Can we do it all?
How do we juggle all the things?
I talk a lot about work/life balance, life choices, and making the best decisions for you and your family. Every family is different, every couple is different, and we all have to make individual choices for ourselves.
So, can you do it all? Can you have a fulfilling, successful career and be there for your family? YES! Absolutely.
How does that look? Well. That is the hard part.
What if you’re a single parent? What if one partner’s job overwhelmingly takes input (and work) from all family members? What is your dream?
Sometimes, our dreams change. I am definitely not doing what I planned for myself when I graduated college at 20. Did I do some of it? Yes! What changed? Life happened! I met someone amazing to share my life with, and it became about what both of us wanted. Fundamentally, my 20-year old self’s plan to go work internationally and be a corporate VP by 30 worked out a little differently. Instead, I worked internationally for awhile, then worked my way back to my home state and running my own consulting business before I was 30.
When our first child was born, I couldn’t imagine giving up a job I loved when I had a great daycare situation. Now, I can’t imagine ever going into an office for a regular Monday-Friday job again. What changed? Life happened. We wanted our kids to grow up where we did, and having a high-powered office job didn’t fit with that.
We have done every imaginable work/life balance combination possible. My husband was the primary parent when I still worked in an office full time (and made the higher salary). Now, we are both living our dreams – he has a job he loves, and so do I! I love working for myself, and being my own boss has allowed us both to do all the things. I have the flexibility to travel with him, and to take care of my kids and be here for them, all the time.
With the uncertainty of being a small business owner, I am grateful that his job takes care of paying the majority of our bills. In addition, I have cut back on my contracts and work load in recent years, both because I want to have the time to travel as a family with my husband when we can, and because I need to be here for my kids and give them as much attention as they need.
That all said, I have been looking forward to our youngest starting kindergarten this fall – for years. I am ready to ramp up my business again and have more adult conversation. And we just don’t know how things will look this fall…or if our kids will go back to school in person in August. So, I’ll continue to put my business on more of a back burner until we do know. Because that’s what we do, right?
I do think that women (and men) can do it all. I do. But, I think there has to be a balance between all the things. And that doing it all is something that happens not as an individual, but as a couple. Because we all have to juggle life and make sure that nothing falls between the cracks. And if you’re working 80+ hours a week, you are not giving 100% to your family. So, how do you find that balance? How can you do it all?
Here’s how I’ve done it.
When my oldest was little, both my husband and I worked 50-60+ hour weeks. I mentioned the fantastic daycare situation, and it was, but one of us had to give a little. So, I moved into a less high-profile job that lessened my hours a bit, although I still had to travel sometimes and when I did, he took up the slack (and worked out a deal with our daycare lady, I think). We had the advantage of a home daycare situation with a friend whose husband worked with me. She was a Rockstar.
Later, when I was working two hours away from home and my husband had to be gone, we had moved back to his hometown and the grandparents were close to do the daycare pickups and drop offs and cover overnights when both of us were traveling.
Some people hire a nanny, personal assistant, or housekeeper. One way or another, all of us need help to do all the things. I still rely heavily on the grandparents.
At one point (after we moved back to our home state and while I was still working), my mom told me that she had her own life and she wasn’t going to do daycare for me. And then she did help us for several months the next year. After that, we had several daycare options. Montessori preschool, a couple of other great home daycare ladies.
And then, I struck out on my own and it’s been the best thing ever. That said, after our other two kids were born, I still used daycare in the mornings off and on – both to get work done and for my own sanity. We all have to find the best balance for ourselves.
Can you do it all? Yes. Can you do it all by yourself? No.
I happen to think that at some point, something will give. So, my choice was to change my dream, and change my mindset about all of it. I chose the path of flexibility, setting my own hours (and sometimes that means working after kids go to bed or before they wake up in the morning), being in charge of my schedule and my life, and I chose my family.
I am a stay at home, working mom, and I do juggle all the things. Right now, my work load is very low. My kids need me to oversee their remote school situation (which is wrapping up for us…and then it will be a very long summer break), be the IT director for our house, make all the meals and snacks (are we eating again???), and just be here. I cannot imagine doing this with a full workload.
When I talk about work/life balance and the choice to take a time out on gangbusting my career for my family, I often say that I have no expectation that I will go back to making the same salary as before. Or that I should have a comparable salary to someone who has not taken that step back. Will I charge a market rate for my services? Yes. Will I ever work full time again? Probably not. So, my salary is never going to compete with someone doing the same thing who is working full time. I don’t need that. I have stepped out of the corporate/business world and onto my own path. So, I have no need to compete with others who are still there.
My choice was the best one for me. I am doing it all – on my own terms. And frankly, if and when I choose to ramp up my business again, I will make what I want to make, and it’s all a trade off. I don’t have full benefits. I pay higher taxes as a small business owner. I also get to work from home, pick up my kids from school, go to all their sporting events and activities, and enjoy our life. I can take an hour in the middle of the day to work in my garden. And that is priceless, to me.
If you are self-directed and want to make the same choice, I say go for it! If you know you work better in an office environment and need to go there every day, keep doing that! All of us have to make our own choices.
Can you do it all? Yes! You make the choice about how that looks.