Mama Shaker: Dr. Sharon Somekh of Raiseology

When her oldest daughter started middle school, pediatrician Sharon Somekh decided it was time to re-orient her career around what she loved most about her profession: working with parents.

In March, she left her practice and launched Raiseology, so she could build “more meaningful relationships” with parents virtually from her home office while being an “accountability partner” for her 11-year-old.

“I help anxious parents go from feeling like a deer in headlights to feeling like they can really do this… to the point where they can stop being so anxious about the day-to-day and really enjoy what they have in front of them–which is their kids.”

“We all love our kids and want what’s best for them,” she says.

Women Helping Women Succeed

As a mother of four daughters, ranging from 3 years and up, Sharon has personally navigated through multiple stages of working motherhood. For her, it was actually easier to get through 80 hour weeks as a resident when her first two were very young.

“One of my mentors said something to me that I’ve since told many, many moms,” says Sharon. “When your children are young is when you will feel better working more. A lot of moms think when their kids grow up, they’ll go back to work. You don’t realize that that’s when it’s hard to go back.”

She says feeling secure in your childcare arrangement and getting help are key to making it through the early years–I couldn’t agree more.

“Whether it’s emotional help, coaching help, physical help, outsourcing certain things you don’t enjoy doing at home–it will make your life much easier and it’s worth every investment in yourself to do that,” says Sharon.

Part of that support has come from moms who pitched in for preschool pick up and drop off. Her then 3-year-old started to notice and at one point told Sharon she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom when she grows up.

“Nothing hurts more than that,” she said. “But when she asked me ‘why do you work?’ I gave her a very honest answer. I think we underestimate what our kids understand and we need to have real conversations–that are age appropriate–with them.”

“Every mom has mom guilt,” she says. “They may have guilt about different things, but they still feel guilty.”

She says knowing your limitations benefits both you and your children.

“I think the example we set for our kids is really important. I like that they see that I’m a driven person and I value what I have to offer and think it’s important enough to put it out into the world.”

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How this Mompreneur Makes it Work

“If you’re asking how I manage four kids, I don’t,” Sharon says pointing to the independence that she’s fostered in each of her children.

She described a recent parent-teacher event where another mother she was volunteering with called her 11-year-old three times to make sure she was getting ready for school.

“I did not have a doubt in the world that my daughter was waiting for the school bus,” says Sharon.

Her 8-year-old makes her own lunch for school, and Sharon and her husband are currently training their 5-year-old to get herself dressed with the help of routines and checklists.

“It takes effort in the beginning, but it definitely has amazing payoff…and it’s great for the kids because one day they’re not going to be living in your house.”

You can learn more about Sharon’s “system of empowerment and independence” on her blog. In addition to her group program for parents of toddlers to school-age kids, she also consults parents of infants one-on-one, and she’s launching a podcast this summer.

Mama Maker: Christelle from Cooking with Kids and Wine

Christelle manages a team of business analysts at a systems integration firm, where she’s affectionately known as “mama bear.” Despite her technical role, a 90-minute commute, and the tightly packed schedule of a working mother, she’s found a way to cook dinner with her kids four nights a week.

“It’s not gourmet, it’s not something I’d serve at a restaurant, but it tastes good,” she says.

With her two sous chefs, Christelle manages to get dinner on the table between daycare pick-up at 6:00 p.m. and a bedtime routine that starts around 7:15 pm (and ends just after 8:00 pm with a glass of wine).

It was during her drive home one day that she came up with the idea to share some of her family recipes–old and new–by starting a blog, Cooking with Kids and Wine.

“Part of me is cooking. It’s definitely in my blood,” she says, describing the passion that sparked in her own childhood.

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“My grandmother and I used to love cooking together,” says Christelle. “My favorite cooking memories are with her. She was amazing at coming up with recipes and we just had so much fun together.”

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Christelle embraces the mess that comes along with bringing young children into the kitchen, and takes pride in blogging with photos that aren’t professionally styled. That doesn’t mean she shies away from complex recipes.

“My heritage is French, Irish and Mexican, so lots of different flavors.”

In fact, she recently recreated the French Financiers reminiscent of trips to patisseries in France while visiting her grandparents.

How this Mama Makes it Work

Her advice for parents who aspire to do the same?

“Introduce it as early as possible. I was giving my kids salmon and hummus when they were 10 months old.” (Much to the surprise of their daycare providers.)

Christelle counts Stuffed Squash among their staples, and often creates recipes based on what’s in the fridge.

“We don’t have hot dogs in the house,” she says. “I do have chicken nuggets in the freezer for desperate days, but they don’t think to ask for those things because it’s not offered to them.”

In her tips for bringing kids into the kitchen for the first time, Christelle recommends having all your ingredients handy and making a game out of it.

“I would have them smell the spices when I was cooking. They were always involved, and I think that’s part of why they enjoy it,” she says.

She also gives her kids the space to decide when they want to join her in the kitchen, and admits “sometimes they’re not in the mood to help.”

Christelle blogged about a recent weeknight when her daughter helped pull together Sloppy Joe-Styled Sausage and Peppers, complete with freshly picked basil, while her son opted to play with legos instead.

When I asked if she sees her kids developing their own passion for cooking, she said it’s too soon to tell. For now, she’ll enjoy creating those memories that would otherwise be elusive on busy weeknights.

“There are times when they ask to cook with me and that makes my heart happy.”