“You have it so together, I don’t know how you do it all!”
Not exactly the compliment I was expecting this week on a lunch date. To be honest, I had on mismatched socks and the professional-looking bag I was carrying was stuffed with school papers, work forms, and old snacks. While I was thankful for the compliment and felt a little burst of pride, let’s be real here:
I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time.
Like other working moms, I spend my day working, putting in my “all” at the office, then come home exhausted with kids ready to play. Most days, I don’t have the energy they need and feel guilty about the lack of excitement I have left for the day, but I play anyway. I devote my days to my work and my evenings to my family, and on the outside this is supposed to look like I “have it all.”
But I don’t always feel this way.
The idea that one person can have it all and do it all is a myth, yet so many of us working moms put this expectation onto ourselves. We don’t fail, we don’t quit, and we strive to make things happen. It’s no wonder we are an asset to the workforce – we are wonder women! But we need to ask ourselves, at what cost?
We live in a society where working moms are expected to work like they aren’t mothers and mother like they aren’t working.
I’d definitely like to have it all, believe me! I want to be a rock star employee who climbs the ladder and sets the bar high, and also comes home to be a rockstar mom through dinner time, family game nights, and homework time. In a perfect world where sleep wasn’t a thing and issues never came up, it could happen! And as a member of the “working mom club”, I know moms who work outside the home are master multi-taskers, go-getters, self-starters and are time management experts.
But let’s be real; we can’t have it all, all the time.
As working moms, we have almost impossible expectations that lead to never-ending mom guilt. It’s what keeps us up at night and it’s relentless. If we are giving so much of ourselves in the roles we hold, why do we feel so bad? Thinking we need to “have it all” sets us up to fail and creates more anxiety and guilt. The internet is full of suggestions on how to attain the perfect work-life balance; it’s even listed on some company sites as a perk: “Great work-life balance.” If job descriptions are including this as an important part of company culture, shouldn’t we also consider this important?
I have no magic answer for you, I wish I did. The first step for me was to realize that I don’t need to have it all, right now. I try to take my day in parts and make the absolute most out of each of them, whether I’m at work or at home. I think they call that “really living.” Sounds easy, right? It isn’t. I remind myself every single day to live in the moment, and enjoy the moment.
When I’m at home, I set aside time where I put my laptop and phone away (which believe me, is not easy and is almost painful). I set aside time where I promise myself I will not be on devices so I can focus on my family and truly enjoy them. Then at bedtime, I check my emails for important ones so I don’t miss anything. It also helps to let your co-workers or boss know that you have set aside time each evening when you are not available. Not only does this set boundaries, but it also helps keep you accountable to yourself.
Self-care is so popular right now, and rightfully so! It is just as important to balance your own needs as well as the needs of your children. You’ve heard it often enough, “If you don’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of them?” I have since changed to saying, “I will take time for me.” YOU need to set a standard and take the time; no one else is going to give it to you, and you certainly aren’t going to just “find” the time, moms are busy enough! TAKE that time, make it a priority, put it on your calendar if you have to.
Maintaining a work-mom balance is a constant a work-in-progress and I’m learning new ways to get better at the balancing act. I will forever be working toward that perfect balance, and that is OK! We need to remember that working mothers are a true asset to any workplace, we’ve been multitasking for so long it just comes naturally. Don’t get so caught up in the work that you forget that you’re a mom, and don’t get so wrapped up on motherhood that you forget that you’re a woman, too. You can find your balance.