With the start of the new school year comes lots of demands on mom's precious time. Finding a way to get everything done without pulling your hair out can become a challenge. Have no fear! Help is on the way! If you're looking for a little inspiration, check out Barbara Valentin's latest release, The Plate Spinner Chronicles...An Assignment: Romance Non-Fiction Collection. Recently, I had the chance to catch up with her to talk about work, kids, marriage, and finding balance amid the chaos.
1. What inspired you to publish a book centering on your "The Plate Spinner" columns? I had gotten so much positive feedback from my readers while I was writing them for the Chicago Tribune that publishing a collection seemed like the next logical step. After sending out some queries and not getting much of a response, I shelved it and started working on my first novel, a romantic comedy entitled, False Start. The heroine of that story writes a parenting advice column called, “The Plate Spinner” for a fictional Chicago newspaper. For the next book in the series, Help Wanted, I incorporated several of my columns into the plot line. After getting positive reviews, I approached my publisher, the amazing Gemma Halliday, with the idea and she loved it. She’s been a huge supporter throughout. Given that she, too, is a busy working mom helps!
2. How did you come to coin the term "plate spinner"? During one very hectic afternoon at my day job, I actually had to stop what I was doing and write down all of the things I had to get done at home and at work and for each of my boys (my husband included), so I could focus on doing my job. As I looked at the list of everything I had to get done for everybody – all equally urgent, the image of a plate spinner popped into my head. It really helped me realize the enormity of what I had to accomplish on any given day. Before I left work that day, I drafted the very first column (“Welcome to My World”).
3. As a mom, what are your top five super powers? Haha, yes, I’m a firm believe that all working moms (and dads) are super heroes. That being said, here are my top five super powers:
#5 I give great hugs. While this may not seem especially extraordinary, a really good hug can make even the worst day a thousand times better for the recipient.
#4 Avoid serving foods that you yourself would make you rather starve than eat. To this day, none of my boys have tasted a Brussels sprout.
#3 I have mastered the fine art of faux focus, or appearing to be listening when I’m actually doing a dozen other things at the same time. All it takes is a little practice.
#2 In the spirit of raising self-sufficient men, one of my most impressive super powers is delegating - everything from cooking to cleaning to carpooling little siblings. Sure, it may come off like I’m being lazy, but who cares?
#1 And my top super power is (drumroll, please) laughter. I’m completely serious. Not only can this highly potent weapon diffuse the most stressful situations in a matter of seconds, laughter can alter reality, change perspectives and virtually guarantee the best night’s sleep ever.
4. From your experiences, what tips would your share for maintaining a healthy work/life balance?
Take care of you – physically, emotionally and spiritually, because if you’re not feeling your best in each of these areas, you won’t be able to keep all the plates your family, your job and life itself expect you to keep aloft 24/7.
5. If you were able to turn back the clock, what, if anything, would you have done differently?
I wouldn’t have gotten so caught up in the idea that I had to do it all and do it well. Plates fall. They break. Life goes on. Happens to everybody. These days, I keep a copy of Erma Bombeck’s “If I Had My Life to Live Over” next to my laptop at all times.
6. In what ways has your relationship with your husband changed how you view yourself?
Ever since we were dating, he has held me accountable to what I told him I wanted to do with, and get out of, my life. I’m not sure if that makes any sense. To best describe how our relationship changes how I view myself, I’m going to use a line from an old song: “You have your own special way of turning the world so its facing the way that I’m going.” – You Have Your Own Special Way, Genesis
7. Finally, what's your best advice for new moms?
Sleep when the baby sleeps! After you recover from the monumental task of bringing a new life into this world, don’t let any one else tell you how many plates you should spin, how high or how fast. Everyone’s different. The key is to just keep spinning.
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