Work-Life Balance for Moms

You hear moms talk a lot about “having it all” and whether it’s possible. One thing that we often forget in this discussion is that “having it all” is different for everyone. For one mom, having it all means being able to stay home with her children. For another mom, having it all means finding a good balance between work and family life. For some moms, having it all means being perfect—which is just not a realistic goal.

In a recent essay in The Daily Beast, Barnard president Debora Spar wrote about “Why Women Should Stop Trying to Be Perfect.”

“We have become a generation desperate to be perfect wives, mothers, and professions – Tiger Moms who prepare organic quinoa every evening after waltzing home from the IPO in our Manolo Blahnik heels,” writes Spar. “Even worse, we somehow believe that we need to do all of this at once, and without any help.”

Of course, Spar’s example is extreme. She is a high-powered college president juggling life with three children in New York City. Most women around the country can’t afford Manolo Blahnik heels.

But her point is still relevant to the rest of us (in comfy shoes!)… Why are women—and moms, in particular – so hard on ourselves? As I recently wrote, there is no such thing as a perfect mother and yet we still beat ourselves up for not cooking from scratch or making it to the gym or showing up at every school event.

Over at The Wall Street Journal’s “The Juggle,” Anusha Shrivastava writes about how her grandmother, her mother, and she have all worked outside the home and managed to find work-life balance. The keys to finding balance, according to Shrivastava are to do what you love, to get organized, and to get help when you can. She says it’s also important to find time for hobbies, volunteer work, and travel. Cut down on extraneous social engagements and stick to the basics.

“Let go of some things, like the desire to always have the house looking spic and span,” she writes. “Spending time with your spouse and children is more important than smoothing out a comforter every day.”

What do you think? Is cleaning the first thing to go when you’re tight on time? How do you find a work-family balance? And what does “having it all” mean to you?