Q. I am part of a networking group of professional parents that talk quite a bit about "having it all." I have three small children, a demanding job and a good marriage. I don't want to be a pessimist, but I see no way to juggle all three roles perfectly at the same time. Am I missing some trick, technique or tools?
A. No, you are actually getting mature enough to find out that you can have it all. You just can't have it all at the same time.
People who say they have it all are not telling the truth that they also have nannies, amazing personal assistants, and a level of affluence where they can hire help for all nonessentials (cleaning house, grocery shopping, errands, etc.). Regular people just can't compare themselves to these people and believe it is a fair comparison.
Realize that it is a gift to have people who love you dearly in your personal life and people who cherish what you do at work. You will only enjoy these gifts if you can put yourself in charge of choosing what will get the short end of the stick today.
Sometimes you will find that fate chooses for you. You have an important meeting and your kid needs to go to the emergency room -- sigh -- your work will wait. On the other hand, you have promised to take your kid to a birthday party and your biggest client threatens to quit -- sigh -- your kid will be going with a friend or your spouse.
Going through the stress, chaos and unpredictability of keeping marriage, kids and work afloat will be immeasurably easier if you don't secretly believe there are other more clever people who have it all -- and then relax at 6 p.m. in the smug contemplation of their perfect lives.
Feel free to program your Daytimer, Blackberry or other scheduling tool at the beginning of your week, but expect that all week long every day you'll be adjusting that schedule to fit the unexpected demands that emerge between alarm clock and bedtime.
For some perspective, consider that if you live long enough, you will see life shrink down to slow, simple tasks. Look back at where you are now and realize you may even miss the echo of small voices, the challenge of your latest work assignments, and the stolen moments with your spouse.
The last word(s)
Q. I've got a job offer I think I'll hate but the pay is exceptional. People always joke about how he who dies with the most toys wins. Is there a way to weigh out money vs. quality of life?
A. Yes, he who dies with the most toys is still dead, with no ability to enjoy said toys. Ask yourself if the amount of money you'll make is worth putting your life on hold for the length of time you'll have that job.
(Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at http://www.interpersonaledge.com or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.)
Have it all -- just not at the same time!
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