I was watching “Jeopardy” the other night and heard Alex Trebeck ask, “Have you ever just wanted to get away from it all?” It was the introduction for a contest that they are running, but it got me thinking about me and my sister working moms. I venture to say that many of us, Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer excluded, want to get away from it all, a lot!
A lot of us have failed to structure our lives in such a way that they are really working for us. Yes, we go to work, collect our paycheck and raise our children, without losing our minds. However, we feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and constantly pressed for time. We view weekends as our reward for a working hard all week and we drown our sorrows in wine and dark chocolate. Occasionally, we may even buy a lottery ticket as a way to dream about a different type of life. Our vacations give us a glimpse into what that life might be like.
We can live the type of lives that we choose to live.
What if instead of dreaming about a different type of life we committed to living that life now?
Elissa Straus published a piece in Salon magazine recently entitled, “I’m not Ambitious, and that’s OK”. In her piece she describes the plight of many working mothers who are not striving to be CFO of Facebook, work at the State Department or even ascend to the C-Suite at a small corporation. These working mothers work partly because they have to and partly because they want to. They make enough money to afford some simple luxuries, but they lack Sandberg’s resources that allow her to afford the type of childcare and household help that make it easy to “Lean In” without a second thought. Women who have found it too exhausting to lean in have often opted out, out of desperation and not by choice.
Straus says that there is a middle ground between leaning in and opting out. Her piece emphasizes that many working women are simply striving for balance. For some this looks like flexible work schedules, reduced workweeks, and the ability to clean their homes and parent their children without the stress of having to work a 40 hour workweek. For others, as I described in "Social Media an Alternative to Opting Out" this looks like working from home, turning social media into a career instead of merely a hobby.
I’ve written about how flexible work schedules is one way for working women to have it all a few times lately. I am not quite where Straus is, I still work full time and probably count myself in the ambitious category. Still, I am committed to helping all working mothers structure their lives in a way that works for them. So, instead of our dreaming about getting way from it all, we revel in our routines, have stress-free schedules, and have hassle-free housework. Nobody said that it would be easy. However, perhaps if we commit ourselves to living lives that we love, we might just get more love from our lives (and more sleep.
Wouldn’t that reality be even better than a dream?!