The Pie Life, a new book by work/life balance expert Samantha Ettus, is a shoulder to cry on for working parents everywhere. And I mean that to include work at home parents, and even parents who are not currently working to earn an income, but working solely to care for their children and homes.
Recipe For Success
Using the analogy that your life is a pie and imagining different aspects as the different slices of the pie, Ettus advises women who want to have thriving careers as well as families and rich experiences in every area that is important. For a delicious and satisfying pie, Ettus says, you need to jettison the guilt and be mindful as you work toward your goal.
My take away from reading The Pie Life is a soothing message from Ettus, who has launched herself at success in every aspect of her own life with an organized ferocity, an eye-on-the-prize attitude that has landed her with a very active career, a happy marriage, and three lovely happy children. Plus, she’s fit, has great friends, and is active in her community.
But Ettus herself admits that not everything in her life is always as rosy as it looks on social media, for example, so you can’t even hate her for perfect life. At the end of The Pie Life, she confesses that as she finished this book, she fell ill, suffered personal losses, and events in her schedule piled on top of one another. This experience is an example, though, of how Ettus has learned to take a deep breath and remember: everything is going to be alright.
As I read The Pie Life, that mantra was the message I kept hearing. Ettus’s voice is inclusive of all types of parents, and she shares what worked for her and might work for you: the mom who wants to keep all the balls in the air but could really use a helping hand. She also shares stories from many other women, some who struggled greatly to find the right setup for their own families. So whether you are just starting a family or want to someday, or you have children now and you’re balancing career and family life, or you’re not currently working—for women in any of these scenarios, Ettus encourages you to just start somewhere. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Throw away feelings of guilt.
A Case Study
In fact, I was knee deep in my own search for a new job when a review copy of The Pie Life arrived in my mailbox. Although I have been a working mom all these years, the past few have been spent working at home while the kids are in school or with my husband or a sitter. I’ve had a great flexible schedule, and initially I was searching for more work that I could do this way. I ignored job openings that were full time in an office, because I felt I needed to be at home and available for my kids.
The problem with that goal was that I wasn’t finding anything that fit my needs. My freelance work has been drying up, and while blogging is very lucrative for some people, it hasn’t been so for me in the last few years as I focused on running the parent group at my sons’ elementary school.
So when two very interesting full time jobs opened up near me recently, I fantasized about applying for them, and further, to what life would be like if I took one of the jobs. I’d bring in steady income, and I would be learning, contributing, and working on a team. I love my freelance life, but I have craved human interaction and feedback, too. Still, I hesitated because…the kids! They need me!
The Pie Life helped me broaden my horizons. As I completed an email with a kicky cover letter and my resume attached, I hovered my mouse over the “send” button, and thought of Ettus’s words:
Throw out these three ridiculous yardsticks—juggling, balancing, and having it all—and lose the guilt, too. There is no more useless ingredient, so to bake this pie, we must let it go.
I clicked “Send.” In less than an hour, I had lined up an interview.
Within a week, I was considering two full time jobs. Both were interesting and provided a useful service to people, which is very important to me. They would also utilize my writing, technical, and people skills. I went back and forth and agonized over the choice: which was better for me? Which was better for my family? In the end, I accepted an offer* to work closer to home with a schedule that gets me back to the house only a few hours after school gets out. I hired a beloved caregiver for those hours, and my husband’s academic schedule will allow him to be present during winter and summer breaks.
Everything’s going to be okay. Maybe even great.
Life’s Little Recipe Book
Now that that’s handled, Ettus’s instructions for deciding how I want my pie to be sliced and how to maximize satisfaction and happiness in each one of them will come in handy. Her interpretation of time-tested organization and time management skills using this baking analogy makes me kind of hungry, I’ll admit, but it’s much more pleasant to imagine a nice tasty apple pie than a whiteboard or a post-it note chart. I’ll use my Google Calendar so much it’ll send smoke out of my computer and smartphone, and I’ll find time to bake an actual pie.
The Pie Life is a great read for any person who feels like her life is out of balance. The book will help you let go of the myth that balance is achievable, but that happiness in all areas of your life is a possibility. And that’s a tasty pie indeed.
The Pie Life
$23.36 on Amazon
(available today for pre-order, to be released September 27, 2016)
*Yes, this is big news, considering all my kvetching about being a stay at home mom (or work at home mom, whichever I feel like calling myself on any given day). I start next week. Tune in soon to read more navel-gazing about this enormous life change.