Sunday, December 28, 2008
I asked her if her time-off was being counted as Family Medical Leave (under the FMLA), and she didn't know what I was talking about. Her employer has more than 50 employees (in a 75 mile radius), and as a result, she is covered by the Act (she also has worked for the same company for more than a year which is also required).
The FMLA is the only federally mandated time-off that is provided to workers. Other than FMLA, an employer is not required to provide employees any time-off such as vacation and sick time. The FMLA does not provide paid leave, rather, the law protects one's job and benefits while he or she is off on a FMLA designated leave. Some employers offer partial pay of an FMLA leave by allowing an employee to use vacation or sick time to receive pay.
The law provides up to 12 weeks in a one year period for the birth or adoption of a child, one's own serious illness, or to take care of a close family member with a serious illness. The law has also been recently extended to provide some leave for employees with a close family member called to active duty in the military.
The leave may be taken all at once, such as after the birth of a child. Or, the leave may be taken intermittently. The intermittent leave is a benefit that can help someone like my sister-in-law who needs flexibility due to an illness. She could take leave increments as necessary, such as when her illness flares and she needs a day off, or when she has a doctor's appointment. If her time-off is approved as FMLA, her employer cannot hold the time off against her.
While not required by law, some employers allow employees to take part of their maternity leave intermittently. For example, a new mom could take eight weeks of leave after the birth of her child, and then take one day off each week for the next five months.
Complete details of your rights under the FMLA are available on the Department of Labor's website at www.dol.gov.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
The magic of believing doesn't just apply to Santa. It is true in all parts of your life. Of course a lot happened behind the scenes to make sure that Santa arrived for the kids. But isn't that always the case? Making anything happen takes some effort. What you want doesn't come just because you believe, but you must believe to make it happen.
Writing a book was something that I always wanted to do. But, for the longest time, I didn't really think I could. I learned a little about how hard it was to get a book published and I just assumed it was impossible. But then I had what I thought was a good idea for a book, and I started to believe. In fact, I convinced myself that I would write a book.
The book did not just magically appear. I spent months researching and writnig a proposal which I sent to countless publishers. And then I had to actually sit down and write it, which involved a lot of hard work. But all along the way, I believed I would write a book.
Believing is what makes your hard work pay off.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Interestingly, some of the women made a career change, while others made only an attitude change. The important point that was made is that in order to be happy with your life, you must enjoy your work. Your satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with your work spills into all other areas of your life as work is something you spend a significant amount of time doing. For some, work may be considered a necessary evil required to pay the bills. But, if you take the right approach, work can (and should) be a fulfilling component of your life.
I feel this is especially true for parents. Kids know if mom or dad is unhappy at work. And it is confusing to them that you leave them to go do something you don't like. At the very least, family friendly work is work that you enjoy.
Oprah is offering the above mentioned course for free to her viewers (click here). I haven't taken it, so I can't say it is effective. But, I believe any course or tool that helps you identify your passion and build the confidence to move toward it is a a good thing.
Friday, December 19, 2008
To help return-to-the-workforce moms and those seeking flexibility between family and self, find their ideal job, their paradise. This niche social networking site will connect savvy moms on this journey by sharing advice, support and ultimately, solutions.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I've seen the struggle recently as a good friend of mine is attempting to return to work while she is facing a rather complicated and unfriendly divorce. Her and her husband both agreed that she should stay home when they had a child, and she assumed that she might return to work one day, but it wasn't a pressing concern.
Now that she is in the midst of divorce and the emotionally and financial challenges associated with it, her employment gap is only causing her more despair and frustration. Returning to work after several years out of the workforce is hard. Doing so while dealing with a divorce and worrying about the impact on your child is nearly impossible.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
However, more legitimate companies are establishing a work from home workforce. Some companies have found they can save costs related to on-site housing of employees. Further, they are able to build a more diverse and flexible workforce. CNN.com recently identified some of these opportunities, read the full article here.
They include call center companies such as Alpine Access, Convergys, West at Home, VIP Desk, and LiveOps; sales companies such as Extended Presence; virtual assistants such as Staffcentrix; and IT support such as Internet Girl Friday.
Some of these companies will hire you as an employee, whereas others will hire you as an Independent Contractor. If you are hired as an Independent Contractor, it is important that you understand your responsibilites from a tax perspective. The IRS provides some good resources for those who are self-employed, check them out here.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
At the first store I went to, a sale item didn't ring up on sale, and I didn't notice until I was reading my receipt on the way out. I had to then wait in line at customer service, and wait longer while the associate called the department to confirm the sale price. Lesson learned, make sure you pay attention when you are checking out.
My next stop was to the mall where there is a Franklin Covey store. I use a Franklin planner and needed to pick up my annual refill. The only store near me is at a mall that is more than 20 minutes from me, but I decided to make the trek because I do like to look around the store and see what is new. After 15 minutes of searching for a parking space followed by a long walk in the cold rain to get inside, and a battle with the crowd to get to the store, I found out the store was closed. Not closed permanently, just closed today, Sunday. Why? I don't know. What store closes on Sunday, particularly during the holiday shopping season?
Needless to say, I was very frustrated. And so I decided I do not want to return to that mall again this week, and waste another hour or two trying to get my planner refill. I instead came home and shopped online. I did not get to browse through the store looking at what is new, but the pictures online are pretty good. And while I had to pay shipping, I was able to find an online coupon code that gave me enough of a discount that the shipping charge didn't make a difference. Most importantly, I didn't have to battle the crowd to get it. And, I didn't waste another afternoon shopping.
Coupon codes are out there for most online stores. There are usually some restrictions, for example I found a coupon today for $10 off, but I had to spend at least $50. There are several websites out there that list coupon codes. I found mine today at www.retailmenot.com. Some other sites are www.couponcabin.com, www.coupon-B.com and www.couponmountain.com. A little searching online may just save you from the chaos of holiday shopping.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
What is interesting this year is how these troubled times are affecting family friendly work opportunities. As noted by Lisa Belkin in her NY Times column, some of the companies listed this year aren't doing so good. Listed are companies we've heard about in the news such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers and others.
The troubling point that Ms. Belkin makes, is that often in the times of financial troubles, family friendly programs are the first to be cut. Companies tend to be more rigid in all management aspects when challenged. Further, when the labor market works in favor of employers, employees have little leverage to negotiate for more flexibility. That is, when facing a high unemployment rate, companies can more easily fill open positions and don't feel the pressure to provide flexibility.
I think that employers must consider the more important returns on providing flexible work. Research has consistently shown that employees with good work/life harmony tend to be more loyal and more productive. When resources are limited, dedicated and hard working employees are an asset to any company.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
The good thing about a busy schedule is that it helps you appreciate opportunities to do nothing. This week we have just a couple of free nights in a row. But they are truly free. We have nothing we need to do an nowhere to be. The house was just cleaned up last week so there isn't really anything that must be done here. We can just hang out.
Tonight the kids spent some time making some creatiions out of their art supply box. Then, dinner, bath, a few books and it was time for bed. After they were asleep, I almost didn't know what to do with myself. Sure, I have lots of projects I could start on, but nothing pressing. And so, I decided just to do nothing. And its been a great night. For tomorrow night? A little more of the same.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Yahoo recently published a list of the most flexible higher paying careers. See the article here. Being a college professor tops the list and I agree that it offers a lot of flexibility. You only need a Master's degree to teach at most community colleges, however, the pay often isn't great. Pursuing a Ph.D. can be worthwhile if you want a career as an academic. However, the life of a graduate student offers little flexibility. I had my kids after I had completed most of my doctorate program. I know people who have made it through a Ph.D. program while they have kids, but it is tough! However, the reward of a challenging but flexible career may make it worthwhile.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Want to know where each candidate stands on workplace issues? The Society for Human Resource Management released the results of a questionairre they sent to each candidate on workplace issues. Unfortunately, it just came out late yesterday. But, if you are undecided, it might give you some additional insight on each candidate. Check it out here.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Do you want this to be your office? Or perhaps, you just don't want to be tied down in a corporate office. Whether your motivation is the opportunity to spend more time with your kids, or just to have more control of your time, you may want to consider becoming a "lifestyle entreprenuer."
I've been reading quite a bit lately about this relatively new category of entrepreneurs. While I have been talking about parents who pursue entrepreneurship in order to find family friendly work, I hadn't realized that there was already a term for those starting a business in order to find more work/life harmony. In fact, a quick search on Amazon.com finds about a dozen books on the topic published in just the last few years.
People start businesses for different reasons. However, it makes sense that the desire to have a life beyond work is becoming a more influential reason. If the corporate world can't accomodate your desire to spend time with your family, why not try your own thing?
Most shy away because of the risks involved. For example, financial risks often make it difficult for many to consider starting their own venture. All new businesses face the risk of failure, and often entreprenuers must put in endless hours to make their business a financial success.
However, lifestyle entrepreneuers don't always have the goal of phenominal growth or expansion (For example, see this Inc.com article about lifestyle entrepreneuers in New Zealand). Therefore, one can become a lifestyle entrepreneuer and choose not to put in the extra time. In doing so, the business may not be as financially lucrative. But, such a business can still be profitable and also provide other benefits such as personal fulfillment.
My thought is that there are many stay-at-home parents that have considered starting their own business that might benefit from learning more about lifestyle entrepreneuers. If someone is in the financial situation that allows him or her to stay at home, then a business venture that wouldn't necessarily generate a high income might just be O.K.. Especially one that does not require a lot of start-up money (see this article about lifestyle entrepreneuers for some ideas).
What I am trying to learn more about is what kind of resources potential lifestyle entrepreneuers need in order to get their business started. I have met many people, particularly moms, who have a buinsess idea but they are hesitating to take action. If there is little financial risk, what are the barriers? My initial thought that it is more about lack of confidence. But, I am working on learning more.....
Friday, October 31, 2008
At first it was devasting. We use the microwave, a lot more than we should. Since we are all on the go so much, we tend to go for quick meals warmed in the microwave. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Honestly, I feel bad about that quite often. It is one of my guilt triggers, I feel I should be feeding my kids healthy, home cooked meals. Better food for the kids is one of my top challenges in creating work/life harmony.
And of course with the busy schedule, we have not had a chance to go buy a new microwave. As a result, we have been challenged to slow down our meal preparation and actually cook. While at first this was a big challenge, with a little thought and effort it actually hasn't been so bad.
By force we have had to start working on really cooking. And suprisingly, it doesn't take that much more time to do. Which has started me thinking, what else am I rushing through that I really don't need to?
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Tonight I spoke at a local PTA meeting and the theme of financial need ran through my discussion with the group. A year or two ago, the discussion on whether or not to work focused on feelings about spending time with your kids and personal beliefs about child rearing. But, it seems when money is tight, finances are the main concern when making the decision on 'to work or not work.'
I would like to see more people consider both their personal beliefs and their financial needs in making decisions about work. You can pursue work that provides you with the financial support you need. But, you can do so while thinking about how you want to raise your family. The two are not mutually exclusive.
Monday, October 6, 2008
And so many people find that they have to leave their corporate job in order to find family friendly work. While a few enlighted corporations exist, many create so many obstacles that you will more likely be successful in your pursuit by seeking a small privately owned company, or even starting your own business.
If this challenge isn't enough, I just watched a documentary that raised my concerns about corporations beyond the concerns of finding family friendly work. "The Corporation" is a documentary released in 2004 which received very little attention upon its release. After watching the film, the limited attention is not suprising. Corporate leaders, which have great influence as the documentary points out, most likely sought such limited release.
As with most documentaries, the information seems to be presented in a biased manner. However, the data and support of their arguments seems indisputable. Corporations may be affecting your life in ways you could never imagine. Check it out.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
I was talking with another parent at a recent soccer match who mentioned that sometimes he feels like he is just 'borrowing' his kids from the daycare center they attend. He and his wife both work full-time and must drop-off the kids around 7am and pick them up close to 6pm each day. They both enjoy their work, but feel that they are missing something as they only get a few rushed hours with their kids in the evenings. What they need is more control of their time. They don't want to work less, or do something different. They just don't want to always work 8-5pm.
I spoke to another mom a few weeks ago who stays at home full-time. She likes her schedule and is able to spend time with her kids and also manage their hectic schedules of inconvenient pre-school class times and bus drop off schedules. She said she couldn't imagine how she could work right now. But, she is missing the mental stimulation that working provided her and is concerned about her ability to return to work.
In just talking about what wasn't working, each of these realized that there was something they could be doing to improve their lives. Acknowledging that things aren't working is the first step toward making change. So what isn't working in your life?
Friday, September 19, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
But most nights, I make sure that I first take some time to get ready for the next day. When I talk to groups about time management, the most common thing I hear is that mornings are just always hectic. And if you start your day off hectic, then you tend to be in chaos the entire day.
I spend about a half-hour or so each night getting ready for the morning. I pick out what I am going to wear and iron if I need to. I lay out the kids clothes, including their shoes. I pack my bag and their bags and I put them in the car. I make coffee and pack my lunch if I am taking it. I can't tell you how much stress it takes out of the morning to have everything ready to go. Most mornings the kids end up having some time to play before we leave which makes them much happier once we do get on the road. And very rarely do I forget something as I take the time in the evening to make sure I have everything I need.
Many have told me that they can just make sure they are up in time to get ready for day instead of wasting their evenings. But, it doesn't always work. There is often something forgotten, or some unexpected roadblock such as a missing shoe or bookbag. I'd much rather deal with those dilemmas at night, without the clock ticking reminding me that I am running late. My husband makes fun of my ways sometimes, but not when he's going to be late for a meeting because he is running around the house looking for his phone.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
While I feel strongly about my work promoting flexibility, I've realized that it is something that that comes behind my kids and my job, at least for now. I am reading a good book right now, "I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids," that is helping me examine my priorities and keep myself from becoming overwhelmed. The book shares many anecdotal stories from moms all over the country and the ongoing message of the book is that we must set realistic expectations for ourselves.
Right now my paycheck and my family's healthcare benefits are coming from my full-time job, so I must make that a priority. I will post here and work on marketing my ideas about flexible work as I have time. I will also work on ways to integrate my belief in flexible work through my job as a researcher and educator. And I will continue to speak to groups and the media whenever I'm given the opportunity. But, if I just don't have time to do everything I think I should do, then I just don't have time. I can hopefully still make a difference with any effort I make.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
While there is much debate on which party will more likely support women's issues, it is interesting that little has been said about the obstacles for women (and parents in general) in the workplace. While the candidates themselves are working parents, I have heard little said about how challenging it is to raise their children while working in today's work world.
Much of the debate on Palin surrounds her views on issues such as abortion and teaching abstinence (see for example the blog discussion on Work it Mom). While I agree these are important issues, and I don't agree with Palin's stand, I would like to know more about what each party thinks about workplace flexiblilty issues. They all talk about families, but I've heard no discussions on creating a society where it is not such a challenge to raise children and have a job.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
We decided to have him attend the private school because our local school district only has half-day kindergarten. Actually, it isn't even close to a half of a day, rather just a few hours. Half-day kindergarten is of course yet another obstacle for working parents. We were fortunate to have the private option.
While I am a little sad that my "baby" is growing up, I am actually a little more distressed at losing some of my flexibility. I've always had the ability to change my work schedule on occasion if I wanted to do something with the kids, or leave to go out of town or something.
I have also always worked out my work schedule so that I had at least one day off during the workweek. That day off was an imporant part of my stress management strategy. I enjoyed having at least one day during the week that I didn't always have to rush out the door. I also had that day to catch up on things around the house, helping me keep my life under control (well, sort-of).
But now he needs to go to school every day. While I know that most working parents are used to getting out of the house five mornings in a row each week, it is new to me and it is going to be my biggest challenge. I am sure by Thursday I will be really wishing it was still summer!
Thursday, August 21, 2008
The same thing happens as I try to balance work and family. The busier I am with work, the better I do balancing between work and family. But when things slow down, I do not do as well. Over the summer when I took more time off from work, I couldn't seem to get it all in sync. I found myself falling behind on housework, cooking less and just feeling like I wasn't getting anything done.
I've heard it from others as well. I know a woman who is a writer by training, but is currently staying at home full time with kids. While her kids sleep a lot, and also have pre-school and other distractions, she can't seem to find the time do any writing. I suspect that if she was working outside of the home and busy trying to blance her work and family, she would be able to figure out where writing could fit into her schedule.
I think that as you get busier, you are forced to spend more time and effort trying to make sure everything gets done. If you are not as busy, it becomes easier to get side-tracked and not accomplish as much. And so as you rise to the challenges of balancing work and family, you may find that if you challenge yourself more, you may just exceed your own expectations.
Monday, August 18, 2008
A couple of solutions exist that could ease parent's concerns, allow them continue to be producitve and save their time-off allowances. First, employers could offer some flexibility to allow employees to work from home on occasion. But another option is to find a sick child care center. Such centers provide care and comfort to mildly ill kids, allowing parents to get to work. Read a story of such a center here.
I know many parents say they would never use such a center. That is, they couldn't think of sending off a poor sick kid to someone else's care. And I agree to some extent. When my kids are really sick, I want to be there with them, keeping a close eye and providing lots of love.
But, there are many times that you can't even really tell that they are sick. They play and laugh and I sit thinking of all that I should be getting done at work. On a day such as that, I would feel fine with my child being in the care of a licensed medical professional who can keep a close eye. And also, I'm sure the kids would see it as somewhat of a treat to go off and recieve such special attention.
Unfortunately, such centers are not readily available. I am told that many hospitals and medical centers provide such a service to their employees. There is an organization that works to advocate for such centers, The National Association for Sick Child Care. But their websie shows their most recent newsletter as one in 2004, so I'm not sure that they are actually active. Perhaps it is a potential business idea for a budding entreprenuer?
Saturday, August 9, 2008
I've had this quote posted above my computer for years. Tonight, I am watching the Olympics and I am reminded of the importance of dreams. Many profiled athletes discuss their gold medal dreams. And the look of blissful happiness as dreams are acheived is inspiring.
I believe that you must have dreams if you want success. But you don't necessarily need to have such spectacular dreams as a gold medal in order to be successful. I have had dreams of finishing graduate school, of having a happy family, of publishing a book, of getting the job I want. And I've found that if I set my mind to something, I do it. I think that dreaming and truly desiring something helps you acheive it because it helps you focus your efforts.
I've met so many people who are unhappy with some part of their life. Maybe they are at-home with kids but want to re-enter the workforce. Or they are stuck in a job they dislike, or a job with no flexibility. They tell me that they would like something different, but then I find they haven't really done anything about it. In fact, they haven't really thought about it more than in passing. If you don't want something enough to really feel it, to aspire to acheive it, then it probably won't happen.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
I hesitated in taking this trip because I thought that I really should focus on getting ready for the job. I wanted to wrap up some projects around the house and get ahead on some of the prep work for the classes I will be teaching.
But I'm glad we decided to do it anyway. I think I often get too focused on working and "getting things done" that I forget to have fun. I caught a segment about the "The Last Lecture" professor Randy Pausch on a news show last week. If you don't know him, he is the Carnegie Mellon professor that was selected to give their Last Lecture last year. It is an annual tradition where a favorite professor gives a lecture about whatever they want as if it was the last lecture they would ever give. The irony is that he had been diagnosed with an incurable cancer a short time before giving his lecture.
You can see the full lecture about how to achieve your childhood dreams on You Tube. Dr. Pausch lost his battle to cancer just a few weeks ago which was the focus of the news show I watched. He shared many messages, but what he made me think about is the importance of just having fun and actually enjoying the life you are leading.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
'Mom lit' is a novel written about a mom and some dilemma she faces. There isn't really a formula to genre, it is just a novel where the main character is a mom. So why am I drawn to these books? I guess I just like to know that I am not alone. While some of these books have somewhat outlandish plots that I will never face, they are typically laced with observations on day-to-day life with kids.
In addition to finding solace in novels, I've also spent a lot of time over the last few years seeking out other moms. On several occasions I've invited over a friend from the kids' school for a playdate with the hope of a decent conversation with another mom. It just makes my daily trials seem less stressful when I know others face the same challenges.
By the way, if you want to pick up some 'mom lit,' you can find a good list of books at www.momlit.com. The site is by 'mom lit' author Stephanie Lehmann and she includes her thoughts on why so many are drawn to the genre. A few I've enjoyed:
- 'I don't know how she does it' by Alison Pearson
-'Babyville' by Jane Green
-'Piece of work' by Laura Zigman
-'The yummy mummy' by Polly Williams
-'Amanda Bright @ home' by Danielle Crittendon
-'Shopaholic and baby' by Sophie Kinsella
-'Goodnight nobody' by Jennifer Weiner
-'Class mothers' by Katherine Stewart
Sunday, July 27, 2008
While I know that many families have well thought out reasons for homeschooling, I know that it is something that I would never consider. In addition to the fact that I wouldn't have the patience or diligence to master and deliver the entire K-12 curriculum, I feel strongly that other people play a key role in my kids growth and development.
I know some years they will have teachers that I do not agree with, but they will also have some teachers that may impact their lives. In fact, part of the reason I have felt limited 'guilt' about working is that my kids have had the opportunity to spend time and develop relationships with some wonderful caregivers.
Last night we had some friends over, including our old babysitter Laura. She watched the kids for almost four years. My daughter started going to her when she was just a few months old, so she will always be a special part of our lives. The kids haven't seen Laura in awhile but last night they they sat and talked with her, convinced her to join them at the swings and had a great time playing with her and her kids. I just feel good knowing that its not just me and my husband that are influencing them and teaching them about the world. I think they will lead fuller lives because they have some experiences when I am not around.
Monday, July 21, 2008
While my work offers me all of the flexible I need, I really didn't plan for it. The work I do which I enjoy just happens to offer flexiblity. This fact does not escape me now, but it was far from my mind as I considered my career options when I was young.
In fact, in the more than 30 years it took me to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, not one person suggested I consider my family plans when making career decisions. And I am not sure why. If you plan to have children, you must consider how your career meshes with parenthood.
It is something I now address in the courses I teach. But, I think it is a topic that deserves attention earlier in life. I talk to my kids about work all of the time. Maybe I over do it with them, but if my kids had to leave a baby for a rigid job they didn't enjoy, I would feel like I failed them.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
If you have young children you might be able to work a temp job by trading babysitting with another parent, or doing it over the summer when you can hire a high school or college student to babysit. If your kids are in school, you could take a temp job during the school year.
If you have left a professional career, the challenge is finding the right kind of opportunities. You might be able to uncover some opportunities through networking with former colleagues. But, if you go to a traditional temp agency, you might only be able to find temp jobs that pay minimum wage and require you to spend hours filing or typing up someone else's work.
But now it might be a little easier to find a professional temporary opporutnity. New companies are springing up around the country that target moms specifically, read about some of them in this recent CNN article.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
In the 'mommy blogosphere' there are lots of regular bloggers who have devoted readers. Most notably is Heather Armstrong at www.dooce.com whose blog is so popular that her husband quit his job to manage the site's advertising revenue which now supports her entire family.
I was speaking at a conference a few months ago and one of the speakers suggested that all SAHM's should have a blog if they ever want to return to work. No, she didn't promote blogging about how many diapers you've changed in order to secure your next job. Rather, she suggested you write a professional blog related to your chosen field to keep yourself up to date in that area.
While I started my blog in order to help promote my book, I've continued it because I enjoy it. I am drawn to issues related to family friendly work and I suspect my friends and family get tired of hearing about it. Through the blog, I have a chance to share the news, ideas and information I come across. Writing the blog also motivates me to stay on the look out for news and research relating to the topic, forcing me to stay up-to-date.
Is it worth my time? I think so. But for Nathan's goal of blogging every two hours he said "I worry that when it's all over I'll look back and think that I wasted a whole year of my life."
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Yesterday I had quite a bit to get done. I didn't do any work at all over the holiday weekend and just needed to catch up on some things. I managed to get a lot done and still have a great day with the kids. I worked an hour or so in the morning while they ate breakfast and played in their playroom. I was able to get another hour or so in around nap time, and then a few hours in after my husband came home and took them swimming. Finally, after they were in bed I finished up a few more things. In between my work, we had lots of fun playing in the pool and in the yard (it was a beautiful day!). I think I accomplished more yesterday than I have in the past working in an office from 8-5. When I was working, I was working hard and getting a lot done in a short amount of time.
While not everyone has the complete flexibility I do, requesting an alternate schedule can give you the opportunity to work from home some. And you may be able to get some work done while the kids are around. When researching my book I spoke to a manager who negotiated a reduced workweek by making herself available to her employees by email and phone on her two off days. They knew they might hear some kids in the background on those two days, but she was able to meet her responsibilities with her kids around.
I've mentioned my colleague Carla Moquin and her work promoting policies to allow babies in the workplace. She has published her work in an e-book that is now available. While a baby in the office won't necessarily work in every situation, if you open your mind to it, you might be suprised how often it would work.
Friday, July 4, 2008
So this afternoon at a 4th of July party that we attended at the home of the parents' of some friends of ours, I ran into that boss that shared the time management gem with me. I was standing by him at the drink cooler, and despite the 16 years since I last saw him, I recognized him immediately. I left that first job to return to graduate school, and then I kept going to school, leading to my current job as a college professor. And I still do my least favored tasks first.
It just reminds me that you can always learn something to keep moving forward in your career. And much of what you can learn is from those you work with. When I was considering returning to graduate school to work on a doctorate, a woman I worked with told me that being a professor is an ideal career if you are raising a family. Childless at the time, I didn't give her comment a second thought. But, she was right and I am glad I decided to make the move.
So pay attention to what those around you have to say. You never know what you might pick up that you can use.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Except when it comes to some typical mom duties. Sometimes in my desparate attempt to be the good mom I think I should be, I waste a lot of time on things that aren't important. Take my soon to be 4 year old's upcoming birthday party. It is an important event, but I've found myself spending way too much time worrying about it.
For some reason my duaghter has decided that she wants to have a 'rock-n-roll' themed party. I'm not sure she knows what 'rock-n-roll' is, but I suspect her interest is related to a Hannah Montana birthday party she attended for an older friend a few months ago.
And so my search for 'rock-n-roll' party invitations and decorations has consumed much of my past week. I failed to plan far enough ahead to use the Internet to find the perfect invitation (unless I wanted to spend $30 for expedited shipping!). Instead, I spent hours searching local party supply and card stores for the perfect invites. Which of course I did not find. A few more hours searching online for graphics that allowed me to create my own cards finally solved my dilemma.
But instead of feeling joy in finally getting the invitations in the mail, I wondered, what is wrong with me? I mean I've lost many precious hours searching for these invitations, when she will probably forget by the party that she wanted the 'rock-n-roll' theme anyway. Further, she can't read! I could have found invitations that said 'come to my knitting party' and she would have been happy.
I know I am not the only mom that has this problem. My friend Sandi confessed to staying up until 2am the night before our kids' "Safety Town" graduation to make homemade cookies shaped like traffic lights for the graduation celebration. I teased her some, telling her she was making the rest of us look bad. She agreed, and suggested that perhaps she tries to overcompensate for time missed with her kids due to work.
Whatever the reason, I am sure to waste time again in the future on some mom responsibility that I just am not good at. But at least taking the time to make the effort makes me feel like I am doing my best. And there are certainly worse things I could spend my time doing.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Many parents struggle with summer child care and find their options often inconvenient and expensive. Some parents are finding a solution on their own. I caught an article yesterday on DIY summer camps (here). The article discussed three moms who cooperatively set up three weeks of summer camp. Each mom took all of the kids for one week and planned some themed activities. The article didn't mention if these were working moms or not, but if they were, they essentially found three weeks of care with little cost and only one week of vacation time used.
I did some searching online, and it turns out this isn't a new idea. There are several sites out there with ideas on how to structure a week such as the article here.
I like the idea, but it isn't really an easy fix. You would need to find other like-minded parents that are willing to make the effort. It also requires some planning and creativity. But, with the cost of summer camp going up, it might be a great strategy to keep your kids busy and get a chance to do something fun with them.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
I belong to a Contours Express gym which is a ladies gym that offers a circuit workout. They use real weights so you can adjust each station to your ability. I like it mostly because it is fast. The gym is about two minutes from my house, and the workout takes about 1/2 hour.
When my son was born and I hadn't figured out a good work/life arrangement, working out was the first thing I gave up in my busy schedule. I thought of it as a luxury of time that I couldn't afford. But, instead of making me less stressed, I found myself more stressed and full of anxiety.
I don't know the science of it, but I have been told working out is important to staying mentally healthy. Apparently a good workout releases just the right kind of chemicals to keep you feeling good. And I believe it. I have found that if I don't take the time to work out at least a few times a week, my stress and anxiety levels go up.
So instead of a luxury, I now see staying fit as a requirement. And the fact that I stay enough in shape that my clothes always fit helps too!
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Much of the spending has been on fun things like vacation. We've also met friends out for lunch and we've done some activities such as going to the zoo. Some spending has been on the house. When you are in your house more, you tend to notice lots of things that need fixed.
If I am going to survive the summer without going broke, I am going to have to focus on activities and entertainment that don't cost money. I also should try to be a bit more thrifty, maybe take some time to cut coupons or look out for sales.
I have come across a couple of activities that are free in the summer. At www.kidsbowlfree.com, you can get coupons for free bowling. And, the Regal Entertainment Group provides free morning movies at many of their theaters, check it out here. Other ideas?
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
An advanced degree may often be necessary, but sometimes, you just need to advance your knowledge. MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) offers you the opportunity to do just that. MIT has an open course website that gives you the opportunity to take one of hundreds online courses from MIT. The courses are from MIT faculty and allow you to work through the materials at your own pace.
Obviously it is not the same quality experience as actually taking the college course for credit. You don't receive feedback from the professor on your work, and you can't ask questions. But, you have the opportunity to explore the course content.
You don't get the credit, but you can get the knowledge. You can list courses you have taken on your resume, and apply the knowledge at your job. Or, you could just find a course or two that you find interesting.
Check out MIT's offerings:
Monday, June 16, 2008
Came across a brief, but interesting article about dads and flexible work. Some surveys/research indicates that more dads are looking for flexibility in order to spend more time with their kids.
However, dads sometimes face even more obstacles than moms when it comes to negotiating flexibility. A stigma still exists in many organizations when it comes to work/family balance for men. Often, men who want to spend more time with their families are perceived as uncommitted to their careers.
For example, one dad I spoke to when doing research for my book told me his boss told him to record his time off after the birth of his child as 'vacation' instead of 'family leave' so that others 'wouldn't get the wrong idea' about his committment to the company.
The good news is that as more dads join moms in requesting flexible work options, more employers will see the value in offering them.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
My in-laws rented a house on a beach in Florida and this is definitely the way to go for a family vacation involving young children. We have an incredible view of the ocean, a private pool and we really don't have a reason to leave. We actually haven't left the house at all except for the aforementioned grocery and spa.
The kids can come in and out of the house as needed, no need to trek up to a hotel room to search for forgotten goggles. We have the place to ourselves, so we don't have to be concerned about a crying baby or fueding siblings disturbing a neighbor. It is really all about just relaxing. I've actually even made it about half way through a trashy novel.
We haven't taken too many vacations with the kids because we always think about what a hassle it will be. But the reality is, once you get where you are going, it turns out to be a pretty good idea.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Companies can help employees save on gas by offering some flexibilty. Shift to four, ten hour days and you eliminate a day of commuting each week, saving $500. Work from home two days a week and you could save $1000.
One HR Manager I spoke with earlier this week said her company felt they needed to give employees flexibility to save on gas costs. Otherwise, a majority of the employee's annual pay increase would just go to gas money.
So in addition to creating better work/life harmony, you can sell your flexible work arrangement as a socially responsible thing to do for your company.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
All of the HR executives were very interested in offering flexible work for a variety of reasons. They all clearly understood that flexible work is something that employees want, and that offering flexible work could improve employee recruitment and retention.
But, they were not all convinced that it could work. The main concern shared by all in the group was accountability. They were concerned about whether or not employees working in an alternate arrangement were really getting their work done.
Many said managers were at such a loss on how to manage workers in a flexible work arrangement, and that they preferred that workers stay on a traditional schedule. But as I asked the group, do you really know employees are working just because they are at their desks? Is an employee sitting at at desk really working, or are they playing computer games? Or talking on the phone? Or just staring off into space?
The key to making a flexible work arrangement work is to have clear measurements of productivity. How can you show your boss that you are productive while working at home? The easier you can make it for your boss to know that you are working hard whether you are working early in the day or at home, the more likely your boss will appreciate that you are getting your job done. And that is what your company cares about.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Online course options hold much promise in allowing you to further your education. I am teaching an online class this summer that starts today, and I once again have several working parents in the class. It is important to remember that online courses do not provide LESS of an education. Online program just allow you to pursue your education on your schedule. You can work after the kids are in bed, or on your lunch break, instead of having to head out to class after a busy day at work.
But how can you find a reputable online program? Many parents invest time and money into a an online program only to find that their employer doesn't see the degree as legitimate. The key is to do some research and find a reputable program that provides you with the coursework you need.
To help you find a program that works for you, you may want to check out Project Working Mom. It is an online portal designed to help you do the research and find the resources you need to pursue an online education.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Today I watched a friend's kids for a few hours while she worked. She is a tutor and works odd hours, making it difficult to establish a stable child care arrangement. In exchange, she will take my kids for a few hours next week when I have to go speak at a conference.
"Swapping" sitting is something stay-at-home parents do often. But it is something that parents working a flexible schedule should consider. You can identify parents to swap sitting with through networking, but once you have some potential swapping partners, it is a good idea to establish some ground rules.
Starting a babysitting co-op is one way to ensure fairness (more info here). There are many strategies to establish a co-op, such as establishing a ticket system. With a ticket system, each parent in the co-op starts with a certain number of tickets. To 'hire' another parent, you must pay them one ticket for each hour they babysit. To earn tickets, you must babysit someone else's kids. This system prevents any one parent from taking advantage of others by requiring each parent to put some time in sitting to earn enough tickets to buy sitting from others.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Unfortunately, finding work that you can do from home is a challenge. Many parents, however, have found work-at-home opportunties by either negotiating the opportunity to work from home with their current employer or by going out on their own in their current field. While you can make some decent money selling things online, more lucrative work-at-home careers tend to be more traditional professions that you happen to work at from home instead of an office. For example, Yahoo recently mentioned some more lucrative work-at-home careers including public relations, freelance writing, graphic design, realty and financial planning.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Today I am wrapping up loose ends on some work projects, but don't have any pressing work that must be done. I find myself looking around my desk, worrying about what I am forgetting to do. I have eleven unstructured weeks ahead of me, and I am not entirely comfortable with that idea.
I always joke that I have given up housework in order to have a harmonious work/life arrangement. But it is not really a joke, I do very little around the house. My house is usually a dump, and while I am not a neat-freak by any means, it can be frustrating. Sometimes I just wish we could move and start over at another house that did not need any work, only bringing along absolute essentials so I no longer need to live in unfinished clutter.
And so, my general inability to sit still will hopefully lead me to spend some time this summer digging out. But I will be cautious, this is the time to have some fun too.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
- Measuring the effectiveness of the work/life programs they have in place. It is often challenging to quantify the benefits that such practices offer, but doing so can help build the case for further flexibility.
- Failing to communicate the details of the work/life programs to managers and employees. Some companies stated this failure was intentional so that they didn't have too many people taking advantage of the programs. What??? What is the point of offering flexibility if you don't encourage employees to use it? Employee and manager education on flexible work is essential in order to ensure program success.
Just adding a work/life or flexible work program to a company's policy manual does little to change the work/life harmony of company employees. Companies must communicate the options to employees, educate managers and employees on how to make flexible work succeed, and finally measure the effectiveness of the programs to build support for continuation.
Monday, May 19, 2008
"The Family-Friendly Workplace Act allows private sector employers to offer their employees the option of taking paid time off as compensation for overtime hours worked. This benefit, commonly known as “comp time” or “family time,” has been enjoyed by public sector (e.g. government) workers for more than two decades. However, the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act prevents private sector employers from offering this same flexibility to their workers, leaving the vast majority of hourly employees unable to benefit from this type of paid time off."
This bill makes sense. Right now under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers must pay overtime, even if the employee would prefer comp time instead. I have talked with many employers who would love to offer comp time because it allows them to better meet fluctuating business needs. Instead of just increasing payroll costs during a busy period, an employer can keep costs constant and allow employees time off later when the employees need it. Further, under the proposed bill, employees maintain the option to take the overtime pay. So if the money is important, employers are still on the hook to pay overtime. I really can't see the downside of this bill beyond some additional recording keeping for employers to track comp time. Employers must still pay overtime, but both employers and employees benefit from the comp time option.
But, I doubt this bill will successfully navigate its way to become a law. A similar bill was introduced about 10 years ago that never made it to a vote. In my opinion, the main challenge is that the name of the bill alone puts it in the wrong context for success. Unfortunately, our congress tends to work against legislation that appears to be in favor of families. There seems to be a strong perception that good for families means bad for business.
Further, more broad support for this bill would be available if it was supported by everyone who would benefit from it, not just those with families. The bill as written provides the comp time benefit to all employees, not just moms and dads. By calling it "family-friendly," the bill draws immediate attention to the "family" benefit and will only serve to bring bias against the bill for those who already think parents get more of a break in the workplace than others.
Maybe "Workplace Flexibility Act" instead?
Friday, May 16, 2008
“Skilled workers taking temp projects isn't new, of course. What's different about these teams is that they're available on short notice because the women are usually at home; they tend to work cheap because their main motive is to keep their skills fresh; and they're often extraordinarily well-qualified, having left the work force voluntarily when their careers were on the ascent.” (See full article here.)
While it is true that SAHM’s that desire some mental stimulation and valuable experience may be willing to work for less, is it really such a good idea?
In one response to the article, writer Brittany Hudson suggests that women taking these low-paying part-time gigs are collectively bringing down the wages of other workers. (see article here). If companies are able to get this cheap labor to fill their needs, why would they hire a full-time worker with benefits and a higher salary?
I do agree that this practice is a problem, but I don’t think the women taking these assignments are to blame as Hudson suggests in her article. I think the problem lies in the workplace, which doesn’t value a worker unless they are full-time.
I think that companies who create part-time opportunities provide a win-win opportunity. A company often can fill a talent gap with a short-term worker, and there are many moms (as well as other people!) who wish to work, but want some flexibility. But, these workers should be paid their fair market value for the work they provide. A “part-time pay penalty” hurts everyone.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
I have had many people tell me that they would love a work/life arrangement similar to mine. I have the fulfillment and financial support of a career, and also have the flexibility and time to spend with my kids.
While I think that my work arrangement is ideal, it certainly is not perfect. No matter what your work and family arrangement, you will miss out on something. The question is, what is most important to you?
I enjoy my work, but I miss out on a lot of things that those that work in a traditional full-time schedule enjoy. I do not get the opportunity often to lunch with co-workers, or even just goof-off a little at work. When I am working, I am working hard because I have limited time. Those social relationships are an important part of working that I miss out on quite often.
I also haven’t enjoyed the same level of career success I would have had I pursued a traditional full-time working route. While I feel satisfied with what I have accomplished, there are still many things left undone. For example, my book has been mildly successful, but I often think that had I dedicated more time to it, it could be doing better.
On the flip side, I do not get to do as much with my kids as stay-at-home parents do. While my schedule allows me to be around for them a great deal, I still do miss out on some school events that occur when I have a work conflict. I also give up a lot around the house. I get ready each day in a half-painted, outdated bathroom that I haven’t had time to finish in the four years we’ve lived here.
And so with any choice, you make some trade-offs. To be satisfied with both your family and your work, you must decide which ones you are willing to make.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Too bad we don't get paid for the work we do as moms. Each year salary.com does an analysis of the market rate for the work that moms do raising children and doing housework. This year's report suggests that stay-at-home moms would earn $116, 805 and full-time working moms would earn $68,405 for the work they do around the house. If you'd like to personalize this number, visit their website at http://mom.salary.com. You can even print out a fake paycheck.
The problem is of course, the paycheck is fake. It might make a nice reminder for your family about all of the work that you do, but you will never get paid for the work you do in raising your family. Moms and dads do of course get rewards for raising a family, you can't replace the love from your children with money. However, you also can't feed your kids without money. Therefore, doing paid work that provides for your family is also an important component of raising a family. So if you are a working mom, treat yourself on Mother's Day by giving up any guilt you feel for working.
Friday, May 9, 2008
Well, I don't agree. I'm not a parenting expert, but it seems that the kids that I see who have parents that put their kids before themselves tend to be self-centered and often mis-behaved. I am continuing to read the Love and Logic book I mentioned last week, and it seems these parenting experts agree with me. Below is an excerpt (Cline & Fay, 2006, Pinon Press, p. 14):
"If parents take good care of themselves, then children have a good chance of growing up to be adults who take care of themselves. When parents always put the children first, they risk putting themsleves last and raising entitled, demanding children (better known as spoiled brats)."
While work is certainly not the only way to put yourself first, it certainly is one way to make sure you lead a happy fulfilled life. I've talked to several stay-at-home parents who love their children and enjoy the opportunity to be at home with them, but feel like they are missing something. They question whether it is the self-fulfillment you get by engaging in paid work that you enjoy.
I know that I am a better parent because I work. I feel satisfied with myself, and as a result, I am more pleasant to be around for my kids. Further, I think I am setting a good example for them by showing them that you can be a good mom, who is around a lot, who also has a successful career. I hope for the same for them when they grow-up.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
That said, it is always interesting to consider who would be your ideal mentors if you could meet anyone. I've always thought it would be fascinating to pull together the famous women I admire for a dinner party. Who would you enjoy having dinner and cocktails with?
Here's my Dinner Party list:
- Hillary Clinton
- Oprah Winfrey
- Barbara Walters
- Martha Stewart
What kind of evening would that be? What could I learn? I'm sure I would be too intimidated to really ask them anything. But, I think I would learn more about life and success in that evening than I did in my five years of earning a Ph.D..
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
She hastily made a request for a part-time schedule at her employer of 8 years, and was denied as quickly as she asked. Her mistake? Well, she made a few. First, she did not thoroughly consider what she wanted, and how her request would benefit the company. Instead, she just went to the human resources department (HR) and asked if she could get a part-time schedule.
Which leads to her second mistake, which was not to identify the right person to ask. She told me that she probably should have talked to her boss first. Instead, she went to HR who just said "no." And why wouldn't they say no. If they tell her yes, they will just have to deal with others who ask for part-time. Further, they are going to be stuck trying to hire someone to complete the work she can't do because she is part-time.
First, she needs to think creatively about how part-time work could benefit her company. Is there someone else interested in a job share? How important is it for them to retain her?
Next, she needs to consider how her work would be completed if she was part-time. What could she transition to someone else? Who? What work could she streamline? Where could she become more efficient? Could she do some work from home?
Once she has considered these things, she needs to put together a written proposal that spells it all out. Essentially, she needs to put in writing why this is a good business decision. She also needs to do all of the work in figuring out the arrangement. How will her pay be affected? Her benefits? She is the one that wants the flexibility, so she should be the one to figure out how it will work.
She then needs to meet with her boss and discuss her proposal and convince him that it is a good business decision to grant her request. After eight years of solid work performance, she should be at least able to get them to meet her somewhere in-between. It will likely take some negotiaion, but with the right proposal, I do think she can get the work schedule she wants.
But first, she needs to read my book!
Sunday, May 4, 2008
I'm not exactly completely off work. I will be teaching an online course and I have a couple of speaking engagements scheduled. I will also need to do some prep work for the fall semester. I plan to manage my work creatively. Working in the evenings, and occasionally paying a neighbor girl to play with the kids. But otherwise I will be on my own with the gang.
Other than the first few months of my son's life, I have not taken off more than a week at a time. And to be honest, it is somewhat terrifying. What will I do if I start going crazy? What if stay-at-home life isn't for me? Or worse, what if I love it? What if I can't imagine working full-time in the fall?
Right now I am just looking forward to it. It will be fun for the kids to get up in the morning and not have to rush somewhere. We have lots of things on our adventure list and many friends we've made plans with. It will be good for my house to have some time to maybe fix a few things up. And it will be good for me to just relax some. Which, despite the things I've mentioned I will be doing, I will find some time to do.
Friday, May 2, 2008
We had an enjoyable discussion, she shared her background and I shared more about mine. She is a busy working mom, but started her family at the beginning of her career. Whereas, my career was in full swing when I had kids. While I struggle to integrate my kids into my working life, she is struggling to give her career a boost.
While I don't think I gave her any unusually remarkable advice, she had several 'ah-ha' moments during our discussion. I gave some suggestions that I thought were very simple, but they were things she hadn't thought of.
It reminded me that often we get so wrapped in our own worlds, it is difficult to take a step back and consider what we could be doing differently. We are too close to our own situation to look at it objectively.
This is why it is important to learn from others. I take every chance I can to network and talk with others. Whether it is about raising kids, harmonizing my work with my family, or just advancing in my career, I find that other's opinions help me to see opportunities I might be missing.
Monday, April 28, 2008
You may recognize Ms. Peppard if you watched the documentary the Motherhood Manifesto. (You can find it on MomsRising website if you haven't- you should see it!). Ms. Peppard shares her story of being denied employment after admitting that she had children. She has been fighting for this legislation for over ten years, with no success yet.
While I completely support Ms. Peppard's efforts, I don't think that legislation is the way to make real change in the workplace. It is an important component to the solution, but only one part. There will always be idiot employers out there who make bad decisions, such as not hiring moms because they think they are unreliable. And a law to penalize them is a good idea and will protect many women (although if you make such bad decisions, won't your business fail anyway?).
But, I believe that every time a parent negotiates some flexibility in their work, we make some progress toward changing the nature of the work world. Further, as employers begin to see that they can attract and retain top talent through offering flexible work arrangements that allow people to have a life outside of work, real change will begin to evolve.
Friday, April 25, 2008
In most states it is not illegal to ask women if they have children. As long as they ask both men and women the same questions, a company has not done anything illegal. However, if a company asks about kids, they are likely going to use that information to decide not to hire a mom. Of course it is difficult to prove that an employer only asks women about having kids. Further, it is difficult to prove that the kids are the reason the company didn't hire someone.
Some suggest maybe the laws need to change. Right now it is illegal to ask about children in 22 states. I haven't been able to find any evidence on whether or not such laws have any effect on actual outcomes for women. Similar laws in other states certainly couldn't hurt, they would at least give women some recourse if they believe they were discriminated against.
However, I believe maternal profiling will end only when real change takes place in the workplace. When companies are able to offer flexible work options that allow moms (and dads) to meet their family obligations and also get their work done, companies will realize that a mom isn't such a bad hire.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
- Low-guilt childless travel. My husband and I occasionally get away for a day or two, but I always feel bad for leaving the kids and also for imposing on a family member to take them (of course I don’t feel bad enough not to go, just a little bad). But when I travel to a conference, I can’t feel bad because I must go. It’s not like I am electing to take a vacation, I have to go for my job. Further, I leave the kids with my husband. Instead of feeling bad for imposing on someone, I feel good to give him some ‘quality’ time with the kids.
- Sleeping alone, all night. I’ve mentioned before that I often wake in the night to visitor from down the hall. No such thing in a hotel room by yourself! Good sleep, all night.
- A break from work. Unlike other business travel, conferences typically give you a chance to relax and learn in an un-stressful environment. Even though I am speaking at this conference, I don’t have to work too hard. It is more about networking, picking up some interesting information, and a few nice dinners out.
And so, while I will miss the kids and will get a little behind in my work, I am looking forward to my few days away!
Sunday, April 20, 2008
The challenge is even greater in the U.S. which doesn't even provide new moms with the benefit of paid time-off. As noted in the above article:
"There's a clear penalty to motherhood and caregiving in this country," says Eileen Appelbaum, director of the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University. "Basically we've said to women, if you can conduct yourself in the workplace as if you were a man, without any other responsibilities, being available day and night, then (and only then) will your pay and opportunities will be similar."
As long as women play the game, they can be successful. Pick your career or pick your family. This is the dilemma faced by women in the workforce. While many have negotiated the flexibility they need in order to be successful both at home and at work, change is still needed. In addition to making changes in your own work arrangement, you can join the effors of MomsRising to promote open and flexible work here.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
But, is a little TV such a terrible thing? I let my kids watch some TV each day. They watch a half-hour or so in the morning while I take a shower and then another half-hour while settling down for bedtime. Sometimes when my daughter is taking a nap, my son has the TV on while he plays with his Legos or something. Many will say that I let them watch too much. But I am not so sure.
I probably do watch too much TV myself. But, after a long and stresfsul day, sometimes just mindlessly watching TV (with reality being my favorite) helps me to de-stress.
So my question, is a little TV all so bad? While I am sure my kids could watch less TV, and I am pretty set on not letting them watch more, do I need to feel guilty about them watching what they do? I watched TV as a kid and I haven't turned out so bad. And, even though it is a passive activity, my kids do learn things. Most of what my kids know about careers (police, fire, etc.), they have learned from videos. And often they will do something such as spell a word or explain something new to me based on something they caught on a show.
With everything else I am supposed to feel guilty about, is a few hours of TV here and there really so bad? Or can I just give myself some slack on this one?
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
And so on days when I feel stressed, when I wonder how I am going to get everything done that I need to, I try to remember everything I should be grateful for. I tried doing a gratitude journal once, as I read that writing down the positives in your life will help you focus on those and improve your overall happiness and well-being. But I kept forgetting to write in it. Go figure. Under stress you forget often to take time to be happy. But today I thought I would take a minute and list some things I am grateful for.
- Two, healthy and happy kids. While they have had some health issues, and we struggle with some things such as their speech development, overall they wake up every day feeling good and happy.
- A stable income, a nice home, and all of the necessities we desire. While we may not be able to buy all of the things we'd like, or do everything we want to, we really do live a comfortable life.
- A good marriage, while we certainly have our share of fights, Dave and I get along better than most.
- Many great friends. I am never in need of a friend to call, or someone to go do something fun with. My husband and I both have been fortunate to surround ourselves with wonderful people.
- An enjoyable and self-fulfilling career. I truly enjoy what I do.
All in all not a bad list. There really isn't too much more that I want from life. Often, just focusing on the good and having a positive attitude can help any day be a better one!