True Stories: Is it possible for a woman to have both a family and a career?

Now is a great time to be alive and a woman! More than ever, women can now pursue more career options and be successful in their chosen fields. However, the cultural expectation and pressure to stay home and put their families first and above all else still exist. Is it actually possible to have the best of both worlds? Can you have both a family and a career? We asked nine women to share their thoughts, experiences, and tips for achieving that delicate balance act.

Rosa

Rosa

Rosa Lapeña Concepcion, foreign exchange trader/violinist (married, with one child)

I believe having a family and career is possible but constant communication, humility, and teamwork are required. When you are a man with a wife and children, society does not question whether having both a family and career is possible. You're expected to provide for your family through your career, and at the same time be a good husband and father. However, when you are a wife and a mother, people question whether you can raise children and build a career at the same time! This interview is proof of that. Many people still believe that the woman's place is at home, and so when a mother decides to work, they think that home life will suffer. But this does not have to be the case, because the family is a TEAM. The woman does not have to be the sole child-rearer, just as the man does not have to be the sole breadwinner. Thus, both the husband and wife can have careers if both are also active participants in running the household.

In my case, I am so fortunate to be married to a man who is even better than I am at domestic matters, especially cooking! He has always been supportive of my decision to work. We delayed having children for more than a year because we wanted to ensure that we were first both settled in our jobs. While expecting our first child, we decided that I will keep on working after giving birth. It’s difficult but I know that I can fully depend on the support of my husband. We will take care of ourselves, each other, and our son together, and of course we will have help from our relatives and friends. I do believe that it takes a village to raise a child, and also that no man (or woman) is an island.

Crickette

Crickette

Crickette Inserto, dentist

Of course it is possible. I’ve seen my parents do it. I grew up seeing my mom working full time, managing the house, and even having time to volunteer as parent representative when we were in school. Now, I also see it with my mom friends. Of course it's all about the makeup of the person as well because I see some struggling to cope. But that I see people breaking boundaries is proof that it can be done.

As for having kids, I’ve always believed that I was meant to be a mother but sadly I am reproductively challenged. I don't know if I will have the chance but I do want to be a mother because, as I always say, sayang naman all the work that I've been doing if it's just for me. I don't think that the sum total of a woman's life should include motherhood but I'd love the chance. If not, my nieces and nephews will have an overeager tita!

Bianca Camille Lopez, soprano (single)

Someone once told me, nowadays it’s not about work life-balance. It’s about work-life integration, and I agree. It’s not about getting things done in the least possible amount of time but choosing which tasks are the most meaningful ones and the most worthy of your time. You can have both but there are sacrifices to be made. You must decide which activities are important, be it about family or career.

Tana and Cara (photo credit: Happy Fingers Photography)

Tana and Cara (photo credit: Happy Fingers Photography)

Tana Tan, stay-at-home mom (married, with two children)

For me it was a difficult realization that it isn't possible to have both at the same time while my kids are small. I tried juggling working and home/child management but I did not have anyone who can cover for me while I am away and watch the kids (yaya problems, no nearby relatives, etc). So I had to make that choice to stay with them for now. It's very isolating and I needed an outlet, so I started an IG shop. At least it's from home, I control my time and I don't need to be away from the kids.

Cara Manglapus, jazz singer (engaged, with one child)

It's a tricky question to answer but I'd say it's possible to have both depending on a number of factors, such as field of work and how much help you have. As a freelancer, it is possible to have both in my particular case because I can choose when to work. This is a privilege I thank my fiancé for everyday because he has stepped up to the plate by being our family provider, so my career is more of a personal ambition and to have personal fulfillment. At the moment I am mostly a stay-at-home mom because our daughter is less than a year old and is 100% breastfed and I believe that no one can nurture a child's development like a parent, but I do get to take certain work opportunities now and then. I have every intention of fully going back to work eventually so that I can be a strong, independent role model for my kids.

Andrea and Fleur

Andrea and Fleur

Andrea Monica Gonzales, lawyer (single)

It's possible. I see many lady lawyers doing it and even slaying at it. However, I've learned from observing them that having "work-life balance” does NOT mean doing everything all at the same time. It means being wise enough to know what to prioritize at a particular instance. There are things that you need to say no to in order to make way for more important things. Also, it means being prepared to make up for the things that you set aside in the meantime. In short, it takes a lot of work and decision-making so you have to know your values so you can set your priorities.

Fleur Rubio-Sombrero, engineer and blogger (married, with one child)

Gone are the days when women need to choose between having a career and raising a family. She can definitely do both! I have been in the corporate world ever since my daughter was born six years ago but no one can ever say that I am not doing a good job being her mother. I get to bathe her, teach her homework, help her in her school projects, prepare her daily baon for school, and spend quality time together everyday. We go out on mother daughter dates. I am always with her whenever she's sick. I am there in almost every celebration and milestone so far. I do that all in between meetings, client calls, ManCom reports, site visits and managing a 40-man staff. Prioritizing and time management are the key.

Author Annabel Crabb once said, "The obligation for working mothers is a very precise one: the feeling that one ought to work as if one did not have children while raising one's children as if one did not a job." I am not saying that it is easy - it's not but it's very doable. The rewarding feeling for each role is very different. Working moms just need to prioritize, do time management, get help from her spouse or family members, and have a bottle of wine in the fridge. Haha!

Martha Sta. Barbara, entrepreneur and blogger (engaged)

Old adage says you can only focus on one but it's possible to have both. After all, both are important aspects of an individual's life so why choose only one? Balance is key. Set aside a day and time for work and for family. But career can easily eat up family time so one has to learn to say no to work. At the end of the day, there will always be more work to be done but your children will only be young once and your husband, family, and friends won't be there forever.

Vivian Tan-dela Cruz, lawyer and blogger (married, with two children)

Of course you can have both but your love for one will never be equal to the other. No matter how you look at it, while you can have it all, priorities will be set. In my case, I put more value in my family life than in my career. My family will always come first, and they know this. On the other hand, my family also knows how important my career is to me. It means the world to me that my family understands and respects what an important aspect of my life my career is.

So I say yes – yes, you can “have it all” as a woman with a family and a career. Balance and compromise is key. And I mean balance and compromise within yourself. You have to learn to maintain that delicate balance of attention that you need to allocate for your family on one side and your career on the other. You also have to learn to compromise with yourself, and not feel guilty about it. There will be times when one will need to take a back seat to the other simply because the circumstances call for it. It doesn’t speak of what you value more. It is just a matter of owning your identity as a working mother/wife/daughter/sister. I am truly blessed that my family has my back when they know I need to concentrate more on work, and I am doubly blessed that I belong in a work organization that also recognizes and celebrates the importance of family.


Do you think it's possible to balance both? And if you have both career and family, what are your tips for making it work? Share with us in the comments below!

Header image by Cristina Mandara