Tag Archives: Work Life Balance

Mothers and Fathers in the Land of Oz

When my husband and I read The Wizard of Oz to our daughter several years ago, we discovered that L. Frank Baum wrote a sequel, The Marvelous Land of Oz, in 1904 and it was included in the old book we were using so we read that to her too.

My husband ended up being the one on duty the night he finished the last chapters of The Marvelous Land of Oz. When we woke up the next morning, he brought me the book and said, “You have to read this passage.”

Scene: Scarecrow, now the king, and his friends are returning to the Emerald City after a journey.

As they passed the rows of houses they saw through the open doors that men were sweeping and dusting and washing dishes, while the women sat around in groups, gossiping and laughing.

“What has happened?” The Scarecrow asked a sad looking man with a bushy beard, who wore an apron and was wheeling a baby-carriage along the sidewalk.

“Why, we’ve had a revolution, Your Majesty – as you ought to know very well,” replied the man; “and since you went away the women have been running things to suit themselves. I’m glad you decided to come back and restore order, for doing housework and minding the children is wearing out the strength of every man in Emerald City.”

“Hmm! said the Scarecrow thoughtfully, “If it is such hard work as you say, how did the women mange it so easily?”

“I really do not know,” replied the man with a deep sigh. ‘Perhaps the women are made of cast-iron.”

I laughed of course – and marveled at the way that short scene and bit of dialogue so masterfully draws attention to and challenges traditional gender roles.

Baum flips the roles and conjures an image of women sitting around gossiping and laughing and men wheeling baby carriages and sweeping.  Readers laugh at the absurdity, but it is the fact that we find this absurd that shows us the real absurdity of traditional roles that have women doing a disproportionate amount of the family work.

Plus, Baum has the women staging a “revolution” in order to get their leisure time. More than one woman I know has felt she had to stage a “revolution” in her own home to get a fairer sharing of the family work.

Finally, Baum’s men, the stereotypically “strong” gender, are wearing out from the work and suggesting maybe the “women are made of cast-iron.” All of which draws attention to the fact that caring for family is really hard work that often goes unnoticed.

If Baum could think it up in 1904, by 2011 we ought to be able to conjure up a real-life Marvelous Land of Oz where mothers and fathers share the sweeping and minding of the children and both have some time to sit around gossiping and laughing too.

Kristin

  • Share the passage with friends or your spouse. What do you think Baum is trying to say here?
  • Often the best way to break down our own subconscious stereotypes is to be exposed to people who are counter-stereotype, whether they are real or made-up. Can you think of other fictional characters that break the mold of the “traditional” father or mother?
Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

‘Safe’ Social Networking Tailored for K-12 Schools

This school year, the students in Robert A. Miller’s 5th grade class at Port Orange Elementary School in Florida have been chatting with historical figures. They’ve given Thomas Jefferson advice on how to write the Declaration of Independence and touched base with Benjamin Franklin. In early spring, they had conversations with explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark as the duo made their way west. The explorers sent back detailed descriptions of prairie dogs and the sights they saw on their travels. Students had to restrain themselves from revealing to the explorers the pivotal role that the recent addition to their team—a pregnant Native American woman named Sacagawea—would play.

Students are having conversations with those celebrated figures (played by Mr. Miller), as well as each other and their teacher, using the social-networking site Edmodo, which is designed specifically for use in schools. “It makes learning more interactive” Mr. Miller said. “It’s a way to extend the classroom after hours, but I’m also using it to present lessons.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Education, Kids & School, Social Media

5 Rules You Should Eliminate Now

Love Margaret Heffernan, and rarely have seen so much truth about organizations packed in so few words.

Published originally on BNet.com.

The dirty little secret of business today: there really are no agreed-upon ways of doing business anymore. Every company does everything differently, and you can’t really compare them because there are no controlled experiments. So it isn’t a science.

But here are five very old rules that I see successful companies breaking all the time. I thought they’d give you some food for thought – unless you’re already breaking all of these– which I very much doubt.

1. Set working hours

Forget 9 – 5. Try to get rid of face time. All your team should have goals they’re accountable for but when and where they’re achieved really doesn’t matter. Some people work well at night, some early morning, some don’t get up til noon. I’ve always told my employees that, as long as they didn’t mess their co-workers around, I didn’t care what hours they worked. No one let me down.

2. Limit vacation time

The communications firm Global Tolerance doesn’t give employees vacation allowances. They just trust people to manage their time on and their time off in such a way that co-workers and clients aren’t disappointed. With a 40% per year growth rate for the last 4 years, this does not appear to have hurt them. To the contrary, it’s one of the things that has provoked high levels of commitment.

3. Agonize over maternity leave

Everywhere I go, business owners tell me that, sure, they want to hire women – but especially in small companies, losing a key employee for weeks or months on end, due to maternity, isn’t feasible. In Europe, where there’s statutory maternity leave (actually there is everywhere in the world except Lesotho, Papua New Guinea, Swaziland and the U.S.), being required to give women time off enrages many men. Every woman I’ve ever employed wanted to come back to work and wanted not to lose touch. With each one, I reached a different agreement about how we’d manage the time off – and in no case was I disappointed. Some did a day a week all through their leave; some wanted to come back early and take time off later. All these formations worked.

By the way, individuals may choose whether or not to have kids but they can’t choose whether or not to have parents. So think about maternity leave as your rehearsal for the day when most of your workforce have elderly parents they need to attend to.

4.  Fire slowly

Everyone makes mistakes hiring, whether they are quick and instinctive or slow and methodical. And usually that mistake is obvious in the first 6 months. Do not think you can turn this around. It’s distracting, time-consuming and you will fail. If you goofed, ‘fess up and move on.

5. Skimp on severance

This comes via Jonathan Kaplan, CEO of Pure Digital. “We gave our workers four to six months’ severance, even if they’d worked only four months. You might think that’s crazy. But it was our mistake to hire that person. And it’s not that much money, really.” Of course those employees left the company feeling pretty good about it – and spreading the word that it was a good place to work. Cheaper than headhunters!

Are there any old rules that you’re breaking? Would you try breaking these five? Why or why not?

Leave a comment

Filed under Business Advice, Career-Life Fit, Mothers & Fathers, Work-Life Fit

School Network Readies Students for College and Career

A great read about Linked Learning in the latest Education Week.

With a program called Linked Learning, California educators show that academics and career and technical education don’t have to be mutually exclusive

Porterville, Calif.

To the national debate about whether students should pursue career and technical education or college preparation, a California program wants to add an emphatic declaration: Yes .

The refusal to choose between one instructional emphasis or the other symbolizes the work being done to build career pathways in nine school districts as part of Linked Learning , an initiative cited as a national model of career and technical education.

One of the places the project is unfolding is in a cluster of high schools in a district that serves a predominantly Latino, low-income community here among the Central Valley’s…

Continue Reading >

Leave a comment

Filed under Current News & Events, Education

Families Matter: Designing Media for a Digital Age

Important information for parents and educators!

by Lori Takeuchi, Ph.D. | June 2011 | View Bio

DOWNLOAD: Executive Summary | Report

Families Matter focuses on two complementary studies that document how families with young children are integrating digital media into the rhythm of daily life. Results from a survey of more than 800 parents of children ages 3 through 10 reveal how parents nationwide feel about raising children in a digital age. In-depth case studies provide further insight into these statistics, probing how parent attitudes toward technology, along with family values, routines, and structures, are shaping young children’s experiences using digital media. This research assumes an ecological view of development and learning, which considers the many different spheres of influence — from parents to peers to the social and economic context — that a child now must navigate while growing up.

You will need Adobe Reader to view this report.

Download the full report.

Leave a comment

Filed under Education

An Email Management System that Works!

Fast Company's Weekly Work Smart Column

In February a tweet from Fast Company magazine linking to one of their articles caught my eye, Work Smart: Conquering Your Email Inbox by Gina Trapani. Anything that promises to help me conquer the barrage of email is worth a moment to read I figured. The system seemed simple too, create three folders in your email inbox: “To-do, Reference, and Wait.” Clear your email box EVERY time you go into it by putting everything you can’t delete into one of those three folders.

Okay, this new system is working like a charm. Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Career-Life Fit, Workplace and Employment

Cali Yost’s Remodeling Tools for Work+Life Fit™

Cali Yost

Since my book, This is Not How I Thought It Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood to Get the Lives We Want Today, was released, Twitter has connected me with a host of people I wouldn’t have connected with otherwise, or I wouldn’t have found them for months. Cali Yost at Work+Life Fit is one of them. Twitter even gave us the opportunity to meet in person – briefly – while I was swinging through the East Coast this past fall. (Sick kid at home, Cali came out to a book signing to introduce herself.)

I just wish I had stumbled across Cali’s book, Work+Life Fit: Finding the Fit That’s Right For You, and her blog before I finished my own because I would have included both in my book. (I’ve added them to my Remodeling Tools web page now!). In my book I talk about the importance of shifting our language away from terms and phrases that have come to embody outdated assumptions about mothers, fathers, money, marriage and work. To that end I suggest replacing “work-family balance” – which tends to reinforce the separation between work and family- with options like “work-life integration” or “career-family fit.” But frankly, I’ve found that Cali’s term, “work+life fit,” is the one that now rolls off my tongue most easily and busts all the cultural assumptions I’m interested in busting up. Her book is a great tool for challenging our own assumptions about “work” that can keep us from envisioning and then taking responsibility for crafting our own “work+life fit” plan.

Cali recently published on her blog Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Career-Life Fit, Recommendations, Remodeling Motherhood, Workplace and Employment

Secrets of Stress-Free Family Time

rbk-happy-mom-and-child-0809-mdn

Photo from Original Redbook Article. Photo Credit: Robert Daley/Getty Images

I ran across this great article, by Redbook Magazine‘s Jennifer Matlack, titled “Secrets of Stress-Free Family Time.”  In the article she talks about how to downshift from a busy day so you can relax and reconnect with the ones you love.

The first 10 minutes after you arrive home set the tone for the whole night. It’s been a long, hectic, exhausting day, and all you want to do is wash your stress away with a hot, foamy bath or some mindless TV. But you can’t, of course. You’ve got to start the evening shift at home. And when you’re feeling frazzled and tired, switching gears to reconnect with your family isn’t so easy. “After a tough day, you’re worn thin and on the verge of losing it with your kids,” notes Ingrid Schweiger, Ph.D., a family therapist in New York City. But blowing your top could mean blowing family time altogether, she says, because research shows that the first 10 minutes after you walk through the door at night determine the tone and outcome of the rest of your evening.

You can make it through the witching hour without becoming a witch, however, if you take the time to re-enter family life the right way. First, show your husband and kids that you’re there for them — say hello, make eye contact, hug them, kiss them. Then, grab a moment just for you, Schweiger suggests: “Change your clothes, sit down somewhere — whether it’s the bathroom or your walk-in closet — and for two minutes visualize a peaceful evening with your family.” You’ll be calmer, cooler, and genuinely ready to really be with your husband and kids.

What to do next? Here, 10 women share their creative ideas for easing back into family life after a difficult day:

Continue Reading >>

blogsignature

1 Comment

Filed under Career-Life Fit, Family Work, Kids & School, Time, Workplace and Employment