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Julie Bowen: Modern Mother, Modern Family

The actor’s tricks and tips for balancing TV's No. 1 comedy and family -- including three kids under age 3.

Julie Bowen's Fitness Secrets continued...

Managing a significant health complication helps her understand the importance of staying fit. But there are emotional benefits, too. "Running puts me in a better mood," she says. "For me, it's brain medicine."

Still, Bowen is fast to repeat her philosophy: "If this doesn't work for people, I don't begrudge them one iota. If you like to work out once a week, or work out after work, great. I like to come home and just be with the kids. So I exercise early ... I'm willing to give up late nights and going out in order to get up early -- and that's fine."

Which seems like a perfectly reasonable position to take for a seriously stretched, almost comically busy modern mother of three.

Balancing Working and Mothering

Striking a balance between motherhood and the rest of life's demands is no easy task. Psychotherapist Debra Gilbert Rosenberg, LCSW, offers some pointers for women faced with the urge to be all things to all people, all of the time:

Know your needs -- "It's important to strike a balance that works for you on all levels -- financially and emotionally. Listen only to your needs and the needs of your family, to establish this balance, whatever it may be."

Banish the guilt -- "If finances dictate that you work a full schedule, or if you need to work to maintain a healthy sense of personal identity, then good: Work. If this is what's best for your family, accept it. Then find nurturing child care and let the guilt go."

Be a "good enough" mother -- Rosenberg cites Donald Winnicott, a mid-20th century English pediatrician and psychoanalyst who made the concept of the "good-enough" mother famous. "You don't need to be Super Mom," she says. "Your job as a parent is to provide your children with healthy food, safe shelter, good education, love, respect, and nurturing. But no one ever said it all has to come solely from you."

Remember -- No one has it all. "'Having it all' was not what the women's movement of the 1960s and '70s was about: It was about having choice and opportunity. It's been twisted into this notion that women are supposed to have the amazing career and the amazing kids and the amazing husband and the amazing body -- all at once. Men don't have it all -- and they never have. Why do modern women believe they can have -- no, expect to have -- everything, all at once? Something has to give."

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Reviewed on March 24, 2011

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