How busy parents really can ‘have it all’

But it’s not for the faint-hearted!

First, let’s expose some parenting myths.

They dog us all the time, don’t they? They pick us up by the scruff of our neck and dangle us in front of an imaginary blackboard. On it are the sacred myths of parentdom like:

  1. You just can’t have it all!  You have to choose between a successful career and fulfilling parenthood.
  2. You’ll never survive the guilt of working while your kids are with someone else.
  3. Once you’ve got kids, you’ll have to park your life at the door!
  4. You’ll be haunted by a snobbish voice saying “Your success has to equal MY success. MY expectations define who you are.”
  5. You’re lazy if you don’t:
    a) Work
    b ) Provide stimulating, educational activities for your kids all day, every day.

But, wait a minute! I suffered really bad PND after having my first child and didn’t have an ounce of energy for anything but gritted-teeth existence. I marked off my days in 15 minute chunks simply in order to survive. I certainly wouldn’t have scored very highly on number five then, would I?

And guilt? Well, I was once told that guilt is part of a parent’s job-description. That helped a bit, kind of. But carrying guilt over something you’ve consciously chosen to do, with your children’s best interests at heart, is unhelpful for both you and the kids.

What’s more, guilt over what you can’t do is just a dead weight round your neck. Let it go. If you can’t craft paper flowers to cover your entire dining room, or provide endless simultaneous equations for your 12-year old to practise whilst he’s standing on his head, don’t worry.  You can’t do ‘it. Move on. ‘Nuff said.

So, what can you do?

Define what ‘having it all’ means for you

It’s not the same for everyone. If we think it means having a job and being a great mum or dad, well OK. But does that mean having a full-time job and being a full-time parent (as it appears to be in some people’s minds)? Or does it mean an unequal division of both options, according to your circumstances and personal values? What really is our measure of success?

  • A good job?
  • Financial security?
  • Excelling in one of our key strengths?
  • Having loving relationships?
  • Bringing up healthy and happy children?

Shouldn’t we just choose what we want, what we value most, then pursue that and forget what everyone else says?  After all, it’s our life. We don’t want to reach the end of it only to realise we’ve been measuring its success by somebody else’s yardstick, and not our own.

“Don’t waste your life trying to impress people. Do what you love. Love what you do.”

So, do you really want it all?

De-construct your idea of success

“A simple life is not seeing how little we can get by with—that’s poverty—but how efficiently we can put first things first. . . . When you’re clear about your purpose and your priorities, you can painlessly discard whatever does not support these, whether it’s clutter in your cabinets or commitments on your calendar. (148)”
Victoria Moran, Lit From Within: Tending Your Soul For Lifelong Beauty

What does success look like for you? What do you value most? Love, time, money, integrity, fun, adventure? Take some time to think about (and even write down) just what it is that means the most to you. What could you honestly NOT do without in your life? Take a look at this to get your juices flowing

Now ask yourself how going to work supports your value of ‘x’, ‘y’ and ‘z’. Then ask how staying at home supports each of those values too.

Finally, prioritise your values so that you know exactly which are the most important to you and then. RELAX. Knowing you are now armed with the essential information you need to divide your time and energy so that you can, indeed, have your all.

A little extra

If you’d like some practical tips on surviving working at home with kids, this article may help:



To read more about the importance of values, how you can discover yours and how they enable you to parent more effectively, see my book, ‘Unlock the Cage

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