A CUP OF JO ran a series recently that asked (mostly high-powered and at well-known brands) working women how they maintained their work/life balance. There was the usual dissent in the comments section regarding how these women can afford nannies (how is that any different in the end than paying for daycare? Your kid gets watched by someone while you work), but I found the series inspirational. And the fact that these women worked at jobs that “the whole world was watching” made me admire them even more!
JO summed up the series nicely with these four realizations:
* Maybe true “balance” doesn’t exist. There are only 24 hours in a day, and if you want to spend time playing with your kids, hanging out with your friends and partner, working at a job you love and having some time for yourself to take a bath or read a book, you might not get to do each of these things, at least for as long as you’d like. Allocating time becomes a real challenge. Maybe it’s less about balance and more about compromise. What I find reassuring about reading these balance interviews is knowing that no one has it 100% figured out—everyone, it seems without exception, is constantly tweaking and fiddling their schedules to make it all work.
* If you want to reach a high level in your career, you may have to work more hours than you’d like (at night, on weekends…) Not all top jobs require long hours, but many do. The recent much-discussed Atlantic article called “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” argued that if you want to rise as far as you can in your career, you will have to give up some time with your family, and if you want to maximize time with your family, you will have to ease up on your career ambitions. (It’s a bold statement; do you think it’s true?) Within this balance series, it felt accurate in some ways for most of these moms—many checked email or worked more at night, after putting their sweet little ones to bed. But overall, they enjoyed their careers, and that balance worked for them. It’s a very personal choice about how you want to balance your career and personal life, and what’s worth it to you both short- and long-term.
* Every mother has her own priorities, pressures and philosophies. It was fascinating to hear from readers who thought that a) mothers shouldn’t work, b) mothers should work, c) mothers shouldn’t travel away from their kids, d) mothers should take vacations without their kids, e) moms shouldn’t work at night, f) mothers shouldn’t spend as much money on babysitters, g) mothers should go on more dates with their husbands, etc….And it reminded me how everyone has their own desires, goals and beliefs, and that everyone should try to do what works best for them and their lovely families. There’s no oneright way to do it, but instead so many ways to be a great mother (and partner and person).
* Another balance series coming up! Last week’s balance series featured moms who had high-powered careers, lived in cities, were married and had young children. I chose moms who were in similar situations, so that we could see how they all made different choices that worked for them. I also wanted to show that women whom we might assume “have it all” are still struggling with many of the same issues as everyone else. (The first balance series I did last summer also featured seven mothers in similar situations—these moms worked freelance, mostly from home—and again I wanted to show how a similar group of women could each make different choices that worked for them.)
Like I said, inspirational! I love articles like these, and books like Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In (just downloaded to my Kindle…stay tuned for the review…sometime in the next century) – the more awareness that is brought to the FACT that women are able to excel at their jobs while also having a family, in a variety of ways dictated by personal choice, the better the working world will be!
Photo: Birthday Shrine – Year 31, made by yours truly