For the past 30 years, America has done a super job convincing women to postpone marriage and family as long as possible and to prioritize education and career instead.
This plan, they were told, is better than the way their mothers did things since women will be financially sound and will thus never have to depend on a man.
The plan backfired.
For one thing, Millennial women are up to their eyeballs in debt from having borrowed money they don’t have in order to get degrees many don’t even use. Even those who do use their degrees are often unhappy. Why? Because rather than make their professional goals one part of a whole life, they threw all their eggs in that one basket.
As the years go by and the novelty wears off, many women find that what they really want is a family. But they’ve been so conditioned to believe marriage and motherhood constitute a lesser life that they don’t dare admit this desire. I can’t tell you the number of single women who tell me they’d give up their career in a hot second for a husband and kids.
Women have been so conditioned to believe marriage and motherhood constitute a lesser life that they don’t dare admit this desire.
This is not to suggest that’s the answer. According to Pew Research, the vast majority of women, once they become mothers, want to work part-time or not at all. Of the 67% in this group, a full 47% choose to work part-time, around the needs of their families. Given these statistics, what women need is proper guidance in order to make this happen.
Here are four tips for how young women can map out a balanced life:
1. Think Long Term and Plan Accordingly
College is the perfect time to start thinking about your life long-term. What do you want it to look like in 10, 15, 20 years? Think about that rather than just about what interests you right now. Your life and your interests will change over time. And while you can't overturn every stone, you can be smart and think ahead about what you want your day-to-day to look like between the ages of, say, 30-50.
Think ahead about what you want your day-to-day to look like between the ages of, say, 30-50.
2. Choose a Career That Offers Flexibility
Choose a degree you can do something with and that you can move in and out of over the course of your life to accommodate not just the needs of your family but your own desire to take care of your children. The reason women still dominate fields such as nursing and teaching is because those careers allow women to have a family and a life. There are also part-time options today in fields such as law and medicine.
3. Plan To Live Near Your Family When the Time Comes
Something many women don't consider, often until it's too late, is how important it will be to live near family when they become mothers. Grandparents make great babysitters, and the bond that's established between them and your children has lifelong benefits. And it makes the mothering experience a thousand times easier and, thus, more enjoyable.
Grandparents make great babysitters, and the bond they make with your children has lifelong benefits.
4. Make a Smart Choice in a Husband
Whom you marry is the single most important decision you'll ever make, so make finding the right partner your #1 goal. Your choice of spouse will have the greatest impact on your overall happiness and well-being, as well as on your ability to be successful at work and at home over the course of your life. Marry a man whose plans for the future are clear and whose values are aligned with yours, particularly when it comes to how you both plan to approach work and family.
The answer to a happy, balanced life is to prioritize marriage and family and fit everything else in around that. That’s what I did, and it made all the difference.