Here’s a question on the minds of many working moms: Can we really “Have It All”? Is it just a fantasy or something achievable?
We know that being a mom and having a job can be quite a challenge. It’s like trying to balance on a seesaw, making sure both sides stay level. But what does it mean to “have it all,” anyway?
For some, it means being great at your job while also being an amazing mom and partner. For others, it’s about finding time for yourself and your passions while managing your family and work responsibilities.
Today, I want to break down the idea of “having it all” and talk about the myths and misunderstandings that often come with it.
I’ve coached many accountant moms, all having unique definitions of what “having it all” meant to them. One coaching client was a CPA and a mom of two. She loved her job and wanted to excel in it, but she also wanted to be there for her kids’ soccer games and bedtime stories. That’s what “having it all” meant to her.
Another was a successful tax manager and a mom of three. She was passionate about her career and wanted to make partner at her firm. But she also wanted to be there for every milestone in her children’s lives, from their first steps to their first day of school. That’s what “having it all” meant to her.
Another coaching client was an accountant and a mom of one. She loved the flexibility her job offered, which allowed her to work from home and spend more time with her child. She was trying to “have It all” by finding that work-life harmony that suited her.
As you can see, the concept of “having it all” can be as unique as the life of the working mom describing what it means to her.
But it’s also important to tackle a big misconception: the idea of having a perfect balance between your job and family life. You might have heard people say it’s possible to give equal time and energy to both, like a perfect balancing act. But is that really true?
In this episode, I want to explore whether it’s something worth pursuing or if there’s a better way to make it all work.
So, whether you’re struggling with having it all or not, stick around. I’m going to discuss this topic in a way that is easy to understand, and that offers practical strategies to help you on your journey.
This week I’m going to discuss the myth of “having it all,” the hidden costs of “having it all,” and how to craft a balanced reality.
The myth of “having it all”
Imagine walking a tightrope suspended high in the air, trying to keep your balance while carrying a load of responsibilities. That’s what it can feel like to be a working mom in today’s world.
The idea of “having it all” implies that a working mom can excel in every aspect of life simultaneously – career, family, personal dreams, and more. It’s an enticing notion, but it often turns out to be more of a treacherous tightrope walk than a smooth journey.
Unfortunately, the myth of “having it all” sets an unattainable standard for working moms. It paints a picture of a superwoman who effortlessly manages a demanding job, maintains a harmonious family life, and still has time for personal growth.
In reality, achieving this elusive balance can be incredibly challenging. The pressure to do it all can lead to frustration and self-doubt, as we may feel like we’re constantly falling short of these lofty expectations.
It’s also important to address the fact that pursuing the myth of “having it all” can take a toll on our mental and physical health. The constant juggling act between career and family responsibilities can lead to things like chronic stress, anxiety, and sleep deprivation.
The weight of trying to meet these unrealistic expectations can also result in feelings of inadequacy and guilt. If we’re being honest, the toll on our well-being is a heavy price to pay for the pursuit of an ideal that may not even be achievable.
The hard truth is that balancing a career with family life often requires making sacrifices in both areas. As working moms, we might have to miss out on career opportunities or limit our time with our family in order to excel at work.
On the other hand, prioritizing family over career advancement can lead to feelings of unfulfilled ambitions. These trade-offs can be emotionally challenging and may even lead to regrets down the road.
One of the biggest issues I see is that society has a tendency to cast judgment on working moms, regardless of the choices we make. For those of us who prioritize our careers, we may face criticism for not being present enough for our families.
On the other hand, those of us who prioritize our families may feel judged for not pursuing our career ambitions more aggressively. I’ve definitely experienced this when I was working for the Big 4 – the pressure to move up and become manager, senior manager, and then partner intensified the pressure and stress that I was already experiencing, making me feel like I was in a no-win situation.
The interesting thing I’ve noticed is that men aren’t typically saddled with the idea of trying to “have it all.” Unfortunately, we’re the ones who are handed this lofty goal without guidance on how to achieve it.
The hidden costs of “having it all”
The truth is that behind the façade of “having it all” lies a world of hidden struggles and challenges that we often face. These struggles are real, impactful, and worth acknowledging to gain a deeper understanding of the hidden costs of “having it all”:
Emotional Rollercoaster: Trying to meet the expectations of excelling at work while being an exceptional mother can be quite an emotional rollercoaster. The constant pressure to perform at the highest level in both domains can lead to feelings of overwhelm, anxiety, and even depression. The emotional toll of this balancing act is a heavy burden that many of us carry silently.
Guilt and Self-Doubt: Guilt often becomes a constant companion for working moms. We may feel guilty for missing a school event due to work commitments or guilty for taking time off work to care for a sick child. This guilt can lead to self-doubt and a nagging feeling that we are not doing enough in either area of our lives.
Burnout: The accounting profession is already a breeding ground for burnout, but the relentless pursuit of “having it all” can push us to the brink of even worse burnout. The truth is that burnout is not just exhaustion; it’s a state of physical and emotional depletion. It can manifest as chronic fatigue, irritability, and a loss of enthusiasm for both work and family life. Ignoring these warning signs can have serious consequences for our health and well-being.
Relationship Strain: The pressure to excel in both career and family life can strain our relationships. It’s challenging to divide our time and attention between our partner and children, often leading to conflicts and communication breakdowns. Unfortunately, neglecting the nurturing of relationships can have long-term repercussions.
Missed Moments: Pursuing the myth of “having it all” sometimes means missing out on precious moments with loved ones. Career commitments may force us to be absent during important milestones in our children’s lives, leading to feelings of regret and sadness.
Self-Neglect: In the quest to meet the demands of career and family, we often neglect our own needs and well-being. We may skip meals, sacrifice sleep, and forget to engage in activities that bring us joy. This self-neglect can lead to a deterioration in physical health and a sense of emptiness in life.
Recognizing these hidden struggles is essential for us and society as a whole. It’s important to acknowledge that “having it all” comes at a cost and that the pursuit of this myth can have significant emotional, physical, and relational consequences.
But just as it’s important to understand the costs, it’s also important to see possibilities and explore how we can navigate these challenges and find a more sustainable and fulfilling approach to life.
Crafting a balanced reality
While the idea of “having it all” may seem enticing, the reality for most working moms is that balance is more about making conscious choices, setting priorities, and finding fulfillment in the midst of life’s complexities.
Here are some some practical strategies and mindsets that can help you achieve a more balanced and meaningful life:
Strategy #1 – Redefining Success
Start by identifying what truly matters to you. What are your core values? What is your definition of success? Knowing your values will help you make decisions that align with what’s really important and impactful to you.
Next, rather than aiming for perfection in every area of life, set achievable goals that reflect your priorities. Recognize that balance doesn’t always mean equal distribution of time but rather making choices based on what’s most important at a given moment.
Lastly, celebrate your successes, no matter how small they may seem. Recognizing and appreciating your accomplishments can boost your self-esteem and motivation.
Strategy #2 – Building a Support System
Start by not hesitating to seek help from your partner, family, friends, or even professional support when needed. Sharing responsibilities can lighten your load and provide emotional support.
Second, if you have a significant other, open and honest communication with your partner is vital. Discuss your goals, expectations, and concerns, ensuring you both have a shared understanding of your roles and responsibilities.
Last, share household chores and childcare duties. Delegating tasks and responsibilities can create a more equitable division of labor and free up time for both work and personal pursuits.
Strategy #3 – Prioritizing Self-Care
Start by scheduling regular “me time” to engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. It’s not selfish; it’s necessary for your well-being.
Next, prioritize regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep. A healthy body is better equipped to handle the demands of a busy life.
Lastly, consider practicing mindfulness, meditation, coaching, or seeking therapy if needed. Taking care of your mental health is crucial for maintaining resilience.
Strategy #4 – Embracing Flexibility
Start by accepting that life is unpredictable and priorities can shift over time. Be flexible and open to adapting your plans as circumstances change.
Second, learn how to say no. It’s okay to decline commitments that don’t align with your priorities or values. Saying no is a powerful way to maintain balance.
Last, embracing a growth mindset encourages you to view challenges as opportunities for personal development. Be open to learning and evolving in response to life’s ever-changing circumstances.
Strategy #5 – Let Go of Unrealistic Standards
Start by accepting that imperfections and mistakes are part of life. Striving for perfection can be exhausting and counterproductive.
Next, when things don’t go as planned, don’t be too hard on yourself. Learn from your experiences and move forward with self-compassion.
Last, learn how to cultivate a habit of speaking to yourself with kindness and understanding, just as you would with a close friend or a child. Replace self-criticism with self-encouragement and positivity.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of not only the myth of “having it all” but also some strategies and mindsets so that you can navigate the complexities of modern life.
The last thing I want to leave you with is this – the truth is that you already “have it all” if you learn to redefine what “having it all” means to you.
The concept of “having it all” can be as unique as the life of the working mom describing what it means to her.
Unfortunately, the myth of “having it all” sets an unattainable standard for working moms.
The truth is that you already “have it all” if you learn to redefine what “having it all” means to you.