Adventures of a Super Mom

By Natalie Shultz



Her children are her job. Her family is her life.


Twenty-four hours a day. Yes, even on weekends and holidays, too. Dana Ruiz is a full-time mom.

But she hasn’t always been one. Dana, 38, was a supervisor in a neonatal intensive care unit at hospital in Plant City until their oldest daughter was born.


“She’s a great multitasker. I always said she would have moved up very fast in her job,” Dana’s husband, 34-year-old Alan Ruiz, says. “There was no question whether she would stay home with the kids. They are better off, bottom line. If they are not in school, they are in her [Dana’s] care and nobody loves a kid like their own mother.”


Dana’s daily routine might even give Superman a run for his money. She’s responsible for five schedules: there is Alexa, 10, the volleyball player; Isabella, 7, the performer; A.J., 6, the future football star; her husband, Alan, the owner of his company, Vertex Development, LLC; and let’s not forget Callie, the family’s Maltese.


“From day to day and week to week, our schedule changes. No day is the same. Going from here to there. Appointments, meetings, practices, homework, cooking dinner. It never stops. Life is always crazy in this house,” she says.


6 a.m. Rise and shine down to a science


The parents are awake now, but the kids have another 45 minutes of shut-eye before their day starts. The kids know the drill: get up, get dressed, brush teeth and go downstairs to breakfast at 7:00.


“Mornings are pretty smooth these days,” she says. “I’ve noticed that they are much more self sufficient.


Everyone is finished with breakfast and she ties up any loose ends while Alan is at the gym.


“Usually I do everything the night before, but sometimes I need to do last-minute quizzing for a spelling test, or make sure Alexa has her water bottle for volleyball practice after school,” Dana says.


Everyone piles into their Honda Odyssey minivan, and they are off to St. John Greek Orthodox Day School, which is less than five minutes from their home in South Tampa.


8:30 a.m. Saved by the bell

She’s proud of her family’s punctuality.


“My kids have never been late,” she says smiling. “But that’s mostly because of their father.”


Although she’s kid-free for a few hours, life doesn’t slow down. First on the list: a 9 a.m. Parent Teacher Support Organization, or PTSO, meeting, then Blockbuster to return some DVDs she rented for the kids last week, her weekly grocery store trip, then the bank, the dry cleaners and finally home for lunch.


“My mom was a single mom with three kids and she didn’t get to do this kind of stuff. I want to be able to do everything I can for my family,” Dana says.


12 p.m. Break? What break?


She eats with Alan, who came home for lunch today, but typically her lunch is just a quick bite at her desk while she sorts through e-mails.


“I have maybe two fun lunches a month with my husband or one of my girl friends. And an occasional manicure and pedicure, or a tanning moment, but I rarely have time to do things for myself beyond working out three times a week,” she says.


Now she starts on paperwork. Sometimes it is a list she types for the kids, like the “Summer Fun List,” which is a list of activities the kids brainstorm for summertime, and is later posted on the cork board in the kitchen, or the “Bed Time Routine List” hanging outside the bathroom upstairs.


“Mom always takes us on fun trips, and she always makes sure I am prepared. She thinks a lot about what she’s going to do next,” Dana’s oldest daughter, Alexa, says.


Or if it’s the end of the month, she is making a schedule for Alan for the next month, which has all important dates like the kids’ practices and games or his meetings and when he needs to stay with the kids while Dana goes to meetings.


“When I sent him the schedule for October, I noticed at least one or both of us were gone in the evenings for 15 out of the 31 days, and we need to pay more attention because that is just too much,” she says.


Today she is working on packets to hand out to parents after school. Dana is the leader of the second grade Brownie Troop, and her daughter Isabella is one of the seven girls in the group. The troop meets twice every month, and Dana goes to a leader’s meeting one time every month.


“I try to make it fun, educational and service oriented for them. I like that there are only seven girls, because I don’t want it to be a classroom setting.” she says.


And if that isn’t enough, she is also the fifth grade homeroom mom in Alexa’s class, which entails organizing parties, field trips and lunch duty for parents one month out of the year.


“She [Dana] is incredibly involved in school and with the kids. There isn’t a faculty member at that school who doesn’t know Dana really well. There is a constant line of communication open,” Alan, says.


2:45 School’s out

She parks the minivan and then jumps out to chase an SUV she recognizes down the parent pick-up line before it leaves the parking lot.


“I’ve got to try and catch some parents to give them this information for Brownies,” she says, jogging a little now.




She waves her arms. The car stops and the window rolls down revealing another mother. Dana hands her a packet of paperwork for the child in the back seat.


After meeting A.J. and Isabella at the school’s pick-up point and scouring the building and playground for any remaining members of her Brownie Troop, Dana wants a quick peek at Alexa in volleyball practice.


The two youngest Ruiz kids pile into the minivan to go home with mom.

3:30 p.m. Work now, play later


A.J. and Isabella know they better get to their homework right if they want to get a head start on play time.


“What’s eight minus two?” she asks A.J. as they go over a worksheet his teacher handed back to him today.




“Are you sure?”


“I mean six.”


She winks at him.


“Good, that’s what I thought.”


The kids finish up their written work while mom starts dinner.


“We’re done!” they shout in unison.


Dana sets the oven timer for ten minutes of reading before the kids can set out for play time.


6:30 p.m. “Dinner, Bath and Bed”


When Alan brings Alexa home, he follows Dana’s request to bathe the two youngest ones because Isabella has a First Holy Communion class at Christ the King Church right after dinner.


“My wife makes me the husband and the father I am, and I do everything she asks me to without a question. She won’t tolerate it otherwise, and that is a good thing. It keeps me in line,” Alan says.


The family sits down together, Dana says a prayer, they eat and then Dana and Isabella hurry out the door, while Alan cleans up the kitchen.


“I work. She does everything else. I give her the assist, but it’s her ball. It’s totally underneath her,” Alan says, drying off a dinner plate. “If one day she picked up and bolted, I’d be so lost.”

After the kids are ready for bed, Dana and Alan read them each a story and the kids are tucked in by 8:00.


“Most nights when they [the kids] go to bed, I’m still not done,” Dana says. “I have to make a game plan for the next day so I can wake up and hit the ground running again.

9:00 p.m. Ready, set, relax


By now, her work for the day is over, and she can spend time with her husband before bed.


Even after an exhausting day, Dana Ruiz wouldn’t give up her job for anything in the world.


“They [the kids] grow up too fast. I have the best job in the world that I get to see them so much,” she says. “This is the time that counts and I don’t know how I could do another job and this. I never sit down as it is.”


One Response to “Adventures of a Super Mom”

  1. usfadvancedreporting Says:

    I love the beginning and it’s a real interesting story.

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