It’s an all too common question for us, “can women really have it all?”… a question I’ve struggled to answer and have changed my mind on often. While the internet has no shortage of articles and opinions that try to answer it for me, some in support (Lean In!) and some against, none seem to fit how I feel. So at the risk of beating a dead horse, I wanted to share my perspective.
There are days when I kill it at life. Days when everything falls into place and my kids are getting along and I’m on a roll at work and my outfit is on point and the laundry is all put away, and just like the LEGOS song, everything is awesome! Those are the days when I think “YES! We CAN have it all! We CAN work, and be awesome moms, and stay in shape, and be great wives, and keep our homes clean, and keep in touch with friends, and and and….”
But, for every one of those days, I have a day where I question my ability to do ANY of it at an even average level. Days when I’m tired, and the kids are fighting, and my inbox is insurmountable, and the house is a mess, and my husband is working late, and I ruined the recipe, and and and and….
So, more than five years into this working motherhood journey, here’s what I’ve determined: I think we, women, can have it all, we just can’t DO it all.
Let’s break down the difference between the two, shall we?
Having It All
To me, “having it all,” is a decision. It’s a mindset. There’s no fixed definition of what having it all means and there’s no ONE authority on what it means for YOU to have it all except, YOU! Having it all is finding satisfaction in where you are right now, in this season of life, however messy.
Here’s the deal; success is a moving target. When you sit at point A, you long for point B, thinking if only I were at point B. Then, you get to point B and set your eyes on point C and that point B you once longed for is no longer good enough. I am all about striving for more but I’ve also learned to be content in my now. My right now.
To me, having it all has a few non-negotiables— It means I’m able to show up for my family, serve my clients in a way that allows me to be a top performer at work, take care of myself and have meaningful social connections daily.
Ok, sounds easy enough right? But how do I do all of the things that allow me to show up, serve, perform and connect? This is the tricky part, because I don’t believe we can do it all ourselves.
Here’s what’s worked for me:
- I take care of my body. This is hard, but so important. As moms, I know we’re called to put the world before ourselves, but hear me out. It takes a LOT of energy to parent/work/live. If I fuel my body with bad food, it’s not going to support me in what I need to do. Eating in a way that provides the energy I need is going to be the foundation for everything else. It’s fundamental. For me, the keto lifestyle was the answer but we’re all biochemically different so that may not be the answer for everyone! Exercising is also part of this equation for me. I feel better when I start my day with a little bit of sweat. Those are my two main non-negotiables regarding taking care of myself. Everything else is a bonus.
2. I determine what’s important to me. As a working mom, I can’t be at everything. It’s logistically impossible. I worked with a coach from the Tony Robbins organization for a year and during one of our first sessions regarding work/life balance, he encouraged me to ask myself this question: Is this giving me energy, joy, or rest/relaxation? If it does, I do it. If it doesn’t, I get support. For example; cuddling my babies at bed time provides great joy and connection for me so I do everything I can to be home in time for it. Some days this means a 3am wake up call so that I can be on a 6am flight to another state for a day full of back to back meetings and back home by 6pm. This is where that fuel I talked about really comes into play.
3. I get support. Even on my best days, I know I can’t do it all. I get some version of the comment “I don’t know how you manage to have three kids and a full time job and travel and work out…” fairly often and my response is always “I get a lot of help.” Behind every one of my “killing it at life” days, there’s an army of people and systems holding me up. Without this scaffolding of support, I’d be defeated, tired, and at the bottom of the sales rankings at work. I’m never afraid to admit that I can’t do it alone, I don’t want to do it alone. Support looks different for everyone but I’ll share more on what this looks like for me in a later post.
This post sat in my drafts for seven months. I wrote it during a time when my life felt very balanced and I feared that maybe my perspective was not one others could relate to.
This morning, I was on a 4:45am Uber to the airport, for one of those 6am flights I mentioned, after a night of being up with a sick baby (technically preschooler, but she’ll always be my baby, so…). My pendulum of balance has most certainly swung toward the direction of imbalance, but I still feel like all of the above holds true for me so I went back and hit publish.
Even on my hardest day, I know I have it all. And even on my best day, I know I can’t do it all.