Meredith Vieira Shares 5 Secrets for Balancing Work & Life as a Busy Mom

meredith vieira and husband kids on set of talk show nbc

From being the original moderator on The View and heading up the Today show to playing game show host on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Meredith Vieira has built a colorful, jam-packed TV resume over the past couple of decades. This week, she premiered her daytime talk fest The Meredith Vieira Show. Her whole family, including her two adult sons -- one of whom lives in China! -- and college senior daughter were there to help her celebrate.

Meredith may seem like the embodiment of a busy working mother who "has it all," but she admits it wasn't always so easy when her kids were young. In fact, back in the early '90s, she made a controversial decision about juggling her career as a journalist and her life as a mom.

During a recent intimate sit-down, the genuinely warm talk show host spoke openly about work and motherhood. Here are some of her secrets to striking the ever evasive work-life balance.

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1. Know when to call a spade a spade. The first time she says she found it a struggle to balance was when she had her oldest son -- and scored her dream job.

"The first show I ever did when I had children was 60 Minutes," she explains. "And that was the pinnacle for me, all I ever wanted. [But] my son Ben was 7 months, and I felt the tugging right away. When I was at work, I was missing my son, and when I was home, I felt the guilt of not being part of the boys' club."

For the first two seasons, Vieira was allowed to work part-time in order to be home with her son. But when she found out she was having another, that all changed.

"It was basically, 'You stay here full-time or you leave,'" Vieira says. That ultimatum was where she drew the line. "I didn't know where I was going, but I knew I was leaving," she recalls.

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2. Don't be afraid to make the decision that's best for you. Vieira sums up the philosophy she has adhered to over the years with, "I let my kids' needs define my career path essentially."

As a result, Vieira became a target of ire. She recalls a jarring encounter she had soon after leaving 60 Minutes: "I was stopped by a woman at a party I didn't know, and she was very angry. I had been the first woman at 60 Minutes that had a child, so I was the poster child for 'having it all,' at that moment. She said, 'You have set us back SO FAR!' I was freaked out a little bit!"

But the alternative was even worse.

"Afterward, I said to my husband, 'If I were to lie and pretend this was right for me, then what message does that send?'" she remembers. "Why stick around just because it [may] destroy this delusion we have? Then I'm not helping them, and I'm not helping me."

What this taught her in the long-run: "Your priorities change with time, but it is important to do what is right for you."

3. Don't beat yourself up. When we feel like we need to be superwomen but end up falling short of our own lofty expectations, we may become our own worst critics.

"I wish that women wouldn't beat up on themselves so much when you're juggling these balls and you feel you can't drop them," she says. "Inevitably you will, and that's okay! [But] I don't think it ever truly sinks in, because I think we want to be all things to all people, and we want to believe in that notion that we can do everything."

That said, what's the good in ripping yourself to shreds for it if that desire turns out to be too challenging to fulfill?

4. Believe you'll land on your feet. Though Vieira seems to feel it's impossible to "have it all" at once, she emphasized how important it is to have faith in yourself, no matter what transitions you know you'll face in the future.

"I've had enough faith in myself to think, 'I'll find something,'" she notes. "It may not be the highest-paying job, the most prestigious job, but I really don't care. Because if I don't put my family first, the rest becomes irrelevant in the scheme of things." 

5. Reflect on your state of affairs regularly. The months leading up to a show contract ending have offered Vieira built-in opportunities to evaluate the path of her professional life. She says she would ask herself, "Are you really fulfilled here? Have you played this out? Is this really the best thing for you, your husband, your kids?'"

While most of us aren't regularly faced with the need to weigh our next move, the practice of taking a step back and thinking in those terms is one any mom could adopt and benefit from.

At the start of an exciting new chapter of her career, Meredith Vieira couldn't seem more successful. But it's heartening to hear that she went through various incarnations and made hard choices along the way. Being required to do that is just one of many harsh realities for lots of moms. But judging from Vieira's experience, it's one we could all do well to embrace.

What have you done in own life to strike a balance between motherhood and work?

 

Image via NBC Universal/The Meredith Vieira Show

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