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Five famous female leaders on balancing work and time spent with family

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Another mother who has been frank about her work-life struggle is PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi who has two daughters.

“I don’t think women can have it all,” she said. “We pretend we can have it all. Every day you have to make a decision about whether you are going to be a wife or a mother, in fact many times during the day you have to make those decisions. And you have to co-opt a lot of people to help you. We co-opted our families to help us. We plan our lives meticulously so we can be decent parents. But if you ask our daughters, I’m not sure they will say that I’ve been a good mom. I’m not sure. And I try all kinds of coping mechanisms.”

Here’s a video of the entirety of her speech:

Spanx founder Sara Blakely said her work-life balance “was a mess” during the first year and a half of motherhood.

“I was really struggling with it because it just arrives in your life,” she said. “You haven’t been training for it.”

Blakely suggested that the experience taught her how to prioritise her time and delegate. “I block off chunks of my day that are dedicated to being a mom and chunks of my day that are dedicated to work,” she said. “And that has really calmed my thinking down and made me feel less anxious.”

The biggest challenge, she said in an Elizabeth Street interview, was learning to balance everything. She went from having one full-time job to having two and had to learn how to be successful at both.

“Im more effective when I compartmentalise my day, so when Im with my son, Im focused on my son, and when Im at work, Im focused on work,” she said. “My motto is: think, prioritise, delegate, and let go. And when mapping out your schedule, always include alone time for yourself! At home, my husband and I have a strict ‘no iPhones allowed at the table or in the bedroom’ rule. It lets us focus on each other and leave the stress of the day outside.”?

When it comes to Carolyn Everson, Facebooks vice president of global marketing solutions, she sits down and looks at her calendar each quarter, whereby there will usually be extensive travel involved.

“Well sit as a family then and Ill say, ‘Here are the places I need to go for work.’ Ill bring my family on at least one trip per quarter. This symbolically sends a very important message to my family that theyre a part of that and that if I leave for ten days, Im not going to leave for ten days without them.

My advice to any of the young women who are thinking about having kids or are pregnant is figure out whats important to you. If being at a doctors appointment is important to you, then go. If seeing your kids in the morning is critical, then just come in late. Dont be intimated about making decisions to make it work because I think you just have to do it. No one will tell you, Heres the path. You have to decide on your own what the path is and have confidence in your performance at work that you can make those choices.”

She’s also a large advocate of not looking at the world as men versus women. Everyone has just as much right as everyone else to have a voice, to think about career progression, to go home and be there for their family, including men, she said.

Everson suggested that one of the best things we could have happen is not that companies would think about programs to help women have a better work environment, but to think about women and men. Theres no reason why any father who wants to be present shouldnt feel 100 per cent comfortable doing it.

“We have to look at it as a society, and that will help the whole cause,” she said. “We focus so much on women, women, women. Lets make this a societal conversation.”

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