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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Work/Life Balancing Act Relocates

As of today, my work/life balancing act blog will relocate to Typepad. Please update your bookmark and RSS feeds. The new address is http://miamiherald.typepad.com/worklifebalancingact/

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Will Dad Ever Do His Share?

In a provocative article in The New York Times, writer Lisa Belkin delves into the concept of equal parenting with When Mom and Dad Share It All.


Belkin points out that experts say any way you measure it, women do about twice as much around the house as men. But there is a movement underway toward marriages where spouses are each equally likely to plan birthday parties or put the children to bed or be the parent who goes along on the school field trip.


As Kathy Lingle points out on her work-life blog some call it “shared care”, while Belkin prefers the phrase “equally shared parenting,” but they are both talking about spouses who vigorously attempt to split the tasks of parenting (and housekeeping) precisely down the middle. Each partner doing exactly half of everything.

Sometimes, though, when a man earns more, he feels he should do less at home. As Lingle notes, gender does seem to exert an inequitable tug on the division of labor at home. Belkin quotes Francine M. Deutsch, a psychology professor at Mount Holyoke and the author of Halving It All: How Equally Shared Parenting Works as saying "the nuances of relationships are complicated, built on foundations that even we may not see until we try to alter them. If your partner’s ambition is what attracted you in the first place and if his/her decision to dilute that ambition would make you think less of him/her, then this is not for you."


But what happens when you take gender differences out of the equation. To do that, Belkin looked at same-sex couples. She discovered, "While straight parents get into the blame game about who is shirking responsibility, lesbian moms bicker about not getting enough time with the kids.'' Belkin discovered lesbian couples have a more equal division of housework and parenting than their heterosexual counterparts.

What do you think of equally shared parenting? Would it work in your home?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Do working dads worry about kids while at work?

A Father's Day article in CareerBuilder caught my attention both for the tips it gave and the assumptions it made.

"Men who place a high priority on family often need to be thick-skinned about it,' said Pam Ragland, owner of Aiming Higher Quantum Success Co., a personal and business consulting firm. She says men tell her they feel like a pansy if they end up dong things women traditionally do like chauffeuring children to activities.

Next, Ragland gave this tip: "Allow yourself to focus only on whatever you are doing during that time block. No worrying about kids when you are working, no worrying about work when you are with your kids. "

I read that and my first thought was that I really doubt most married men worry about their kids when they are working. I do believe that fathers worry about work when they are with their kids. But let's be real, most fathers don't worry about the logistics of their family life during the work day like mothers do. And, even if they they do on occasion, I'm sure it's not on a regular basis.

My husband disagrees with my assessment. He says men worry about family during the work day -- but more from the perspective of supporting the family and money issues. This may be true, but still I doubt it consumes much of their time during the work day.

Do you agree with either of us? Do you think dads worry about their kids when they are at work?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Fathers weigh in on work/life role models


The majority of fathers told researchers they would give up pay for work/life balance. So, why don't they just do it? Anchor Cynthia Demos asked me that question on my TV appearance this morning. My answer: fear. A lot of men don't want to rock the boat at work.

I've been thinking a lot about a comment by Rebeldad blogger Brian Reid. He's a proponent of working fathers using the family-friendly policies that exist at their companies: "There's a gulf between corporate policy and what men feel they can take advantage of. Leading by example sounds uninspiring but breaking down traditional roles has an impact."

Reid took paternity leave seven years ago, and believes he was the first at his company to do it. Unfortunately, men still hesitate to do what Reid did. But I do think some men are taking the lead. My Miami Herald article today gives some examples. The article also is posted on MomsMiami.com.

In Miami, senior lawyer Bill Walker, knows his viewpoint isn't popular with his partners at White & Case. Yet, he still tries to get young fathers at his law firm to find new role models. "There are plenty of young dads here until all hours and weekends. They are modeling the money behavior of the guy down the hall instead of other guy down the hall who is not working as hard, maybe not making as much money, but spending more time with his kids."

Walker gave me an honest look at why an Adecco survey found more than half of men think their companies should do more to help with work/life balance. "We interviewed someone yesterday, an experienced lawyer, looking to relocate. For about five minutes we discussed whether coming here allow would allow him to maintain, work/home balance he wants to achieve. I told him I don't know. "

Do you think working fathers are doing enough to be role models for others? Is the fear of using work/life programs justified?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dads think their company should do more

The latest Adecco USA Workplace Insights survey commissioned in celebration of Father's Day found that working fathers have a lot in common with working mothers when it comes to managing work/life priorities. "The perception that the work/life balancing act is mainly a female struggle no longer holds up in today's workplace," says Rich Thompson, Vice President of Training & Development for Adecco Group North America.

Adecco's Father Day survey found:
* 81 percent of dads are very likely to work late or respond to emails after hours.
* 64 percent say it's more challenging to manage family life than career.
* 55 percent think companies should do more to help them achieve work/life balance.


Here's another interesting daddy fact: The economy is taking its toll on Father's Day spending. Average per capita spending on dad is expected to drop to $27.60 in 2008 from $28.97 last year, IBISWorld predicted.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Taking vacations increases your value

Is it possible that taking lots of vacation time can increase the value of your company? Are you one of the people who go through the angst of wanting to take vacation while secretly worried about what you will miss when you are gone --- will work pile up, will clients find other vendors, will the boss discover he doesn't need you?

To be more valued, Norm Brodsky, author of Inc. Magazine's Street Smarts column, insists you take a vacation -- but do it the right way! Here are the mistakes he says people make: Some think they are taking a vacation but they just moved their offices outdoors because they spend most of their vacation doing work. The other groups takes a vacation but really wants a lifestyle change and because they haven't done the planning they end up alienating customers and employees.

He says this is the key: Brodsky timed his vacations to coincide with the periods when business was slow. He says it made him smarter when he returned: "I could see issues and problems with a clarity I hadn't had before." (If you are an employee, you may want to vocalize your new clarity to your boss!)

To me, the most right-on sentence in Brodsky's article is this one: "Though people like to portray themselves as making sacrifices for their business, they aren't, in fact, helping anybody by not taking vacations."

Brodsky came up with the long-term goal of eventually taking off four months every year. "I know a lot of businesspeople my age who would like to be able to do that. The problem is, most haven't laid the groundwork." Brodsky laid the groundwork over seven years. He gradually increased his time away from the business and trained others to do his jobs. The upside: when he was at the company, he could focus on making contributions that would enhance the business, yet he could leave knowing his customers would never notice his absence.

Last year, when Brodsky went to sell a majority stake in his business, the company's ability to run without him increased the value. "I got a better price for my stock in addition to a lot of free time. That's something you might bear in mind the next time you're trying to decide whether to take a vacation."

Meanwhile, this summer a growing number are planning to bring the office with them on vacation, according to CareerBuilder.

Do you plan to take a vacation this summer? Are you planning to work on your vacation? Could you imagine yourself taking as much as four months off?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Dads who cut back work help at home

I'm enjoying a blog that addresses work life balance from a father's perspective. Check it out. In his latest posting, Blogger s reveals: Dads who cut back on their hours to help at home are not just sitting on their couches watching ESPN's Sportscenter.

The research says: Part-time worker dads do more housework (about an hour more) than full-time worker dads, and about 40 minutes more childcare. We know about these changes thanks to forthcoming work from Liana Sayer (Ohio State University) and Sanjiv Gupta (University of Massachusetts at Amherst) in which they analyzed the 2003-2005 ATUS.

Researchers also discovered that mothers do more paid work—14 hours more—than they did 40 years ago. They do less housework—exactly 14 hours fewer—too. But they do 4 hours more of childcare than in the past. But it looks like those girl gab sessions in Sex & The City are more fictitious than we care to admit: bonding with spouse, kin, and friends is being sacrificed by working moms for time with children, research shows.

-- Council on Contemporary Families, How Americans Use Their Time: Got Data?