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I Am Not Superwoman

by Kimberly on November 30, 2011 · 13 comments

One of the most common questions I get is “Kimberly…how do you juggle it all?”

There’s a certain part of me that puffs with pride when I hear this. It’s true–I’m a working mother of two, a wife, and a career woman who just decided to go back to school full-time for a PhD. There’s a lot to balance and a lot to juggle.

But if I were to be brutally honest? If I were to share with you the absolute ugly truth?

I don’t juggle it all. I am not superwoman.

I can share the ugly truth with you now as I sit here, 9:51 pm, typing away at this blog post, snifling from my recently-acquired cold, and drinking a glass of sauvignon blanc (not great for the cold…perfect for the spirit).

The ugly truth is that I don’t juggle it all. But I’m learning and have 5 ideas and tips to share with you that I will help.

  1. It’s a family affair. When I get hooded and am officially Dr. Sena Moore, it won’t be just for me, but it will be for my entire family. Even though they aren’t the ones taking the classes and doing the research, they are the ones who are working around my late night classes and having to work on weekends. They are making sacrifices so that I can work towards my goal. Your career choices aren’t personal prerogatives–they are family affairs.
  2. Sometimes “good enough” is okay. There are hundreds of little decisions that go into creating a day and sometimes you have to let go to make it all happen. You have to not worry about doing the dishes that night and not try to edit that paper one more time. You have to be okay with not doing all the cool business ventures your friends doing or with having a slightly messy house. It’s easier said than done…but you have to let go of “perfect.”
  3. It’s true! Raising children does takes a village. Sometimes your village includes a daycare, sometimes it includes grandparents, and sometimes it includes neighborhood friends. No matter what your village looks like, there is absolutely no way you can do it alone. Even today, in preparing for my son’s first piano recital, I asked one of the grandparents to bring the cookies every family contributes for the reception because I don’t have the time. It takes a village.
  4. You need breaks. You need breaks not only to allow time for yourself to rest and rejuvenate, but also to reconnect with your loved ones. There is always work to do and the work will always be there, but it sometimes needs to go away–even if just for an hour or two–so that you can refocus YOU and your energy on yourself or your loved ones.
  5. You need to say no. This is by far the hardest for me to do. I like to say yes, not necessarily because I’m a people-pleaser, but because I enjoy challenges and I take pride in being asked. But part of the “juggle” is to know your limits and to know when to say “no.” But, boy!, is that hard…

If you have any other thoughts, insights, or suggestions about the juggle of life, please let us know by leaving a comment in the field below.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle Erfurt November 30, 2011 at 10:24 pm

I’m nodding my head in agreement. Maybe this is resonating with me because I’m going through the same thing of juggling and managing my life and work. (So much so that the words ‘juggle’ and ‘balance’ are my least favorite words at the moment!) Thanks for the great post.
Michelle Erfurt´s last blog post ..Finding Music Therapy Work: Part 1

Justine November 30, 2011 at 11:41 pm

Yes, yes, and YES! Juggling work, school, and family is incredibly hard at times. I’m thankful the school part was over before my son was born. As for “perfection”, yes, that for me is very hard to let go. My own mother decided to stop working when my brother was born, so throughout my adolescence I was shown a model of motherhood that included the dishes and laundry being done, the house picked up, and the food prepared hot ever night. A model I now must admit that I have tried to follow without much success. 🙂 I think this post will resonate with a great majority of us who are working to balance career and family. Thank you for sharing!

Stephanie Bolton, MA, MT-BC December 1, 2011 at 8:25 am

Thank you for writing this! We should start a “Recovering Superwomen” support group! I think this is an issue almost all women deal with– the work/life balance. It’s great to know I’m not the only one building a private practice while doing dishes and laundry between phone calls and e-mails. 😉

Natasha Thomas December 1, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Amen to all of the above! Thanks for your sharing, Kimberly! Both my parents got graduate degrees while raising my sisters and I and I remember it was indeed a big day when they graduated, not just for them but for us as a family. Taught me that I can do anything and everything I set my mind to (though it doesn’t necessarily mean I always *should* – ha!) Good on you, my friend 🙂

Kimberly December 1, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Thank you all for your supportive comments! I was thinking, as I’m reading your writings, that we tend to be female-centric in this matter (which makes sense given that music therapy is a predominantly female!). I wonder, though…do my male reader friends agree? Do you go through the same challenges and struggles as we do? Please let us know! ~Kimberly

JoAnn Jordan December 1, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Amen to your points! I think my husband would agree – none of us can be super human. He got his doctorate while our daughter was 2-3. It was a family effort. I elect to contract fewer hours these days as our daughter is now a high schooler, involved in lots of extra curricular activities, and needing shuttled around town. Our life is not for everyone. Learning to say no and taking breaks are things I wish we had discussed back in school.
JoAnn Jordan´s last blog post ..Musical Ingredient for a Open Face Sandwich

Daniel Tague December 1, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Hi Kimberly!

As you know, I can definitely relate! You are exactly right about it being a juggling act. And is seems like just as you get into a groove, something changes – either class schedule or needing to start potty training! 🙂 I am not sure how you have managed to do it so far, but there have been a few other trailblazers before you; moms who have gone back to graduate school. I think you may have already talked to some of the MTs in this situation, but, if not, I would suggest seeking them out and asking them how the heck they did it!

My experience is slightly different, and maybe crazier and stressful in different ways. As the breadwinner, it was a very difficult decision to give up a job and go back to school with a one year old in tow. We were determined to have one of us home for our daughter in the early years and we were able to do that until this year. Now we both work a little and our little one (who is growing like a tree!) is now in a couple days of pre-school. By this third year of grad school we are better at managing expectations and we give ourselves lots of breaks! Just like you said, sometimes the dusting or laundry does not get done right away. We prefer to spend a lot of time with our precious little one and leave the rest for later. And don’t feel alone in being behind the trends. I don’t have the latest gadgets and I am very careful about taking on extra projects. My one piece of advice is to focus like a laser beam on school and get it done in the 3 years. That will be the best thing for your family I think. Good luck and hang in there!

-Daniel
Daniel Tague´s last blog post ..Fox News Spotlights Mozart During Colonoscopy

Bonnie Hayhurst December 2, 2011 at 11:53 am

Kimberly,
With the hubbub of the holidays and the propensity I have for juggling, this is exactly what I needed to hear. Although the things I juggle are quite different, the message is the same. I think you for your honesty and candor. Thank you for the reminders of #2 and #5 especially! Continued success to you in your PhD and feel better! =)

Kimberly December 2, 2011 at 12:39 pm

@Bonnie You are right! We all juggle things–it’s just that the “what” of what we juggle looks a little different person to person 🙂 @Daniel Thank you for your input! I can only imagine what a huge sacrifice it was for your family to make the PhD jump–I’m definitely in a different situation there. Thank you for sharing your insights and experience. And *cheers* to a 3-year PhD 🙂 ~Kimberly

Matt Logan December 5, 2011 at 11:32 am

I am responding to the call for a male perspective, because alas, I am not Superwoman either. I am in a different situation, in that I do not have kids. However, I find myself balancing between a number of different projects and roles. I have 2 businesses, a band, a house full of fraternity men (I’m a house director), and grad classes to manage. You are spot on about the little decisions we have to make every day, and that sometimes means being ok with less than perfect. That was difficult for me to accept at first, but became necessary for my health and sanity.

One thing I would add is time management strategies. When it seems I have more to do than time will allow, I use a stop watch or a task timer app to break out the time spent on each task. If I give myself 15 minutes to do a task, I’m less likely to dilly dally and I really focus in. When that time is up, I have to move on. I even ‘budget’ in breaks for snacks, twitter, phone calls, etc. When I operate this way, I surprise myself with how much I can get done. The downside is that it can seem a little overwhelming and OCD when an entire day, from 6am to 11pm, is booked down to the minute. Sometimes that is what it takes, though.

Great post, thanks for sharing!
Matt Logan´s last blog post ..3 Ways to Keep Your Guitar Happy This Winter

Kimberly December 7, 2011 at 6:35 pm

@Matt I LOVE your suggestion about time management strategies–it’s so true! Thank you for sharing your “time budget” techniques 🙂 Kimberly

Kymberly Tindall December 9, 2011 at 11:20 am

Hi Kimberly,

Thanks for the post. I especially resonate with the “Good Enough” point. Getting caught up in perfection often gets us caught up in not getting anywhere. It’s good to be reminded that I could be missing out on so many things if I need to be perfect.

Oh, and I think you are pretty close to Superwoman.

Thanks again for the great thoughts!

Kimberly December 13, 2011 at 10:30 am

LOL! Thank you, Kymberly. Perhaps I need to add a pink cape to my Christmas wishlist? 😉 ~Kimberly

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