Inspiration · Latest Articles · Work Life Balance

You can have it all – just not all at once.

No one tells you how hard it is to become a mum for the first time.

Maybe it’s our social media world where we only talk about the good things, or maybe it’s more about the fact that there are actually so many good things about having a baby … the cuddles, the smiles, the looks of pure love.

But the fact is, it is hard. Really, really hard.

Beyond the months (or in our case, months and months) of sleepless nights, it’s the fact that as a mother you are often solely responsible for keeping this little person alive. It matters little if you’re at the end of your rope, have only had five minutes to yourself in the last 24 hours or just want to have your own body back … You have to get up and you have to keep going because this little person depends wholly on you.

Eleven months on, I think my biggest reflection on life with a little human is just how much life changes. I can imagine that every person reading this who has a child, or children, is smiling right now because it’s really quite obvious. But it’s not really that obvious until it happens to you.

This really came to bear for me recently when I had to make a big decision around work. I had left my dream job and organisation with all intentions of returning, and though there were changes that did force my hand somewhat, I made a decision that I never thought I would. I gave it up.

Now I’m on the precipice of a new adventure: mum life combined with venturing out on my own and working for myself. It sounds idyllic, but it’s also completely not what I had in mind for my life.

Something that really stuck with me through that time of decision making was a quote a friend and mum-of-three shared with me: “You can have it all. Just not all at once.”

As a woman, wife and new mother, this thought was hard for me to swallow because I want it all. And I want it all right now.

But I think what I’m starting to realise is that all is relative to the stage of life we’re in. And the season will change. In fact, when it does, we’ll likely find our definition of “all” has changed anyway.

I’ve also learned that “maternity leave” from your job/life doesn’t exactly end when the calendar ticks over to the conclusion of your 12 months. While some women may return to life exactly as it was – with the addition of a small human – most won’t. Life, as you know it, will have irrevocably changed.

Yet every time I find myself pining for something I had pre-baby, I think of everything I have right now. And trust me, when your baby looks over at you and smiles, it’s kind of all worth it.

Interestingly, I found out when writing this article that the phrase my friend shared with me was coined by Oprah Winfrey who is also famous for my other life mantra, “When I look into the future, it’s so bright it burns my eyes.”

The future is bright and I’m looking forward to every minute of it.

Jo Sutton is a Melbourne-based writer, wife and mum whose passion is writing about things that matter. See more at

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