The Balancing Act of a Working Mum

The debate over whether women can have it all has been ongoing for many years now and probably it’s been quite exhausted over time. It’s a debate I’ve followed with interest, keen to understand different viewpoints and experiences. As a working mum, I’m constantly trying to find the right balance between self fulfillment and bringing up a family. Have I got it right? Well maybe, maybe not but I’m still interested in seeing how other people do it.

Recently a couple of things happened around me that really made me think about this again. Life is a merry-go-round, and us mums often feel like it’s turning and turning with no opportunity to get off. Some of us like it, others not so much. But what happens when life throws us a curve ball and tips the balance we strive to maintain?

Are we put under too much pressure to try to have it all? Shouldn’t we just find the balance that works for us and be happy with that? Surely if we keep striving to fit in more and more, find more success, be busier, work harder, aren’t we putting ourselves under too much strain? Work is great when it goes well, the children are happy and the routine is working, but when any element of your life goes awry and we’re under huge stress and pressure is it all worth it?

I have to say, I’m not sure it is. There comes a time when the stresses and strains take their toll and many just don’t want that any more. Is it weakness? Does it make you a failure? No, I don’t think it does. Actually I think it means you’re strong, in control and totally aware of when the balance needs re-adjusting. The ability to know when to put the brakes on and say no, or to be aware when you have the capacity to take on more, is something you learn over time. It comes from experience, from both the good and the bad times, and it makes us a stronger, better working mum.

It can take many years to gain the knowledge and confidence to say enough is enough. Learning to say no is an art form. Knowing that you don’t have to please everyone and do everything you are asked to do takes courage and a certain amount of self belief. Saying no to people can be a lifesaver for both you and your family and it’s an important factor in building self-awareness. Getting the balance right is one thing, but knowing when the balance needs adjusting is quite a different matter and something we should strive to attain, for our own benefit.

I do think we should have a piece of everything, but I’m not sure we can have everything all of the time. Certainly not when the children are younger. Self fulfillment is one thing, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of your health and happiness.

I would love to know whether you think we can or should have it all? Have you found the right balance?

 

 

8 Comments

  1. September 11, 2012 / 9:27 pm

    Great post Jen! Really well written and will definitely make people stop and think. I really think we often take on too much, want too much and there is absolutely nothing wrong with admitting this. Unfortunately in today’s society it is kind of expected of us, we should want and do it all. But really I think you owe it to yourself to listen to your mind and your body, what you need and what makes you happy within. Each one of us is different. I know very well the balance I need to make me feel happy, sometimes it is more of a struggle to maintain it than at other times but hey ho šŸ˜‰ xx

    • Jen
      Author
      September 15, 2012 / 3:29 pm

      Thank you. It’s so easy to take on too much, I know I’m guilty of doing that now and again, and then I usually crash a burn for a little while to let the battery recharge!

  2. September 14, 2012 / 7:24 pm

    Do you know what? I have come to the conclusion over the last few years that you can have it all. But “all” means something different to all of us. For me it means having a family and good friends, and some work I can fit around that, albeit not as much money as I used to have. For someone else it might mean simply a great job and respect at work, for another person – kids, a top job, and a nanny.

    I guess what I’m saying is that I’m happy. And that’s about as “all” as it can get. When you stop putting pressure on yourself is when you discover what you’re happy with…

    • Jen
      Author
      September 15, 2012 / 3:27 pm

      Fair point. It probably does mean something different to everyone but I think we’re put under pressure from the media/society to try to have the ideal – a great job, fabulous home and happy family and made to feel guilty when we don’t achieve it. I think we’re saying the same thing really, you need to find your own balance that you’re happy with and saying ‘no’ is all part of that.

  3. September 26, 2012 / 1:49 pm

    To me, having it all is having the things that matter most.

    I have a wonderful partner and stepson, I love where I live, I adore what I do for my business.

    It’s a real confidence to say no to people – but saying yes all the time doesn’t help anyone. It’s taking a deep breath and saying yes, this matters to me, I need to do this, and this and this to get it. Or it matters to me that I use time procrastinating (or being afraid about it – often the same thing) that I could spend with my children or growing my business so I have more time for me.

    Very grounded post. Thank you.

  4. Elinor
    September 26, 2012 / 6:16 pm

    Love this Jen – I totally agree with you about the learning of what balance means for us takes time and how important it is to keep the boundaries in place to protect that by saying no. I think keeping the bigger picture in mind of what kind of parent I want to be, how I want my son to grow up, what kind of family life I want and what I need to do for me to make my heart sing helps to cope with the day-to-day challenges with some kind of intent rather than just reacting and blindly stumbling ahead.
    I won’t waffle on as I wrote about this for the lovely Ruth and Loretta at More Than A Mum http://more-than-a-mum.com/07/work-life-balance/ where I say how I struggle with the words balance and juggling. As you are interested others’ take on this you might like what else they have to say.

  5. April 24, 2013 / 7:38 am

    The balancing act of working mum is really appreciable. They know how to balance their work, family, education etc. I can understand this as my wife is balancing all thing very easily. She is managing family with her online courses and online job. I personally think that the balancing act is a god gift to a women.

    Cheers

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