Can women have it all? The question of the century or so it seems. An epitome channeling the perils of the modern woman. The juggler and the professed multi tasking aficionado. Yes, we have been dealt with not just one hand but at least a dozen more. Life used to be different, there used to be less to worry about. Our role was predominantly limited to home and family life which on its on is a full time job.
Now we have to worry about all of the above, plus respond to dozens of messages in our inbox, meet work deadlines and do this all while rocking strappy stilettos because you can’t lose that inner glam girl of course. There’s no doubt it can get to be a bit much and sometimes it can feel like you need to hold your head to keep it all together.
Are we just kidding ourselves or can women have it all?
Lately there’s been an influx of articles on whether women can have it all and examples illustrating how many high profile female executives are giving up cushy, sexy corporate jobs to stay home or pursue more “women appropriate roles.” And like with anything, there are a plethora of opinions out there on the subject
Can women have it all? Some might say yes. Some might say absolutely not! And what does it really mean to have it all anyway? A good job? A blossoming family? Everyone has a different opinion on what it means.
While it is always interesting to listen and hear other perspectives, we should never allow it to deter us from our vision and the plans we have for our lives. One person’s experience do not dictate how life works and two people placed in similar situations will have different stories to tell.
You might be a busy mom that only has time to run errands on her lunch hour because you have to stay late after work and then finish what you couldn’t get done the day before. You stay up through the wee hours of the night so that you can get the house cleaned up and dinner ready for the following day.
Let’s all acknowledge this simple fact. It is can be difficult to be a juggling women putting in 40 plus hours a week, especially if you have a family to take care of and put their needs before yours. The good news is that it is not impossible. In fact if anything I would say we were designed for it. To be productivity queens.
However, there will be days when you just can’t do it all and you will feel defeated. One thing you must remember to do is take a deep breath and take it all in strides.
Here are some strategies that can help you keep up with the everyday and maybe make each day go a little bit smoother.
Plan for the following day
Fail to plan and plan to fail is a common adage and something that every juggling woman should always remember. Planning a day ahead helps to improve productivity. Don’t wait till the night off to figure out what to eat, plan your meals the weekend before, lay out next day outfit, you get the idea.
Make a list of what needs to be done and errands needs to be run. If you’re anything like me, you have one million things going off in our head, so more importantly than planning is writing these things down. While you might like to think you’re a brain whiz and can remember it all, just remember that the shortest pencil is better than the longest memory.
Don’t just plan. Prepare
This is a mistake that I am guilty of and working diligently against. Planning is great but pretty ineffective without preparation. What is the difference you may ask. Planning is the thought and preparation are the action steps. It’s one thing to say, I am planning to visit Hawaii next year, but it means nothing if you do not prepare by actually buying the ticket.
When a plan is made, the next step is to make a list of the steps needed to execute the plan and a timetable to get them done. I like to plan my meals a week ahead, and follow with a grocery list and meal prepping to prepare.
Do this everyday to keep up
Yes there is a lot to do and unfortunately technology has not advanced to the point where we can clone ourselves nor give ourselves additional arms. Thankfully one can be strategic with various tasks to help reduce the list of things that need to be done
I know. I get it, you’ve worked all day long and now you have dinner to cook and a house to clean. Oh! But remember, you planned dinner the day before so no need to worry about it today!
The last thing you want to do is clean the house. Make a habit of picking up everyday. One essential lesson my mother made sure to hammer into my head is to always clean as you cook.
Wipe down your kitchen counters, take out the trash, unload the dishwasher and load it back up. This keeps up with the normal everyday essential items that get used many times and continues to make your house look tidy. Make a list of one item or two to clean everyday.
I do one to two loads of laundry everyday. This helps me from having heaps and wads of laundry to do over the weekend. Put it away right after it comes out of the dryer. As difficult as it might be for some people, do not procrastinate as it will only create a pile of chores later.
Once you get your family and household life on a routine and you start planning, everything else will fall into place. No, women can’t have it all but we can try.
Don’t sweat the small stuff, outsource when necessary
If there’s one thing we can learn from corporations, it’s the concept of outsourcing. If you had to put a value to your time, what is it worth? If there was a task that could be done elsewhere costing you less in time, would it be worth it?
Look for tasks that you can outsource to free up your time and allow for more productivity. Yes, hiring house cleaners might seem like a luxurious expense, but if it allows you to spend a couple more hours a week doing the things you love, is it worth it? If so, why think twice?
For some of us who are control freaks or perfectionists, this might be a challenge. However we live in a world where time is limited and for us to focus on what matters, we must take time away from what doesn’t.
Health first and everything else next
The usual scenario is we get busy and everything else takes precedence but our bodies and our health. That’s why fast food and quick everything are hot enterprises. We reach for sugar filled lattes, energy shots and drinks to keep us going. This is a short term solution with long term implications, and actually works against us down the line.
As busy women, it is even more imperative that we maintain healthy lifestyles for our health and to maximize our productivity potential. When we eat junk or processed food, fill our bodies with foods that are not nutritious, our bodies don’t get the essential nutrients it needs to function as effectively. That leads to lethargy, foggy minds, forgetfulness, excess weight, bad skin and the list goes on.
We have to be very conscious about what we put into our systems because of you guessed it, our hormones. To stay productive, keep your mind clear and sharp and help us stay on top of it all.
Staying fit not only has aesthetic benefits, moderate exercise at least 30 minutes 5 times a week helps to release endorphins that help your body manage stress. It also helps to fight fatigue, keep you alert and keep your body moving. Here’s a great article on exercise and its numerous health benefits.
Beauty sleep is a girl’s best friend
I remember just about a year ago when I was starting out with Ladiesbalance.com, I was going and going, sleeping less than five hours a day, rinse and repeat. I was so caught up in getting stuff done, I couldn’t care about sleep. It wasn’t long before I was completely done. I was exhausted both mentally and physically. I couldn’t communicate properly and it affected so many of my relationships. I sometimes felt like a zombie, sleepwalking through life. Yeah, that eventually had to stop. They say sleep is for the dead, well keep it up long enough and you’ll be snoozing very soon.
There’s nothing like waking up refreshed. You feel recharged, ready to go and tackle on the day. Think of your body like having a mini factory inside of it. The night shift is for the clean up crew. Your workers come out to clean up, recharge the systems and prepare it for the next round. If office buildings need this, you can only imaging what’s going on inside of us.
Sometimes it feels like you don’t have a choice but to sacrifice sleep. This is where you need to be firm. Be realistic with deadlines, be firm with family about a sleep schedule and adopt a journey vs sprint mindset. If there’s anything I’ve learned about life is that as long as you are alive, there’s always going to be something to do. The busyness never ends, so own it and let it work around your schedule and not the other way around.
Work family balance is hard one to conquer, but if you take the necessary steps to keep you with the everyday needs you will find that you will also begin to have some time for yourself. So you ask, can women have it all?
Women work life balance can certainly pose challenges but being productive and working towards a goal can help you feel like you’re accomplishing more than just running around crazy. To some it may seem like women can’t have it all, but with some strategic thinking it is possible to come close enough.
To learn more about how to manage it all, check out this article on young she-entrepreneur, Jennell, our balanced and beautiful spotlight feature to learn how she travels the world, runs her startup and still has time to cater to the love of her life, her friendships and do the things she loves..