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Samantha Graffeo Gardner and family

My Me Time: Samantha Graffeo Gardner

Dental student and founder of Milk Stash // mom of one // Boulder

After the birth of her daughter (10 days before dental school orientation), Samantha Graffeo Gardner, like so many other moms, struggled to balance a full-time workload with the time needed to breastfeed. Inspired by that first year and a half of breastfeeding and pumping at dental school, Sam, with the help of her husband, created Milk Stash—an app and storage solution to help other pumping moms keep track of their breastmilk stash. In her downtime, Sam nurtures herself by exercising, cooking, and catching up with friends.

Samantha’s Me Time:

I’m at school from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. almost every day, so in order to carve out me time, I go to bed when my daughter does. I’m an early bird by nature, so I wake up at 3:45 a.m. on weekdays and have the morning to myself, which I usually use to exercise. I also always like to make a full breakfast in the morning; I like to cook, I like the routine, and I think eating healthy foods always makes me feel better. I try to fit in a little bit of me time on the commute to school, too. Since I ride a bus, I take some of that time to chat via text with my best friend who lives in Washington, D.C.

Why is me time important to you?

I’ve realized that when I don’t take the time to exercise in the morning and be by myself, I’m actually not nearly as good of a person, mother, and partner. When I take the me time, when I exercise and relax a little, I’m calmer, happier, and more joyful with my family and throughout my day. Taking a little bit of time for myself makes me a better person because I’m taking care of my needs, too.

What is your mom “must have”?

I love good dark chocolate. I swear there’s something chemical in there that brings me to my happy place.

What is the best parenting advice you’ve received?

That I need to “let go of perfect” and to do the best I can with the situation I’ve got. The advice came from a friend at school who has two teenage daughters, and she told me (in her vividly memorable southern accent), “ain’t no one ever going to be perfect, so we all just do the best we can.” I think it’s good advice for parenting and good advice for life.

What is your biggest hope for Milk Stash?

My biggest hope is that it will help other moms in relieving some of the stress around the logistics of milk storage. I remember coming home every day and doing an inventory of how much milk I had left, which milk was about to expire, when I’d be able to put bottles in the freezer, and the worst: when I’d have to throw away milk that had gone past its expiration. I hope Milk Stash makes things easier and helps take away the stress and need to stockpile milk like it was going out of style.

To download the free Milk Stash app, visit

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