Global Leadership Speaker and Premier Work-Life Balance Speaker
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How do you do all of that AND raise a family? Argh! All About Balance Part V

I used to hate it when editors would have me ask women of power the question, “How do you do all of this and raise a family?” I thought the question was insulting, especially since I was never told to ask it of men. But, after talking with so many women who are trying to do it all, that remains the question. How do women do such extraordinary things without letting their home lives fall apart?

I speak to women at companies and organizations all over the country and I hear so much anxiety over this one issue. The guilt they feel over having to travel or work late or miss events is depleting, consuming and powerful. They feel like they are missing so much. Like their children will resent them. Like others will judge them. Like they are doing things all wrong.

I am constantly asked about balance issues. The reality is that there is no issue of balance. It’s all about imbalance. It’s about making the imbalance work so you succeed professionally, raising children who are not juvenile delinquents — and not losing your mind in the process.
Women always are running to keep up with the demands. Despite their efforts to do it all, they are tortured by guilt because, let’s face it: They can never do enough.

Is it selfish to want a career? Is it selfish to want to be with your children? Is it selfish to want ten minutes to yourself? Is it selfish to want a little bit of everything?

So many of the young mothers I meet describe a frenetic cadence they have to sustain as parents and professionals. I just flew back from a speech in Chicago and was almost mowed down at the newsstand counter by a woman who pleaded with the clerk, “Where is there a store that sells children’s toys?” I hear about that so much – that when a woman leaves town for work, the guilt is so immense that she has to desperately find something to bring back in her suitcase.

Do men feel as guilty? Are they compelled to do that?
I recently interviewed more than 50 of the most successful women in American business. Nearly two thirds of the women who are mothers have husbands who are stay-at-home dads. Nationally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that just one in five fathers are stay-at-home dads, so these numbers of senior executive women with Mr. Mom at home are startling.

What does it mean when these senior women choose this option? Does it prove that the old model was right? That the senior executive needs someone at home running the household and taking care of the kids in order to make everything work?

I think that it suggests that running a household and raising a family are such demanding challenges that every parent needs all the help she or he can get. And that those who make it to senior leadership are in a better position to pay for that option because they have the bigger paychecks.

What would happen to those national statistics if every family could afford financially to choose that option? Senior leadership is a demanding world, but is it any more demanding than a world where a woman works two back-breaking jobs to meet her family’s bills? I think there are a lot of women who would just love to have that kind of support at home.

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