What’s Missing in Work-life Balance Programs?
There are books, articles, workshops and coaches all focused on work/life balance. It’s a huge and important topic, but at one level it is essentially flawed. Let me explain why.
Generally the work-life material that I have seen looks at topics such as simplifying, prioritizing, organizing and self-care. These are all important considerations for those fighting the home and work battle. The days of believing that Moms could do it all, be it all and have it all are dead. Thank goodness! So what’s the problem?
Today Mom and Dad are increasingly parenting children while each holds down a salaried position. In the past we determined that parenting and parenting materials were primarily for women. That’s less so today and in the near future we will see increasing numbers of young Dads actively raising kids.
Parenting is also a career. Each parent has a job of some sort and they also parent. They are both essentially dual career people. And here’s the gap in the work/life balance materials. It is training. We can organize our lives, delegate tasks, outsource some chores and make sure to have some time to look after ourselves but if we only have training for our salaried job, we’re lost. We also need training for our career as parents. Indeed, it is doubly important in the case of parents with salaried jobs.
If you went to work and tried to figure out how to do the job by trial and error drawing on your life experiences how well do you think it would go?
Guilt — Friend or Foe?
It’s pretty much impossible to talk about trying to balance work and family responsibilities without mentioning guilt. In some of the materials, I’ve seen a mention of the value of guilt but the general message is to simply let go of it.
Right. If that was so easy to do, it wouldn’t show up so often as a topic for discussion. Guilt isn’t something we catch like the common cold. It isn’t something we’re stuck with, it like all other emotions, has a reason for being. Generally it motivates us to consider our current choices and why they just don’t seem to be working for us. Then we have a choice. We can make the changes and eliminate the guilt, we can accept that our current condition can’t change and we have to figure out how to accommodate and eliminate the guilt or we can use it as a way of beating ourselves up while making no changes.
I know, it’s not that simple particularly for women who were raised by mothers. The point is you can’t just ignore it or let it go. Which is actually good news because far too many of us have been feeling guilty because we couldn’t just send it away. But we can use it, acknowledge it and then get past it.
You can’t balance two jobs if you’re only trained for one of them. When workplace wellness includes support for parents, the employees function better. Programs such as part-time, flextime and tele-commuting are beneficial for parents. They offer a way to balance time, but not how to raise kids. That requires training.
Parenting workshops, articles, tips and email support are some of the ways the workplace can recognize the importance of the child-raising job held by many of their employees. The more they know about how to do their job at home the more effective they will be in the workplace.
With skills and strategies for effective child-raising they can get organized, can delegate tasks at home which are developmentally appropriate and relax knowing that for the most part they have a handle on both their jobs, at work and at home. And then we see a chance to balance work and family.
Interested? Take a look at the Great@Home..Great@Work program. Based on the understanding that problems at home trump problems at work every time, it offers the workplace support for parents so they can handle the home-based issues and come to the office ready to focus on the job at hand.
The program is multi-faceted and offers you the opportunity to provide the resources that fit in your particular workplace.
Bringing Parenting Today to your event.
Parenting Today is keen to speak as part of your professional development event, parenting workshop or workplace wellness support program. I offer keynotes and workshops, have written books and have ongoing newspaper columns, books, blogs and newsletters. And, no matter what the actual topic, they all share a basic value that I call
P — is a parenting plan
U — is unconditional love
R — is respect for your child as he is right now
E — is encouragement
These make up the framework of any resources that will come from Parenting Today. These four pillars are the essential ingredients for raising healthy children who will develop into capable young men and women.
I’ll be in Winnipeg from December 2 to 4. I am happy to extend these trips if you wish to book an event. I will also be in Calgary and can coordinate that trip to meet your scheduling needs.