Bloggers Weigh In: Can Women Have It All?

Can women have it all? Last week, The Atlantic explored a subject that is still quite controversial even in our modern age. The writer, Anne-Marie Slaughter, explains her personal situation of leaving a high-power government career in D.C. to cater to the needs of her two teenaged sons and husband in New Jersey. Her point of view sparked a national debate — can women have it all? Could they ever? And the do the women who say they have it all do so because their partner is flexible enough to take on the roles of heading the family (or a higher income, etc.)?

She goes on to write, “I’d been the woman congratulating herself on her unswerving commitment to the feminist cause, chatting smugly with her dwindling number of college or law-school friends who had reached and maintained their place on the highest rungs of their profession. I’d been the one telling young women at my lectures that you can have it all and do it all, regardless of what field you are in. Which means I’d been part, albeit unwittingly, of making millions of women feel that they are to blame if they cannot manage to rise up the ladder as fast as men and also have a family and an active home life (and be thin and beautiful to boot).”

But since then, she's changed her tune. She describes her week as having 5:30 am trains to catch and staying at the office until after hours, “which meant that everything from dry cleaning to hair appointments to Christmas shopping had to be done on weekends, amid children’s sporting events, music lessons, family meals, and conference calls.” According to her, we need some major structural changes in our society before women can really push their career to the fullest while having family time.

On the contrary, in a profile piece the New York Times published in March, designer Cynthia Rowley and her husband Bill Powers, an editor, author, and art dealer, spoke about their day-to-day as a couple. With her multiple TV gigs, design projects, and two young daughters, she makes sure to still hit every important social gathering in NYC.  “As a couple you can be out and not see anything, or you can stay connected to the moment and use what you see for your work,” said Nick Cave, the Chicago-based artist. “Cynthia and Bill know what they’re doing as a creative couple and a family unit.”

“Warhol’s philosophy was ‘Do everything,’” Powers told the Times. “Us, too.”

Women not working in high-power careers certainly face similar struggles, and there are few who can juggle it all and feel comfortable.

As a blogger (and, let's be honest, mostly female) community, most of us are in business for ourselves, or are working a day job plus blogging as a side project. The beauty of blogging means we can be flexible with where we work and when we work, alleviating some of the pressures of balancing work with family life — but even so, when is it too much?

We asked a few bloggers to give us the details on their day-to-day and weigh in on things they sacrifice to juggle it all.

Rachelle Hruska MacPherson, the founder and editor-in-chief of Guest of a Guest and recent wife and mom, wrote us a description of her busy day, “Wake up: 7am. Feed Maxwell and family play time. I try to spend my mornings at home working on emails and work related stuff online while Maxwell plays next to me. I also try to get a workout in the mornings before lunch. Lunch is either food on the run or in the form of a meeting. My afternoons are pretty irregular but usually consist of either meetings, stopping into office, running errands or doing phone calls. I try to be home by 6pm to spend the next two hours with my son, feeding, bathing, bedding. We usually go to either dinner or a social obligation around 8 or 8:30 when Maxwell goes to sleep. Bedtime is between 11 and 12, and most likely preceded by Charlie Rose.”

Jordan of Ramshackle Glam, also a new mommy, told us, “The truth is that there's a lot of guilt involved – I always wish that I could be 100% focused on my son when he's awake, and then 100% focused on my work when he's otherwise occupied, but that's just one of the challenges associated with being a work-at-home mom: you constantly feel like you wish you could give more to both sides of your life. I do wish that I had more time in the evenings, so that I could get the bulk of my work done while my son is asleep, but I also feel like it's important to spend at least an hour or two of concentrated time with my husband, and that's our only opportunity to focus solely on each other, so…I guess I just wish I had 6 or 7 more hours in every day.”

She went on to say, “Something that I've sacrificed for my career and family: I guess that would be those ‘me' moments that I used to value – you know, just spending a couple of hours on the sofa with a book, or going shopping for no reason other than that I feel like it. Even if my husband takes our son out for some one-on-one time, it's hard for me to relax enough to do what really amounts to nothing – I always feel like, ‘This is my opportunity to get more work done so I can spend as much time as possible with the baby once he gets home.' It's an enormous blessing, the opportunity to work from home and watch him grow, and I wouldn't change my situation for anything, but the guilt and the constant worry that you're not doing anything quite as well as you might want to…those are definitely drawbacks.”

Rachelle agrees, citing that alone time and reading are some things she has given up for her busy schedule.

Tina Craig, founder of Bag Snob and hands on mom, wrote to us, “I don't really know how I manage to balance everything! I'm a mom, so instinctively, I take care of my son's needs first. Everything else just falls into place. I work during school hours at home and the minute I pick up my son from school, I shut my computer down until after I put him to bed. When I travel, I spend days cooking/freezing meals, coordinating carpool, tennis lessons, etc. I'm fortunate to have a husband who is very hands on and an amazing staff who help me keep it all together. It's definitely not a one woman show, having it all means surrounding yourself with people you trust to help you!”

What do you think about women having it all? Do you agree with the Atlantic's article or more with Cynthia Rowley's approach? How do YOU balance it all?

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13 Responses

  1. JillGG

    I’m a mom of two and have been blogging for almost four years… blogging is the absolute perfect career for me. I can fully be present in my children’s lives and attend to their needs and also have a budding career. I do it by squeezing blogging into the “nooks and crannies” of my life and a little help from a part time nanny. For me it truly is the best of both worlds!

  2. Beth (i run like a girl)

    Very well written summary of a complex (and often controversial) issue.

    In my case, I spent my 20s putting career before most other pursuits – but managed to maintain an active social life, relationships, etc… at the expense of SLEEP.

    Now, in my mid-30s, I am working to achieve more of a balance (sleep and fitness included), but I feel a raging sense of guilt when I put one “priority” aside to focus on another. (Work aside for family, or vice versa.) Now the thing that gets pushed aside most often is HOUSEWORK.

  3. April

    It is possible to have it all. It all simply comes down to being organized and knowing how to multi-task. My Fashion blog Blackstuddedfashion has 8,000 followers. But no one knows that I am a College student that works two jobs on campus while trying to maintain a Social life and a good GPA. It’s a lot of work but being organized has helped me to be a better worker and blogger.

  4. Cristina

    As a media outlet that represents the part of society that I fit into more than the writers of the Atlantic article, IFB is a source I was really looking forward to a response from about the article and the question.

    This article, I’m sorry to say is very disappointing.

    I like the compilation of quotes from other blog/startup working mothers/women but this article doesn’t address anything–its basically a call for opinions, and I think that it misses the opportunity to have everyone really engage in this momentous question.

    I am a young, single, twenty-something and being of this age firstly I really want to know what people who are similar to me have experienced and for those who are a little older, what they’ve reflected upon. We’ve all pretty much grown up with gender parity in the sense that I’ve never felt like I’ve been glossed over for being a women, although yes I have seen that women are treated differently than men, but I have always felt that if I work as hard as they do (not necessarily harder, but at the same rate, and have the same or better results from my efforts, I will be rewarded in return–my gender has nothing to do with it.)

    This article in the Atlantic really hit the nail on the head of the issue that defines this next step in gender rights…the term of the day would not be equality but balance.

    And I think that if you’re going to start a dialogue on it, an opinion should be delivered, with the comment space available to agree/disagree…not write the article for you.

  5. Sharon

    As a single mother of 2, I have no choice but to have it all. In the article, she left her job . . .by choice. . to cater to her teen sons and husband. And most of those you talked to are married and stay-at home mothers.
    Before I continue let me say, that it would seem her teenage sons would have needed the attention more so while younger. As, my children age (12 and 16), I find it easier to pursue more of my own dreams.
    Also, women with husbands at home have help. If he is not helping or if she will not let him help then that is an issue all on it’s own. Because, with two people supporting one another . . it should allow a woman to do quite a bit. I think it is awful that in most marriages it is the man who gets to do this ‘thing’ guilt free and a wife has to give up her dreams.
    Anyway, I have to work (including blogging), take care of home (which I brought), take care of my children, take care of myself, and still make sure I have a life (friends and dating). . . I have no choice, but to do it all. It is only a matter of doing it.

  6. the sparkle (@erincg)

    women these days have a hard go of it. we have it all often times because of necessity – especially moms, you HAVE to fit it all in whether you want to or not. i think to have any sort of a life balance, you need to take the ego out of it and not be hard on yourself if you drop a ball.

    it also has to do with comparison. we all look at the girl over there and see only what’s presented: she’s doing it all, has it all, is happy etc. but she’s having the same struggle we are and feeling like she has to keep up with us.

    we end up being mediocre at a lot and great at nothing and at the end of it, never fulfilled. something has to give, so in my opinion, we can have it all, just not at the same time. i don’t want to have it all, i want to enjoy life!


  7. Heather

    I always feel stretched too thin, but I don’t want to give up any of the things I do on a daily basis. I work as a freelance designer and the work is, thsnkfully, almost constant. I care for a home, two children and a husband (yes, they need attention too!) I also manage to make home-cooked meals almost every night of the week, exercise a few times a week, and oh yeah, create three posts a week for my blog as well. It’s kinda crazy. Sometimes it’s fun and exciting, sometimes I’m just exhausted.

    Can women have it all? I wonder sometimes if this is a question men even ask themselves. “Why do we want it all and why do we need it all right now?” might be a better question to ask ourselves.

  8. MJ

    I think we first need to ask ourselves what our definition of “having it all” is. It differs from woman to woman and therefore what she has to do to get it.

    For me, it’s a fulfilling career and a family. Right now I juggle a full time job, my blog, freelance work, and my husband and sometimes it’s hard but you adjust. I do find that some things have to take a backseat. I can’t have everything at 100% at the same time. Now that I have my little one on the way, something will have to give for a little while when she gets here later this year. And it’s okay! I keep that guilt at bay so I can enjoy the here and now.

  9. Manuela

    When you get there where you are meant to be, you can have it all, because everything becomes easy. I know that it sounds a bit strange, but what I just said is based on my personal experience! So, you should try to find your place first, and you will see the good results will come for sure:)

  10. Hayley

    I’m not even 20 and by no means do I have a particularly stressful life, however, I want a career but also a family in the future. I think people that want it all have to believe they can do it because what is the option…sacrifice one plan for another. But we are not just sacrificing one plan, because we want both. Instead, we are comprimisng our future based on what society deems a good career woman and a good Mothet. Well I believe a happy mum = a happy child. So I guess my point is, you just have to do your best! 🙂

  11. July for June

    So…… I am supposed to identify with three, pretty well off, stay at home Moms who take pictures of themselves and call it work, while I run a team of seven people, get to work AT 6:30 every morning, get home at 6 and then cook, clean house and clean kids?

    This website has surpassed it’s former label of ridiculous to just completely useless. Kudos!