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The Profession and Parenting: Strategies for Making it Work – Michael and Faye Hudson

As an Athletic Trainer (AT), it can be a challenge to balance work and family life due to the long hours and irregular schedules. In this series, we present stories about ATs who successfully juggle their professional and personal lives, and we feature real stories from AT parents who “make it work.”

Michael Hudson, PhD, LAT, ATC and Faye Hudson, MS, ATC are a married couple who both practice as ATs. Michael Hudson has been an associate professor at Missouri State University for the last 16 years. Faye Hudson has been the clinic manager at Innovative Sports Medicine for 10 years. Both Michael Hudson and Faye Hudson took the time to share how they make everything work in a recent Q&A.

Can you tell us a little bit about your home life?

Michael Hudson: My wife, Faye, and I stay quite busy raising three boys.

Faye Hudson: Our boys are ages 16, 13 and 11. Each boy is involved in music and church. Thereafter is track/cross country, boy scouts, a lot of baseball, taekwondo, golf and active hobbies of fishing, hiking and kayaking.

Describe a typical day.

FH: We have the boys up and ready and out the door by 7 a.m. For me, it’s school drop off and then on to clinic. There I wear many hats as it is a small clinic, but it’s my dream job. I have a patient load primarily performing initial assessments, doing diagnostic ultrasound imaging, patient education, performing follow-up visits and working with my physician, as needed. I do have time blocked out to work on administration duties as well.

I’m normally home by 6 p.m. to make a quick dinner (usually prepped prior) and then whisk whichever kid off to an activity. It’s rare to have the whole family eat dinner together during the week. We all rally back at the house in the evening to catch up on the day’s events and to work on homework. Typical house chores follow, and then to decompress, I spend some time on the treadmill.

That’s a long day for me. I am blessed with having a couple shorter days where I am off by 4 p.m. and that extra time means the world. Honestly, the hours of this job are a big reason I took it. It affords me the ability to be the professional I have worked hard to become, and I can still be an involved mom.

What are some strategies you use to make your professional and personal life work/balance?

MH: Whenever possible, we have dinner as a family at the table and no television or smartphones. For our family activities, we like to camp, fish, kayak and play golf. We try to have movie nights on the weekend, and when the weather is nice, we set up an outdoor movie theatre in our yard and invite friends over to watch the movie with us. We try to have at least one family vacation per year, but sometimes, we tie our family vacations to professional conferences. It is also not unusual for our boys to come to work with us.

FH: Mike and I are a team. We couldn’t do this without each other. I have a large paper calendar to write out all the activities. Sundays I usually figure out how we are going to handle the week and then we divide and conquer. Meal planning is a must! I am a planner and a list maker. It is a lot to juggle at times, but I can’t imagine being happy if all I had was just work or just being a mom.

How do you approach daily opportunities that arise as an AT and at home?

MH: My wife and I must communicate very well about our schedules. We must be flexible with our schedules so we can support each other and our boys.

FH: While every day is “planned” to an extent, being flexible is key. The other must is being prepared. Athletic training taught me quite a bit about this. I always have a spare change of clothes, an extra coat, snacks, etc. with me because you never know if the boss is going to announce today is the day to shoot a commercial or attend a meeting or if I’m held up at work and wind up going straight to a kid’s game.

What is your greatest achievement as an AT?

MH: There have been a few emergencies when I was able to help a patient, and I hope I have helped a few students get off to a good start with their careers. On a broader scale, I hope my greatest achievement has been the service work I have done for the BOC and National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA).

FH: I would like to think I have had a strong impact on my patients and the athletic training students I had the pleasure of working with. As an AT, we have such a wonderful opportunity to make big impacts on other people’s lives. We have the training and skillsets to make such a difference.

What is the best part of your day?

MH: Anytime I am able to watch my boys or my wife do something they enjoy doing and see them succeed at it.

FH: The hugs from my kids first thing in the morning, to grateful patients during the day.

What advice would you give a fellow AT who might be struggling to balance their career and parenting?

MH: There is a line from one of my favorite movies, “City Slickers,” that I continually reflect on. Mitch says, “That’s great, but what’s the one thing?” Curly responds, “That’s what you gotta figure out.” I also have a sign in my office with the following quote from Charles R. Swindoll, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” When you figure out what that one thing is in life for you, and you remember your attitude towards life is what you control, I think you can see how to best balance your life.

FH: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Help with kids or help at work. ATs tend to want to do it all. But that’s not necessarily possible. Don’t be afraid to ask for more help at work. My experience is things will not improve if you don’t ask. Lastly set boundaries. Maybe not everything gets covered, or maybe you don’t get to attend some of your kids’ sporting events. Don’t feel guilty about asking for help or saying no. Balancing your plate has a lot to do with what you put on your plate.

This article was originally published in the 2022 summer “Cert Update” newsletter.

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