Claire Huxtable was a successful lawyer. Elyse Keaton ran her own architecture firm from home (she was really ahead of her time). Angela Bower was an advertising executive in New York and Maggie Malone Seaver was a reporter. Many of the sitcoms I grew up watching had moms in the workplace. They did it with such ease. And except for Angela Bower, a single mom with one son, all these working moms had at least 3 kids! How did they do it?
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Blog, 70% of mothers with children under 18 participate in the work force, and of those, over 75% employed full-time. Wow, that’s a lot of us.
But, is it really a surprise? We were the generation that followed the 70’s feminist movement. We were told from a young age that we could “have it all” - the career, the family and the house. And we had the role models on TV to showing it was possible. Claire Huxtable was often in the kitchen making breakfast or dinner, she made it look effortless. In fact, according to a 2013 survey by Entrepreneur magazine, 74% of women believe they can “have it all”, defined as fulfilling career, relationships, and children. No pressure.
I was definitely among the 74% when I first became a mom. I didn’t give it a second thought, of course I would have a career and a family. The physical, time-based arrangements are demanding but possible to work through. Who’s going to pick up and drop off? Who can run to the store for more diapers/wiped/etc? (You never realize what a luxury grocery shopping after work is until you have kids.) How do we fit in enough time for dinner, playtime and bath? When you think about being a working mom it’s these scheduling details that you think of first, and rightly so, because in order to “have it all”, we must be able to do it all. This is the part we anticipate. We build our village to prepare for this part of being a working mom. Sure, many days it’s exhausting, but we’re doing it!
For some working moms, mastering the scheduling of it all may be their biggest challenge. But there is another part we haven’t talked about, within the definition of “having it all” is the word fulfilling, a fulfilling career, relationships and family. It’s easy to talk about choosing the right daycare, getting into a routine and doing things in your new role as mommy, but no one ever talks about the shift that occurs in your old role as career woman….. What is a fulfilling career? Has your definition changed now that you are a mom? In my experience most moms feel the pressure to keep pushing their career. They are on auto-pilot to keep striving for the career they started before becoming a mom. There is little time for self-reflection or questioning. Bosses aren’t trained on how to coach working moms through this, so it’s up to us to find our tribe and help each other through.
Can a working mom “have it all”? Maybe, but it depends on your definition. There are still only 24 hours in a day. Juggling priorities as a working mom demands thoughtful intention, selectiveness and a strong support system. It means checking in with yourself and making sure you are spending time on the things that are most important to you. It is also realizing what is important today, could shift tomorrow or next week/month/year. Nothing is ever set in stone. I don’t know if all working mom’s can “have it all”, but I do know that everything is possible.
Are you a working mom struggling to define what “having it all” means to you? I want to talk to you! Comment below or send me an email and we’ll schedule a time to talk. Come join our Facebook group Balanced Heart Moms and join a supportive community of women who share their stories and lift each other up.
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.