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Ah, the question we love to hate. And yet, the question captivates us because it gets to the fundamental conflict that most of us have in wanting lots of things! Me time, baby time, partner time, alone time, friend time, gym time… the list never ends.

There are so many different versions of how to be a working mom, but no newsletter, book or article could ever do justice to the diversity of how different women find balance in their lives. The closest thing we’ve ever seen is the “The Balance Project,” which is a compendium of interviews of inspiring women put together by author Susie Orman Schnall (who wrote a great novel by the same name).

Susie’s online interview series features a variety of women in different industries (many of them moms) talking about balance and how they achieve it. She asks each of them the following question: “Do you think ‘having ‘it all’ is realistic or impossible, and why?”

We’ve read many of these interviews and are featuring a handful of the answers that jumped out at us. 

“I think having ‘it all’ is realistic when you think about this in the context of your entire life, not a moment, day, week or even, sometimes a year in your life. I also believe that ‘having it all’ is how you, individually, define that.”

— Jillian Griffiths, COO of Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (Private Equity firm)

“I think you can have it ‘all’ if you take a long-term view. No, you can’t have it all in a 24-hour period, but if you ease up on yourself in the short term and focus on a few things at a time, I do believe that you can have it all in the long run.”

— Randi Zuckerberg, Entrepreneur, TV/Radio Host 

“I don’t know what having ‘it all’ means. I imagine it’s different for everyone. I think what’s important for us to remember especially as women is to make ourselves a priority too, (gulp). Yes...oxygen mask goes on mom first then the kids for a reason. Pursue what you love and focus on being present and grateful in each moment including during all the delicious chaos that ensues when you are the mother of small children."

— Sara Blakely, Founder of SPANX

“I just think that ‘it all’ has different definitions for everyone. I think people need to figure out what’s non-negotiable and then let a lot of other things fall away.”

— Lindsey Mead, Executive Recruiter

“I think the definition of ‘having it all’ varies dramatically from person to person, and therefore your happiness or definition of success shouldn’t be based on comparing your life to some[one] else’s and ultimately feeling ‘less than.’ If you set realistic expectations and search for a life full of gratitude, then I believe you can feel like you have it all every single day, even if your ultimate goals or dreams haven’t yet been achieved. And don’t allow guilt to enter into the equation - it’s unproductive.”

— Jennifer Berson, Founder and President of JenerationPR

Ultimately, it seems while everyone feels differently about it, many seem to believe that taking a longer-term view is important. Another theme that runs through the answers in The Balance project is around self-care. How to take care of yourself when you’re taking care of your family and your job at the same time is definitely a challenge.

However, there are some very practical tips and shortcuts! We share some next week, when we focus on tips and shortcuts to help you make time for yourself.

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