For years, women have struggled with juggling family responsibilities and high power jobs. But is having a family, taking care of household chores, spending time with the hubby and pursuing a professional career (“having it all”) a realistically attainable goal? It’s a question every working mother asks herself and a question Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and author of Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, tries to answer.
According to Jennifer Lane, a personal finance contributor for Compass Planning Associates, “we need to give ourselves a break and acknowledge that no one can “have it all” at every moment of every day. I think “having it all” is as much a myth as the fairy-tale prince, and it can pressure women into feeling that they must achieve perfection in every facet of their lives. We need to set realistic goals, balance our professional and personal lives in ways that matter to us as individuals, and recognise that there are many definitions of success.”
Sandberg agrees that there is a blurred line between our personal and business lives. She says that we are wasting too much energy on the work-life balance and that women need to shift from doing it all to only doing what they’re good at and daily focusing on those strengths.
Sheryl Sandberg pushes women to “lean in”
In the podcast, Stuff mom never told you, Cristen Conger focuses on unbalancing work and life in the lives of moms surrounded and intertwined with their work. Although it seems great to be a mom and marketer at the same time, it is not always the be-all and end-all. Sandberg recommends the following tips to find a better balance between your personal and professional life and we definitely agree with her.
- Choose the perfect spouse
We know that finding the perfect partner is not exactly something you can easily cross off your to-do list, but picking the right partner can make or break your work-life balance. When your responsibilities become way too much to handle, it is perfectly fine to take a step back from what is expected from you and find a partner who accepts that you can’t always do everything around the house yourself.
Gail McGovern, an American businesswoman, says: “You have to love to work, and you have to love to parent…. If you choose your employers wisely and choose your mate wisely, there is no question in my mind you can have it all.”
Sandberg continues: “When looking for a life partner, my advice to women is date all of them: the bad boys, the cool boys, the commitment-phobic boys, the crazy boys. But do not marry them. The things that make the bad boys sexy do not make them good husbands. When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated and ambitious. Someone who values fairness and expects or, even better, wants to do his share in the home. These men exist and, trust me, over time, nothing is sexier.” When you have found your perfect partner, be sure to hold onto him, take care of the household and get that decent paycheck.
- Divide and conquer
Conger notes that moms do 40% more childcare and 30% more household chores than dads. This is not to put the blame on dads, but wives who engage in gatekeeping behaviour do five hours more family work per week than wives who take a more collaborative approach with their spouse. Sandberg encourages women to only do what they’re really good at and give their partners other tasks to focus on. According to Quartz, a guide to the new global economy for business people, “we cannot get to an equal world without men leaning in at home—and those who do have stronger marriages and healthier, happier, more successful children. If you’re a manager or leader, think about what you can do to make work work for parents.”
Your partner needs to understand why you are giving something up in order to take up something else. If you need to adopt the role of a cook or care-giver, your partner should agree to it and focus on his own strengths. In the words of Sandberg: “if you want 50/50, ask for it”. The crux of the matter is that women can no longer be the sole caregiver or the default stay-at-home parent.
- Workplace benefits
HubSpot recently surveyed working moms. These are some of the things moms require at work in order to be more productive and manage their personal and professional life:
- They want to work from home when they want to.
- They need childcare facilities at work.
- They need more flexibility.
- They need a workplace that provides a safe, welcoming space for breastfeeding moms.
To read the complete article, visit Working Moms: The Difference Between Inclusivity and "Special Treatment".
Until women no longer face conflicts between work and family life, Sandberg says, “you should lean in. Keep your foot on the gas pedal. Because it turns out, if you do that, you might get promoted. You might make enough money to afford child care. You might have a more interesting job. You might get promoted to a level where there’s more flexibility.” So, lean in and start leading!
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