Finding Balance: Can You Have It All At Once?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger

This is the fourth in a series about how to find the balance between work, family and your own health and fitness goals. Click here to read the first blog entry in this series.

I don't think she's the one who originated this quote, but I once heard Oprah Winfrey say "You can have it all. You just can't have it all at one time." She was referring to balancing your time between being a wife, mother, career woman, etc.

Although some people will disagree, I think Oprah was right. I use myself as an example. I love my job and wouldn't give it up for anything. For a long time I thought I would be a career woman who didn't have children. But somewhere along the way, my plans changed. When I had kids, I was lucky enough to be able to make the choice to work part-time, and not only that, but to do most of that work from home. (Working at home with 2 little ones is not as easy as you'd think, but I'll save that discussion for another day.) I know how fortunate I am, because I work for a company that is willing to give me the flexibility I need. But that decision was never an easy one. Because I love my job, I'm often torn between work and family. There are some days when I get all of my work done, and I'm able to do a lot with my kids and give them all of the attention they need. But there are many days when I could use more quiet time to write my blog or answer the emails piling up in my inbox. Instead, I'm changing diapers or making lunch or doing the laundry. I am grateful for the time I get to spend with my kids, but that doesn't mean it's always an easy trade-off.

I think there's a lot of pressure on women to do everything, and to do all of it well. I fall into that trap sometimes, disappointed that I'm not the perfect wife, the perfect mom and the perfect employee. But I think if you can find the balance between all of those, and not expect perfection, you can find happiness and fulfillment- even if you don't have it "all" at once.

What do you think? Do you agree that you can have it all, just not all at once?

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  • 25
    I absolutely agree with this. At times when I felt like I was failing miserably in one or more areas in my life, my mom would chime in & remind me that I was failing by my standards & not anyone else's. We need to no be so hard on ourselves. I wouldn't trade any of the years I've had working from home to be here for my kids. But there are days........ so I remind myself - that there is a place & time for everything and that I have to stop feeling like I'm NOT doing it all - when in fact I'm doing the BEST I can! - 5/29/2009   10:01:35 PM
  • 24
    You just need to hang in there and do the best you can do - it is probably going to be so much more, much higher than anyone's expectations! That is what makes you the ultimate woman. Not perfect, but so able to do so much and so much more! - 5/29/2009   8:55:40 PM
  • 23
    I was lucky enough to be a stay at home mum and yes I admnre women who are working mums. Even though my son is 21 now, I still only work part time. - 5/29/2009   7:46:53 PM
    I am very lucky...I work Baylor and have since my son was 2...that means I work 24 hours and get paid for 40...I work only weekends...I was a single mom and so it was hard to work full time and have my son in daycare all the time..then this job came open....I love that being said I DO have to give somethings up...I have to give up many family get togethers because they are on the weekends and I am working...but the trade off is worth it...I think that you CAN NOT have it all but it just depends on what you are willing to trade off... - 5/29/2009   5:30:52 PM
  • 21
    I suffer from the "I want to do it ALL RIGHT NOW" syndrome - and I've had both my academic advisor and my mother give me the same advice: "You CAN do it all. You just need to pick "which one first?" - That helps me a lot. I never have to feel like I won't be able to do it all...I just get to decide what to start with! - 5/29/2009   4:49:29 PM
  • 20
    All things come in good time we just have to patient. So I too agree. - 5/29/2009   4:02:02 PM
  • 19
    I have lived by Oprah's saying since first hearing it when I became a mother. I too am grateful that I work for a terrific company that provides me with flexibility to be there when my teens need me while doing work I love. However, it does lead to early mornings and late nights to fit everything in more days than not. "Me time" is last on the list and guilt that I didn't do everything as "top notch" as I could isn't far behind. Hopefully as more and more of us admit that it is hard to "do it all" and that admitting it doesn't make us weak or failures, will allow more woman to support one another to be the best woman, mother, employee, friend, spouse etc we can be! - 5/29/2009   3:21:03 PM
  • 18
    I've heard stay at home Mom's say that they don't know how working Mom's do it, and I as a working Mom don't know how stay at home Mom's do it. I think the bottom line is that we all do the best we can with what we have & God won't give us more than we can handle. So, as long as we're doing our best...we will be blessed. :) - 5/29/2009   2:46:09 PM
  • 17
    Thanks Jen for this article. I agree with you. Having brought up 4 kids was a challenge but then when I started working again, there were good days and there were days when I quite cheerfully could have left the planet! My late husband once said that if a woman is caring for a family, a house, and employed elsewhere, then she deserves a medal! - 5/29/2009   2:01:48 PM
  • 16
    I don't understand how you say you can't have it all? You're a mom, have a family, you have a job, and you're actively pursing a healthy and active lifestyle. Just because there are times that you can't focus 100% of your attention to one task doesn't mean you don't have it all. - 5/29/2009   1:58:01 PM
  • 15
    PERFECT? As much as we humans try or want it, we will never be perfect in anything we do. There was only one man that was and is perfect...Jesus Himself...
    I was a single parent most of my children's lives and that was difficult with the full time job, outside of my is hard to balace...but the reward is the love of your children...that is priceless. - 5/29/2009   1:46:19 PM
  • 14
    I worked the whole time my kid's were small and i know that i missed out on a lot.. I lost my job that i had for 23+ years and i am not at home and my kids are all in school.. I missed a lot of my kids growing up.. I am just glad that there grandparents took good care of them for me.. - 5/29/2009   1:01:43 PM
  • 13
    I heard once that you can be a mom, you can be a wife, & you can have a career. Pick 2. (Kind of a spin on you can have it cheap, fast, or good - pick 2). We Christians have the extra burden of trying to live up to the model of the "Proverbs 31" woman. Recently I was relieved to learn that while, yes, the Prov 31 woman did all that (look it up, she's really quite amazing), she didn't do it all in 1 day! Whew!

    Women do put a lot of pressure on themselves (OURsevles!) to try to be all things to all people. Then add hormones to the mix, & WOW!!! Our attempts to be "all that" often leave us neglecting ourselves, bringing us to websites like this.

    It is a question not only of balance, but of priorities & purpose. We do have a problem saying "no," don't we? - 5/29/2009   12:47:21 PM
  • 12
    I think to some extent it depends on how much energy you have. Some people say that the more you do, the more you find you're capable of, which I believe to an extent. I know people who manage families, jobs and school plus any number of extra activities, while I tend to have to focus on a few things. I say, take chances and bet on yourself, but recognize the signs of burnout and pull back before you push yourself too far. Everyone has different levels of ability. - 5/29/2009   12:47:04 PM
  • 11
    I agree with this quote. One just needs to learn to balance our life. - 5/29/2009   12:28:05 PM
  • 10
    I do agree with the quote. My son is grown and moved out, but I do have a zoo at home and all expecet attention when I walk in. I work full time, run a house and a man, and am taking 4 classes a semester working toward nursing school, plus getting fit. I do make comprimises everyday, some are easy like skipping housework and others that I shouldn't make. But I am learning balance. - 5/29/2009   11:53:39 AM
    Jen, You're exactly right. I interviewed the Chamber of Commerce president (Ellen van der Horst) in the spring of 2008 for the YWCA Career Women of Achievement series. She told me the same thing: "You can have it all, but you can't expect to have it all at once." That really stuck with me.
    You can only try to do your best each and every day.
    --Stepf - 5/29/2009   11:52:15 AM
  • 8
    I'm not a mom (though I do have my dog), so I can't really speak to caring for children. However, I believe that while we may not be able to have it all at the same time, we can devote ourselves completely to whatever our focus is at that moment - whether it be the kids, the job, the hubby/boyfriend. The key is being able to clearly define family time, work time...ME time and leaving the other things out of that time. As women, we always try to multitask. It's our greatest asset and our greatest downfall because while we get a lot done, we often burn ourselves out in the process. We have to learn to mentally separate in order to be able to stay sane and enjoy the time we have to do each task. - 5/29/2009   11:30:53 AM
  • 7
    Great blog. This is something that women struggle with that I think most men will never truly understand. - 5/29/2009   10:57:47 AM
  • 6
    I believe you have to set your priorities and decide what "all" is to you. I'm pretty sure my family was better off because I worked and I am happy with the accomplishments of my career. I did not have the choice to stay home as someone needed to support me and my son. Having said that I learned to let go of the super mom thing and just try to be the loving and nuturing mom. I think the biggest compliment my son ever paid me was that I was NOT his friend. He had lots of friends. But, I was always his MOM! - 5/29/2009   10:54:35 AM
  • 5
    Perhaps people who think they can have it all don't want all of the things I want. For everything I choose to do, there are at least 3 things I am actively choosing not to do. It's definitely a balancing act, and you have to make choices among competing alternatives. Your choices are even more constrained when you have young children, because they require so much attention. Sometimes I imagine that I'll be happier when I retire (still many years away) because I'll have so much more time to myself, but I know I'm kidding myself. I'll probably always have more interests than time to pursue them. - 5/29/2009   10:50:38 AM
  • 4
    I think you can have it all. I worked full time (still do), went to college full time, have 2 kids and a husband and managed to all that at once! Now, instead of being in college full time i still take a class each semester (for personal knowledge and for brain exercise) and now im doing 1 - 1 1/2 hrs of exercise each day (to get rid of the weight i gained in college and then some) and i still somehow manage it all. I just make the most of the time i have with each aspect of my life. I combine things also like, my son likes to come to work with me and sometimes likes to go on my exercise walks or swim with me when i swim laps, so we make the most of 2 things at once. When i study i study when my kids study and we sometimes quiz each other. When im just home i make the most of doing family things with husband and kids (including group house cleaning "projects"). So, yes i think you can have it all. - 5/29/2009   10:30:04 AM
  • 3
    I absolutely hate being so pulled in sooooo many directions. There are many days that I feel like a failure at everything I do. I think that we do so much that we really can't do a great job at any one thing. I always tell my daughter that her best is good enough for me, and I hope that when she is older she'll be able to say the same about me. - 5/29/2009   10:27:34 AM
    "For everything there is a season," the Bible says. I remember when my kids were little and we were just beginning our homeschooling adventure . . . one minute I was changing a diaper and the next teaching phonics and the next helping a candidate with his campaign for state senator. Enjoy the life you have as a woman. Remember--variety is the spice of life! - 5/29/2009   10:25:23 AM
  • 1
    I believe this to be true. God has things planned for you all in good time. Just be patient and you can still get it. - 5/26/2009   7:22:35 PM

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