Can a woman truly have it all? A career, family, happiness? It’s the age-old question that begs an assuring answer. One woman has it figured out for herself, but in her own time. Native Texan and North Texas mom, Heather Hays, comes into living rooms across Dallas/Fort Worth at 6 and 9pm, five times a week, and what you see is her professional demeanor and serious voice. What you don’t see is her life off-camera – one that has only begun to take shape.
WHAT SHE DOES: As an evening anchor of a major network in a top-ten market, Hays has the job and career of many people’s dreams, including her own. “I’ve always been a career person,” says the former Miss Hawaii USA, “and focused on that for the past 22 years of my life.” Hays received a master’s degree in television and film from Boston University and worked her way up the anchor chain until she landed in Dallas in December 2000 as an evening anchor on FOX 4 news. A seasoned vet in the television news field, in 2007, Hays began an entirely new life — one that added two important components: a new husband and baby. “I didn’t know if [a family] was going to happen for me,” confides Hays. “Being 40 and Jeff being 42, we’re so lucky to have [Emmy] in our lives.”
The new additions not only affected her off-camera life, but also her on-camera persona, as well. “I had no idea [motherhood] would affect me the way it has,” explains the new mom. “I’m so sensitive now to child abuse and neglect … I don’t think you can really understand when you don’t have a child.” She adds that with her newfound sensitivities “hopefully as a reporter and an anchor, it just makes me more aware of people’s feelings.”
HOW SHE DOES IT:
“At the age of 40, Hays started a new life, melding her professional with her personal goals for the first time. Within one year, Hays married her longtime love and gave birth to their first child, Emmy, in April. As an evening news anchor, Hays’ work hours are unconventional by many mothers’ standards.
“[I have] two targets, 6 and 9pm,” asserts Hays, “everything else in between … we kinda work out.” She and her husband, Jeff Roberts, keep different family traditions than the everyday family in order to accommodate Heather’s nightly news schedule. “We just kind of shifted everything,” says Hays.
Instead of family dinners together, “we do breakfast,” Hays says, because that’s what works for their family.
Being in the public eye casts a limelight on any family, not to mention a mom’s parenting style and skills. So how exactly does the public respond to Heather’s newly created position as mom?
“Everybody does have a little parenting advice to offer,” says the new mom, but you have to “pick and choose what works for your family.” Her viewers embrace Hays as part of their own family by sending words of advice, emails and baby gifts (one even knit a blanket!). “For me, [the input has] made it better,” asserts the adored anchorwoman.
It’s not all work for the Roberts family though; they make sure they add in just the right amount of play too. “We have ‘family dates,’” she says. “I never want our life to be [defined by] running to a game. I’m hoping that we always carve out time for us as a family.” And, come this June, Emmy will be a big sister. The Roberts’ family is expecting their second addition to the family that was once only a dream — and is now Hays’ reality.
Heather’s Quick Tips:
1. Shutterfly.com. I put in all of my addresses into Shutterfly. It mails out all of your correspondence for you, which has been such a blessing because it’s a little bit overwhelming trying to send out announcements for the baby and Christmas pictures.
2. Pack an extra couple of things for yourself and have them in your car. Prepare for baby and prepare for mommy as well. In her diaper bag, I keep lipgloss and powder.
3. It’s never too early or too late to start a tradition, even taking pictures in the bluebonnets. Establish a close relationship with mom, dad and baby — it helps to create a solid foundation.