Wait! Before you close this website page out of anger, give me a minute to explain! No, you can’t have it all nor do you WANT to have it all. Having it all is EXHAUSTING and the idea that you can have it all is part of the reason that so many mothers (and fathers) feel inadequate and like they’re failing while struggling to find “balance.”
I’m a fairly new mother, recently started a business AND I’m the CEO of my home. I’m fortunate to have a husband who is actively involved as well as consistent childcare for my daughter Sydney. Despite these support systems, I still often find myself completely overwhelmed with everything that I need to accomplish from day to day. Prior to starting my own business, I worked outside of the home in a high paced environment and had a very demanding schedule but I had no clue that adding that one variable, a child, would add so much more to the list of the things that needed to be done. Before my daughter came along, my husband and I could get away with doing laundry once a month, when we ran out of underwear! Dinner didn’t need to be prepared because we live in Brooklyn and could simply order delivery or meet out for dinner after work.
Sydney however needs to eat when she’s hungry and can’t wait 45 to 60 minutes for dinner to be delivered and she’s a lot messier than we are so her laundry needs to be done more often than once a month. She also loves to snack so now we have a fully stocked fridge and pantry whereas before depending on the day, you might only find ketchup and mustard in our fridge and flour and sugar in the pantry! In addition to adding Sydney to the mix, as a small business owner, I now have to be the jack of all trade. Before I worked for corporations and was only tasked with doing my job well. I had an operations department, customer service agents and various specialists to help me out with anything outside of my area of expertise. I also care very much about my relationships and try to make time my husband so that we can stay connected, find time for myself and maintain my relationships with my friends and family. I’d been trying to find balance in my life and had tried so many different strategies but felt as if no matter what I did, at least one of the things (but often many of them) that I was trying to juggle was suffering.
While walking home from grocery shopping one day, I ran into a neighbor who was also a mom, business owner and who had been a great resource to me both as a new mom and as a new business owner. Frazzled, worn down and feeling a little defeated, I asked her “How do you juggle it all? How do you balance your work and home life?” Her honest answer changed my life for the better. She looked at me and said: “Sometimes things just slip through the cracks.” Now, this isn’t rocket science, but when we talk about balance, for the most part, we talk about HOW to get it; we don’t really explore what balance means. We’re always trying to find balance, but is it even possible to live a truly balanced life? One where you’ve figured out how to perfectly apportion out every single minute of your life to everything that you find important? If not, are we just setting ourselves up for disappointment when we never find that balance? Is it possible that it’s impossible to truly have it all?
Even if you’ve managed to be a good wife (or husband), an attentive and loving mother (or father), and a valuable and hardworking employee, have you spread yourself so thin that you’re operating on fumes and pure adrenaline? I had to have a really honest conversation with myself about why I wanted to have it all and what would happen if I didn’t “get” it all? In the end, not having it all doesn’t mean the end of the world. It’s actually quite the opposite, releasing the desire to have it all has been cathartic. I want my business to succeed because I would like to contribute to the financial well being of my family not so that I’ll be featured on the cover of Forbes. I want to maintain a relationship with my family and friends but they’re busy too and I’ve realized that the busier our lives get the harder it becomes to communicate often. Rather than the quantity of contact, I focus on the quality of contact. I want to have a wonderful relationship with my husband but often he’s just as exhausted as I am and these days staying connected might mean a nap on the couch together rather than a night out on the town and keeping our lines of communication open. Finally, I want nothing more than to be an amazing mother because my daughter deserves nothing less. Being a mom is a learning process and I’ll never be perfect but as far as she’s concerned, I’m the best! I try to make my days as efficient as possible so that when I’m with her she has my undivided attention.
Struggling to find balance doesn’t make you inadequate, it makes you human. While it is important to constantly try and find better, more efficient and smarter ways to do things, we’re all human and that means that mistakes will be made, certain things in our lives will get neglected from time to time and some things are going to fall through the cracks. Do what you can and don’t sweat the small stuff. Tomorrow is here for a reason…whatever doesn’t get done today, can get done tomorrow!