Can women really have it all? It’s time to get to the bottom of it all…

Can women really have it all

For some years now, it feels like women have been led to believe they can have it all  –  you know: a fulfilling career, children, a supportive relationship, and ultimately the holy grail of 360° fulfillment. I have to admit though – recently I have been skeptical of the idea that women can really have it all, compounded by the fact that earlier in the year former Editor in Chief of Vogue Magazine Alexandra Shulman ate her words and fessed up to the fact that women can’t have it all after all. Major uh oh.

So where does this leave us now? Can women really have it all? Or can’t we? To get to the bottom of it all, I have Charlotte Rogerson – life, career and confidence coach – to lay it down straight for us:

Do you agree with the former Editor in Chief of Vogue Magazine’s admission that in fact  “women can’t have it all”?

I love this question. The first thing women need to decide on is what ‘having it all’ means to them as individuals. We all have different beliefs and values around what’s important to us.

I can totally empathise with why she made that statement but it makes me incredibly sad when such a negative blanket statement gets put out to womankind. As editor of a leading fashion magazine and a single mother, I’m sure she felt enormous pressure but ultimately, I do believe women CAN have it all. I am not saying it’s easy or you don’t have to work hard to get the balance BUT if you’re living in your passion, whatever that may be, you can have it all.

In Alexandra’s statement, she said she ‘will now look forward to a different future’. Perhaps she is trying to find a way of having it all that does work for her because I do believe it is possible.

I like to put it a different way: you can have it all, you just can’t DO it all by yourself. Don’t feel you can’t ask for help and support.

Some people say that women thinking we can have it all is creating impossible standards for womankind – what are your thoughts on that?

I believe there is a perception placed on us by society of what having it all means. It’s not all about high-powered, work-all-hours careers that earn six-figure plus salaries. It’s about balance, doing what you love and being in control of your career.

For me, having it all means being able to work flexibly around my children. I get to choose my hours, I work as much or as little as I like and I can be around for my children.  It also means that I can look after myself by hitting the gym during the day or deciding to take an hour at 11am to have a coffee and read a couple of chapters of my book. I am in control.

Having it all means having choices. I don’t think a woman having choices is creating an impossible standard, it’s a necessity.

So how can women have professional fulfillment, be mothers, and be happy?

It starts with passion.

More often than not, we go back to the careers we had pre-children and it doesn’t have the same appeal to us. We aren’t in love with our jobs. We have long commutes, we feel torn between the office and home and we very rarely have time to ourselves. It’s stressful and we live a mediocre existence.

We have it drummed into us that we need to have skills. While skills are great to have, our strengths are often forgotten. Things like listening to people, being intuitive, helping others all tend to fall by the wayside and these strengths can create amazing careers. Or perhaps you are really creative but have been told in the past it will never make you any money so you went and got a ‘proper job’.

If we find out what our passion truly is, we can start to build a career around it. In this modern day and age, we have the whole world at our fingertips which makes it so much easier to build your own career.

If you’re living in your passion, you’re happy. If you’re happy, your children are happy. Happy parent =  happy kids.

You still need to get your work/life balance right but I know I would rather find the balance being happy in my passion than trying to achieve balance for my family in a job I resented or just pays the bills.

And what is getting in our way of having it all?

More often than not, it’s our own mindset.

We feed ourselves negative stories on why we can’t have it and we believe it. I’m calling that out, right here, right now.

You absolutely can have it all.

If you work on your mindset to think positively about yourself, you can achieve whatever you set out to do but you need to start believing in YOU. I’m not saying if you believe in yourself, it will all happen for you. You have to put the work in too but by opening up your mind to a positive way of thinking and functioning from a place of knowing you can do it, it is possible to live all your dreams.

Is having it all the same for everyone? Whatever happened to motherhood being a great enough achievement in itself?

No, it isn’t the same for everyone and that’s why the first step is to figure out what having it all means to you and own it, guilt-free.

Motherhood is the most amazing achievement and I’m in no way saying that if your calling is to be a mother, that isn’t enough. It absolutely is. Go and ROCK that motherhood title and I take my hat off to you. Being a mother is a challenging job and I often say that work is my break from the kids. It isn’t easy being a full-time mum and it takes a lot of hard work and patience.

However, I do think the majority of us have our children much later now. We have had 10+ years of building a career. We have created a work version of ourselves and I know I missed it after the first year of having my daughter. I didn’t miss the work I was doing but I missed who I was when I was working.

It used to be to a perception that men went out to work and women stayed at home with the children but perhaps women did feel frustrated years ago, they simply didn’t have the same opportunities as we have now.

What are your five top tips for having it all?

  1. Connect with yourself and find out who you truly are.

2. Gain clarity on what having it all means to you.

3. Engage a positive mindset to build confidence and believe in yourself.

4. Ask for help – from a partner, family member or an outsider. You don’t have to DO it all to HAVE it all.

5. Self-care – you must look after yourself to be the best version of you.

Anything else you’d like to add?

It isn’t a race; you can go as quickly or as slowly as YOU need to. Some people dive right in and others will set up a side-line business alongside their job. We are all different and you need to concentrate on what’s right for you.

Also, be kind to yourself and be kind to each other. We need to support each other and recognise that we are all in this together – empowered women, empower women.

If you would like to learn more about what having it all means to you, please download my FREE workbook here. It’s a great place to start.

Can women really have it all?

Charlotte is a life, career and confidence coach working primarily with mums who want to discover their dream business/career. She helps them reconnect with who they truly are, gain clarity on what they genuinely want to do and works with them to improve their confidence and mindset to achieve what they desire by living authentically. For more information see her website here and connect on Facebook and Instagram.

Picture credit: Designed by Freepik


  1. I’m trying to have it all, working, you going to university and trying to blog. All while being a mother and a partner. I get where the lady from Vogue was coming from. It is a struggle at time’s, women are always told what were meant to be doing. There’s so much pressure now a days to have it all, be it a working mum or a stay at home mum. Nothing ever seems good enough, and we’re always criticised with what we choose. Great read x

    • Hi,

      Thanks so much for your comment. It can certainly be a juggling act and I agree, there is a lot of pressure to ‘have it all’ which doesn’t necessarily fit in with our own belief system.

      I think the main thing is to figure out what having it all means to you as an individual. Once we are engaged with what truly lights us up, it really helps us focus on what makes us happy.

      Charlotte x

    • Hi Helen,

      Thank you for your comment. I am really pleased you enjoyed the Q&A’s I did with Talya.

      It’s so true, isn’t it? I think we can sometimes get caught up in feeling like we have to be supermum and do it all ourselves (another false truth put upon us) when actually, there is no shame in asking for help.

      I love the old proverb ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ for this very reason. Becoming a mother doesn’t mean you have to lose your identity. Sure, we change but we still have a right to be our own person and do what makes us happy. It is okay to get outside help, whether it is with our children or our business.

      Charlotte x

  2. The pressure put on women these days is unreal. And a lot of it has been because we’ve been told having it all means working and being a Mum. Often we don’t have much choice anyway as the majority of households need 2 salaries. Whilst I applaud women getting their rightful place in the world of work I can’t help but feel it was all far less simpler and less stressful in my parents day (she says while washing up with one hand, typing with the other, listening to a phonics homework and mentally writing tomorrow’s work to do list)

    • Hi Amy,

      Thank you for your comment.

      I agree, the world has evolved and there is so much more to consider now. Homework, housework, working – the list goes on forever.

      It isn’t always a choice when it comes to being a working mum or a stay at home mum but we can take small steps to understand what truly makes us happy and discover a career that gives us personal fulfilment.

      Charlotte x

  3. Great post! I can see the valid points from both sides. I think it’s important to know what having it all means as when each person defines that for themselves then they can truly have an answer. X

    • Hi Victoria,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I totally agree. By defining what makes us happy, we learn what ‘having it all’ means to us rather than having the term defined for us.

      Charlotte x

    • Hi Newcastle Family Life,

      I am pleased you found the Q&A’s an interesting read.

      You’re right, we have so much pressure on us which isn’t necessarily in line with our values. Therefore it is impossible to alleviate that pressure. Once we drill down into what truly makes us happy, we are able to let go of what we think we should be and live authentically as ourselves.

      Charlotte x

    • Hi Jenni,

      Thank you for your comment.

      It really is a struggle to get back in to work after having children. We go through a life-changing experience and then have to try and box ourselves back into a role that was from a previous life. I am not surprised to hear you have struggled.

      My advice would be to do some digging into yourself and get in touch with who you are, post children. What makes you happy? What lights you up? What is really important to you? Once you get to understand your core values, you will see other opportunities open up which are more in line with who you are now.

      Charlotte x

  4. I think I’m on my way to my ‘having it all’, having given up work to move countries. It wasn’t easy leaving a job I loved but I feel better for it now. I definitely agree that it’s different for everyone and we really shouldn’t compare ourselves to others as it puts unnecessary pressure on us.

    • Hi Cath,

      That’s wonderful to hear that you are on your way to ‘having it all’ and you have figured out what it means to you.

      It is different for everyone which is why we must try not to compare ourselves to others. We very often only see the ‘highlights’ from other peoples lives. If we constantly compare, we are striving for the impossible and heading for a life of feeling dissatisfied. That’s why it is important to get to know our core beliefs and build from there. If you are building from a place of what makes you truly happy, you can’t go wrong.

      Charlotte x

  5. I dont believe women can have it all. I was actually really happy to have someone in a position of power admit this. It made it ok for anyone who is struggling to breathe and realise they arent alone. I think there is far too much pressure on women now to ‘be’ something. We keep being told to believe in ourselves and we can do what we want if we believe hard enough. Well sometimes, actually we cant. Financial and family pressures can mean that we just have to do what we can. Now it seems its not acceptable to just be a mum you have to be seen to be doing so many other things. As a working mum – who works 48hours because my company dont offer flexi working – this means i struggle massively to give my all to both my home and work life. I think mums need to re asses what having it all it means, your right there. #coolmumclub

  6. Interesting questions. I’m not sure, I’ll have to ponder it further. I think it depends on perspective and whether you’re really able to figure out what ‘havng it all’ means to you. For me, looking at it on a general level, I work flexibly, I have time for hobbies and to spend with my family, I have a creative outlet and now, even a cleaner! I know I’m absolutely doing very well, and I’m grateful for everything I have, but there are still things I’d like to do that I don’t have time for – and that bothers me more some days than others. All about empowering women though, and striving to get everything you want <3 #coolmumclub

  7. Having it all doesn’t mean doing it all. It means being able to have what you want to have in your life. So I guess it means different things to different people – as most of the time it’s not about measuring yourself against others, it’s about defining yourself. Nice to have #coolmumclub back xx

  8. That line about not being in love with our before baby job anymore really resonate with me as I was a graphic designer and felt guilty about not wanting to go back into that field again. luckily for me I’ve found that I love writing and blogging but it took many frustrating years to discover that new passion. My theory is that we have different seasons in our lives and it takes patience to move through those that we struggle with, in particular the at-times soul destroying work of raising children. Some women just are not very maternal, others value their independence, it’s different for all of us. Maybe having it ALL is learning to be content with what you HAVE?

  9. I’m not sure we can or should want to! I think there’s an idea that we can and while it may be possible we can often find ourselves stretched and shattered by the amount of things we are juggling to prove to ourselves that we can be everything to everyone. Priorities change as we get older and have children. What would mean happiness at one stage in your life is different at a later date. #coolmumclub x

  10. I wrote a similar post last year and I love your 5 top tips; spot on. Personally, I don’t think woman or men can have it all but as you say, what all do we mean? Well I mean full career, happy household, partner and children. Not without lots of help around the house or with childcare. I’m glad I have the choice though as I know my grandmother didn’t. Thanks -good post. #coolmumclub

  11. A really interesting read. I touched on this in a recent post and questioned whether sahm life was having it all or doing it all – I guess she’s right, and I am happiest when I do get help and support, and time to indulge in the things I’m passionate about.

    Wonderful start to #coolmumclub 2018! xx

  12. I think you can have it all, you just need to decide what it is you REALLY want. I don’t want the career thing, I do want to have some time though, time for myself, time with my boy, so I make sure those things happen. #CoolMumClub

  13. This was really interesting. I think it’s right to consider what “having it all means to each individual”. I’ve never had a great desire to be a high flying career woman. I have a little part time job, my blog and my kids and I can genuinely say I’m very happy with that #CoolMumClub

  14. Such an interesting read. I agree, I think you have to define what it is you want. My career is definitely taking a backseat at the moment, I’m just muddling through, but I’m ok with that. #coolmumclub

  15. Great thought provoking piece. I went back to work after having my son and in to a different job to the one I was passionate about pre-maternity leave. I really don’t like what I do but I am trapped because it is a quick commute and the hours are flexible – in that respect they knew I wasn’t going to argue. I think you are also slightly vulnerable returning from being off and I would probably argue that decision now. The situation I found myself in made me re-assess what “having it all” meant. You see my passion has been transferred to my son and family life. I believe that as you go through life-changing stages in your life the definition of “having it all” will differ. I for one am going to embrace it and look forward to the journey. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. #COOLMUMCLUB

  16. I think women can have it all, though it is bloody hard work and you have to be on the ball to keep it all balanced X #coolmumclub

  17. Why do we even feel we should ‘have it all’? It’s nonsense, everybody’s idea of the ideal is different because our situations and personalities are not the same #coolmumclub

  18. I love this Talya – especially the fact that you can have it all but you don’t have to do it all – it’s OK to ask for help. And the fact that we change and we realise after kids that we might not be loving the career we were in before. It’s all possible though – very inspiring. #coolmumclub

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