“My final question is personal, I hope that’s OK?” she asked me.
We were rounding out an hour long job interview where I was screening a young woman for the company I work for to come on board full-time.
“How do you do it all?” she continued.
“Umm, all my work?” I asked in return.
“No, how do you balance being a wife and mom and working?” I could tell she was nervous to ask this as it’s not a typical interviewee question, and yes it was personal.
I’ve heard this question answered many times in this way: “I don’t do it all.”
I love that response, because no one has done it all and lived to tell about it. Any woman juggling all her life’s roles who is keeping her help a secret should be ashamed (sorry that is such a strong thing to say, but I remain convicted) of herself for continuing the cycle of martyrdom and secret misery.
While it’s true I don’t do it all – I hire someone to clean my house, my husband does dishes, I get lash extensions (GASP!), etc. that is not what I wanted to impart on her, because it’s much deeper than that for me.
Here is my answer:
I decided who I was as a woman, and who I wanted to be.
I took a good long look at my desires and dreams, journaled about my feelings, read self-help books, took chances, made right and wrong decisions, felt my heart beat and listened to it.
And then I created boundaries around that.
Here’s what it looks like in practice … with one hundred percent certainty I know that I want to be a mother and a wife. When those seasons of my life unfolded, I loved the roles as much as I anticipated. I am very traditional and like to cook most of our meals – I don’t miss dinner. I will make the dinners, and that is that. Because I love it and it works for us. So there’s a boundary around that.
I wanted a majority of my time to be with my son, so we did daycare part-time and a nanny or working from home part-time. When my son is sick, I’m home with him or my husband is. There’s a boundary around that.
It’s about your priorities, and if you can afford to place them where you want them, or find a job that allows for them. It’s about knowing yourself – really knowing what you want and what you like. I have friends who are very much into working as much as they can, while they can. They love it, and that makes them fulfilled. They do full-time childcare, or they don’t cook meals, or whatever it is. That’s OK too! They know themselves and are leaning into that.
I still have days where I am off balance. I have to reevaluate things often and ask myself, “is this still working?”, “are my priorities in alignment with my heart still?”. I have to work at being secure in my own skin too. I’m a people pleaser and hate to disappoint anyone, so that makes these hard boundaries tough for me, but all the more necessary.
I have late nights from time to time and work trips. I’m human, I make sacrifices too, but a majority of my life is built around what means the most to me, and finding a way to keep that front and center. And that is how I do it.
So, women of the world, how do you do it all?