We all wish we could have 48 hours in one day so we could spend it working, taking care of the family, cleaning the house and still having time to binge Netflix. We all have those long to-do lists, and we all ask the big question: How do we do it all?
Then we see those women that have the big careers, their happy families, the perfect body and somehow seem to be always smiling. These women are the examples that big movements often use to tell us that we can have it all, and not only can have it, but should want to have it. We feel pressure to be the perfect woman, and inside we are struggling with feeling like we will never get there.
As someone who loves women's movements, I want to come out and say that we shouldn't succumb to this pressure that we need to "have it all." We all need to find our own path and not seek to have what other people want for us.
So many movements say women can or can't have it all. We've all heard that if you are a true woman, you should be able to be more and do more. However, we don't often talk about how we actually feel about the whole situation. Most women want to be there for their children. They want to see them grow up, to answer their questions and to teach them. Most women don't spend time with their children because of guilt or tradition, but because they enjoy doing it.
Deciding between a career and family is a hard decision because we don't really allow room to decide either way. We just tell women they are failing.
We should instead work to build women. We need to tell them their feelings are valid whether they want to work or stay at home. Women can't have it all because we don't validate their feelings. We tell them they aren't good enough even if they are doing it all. We need to be understanding of the sacrifices women are making, rather than tearing them down.
Schools used to work around the main job, farming. Children would be given breaks in planting and picking seasons. Schools worked with the parents careers. Now schools, sports and tutoring demand not only your child's time but also yours, meaning your child's schedule is not matching up with yours.
Many women only look for part-time jobs so they can be there for their children. Or they turn down job opportunities because the schedules aren't flexible. We need to change the "default rules" of when and where work should be.
We have built society to think the more time you spend at work, the better worker you are. The Atlantic explained, "To many men, however, the choice to spend more time with their children, instead of working long hours on issues that affect many lives, seems selfish." This limits many women in the professional world because not only do they want to be there for their children, they believe it's important to be there to raise the next generation.
Here's a reality check: Men are praised for sacrificing family time for more time in the office, while women are always criticized if they spend too much time at work or too much time at home. This means that most women's lack of advancement in their careers are not caused by lack of ambition.
Most women are ambitious; they are trying to do more than just having one job. They want to advance, but they are trying to overcome criticism, work full-time and have a family; they are ambitiously trying to have it all. And unfortunately, our society does not recognize this.
If more women were leaders, they could make it easier for women in the workforce. Regrettably, most women haven't been able to break into leadership positions because of society's mindset.
You know your limits and your children's limits. Don't be afraid to cut back, but don't be afraid to add more. Mostly, don't be afraid to make choices that are right for you. Know what you need to do, and don't let others dictate your decisions.
2. Build other women
If we help each other, we will be able to build a society where we can have it all. Don't criticize the women who choose to be at home or the ones who choose to work full-time.
3. Love your family
Your family understands you more than anyone else and will be your biggest support system.
Families are important and we shouldn't let the world take our families away from us, but we also shouldn't feel like the only contributions we have to offer are for our families. We can make a difference if we have help from and give help to others to build up the foundation where women stand.
Christa is a part time photographer, part time writer and full time lover of life. She loves eating chocolate chip cookies and singing (but not at the same time). She has her degree in political science.