Friday, October 31, 2008

Broken Microwave

About a week ago our microwave oven broke. There was a loud "zap," and then it was done.

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

Time Impoverished

I would really like to just rest and enjoy Sunday evenings, but I feel the need to spend time this evening working around the house. The house, as usual, is a disaster. I've always prided myself on not caring about how my house looks. However, at some point the clutter and mess can just drive you crazy.
I don't enjoy housework, which certainly doesn't help. And my husband often doesn't seem to notice the mess. But our biggest challenge is time. It wouldn't be that difficult to get this house cleaned up quite a bit if we had lots of free time. For example, the kids are getting older and there are lots of toys they don't need anymore. We could also move their play area to our basement now that they can get up and down on their own, which would help keep our living area free of clutter. But doing so will require a few days of work to clean out the basement and sort through the toys. It just seems overwhelming.
There will obviously always only be 24 hours in a day. Therefore, if you are fighting for more time, you must either use your time more efficiently or more selectively. I think I am extremely efficient. In fact, other people pay me to share my time management wisdom! And I think I am pretty selective with how I use my time. I've spent a lot of time considering how I spend my time and have made deliberate decisions about it. I spend most of my time on the kids and work. After that, I try to get in a little social time. Ater that, there is not much time left for housework.
The solution? I wish I knew.......

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The economy

Last week I attended a 'spa night' organized by my local PTA group. It is an annual outing where we all meet up at a local spa and enjoy food and drinks along with a manicure or massage. This year's outing, however, was much smaller than past years. Not even half of the appointments were filled and the evening ended much earlier than usual. My guess is that many of the regular attendees are cutting back on spending, and a 'spa night' doesn't make the cut.

Many families are watching their finances as they are facing our unstable economy. Rising gas and food prices, coupled with lost investments in the stock market are requiring many to re-evaluate their financial situation. Which of course includes decisions relating to work and income.

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

Leaving corporate life

Many parents who are frustrated with their work/family harmony work for a corporation. Most will agree that corporate life is often not compatible with family life. Corporations, particularly those that are large, have difficulty working with individual needs as they have an obligation to treat employees consistently.

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

What isn't working in your life?

I've spent a lot of time considering what else I could be doing to help parents find more harmony between work and family. I just had an interesting meeting with a colleague at my college to discuss what the college could be doing to reach out to the community in support of working parents. Through our discussion I realized that in order to find out what working parents need to help change their situation- we must first figure out what isn't working.

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?