Ivanka Trump rejects the notion of work-life balance when it comes to juggling motherhood and her White House duties.
During a panel discussion on Monday at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington D.C., the mother-of-three (to children Arabella, 5, Joseph, 3, and Theodore, 1) expressed her frustration over the work-life balance ideal saying, per CNN, “I have, personally, thrown balance out the window. I don’t even strive for it anymore because I don’t like to intentionally set myself up for failure. I did that, probably the first two years of my daughter’s life, but I’ve actually chilled out a bit on this front.”
The first daughter added, “I think that balance implies a scale, which inevitably tips in one direction. And the challenge with children, so often, the levers are outside of your control.”
Attaining a healthy balance between one’s professional and private life is challenging, particularly for mothers. According to 2013 research conducted by the Pew Research Center, 58 percent of millennial women say parenting makes career advancement harder (versus 19 percent of young fathers), due to reduced hours in order to care for a child.
Other research has found that because of the high costs of childcare — for kids under the age of 4, the average cost of daycare is $9,589 per year compared to $9,410, the average cost of out-of-state college — many families work overtime to foot the bill. And a 2016 report co-produced by LeanIn.org found that women in relationships who work the majority of the “second shift” in the evenings (cooking, cleaning, and childcare), are more prone to career burnout compared to couples who split those responsibilities evenly.
“This whole experience over the last several months I’ve been throwing myself into with the hope that I can have a positive impact. So there’s no way to really plan for balance,” Trump also said, according to CNN, while underscoring the idea that acceptance is “an essential survival skill.”
Trump prioritizes quality time with her children “since I don’t have an enormous quantity of time to spend with them” and shared her self-described “guilty” feelings about dividing her time between motherhood and work, which included The Trump Organization and her eponymous fashion brand. She took a formal leave of absence from both in January, according to CNN, and is now serving as an unpaid adviser to the father, President Donald Trump.
“I call it the overwhelm. It’s the overwhelm… Because those first few years were rough for me,” she said. “I was in the office, I felt guilty about not being at home; I was at home, I felt guilty about not being in the office. And the only time I was at peace was when I was lying awake at 3 o’clock in the morning. My children were sleeping, obviously I couldn’t be returning phone calls and I could just think and breathe.”
“Now, I think a lot more about just being present,” she said. “Just being really focused and enjoying what it is I’m doing and executing on that, you know, either in this new role or when I’m at home, really being present with my kids.”
The first daughter has highlighted women in the workplace as her signature platform. And while it’s unclear how that will play out policy-wise, focusing on quality family time and embracing the chaos of life isn’t a bad idea.
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