the kids more than I'd like to admit which doesn't do any good anyway. So I try to remind myself that we are all going to get where we are going – whether it's on time or a few minutes later (shudder!). I've also started making small changes to help maintain my sanity in the morning. One of the changes is letting them eat their breakfast in front of the TV on school days. Is this ideal? Probably not, but it gets them fed and allows me to shower and do things uninterrupted for 25 minutes in the morning. That, my friends, is priceless!

Do you have any balance role models? Anything you try to avoid because it wouldn't work for you?
I don't really have specific balance role model that I look towards. Life is a balance and everyone needs to find what works best for them. Some people have immaculate houses but eat out every night. Some people have three weeks of laundry backed up but have a homemade pie on the table with dinner. Some parents prefer weekend date nights while others prefer family movie nights. I think you need to choose what works best for your personality and the dynamics of your family. There is no cookie cutter shape for balance. It comes in all forms. In the end, as long as everyone is happy and healthy than I say you've done a fine job.

Think back to your 18th birthday. How is your life different from how you expected it to be then?
Now I realize that when I was eighteen I was shy and sheltered. I planned on marrying at age 23 (which didn't happen) and having children. Beyond that I didn't have any other big plans or if I did I can't remember them. There was a whole world out there that I had no idea about. I'm so glad that I had a chance to explore it. I know that the decisions that I made, whether good or bad, shaped my life and brought me to where I am today. Ups and downs – I wouldn't have it any other way.

Relate to what Diane is saying? Leave her some love in the comments. Read other posts from The Having It All Project here. Want to participate? Send me an email at havingitallproject@gmail.com.

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