I took my daughter to see "The Princess and the Frog" this afternoon. I'm not always a fan of Disney movies but she's been bugging me to see it and my husband and son were gone for the day, so thought we would check it out.
Tiana, the Princess, was missing out on much of her youth as she worked hard to fulfill her dream of opening a restaurant as her father had wanted before he died. The Prince, on the other hand, just wanted to have a good time. Typical hard-worker character meets carefree character and everyone is challenged to re-think their priorities.
Somewhat of a cliche, but I think worth thinking about. The problem is in the extremes. Spend all of your time on work, you are not going to be happy. But you also won't be happy if you don't have any focus in your life. In the end the Princess found happiness with the Prince, realizing that loving someone was more important than owning a restaurant. But, she also got the restaurant too. (Sorry for the spoiler if you haven't seen the movie yet, but really, did you expect different for a kids movie?).
I haven't posted in a long time because I have just plain run out of extra time! As each season changes, so does my schedule and while things have become easier in some aspects, they have become more difficult in others. Yes, my kids can now dress themselves and clean their own rooms. But, they have a lot more places they need to be (9 more years before one can drive!) and I have taken on more commitments as well.
So here is my typical day:
6:30am: Up and convince a crabby 7 year old to get dressed on on the bus at 7am.
8:00am: Out the door with a less crabby, but also less focused 5 year old on the way to drop off at school. Getting ready routine has included a quick check of the e-mail.
8:30am-2:15pm: Try to jam an 8 hour work day into less than 6 hours. Teach classes, meet with students and colleauges, work on projects etc. Zip out the door at 2:15 even in mid-stream of something urgent. Occasionally get in a lunch with a friend or a colleauge.
2:30pm: Pick up 5 year old from kindergarten, race to bus stop to get 7 year old off bus at 2:45pm.
3pm-8pm: After school activities, clubs, meetings, dinner, homework and wrestle kids to bed. This is actually the most fun part of the day. Usually get at least an hour or so of fun with the kids.
8pm-11:30pm: Catch up on all of the work that I didn't get done during the day. Grading papers, working on projects, catching up on e-mail. Sometimes actually do some housework, but if you ever visit my house, you may not agree that I am successful.
This regular daily schedule is interrupted quite often with meetings and other commitments that disrupt the day and cause me to have to find time elsewhere to get stuff done. Actually writing it out doesn't seem that bad. I know many who have even more complicated schedules, and many who don't have the luxury of being able to get out of work in time to get kids off the bus. But, sometimes I feel trapped in a world of commitments. When I get to that point, I remind myself that this is the world I chose. And I've been able to work out my choices so I really do get the best of a home life and a professional life. And I just do it.
I recently returned from an annual academic conference where management researchers from across the country share the results of their business-related research. I attended many sessions, but as always, was drawn to sessions discussing research examining work/life issues.
I didn't learn anything surprising. The usual depressing news that women still tend to take on a heavier domestic workload and those who take advantage of flexible work options sometimes don't get the same opportunities for advancement. But some good news such as the fact that companies who respect work/life issues tend to have more committed employees that work harder, and other news that should encourage companies to offer more flexible work options.
I also attended several sessions that examined factors that influence work satisfaction, or success in business. The research presented reminded me about the role that passion plays in creating happy, productive workers. It's not suprising that people who enjoy what they do work harder. But, they also tend to be more successful in finding balance in their lives. While there are certainly some people who may find their passion leads them to work too much, it is not always the case.
Passion for your work can positively impact you and your family in many ways. First, you feel good about working which helps eliminate the feelings of guilt that many parents face. Your kids also can see your enthusiasm and as a result, are less likely to resent your time away from them. If you are passionate about what you do, you are often able to work harder at it, giving you the ability to potentially work less or different work hours. At the very least, if you are passionate, you are more driven to figure out a way to make it work.
So when I am asked about finding family friendly work, I strongly recommend to first figure out your passion. Maybe you already know what it is, and just need to pursue it. If you don't, then the start for your search for family friendly work should start with some self-reflection to help identify what kind of work truly excites you. Whether you start your own business, or pursue the career of your dreams, passion for your work will help you find success. And most likely, find some work-life harmony too.
I can't believe it's been almost two months since I have posted here. I am officially "off" work for the summer, but in reality, I am never off. I do have the kids home, which makes getting work done a challenge. I have been getting up early in the morning to work, I work when the kids play, and I work after they go to bed.
At times I think about how nice it would be to really take some time off. Other times, I wish I was just working regular hours so I wouldn't always feel so far behind. But, most of the time, I really do just enjoy myself. Yes I am up a little early, but I can spend the afternoon playing with the kids in the pool. And maybe I need to work after they are in bed, but if I wasn't working, many times I might just sit and watch TV.
What is most important to me is that I have chosen my work arrangement. When I hear from others who are frustrated with their work arrangement, what I hear most often is that they feel as though they have no other choice.
The summer is slipping by quickly, I will get back to my regular work schedule when it does. Until then, I plan to enjoy my choice.
If you are ready to ask for a flexible work arrangement, but need some help, you might be interested in this. Tory Johnson, the CEO of Women for Hire, is looking for women who want to ask for flexible work to be featured on a television segment. Tory is frequently featured on Good Morning America as an expert in flexible work. Read the excerpt below for the details:
"Do you need a flexible work arrangement?
For a TV segment, we’re looking for women who work fulltime in an office and are desperate to ask the boss for some kind of flexible work arrangement, but are concerned about asking, especially in this economy. If you’d be willing to share your story with our cameras, allow us to coach you on how to approach the boss, and then report the results, please tell us your situation. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
--put FLEX TIME REQUEST in the subject line—and include where you live and work, why you’re in need of a flexible arrangement, why you haven’t already asked, a bit about the culture of your company or department, and what kind of help you think you need. Please include your willingness to appear on TV. If you’re selected, we’ll work with you to approach the boss in the proper manner about this dual request—your flex time and our cameras."
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