Everyone seems busy these days. With work, home, relationship and even leisure obligations, life can be a bit stressful, to say the least. Parents, especially, may be prone to feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of their responsibilities. They're often left feeling guilty at the end of the day because they haven't spent enough "quality" time with their children. Surprisingly, parents can learn a thing or two about work/life balance from Dr. Kathy Magliato, a world renowned heart surgeon and author of the book, Healing Hearts: A Memoir of a Female Heart Surgeon.

One Busy Mother

As Director of Women's Cardiac Services at St. John's Medical Center in Santa Monica, California, Dr. Magliato has a much more demanding and high-pressure job than the average American. Add to that the fact that's she's one of only a handful of female cardiothoracic heart surgeons in the world, as well as a sought-after professional speaker, an author, and is married to a liver transplant surgeon, and you may wonder how she could possibly have time for motherhood at all! In fact, Dr. Magliato has two young boys, ages four and six.

Incorporating Her Children Into Her Work

Magliato doesn't try to hide the difficult parts of her job from her children. At the dinner table, she talks to her boys about what she did at work during the day. She says,

"I think that kind of sharing is important. I don't think children should be shielded from what you do."

She even takes her boys to work with her sometimes when she does weekend rounds. They've gotten used to spending time at mommy's work. Maglatio says,

"We see the healthier patients, but my son will march right into the ICU and not flinch. That little guy will go right up to a patient, touch their hand and say, 'Hope you feel better!'"

Magliato is proud that she and her husband make a concerted effort to incorporate their children into their work. She acknowledges that there are parents who separate their home lives from their jobs and feels that may be a fine choice for some people. However, she believes that it would be impossible for her and her husband to do.

" There's a head-on collision that goes on every day between my life as a surgeon and my life as a mommy. In order to help my children through that and protect them, I actually incorporate them into my work."

If a Heart Surgeon Can Do It...

Dr. Magliato tells a story of her younger son drawing pictures for her patients. She feels that he really believes his drawings will help to heal them and says,

"That way, he's a part of it and is helping, too. I think that's important for him because at least this way, this little boy can sort of be in control and helping mommy."

Can any parent use these kinds of techniques to bridge the gap between work and children? This kind of open relationship may not be for everyone, but you may want to consider such an arrangement for your own family.

Dr. Magliato encouraged me, as a writer, to talk to my kids about my job. I hadn't really given it much thought prior to this because I work from home and my kids see me working day in and day out. Magliatio pointed out that they may, indeed, be very interested to learn more about the things I write about each day. She says they'd probably be very interested, and it may even make them feel grown up.

I took the doctor's advice into consideration, and it turns out my kids actually were very interested in hearing about my day and about my writing assignments. This line of communication really has seemed to foster a new kind of understanding and bond between me and my children. It's forced me to slow down and to make sure the kids understand what I do for a living in order to add to our family's income.

So give it a shot. You may be surprised at how interested your kids are in your work. The open dialogue may help to bridge that frantic gap between work and home. Magliato says,

"If myself, as a heart surgeon, with a husband who's a liver transplant surgeon, can balance two kids and a career, then anyone can do it!"