it’s ok if you can’t do it all

July 17, 2009 |  Category:   life the biz

I think this is a sentiment that feels more comfortable as you get older. It’s okay to admit that you’re overwhelmed. It’s okay to outsource work when you can (but letting go without micromanaging is another story). And it’s okay if you can’t do it all. Once in awhile we both feel bad that we aren’t able to do more events, network at more parties, sell at more markets, come up with more products, design more things, redesign current things, sell more cookies, and just do…more. We don’t want to turn down opportunities, but as a really small business we often have to. We sometimes look at our colleagues and wonder how they can be seemingly everywhere, but then we realize they don’t have kids. It makes a huge difference. On the flip side, we also feel guilty that we don’t spend more quality time as a family, have more fun, or take advantage of more events in the city. So where does that leave us? Every working parent struggles with this. We don’t want to use being parents as a crutch to doing things half-assed, but the reality is…yes, you have less time to focus when you’ve got small children to take care of. It’s a constant push and pull, compromise and sacrifice. Maybe you can’t do everything as well as you’d like and that is a harsh reality for a perfectionist like me, but in the end, you do the best you can. Still, it’s hard not to second guess yourself or feel guilty about something like canceling on the Flea this weekend. For reasons of keeping our sanity, however, it’s the right decision even if it doesn’t feel right.

Along those same lines, some of you know that I run a blog called that writes up on design and products for kids and babies. Some of you may have actually come from that site initially. I’ve been running the site for the past 5 years, first as its only writer and then later on as the editor-in-chief. When I started babygadget in 2004, it was only one of a few design blogs geared towards parents, but of course now there are tons, many of which do a better job than us simply because more time and effort is poured into it. My work on the site in the last year or so have been minimal since I have wonderful writers providing content. For the most part I’ve stopped going to trade shows and maintaining active relationships with designers, manufacturers and retailers. But it’s time to step away. To be honest, it will be a huge relief to have one less thing occupy my mental headspace – the burden of having to publish posts every single morning for 5 years (that’s half a decade!) is too much along with everything else.

I know that I’ve been doing a lot of venting here the last 2 days, but life has ups and it has its downs. It’s not all sweetness and cupcakes and funny kid stories. But this post is actually positive, see? We are taking baby steps in making things a little less crazy. The last thing I want to do is miss out on life by working all the time. You just have to look at these 2 faces to know that it’s no way to live.


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  • wendy July 17, 2009 at 1:28 am

    wow.. i had no idea you ran another blog! just checked it out and it’s beautiful. props to you for this step towards a less crazy life, and thanks for sharing your thoughts so honestly. i’ve been enjoying these posts.

  • gabriel July 17, 2009 at 2:13 am


  • Lara July 17, 2009 at 2:28 am

    My heart is with you guys.

  • Susan July 17, 2009 at 6:18 am

    Taking time to enjoy your children and your family time should be top priority for right now your girls are little and when they need you the most. As a parent of 2 grown boys I can honestly say that I would give anything for that time back again to just kick back and have fun with them…no guilt !! I think the guilt thing is the most difficult to overcome. We all think we need to be able to ” do it all” when in reality, that’s not possible! No job or workload is ever worth giving up family time. So, relax, be the best mom you can be and remember…you’re making memories for yourselves and them !

  • anna July 17, 2009 at 6:49 am

    🙂 They are such Darlings and so are you
    Rousseau said ” A feeble body weakens the mind”

  • cyndi July 17, 2009 at 9:18 am

    I love your honesty!!

  • moodboard July 17, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Even though I don’t have my own children, I love reading your blog. Your posts are so personal and real, and don’t seem fabricated for advertisers or snarky. They are heartfelt, humorous, inspiring, and sweet. Thank you for sharing.

  • catherine m. July 17, 2009 at 10:11 am

    Great post. More power to ya, Jenna!

  • laura July 17, 2009 at 10:37 am

    i don’t have kids but i really appreciated this post. i have that feeling of not being able to do more often and it make me unhappy and overwhelmed. letting go a little might just be the best thing; to enjoy the good stuff. thanks. 🙂

  • chantaleP July 17, 2009 at 10:41 am

    I only have 1 kid and I feel like I’m running myself into the ground. I’ve only recently started back freelancing (on top of my day job) and each night I start working, I always wonder how others do it. You’re right, kids + family come first. Kudos to you for such honesty & insight. Makes us all go, hmmm…

  • marlene July 17, 2009 at 10:48 am

    great post! finding the right balance is so tough when you have little ones. my 2nd is due in 7 short weeks and i’m freaking out a bit myself.
    p.s. your girls are too cute.

  • Tumus July 17, 2009 at 12:42 pm


    Occasionally you have to do some weeding. Frankly mental headspace is lacking in my area right now 😆 You are doing everything that YOU personally need to do. Congrats for taking those steps 🙂 Props Jenna, mad props.

  • emeline July 17, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Can’t echo enough what the others have said. Recognition is a HUGE first step! Things will fall into place soon enough. And although it’s frustrating to miss out on things like concerts and family activites, sometimes it’s the quiet moments that they appreciate more! Have a great weekend!

  • gizella July 17, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    good for you…you have to reevaluate your priorities and cut away what is not working. i don’t do half the things you do, and i feel challenged. your kids will thank you for it. I have to remind myself a lot to just put down whatever (computer etc) and play with my daughter. I mean, that’s what I’m staying home for anyway. Forget what I can, just play.

  • Claudia July 17, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    I admire your decision. It seems easy to decide this kind of thing, but I know that it´s not. I´m exactly passing through with the same situation, trying to figure out what can I do to have a less crazy life in order to have more quality time with my kids. I hope that I can have your courage!

  • nichole July 17, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    I was in a very similar position when we were in Paris, and I made a promise that when we got back to the states, our family/heath/sanity would come first.

    I have blackout times during the day where we don’t even have the computers near us. There is a 3-hour window of family time from 4-7 that I defend like a prized possession. Of course, since Evan and I both work from home, it’s possible that we can do this.

    We will often go back to work when the kids go to bed, and we often have to be up earlier than them, but we sleep easier knowing that we all spent quality time together. It works for us.

    Balance is so hard to achieve, and I never realized how hard it would be with children.

    Sounds like you are off on the right foot though!

  • Luann July 18, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Good for you to recognize that something’s gotta give and finding it. I feel guilty for not taking my kids out more or spending enough time with them and I’m not working! My husband freelances out of the house and even so it feels as if there is never enough time for everything. What you and Mark do is amazing and I hope you can carve a little bit of time out for yourselves amoungst all your roles.

  • janet July 18, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    jenna, this is my first comment on your blog but i love reading it. i feel like i can relate to what you guys are going through. my husband stu and i struggle with this everyday. we run a small business from our home and also have two kids who are four and one. there is so much we want to do with our shop but are still trying to find the right balance with our work and home life. often we are crazed, but then we realize having our small business has allowed us to be home with our kids more and that yes, we can’t do it all…

  • Annie From Seattle July 18, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    Best advice that I only realized was good advice five years later:

    You CAN have it all…you just can’t have it all at the same time!

    Hooray for balance!