A new father’s question: Increased responsibility = more hours and less work-life balance?

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This topic contains 27 replies, has 19 voices, and was last updated by  Mark Hammer 5 years, 9 months ago.

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  • #155649

    Dan
    Participant

    Hi everyone,

    I wanted to see if I could get some advice on this issue. I am a father of a 11 mos. old. The experience has been wonderful but it has also significantly shifted my priorities.

    I have been in the federal workforce for about 7 years, I am a non-supervisory GS14, and I feel like I have some promising opportunities coming up. However, I am nervous about taking on more and more responsibility at work because I do not want to give up time with my family. It seems like all the people in leadership around my agency (Treasury) work “crazy” hours (which I define as consistently working 50-60+ hours a week).

    What is it like at your agency/office? What have other federal workers’ in positions of leadership experienced? Does increased responsibility at the office mean sacrificing work-life balance?

    Thanks for any input!

    Dan

  • #155703

    Mark Hammer
    Participant

    Management jobs are s**t jobs unless you either a) have no kids, b) have a nanny, au pair, or other assistance, c) have a chauvinist attitude and a “wife”, d) don’t particularly care about the joys of parenthood, or e) have a manager and senior management that is heaven-sent.

    I don’t know about where you work, but in my world, the last people to leave the building (apart from night maintenance staff) are always the managers. It’s who you say “Have a good night” or “Have a great weekend to” on your way out.

    A terrific report I read about a decade back, that was commissioned by the British public service found that one of the central features of the “glass ceiling” that impeded women’s advancement in the PS was the expectation that they (i.e., “management material”) would be available for meetings at odd hours, like the end of the day, or weekends. Family commitments that prevented displaying such “heroic” commitment to the job tended to get in the way.

    A terrific book entitled “Beyond work-family balance” by Rhona Rapoport, et al (2002) adopts a very interesting almost-semiotic stance by suggesting that work-family imbalance in the workplace is a by-product of the manner in which competence and commitment are signified in the workplace. And in a lot of workplaces, heroic availability is the calling card of perceived commitment. (Remember that episode of Seinfeld where George left his car parked overnight, and people started thinking he was staying late and coming in early, so they respected him more?). While this tends to pertain to women more often than men, it pertains to men too; the “daddy track”.

    By the way, if your child is 11 months old, anything you can’t seem to find that is smaller than a kaiser roll is more than likely to have been placed between or underneath the cushions on your sofa. Hide it, find it, hide it, find it, hide it, find it, amazing how that works!

    My best parental tip: Sometime when your child is around 3, you will be dining somewhere that decorum is called for and the child will be fidgiting and being a nuisance. Take the shiniest soupspoon you can find, with a clear reflection, show them the concave side, then the convex side, and draw their attention to what has happened to their image. They will spend the next 15 minutes trying to “outwit” the spoon, and forgetting all their discontent and impatience. It works very well but it only works once, so treat it like your last silver bullet when the werewolves attack. 🙂

  • #155701

    Steve Ressler
    Keymaster

    Couple observations I’ve made:

    -Varies a lot by offices – both across agencies and divisions within agencies. I’ve seen some agencies where even SES work alternative work schedules. Other where moment you go past GS-14 you lose a lot of the work/life balance. Check out best places to work rankings by work/life balance – http://bestplacestowork.org/BPTW/rankings/demographics/large/worklife

    -In general, the higher up you go you have more responsibility. Which I do think inherently is a little more stress – you have more projects and people reporting to you. Which most likely requires more time although some people are really efficient managers and can handle the stress and actually don’t spend a ton more time

    -Part of it comes down to ambition, intellectual stimulation, wanting to make impact – It’s not a good or bad thing but I think all choices have pros/cons. Part of the issue with not taking on responsiblity is how you are going to handle it when your former co-worker or subordinate does take those assignments and in 3-5 years is your boss. Will you be okay with that because you are prioritizing other items or will that frustrate you?

    -Finally, I also think it’s okay to think in phases. If your kid is 11 months, it may be time to just cruise for 18-24 months. You can hang low for a little bit and this still get back on a leadership track (but you probably can’t be cruising low-key for too long)

  • #155699

    Hey Dan – It’s a tough, great question. Building on some of the principles of “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and other leadership development reading, I’ve laid out my roles in a prioritized list — Husband, Father, Son/Sibling, Friend, Employee/Manager/Colleague, etc. — and I really strive to manage my time / energy in a way that honors that prioritization. I try to be as efficient as I possibly can, working from 8a – 6p and when I’m done, I’m done. I focus on my family from 6p – 10p. Generally, if I still have something to get done, I either stay up late after my wife has gone to bed or I go to bed with her and get up super early. On the weekends, I really try to not work or limit it to low-impact times (i.e. early in AM, when others are out of the house).

    There’s a great podcast / book with a provocative title called “Choosing to Cheat” and it talks about our value systems – we all cheat something or someone by the way we use our time. The bottom line: give 100% to work. And if your family is a higher value / priority, don’t cheat ’em. Sometimes we have a tendency to think, especially with younger children, “Oh, they’ll be okay as they don’t understand daddy’s not around” or “I’m doing this for them and their future.” S/he’ll know whether or not you’re around…and will never be this age again! 😉

    I think you can do both, but it takes some discipline and commitment.

  • #155697

    Dan
    Participant

    Thanks Andrew – I think I will check that book out, seems very appropriate!

  • #155695

    Corey McCarren
    Participant

    I keep meaning to borrow that from the “library”! Good reminder. I admire your prioritization and how you’ve scheduled out everything to make that happen; that definitely isn’t inherent for most people and takes a lot of work. I think a good chunk of people feel more guilty about neglecting work than their family. I’m not saying either should or need be neglected, but my point is that culturally it’s seems more acceptable to neglect family than work which has always perplexed me. Maybe it’s because they assume their family will always be there, but fear losing their jobs?

  • #155693

    Deb Green
    Participant

    A great question – and one that sociologists have been studying for years.

    The “mommy track” vs the “career track” isn’t a debate that’s only open to one gender any longer. In my opinion, it never should have been. When I went on maternity leave, I took my time coming back. It gave folks an opportunity to demonstrate they could do a higher order job without me. And that was important professional development.

    I fall into the “E” category that Mark describes – my manager (who himself has young kids!) understands that family needs to come first and needs to be taken care of. The bottom line is that I take care of stuff when it needs to be taken care of, irrespective of if the work day is “on” or “over”.

    Does it go over 40 hours? Sure. But will I routinely spend 10 or 12 hours at my desk a week? Heck no.

    The best answer to this question lies in what do you see from your supervisor or from that senior manager that you’d possibly report to. How do they manage their home life? Do they have one? Can they relate?

    We can give you our perspectives, but the real answer will lie within what you already see…..

  • #155691

    Stephen Beller
    Participant

    It’s all about your priorities. Nothing wrong with wanting the responsibility and job satisfaction and be able to honor the family commitments at home.

    Take a good look around, you’ve already seen the hazards in your current arena. Options are moving to another area where it’s easier to strike the right balance. Perhaps even look outside government. Or temper your ‘career’ assumptions/ expectations realistically. Life’s not all about the ever bigger paycheck, something I’ve learned the hard way.

    Recommend reading “The One-Life Solution” by Dr. Henry Cloud for starters.

    One more thing – as you move up, recognize the same dilema in those working for you. Don’t force them to choose one over the other – allow them to achieve the same balance you’d like to have. My 2 cents…

  • #155689

    Steve Ressler
    Keymaster

    Great tip here – look how your supervisor manages their work life.

  • #155687

    Candace Riddle
    Participant

    Dan,

    I’ve struggled with this for the past 6 years. I’m a single mom of a little boy. Thus far, my approach has been to sacrifice when necessary on each side of the equation. This approach has worked much better for me in the non-profit world.

    I found that in the private sector (financial services…during the crash), I was working all hours of the night and weekend and still not getting ahead. When I moved to DC, about two years ago, the cost of child care was too much for my salary and living expenses, and my son was still too young for school. I had to sacrifice and send him to Ohio for a year while I started my new job. I spent my weekends driving back and forth to see him while he stayed with my parents. I kept my head down and worked hard for that entire year. When the time was up, I went to my employer and asked for either a BIG raise so I could afford to bring my son to DC, or permission to work remote 100% of the time. My employer agreed to let me work remote!

    So far, it has worked out great. I am now in Charlotte, NC where the cost of living is less. I am able to be at home to put my son on the bus, and to get him off the bus when he gets home. Overall it works, however, there are some sacrifices working this way as well. I miss the office and seeing my colleagues, I don’t have the networking opportunities here that I had in DC, etc. BUT….I would never go back to working for a company that did not allow this type of flexibility unless they paid enough for me to hire help. I have a flex work schedule (get your hours in…it doesn’t have to be between 9-5)….and every other Friday off.

    My point here is this….there are always going to be sacrifices on each side of the work/ life equation. Prioritize appropriately. Your children are only little once, and you only have a little while to mold them into the adult that you hope they’ll become….on the other hand your career and thus your pay are also necessary evils and you have to have them in order to provide for your family.

    I personally don’t believe in the glass ceiling…if there is a will…there is a way…at least with great management. 🙂

    P.S. – It is only going to get more difficult as your child gets older, so coasting for 18-24 months probably isn’t the best advice. When they reach school age, your time at night is taken up with homework, sports, dance recitals etc. Then it’s not getting out of the office to get home to relieve your wife etc…then it becomes making it to the bus stop on time or to the game on time etc. If you’re gonna go for management…go for it now while they’re little and get a handle on the balance before they get older (that is my 2 cents).

  • #155685

    Amy Ngo
    Participant

    Great question! From someone who loves working and loves being a parent. It’s not the amount of time you spend with your children it’s the quality of the time you spend. When your at work give 100% and when you are with family give 100%.

    I think the opportunities you have in the workplace are a wonder way to lead and be part of a cultural shift that needs to happen in government. It’s an opporutnity to lead by example and have impact in a positive ways showing it’s important to stay true to your work and true to your family. It can be done. Use the workplace flexibilities such as alternative work schedules and telework to get you the desired balance you need. Work is not a place you go, it’s what you do. Let your great work show, try not to worry about the amount of hours “in the office”.

    For me the first year is huge after having a baby. Toddlers are easier and harder in different ways. You may find that as your child ages it’s easier to find work/life balance. Babies, although a great joy, are lots of work.

    Just like when you first took on parent hood, no matter what your choice, you’ll find a way to fit it all in. And when your not enjoying life, you’ll know to make changes to make it better.

  • #155683

    Kelley Coyner
    Participant

    I would change from thinking about balance to how you juggle your various elements of your life. I found that having children removed the fulcrum on the see saw and instead I needed to think about some times intensely pursuing work and other times being their 25/8 for my family and still other times doing each part way.

    Increased responsibility may mean greater flexibility if you can take advantage of the flexibility. Having a young child also brings a chance to really sort out what is important. When I returned from maternity leave the first time, I was in part of part of investigation of a major airline crash. I could have stayed late every night.But I would look at my desk and ask what must get done before I go. . Nothing.. And I would go home. Often I took a call or read something after I got home but I worked it around family.

    It does matter where you are working and who you are working for and what you are working on. My impression is that parts of Treasury have a culture of nonstop work and that much of Treasury;s work on financial issues and restarting the economy have given it an intensity that you probably not going to turn off. The question of whether something can be juggled with family with respect to Treasury probably rests in what you are working on and who you are working for and with. The latter who you are working with when you take on management level responsibilities matters too. How do the other managers juggle and expect of each other, what do they people working for you expect from you.

    I have worked across all three branches of government in a wide range of roles from late night computer work, receptionist program manager, lawyer, chief of staff, Senate confirmed head of agency, law clerk, legislative analyst etc. (And in the private sector and nonprofits internationally and domestically.) I have three kids 8, 13 and 16.I only had a nanny when we lived overseas and I worked from home. I do have a spouse who is very flexible and is also very engaged with our kids. You do need to find ways to cut out the nonessential at home.

    Dealing with work, family, and the rest of life is constantly a juggling challenge. Some times I miss a ball– hopefully it does not hit me in the head.

  • #155681

    Sterling Whitehead
    Participant

    Dan, this video should provide some insight. It addresses your specific question about the career/family dynamic. It’s hands down one of the best things I’ve seen all year.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/larry_smith_why_you_will_fail_to_have_a_great_career.html

  • #155679

    Samuel F Doucette
    Participant

    Dan,

    In the military/DoD subculture in which I work, once you reach GS-14/15 level you are expected to put in the crazy hours you speak of because the mission is paramount. I’m a supervisory GS-13 and father of three kids under 5 (4 yrs, 3 yrs, and 10 months). I know that if I were to aspire to the GS-14/15 ranks, my home life would suffer somewhat and I’m prepared to turn down those opportunities for the time being.

    Some things are not worth the extra money…at least at this point.

    Sam Doucette

  • #155677

    Michael Stevens
    Participant

    Throw a second kid and two working parents into the mix and have some real fun!

    I changed to a 9/80 schedule this year, have every other Monday off, ensuring I spend some quality time with the kids. I love it. I do have the BlackBerry handy and answer a few emails throughout the day but it makes me feel more involved as a parent. My advice is you only have one shot to get the parenting thing right. You are infleuncing your kids NOW in regards to success in life in the future. Work with your agency and find the right mix of work/life balance. It’s a big topic in government and agencies should have an open ear to anything you propose.

    Good luck!

  • #155675

    Mark Hammer
    Participant

    Though the same questions were not asked during the most recent 2011 cycle, in 2002, 2005, and 2008, the Canadian Public Service Employee Survey (the functional equivalent of the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey) asked federal employees how much each of a variety of factors were felt to have slowed down their career progress.

    The results were analyzable by job families ( http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pses-saff/2008/results-resultats/res-eng.aspx?m=d&o1=00&dc=891). When one compared the management (EX) category against the others (scientific and professional, admin support, technical, etc.), the results told a fascinating story. For the other job families, the factor most often nominated as impeding career progress was something one might colloquially refer to as “I’m qualified for better jobs but I’m not allowed to apply for them because I don’t work in that agency/region, aren’t considered to have enough of the right kind of experience, or some other stupid reason”. For those in the management family, however, head and shoulders above all other factors was “Conflict between work and family or personal obligations”. No other job family was as likely to nominate that factor as an impediment to their career progress

    To be fair, it wasn’t perceived as being as much of a hindrance to managers, as obstacles to applying and lack of developmental assignments were to the other job families, but it WAS clearly number one for managers.

    The data made publicly available precludes more granular analysis, so I can’t say for certain if there were sex differences within the management group. Across all job families, men and women didn’t really differ, but one can safely assume that stuff gets lost in the aggregation. It should also be noted that the dataset does not distinguish between those with and without children, so one has no way of knowing if kids pose the same or different obstacles to career progress for men vs women in the management group. Moreover, there is nothng that lets one distinguish between “family or personal obligations” that might involve children vs frail elderly parents. Still, the work-life thing IS more of an issue, whatever form it takes, for those in the management group.

    I don’t know about your system, but within ours (Canadian) managers are not eligible for overtime pay or compensation in leave. The job takes as long as it takes. All of which makes me wonder if contractual eligibility for overtime might make a difference for managers when it comes to being obliged to put in overtime. I mean, if it costed the organization to have more of those meetings that drag on interminably and oblige overtime, would they have quite as many of them? Something to think about.

  • #155673

    Jaqi Ross
    Participant

    I stepped into a leadership position at the IRS a couple of years ago and quickly found myself overwhelmed with the pace, the competing priorities and the pressure. I manage a team of media professionals who support recruitment, and the irony that the famous federal work / life balance we promote bore little resemblance to my day to day reality didn’t escape me.

    Flash forward a few months, when a popular meme hit Facebook. A friend of mine posted Susie Steiner’s list of the five most popular regrets she hears from those on their death beds. As I read the list, I made a mental checklist. “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself”? Yup. “I wish I had the courage to express my feelings”? Uh-huh. “I wish I had not worked so hard”? Definitely! But, perhaps the hardest to admit, I too often failed to let myself be happy. I didn’t want my daily regret to be my dying regret. And so I made a commitment to myself.

    My 12 and 14-hour days became a thing of the past. I decided that I deserved to take care of myself so that I could take the best care of my staff. I took up some new hobbies, made sure to get plenty of rest, and maintained my passion for supporting my amazing team of folks who each do really important work.

    Amazingly enough, I found that I had more energy and creative fire to invigorate my work and my team. If anything, my team’s engagement and ability to produce results improved. They saw me setting an example of leadership that no longer looked intimidating and overwhelming, but maybe a little… dare I say it?… empowering. Exciting. Rewarding.

    It’s amazingly easy to accept the mold that others offer us. All too often, we take our cues from folks whose personal values don’t match our own. Think about it… if you hate pink penny loafers, you probably don’t own any. Why would you be any more willing to put on a management style that doesn’t complement you? As a leader, I maintain a laser focus on supporting my folks and creating an environment where they can do their best work. I do it because I find it personally rewarding. And the best part is, it doesn’t take 12, or even 10, hours a day.

    My recommendation to Dan and others who eyeball leadership opportunities with suspicion based on what they’ve seen modeled within their organization is to challenge the status quo. Turn your nose down on those pink penny loaders and strut your own style. There’s room for cowboy boots and shiny pumps in the leadership closet!

    In the recruitment field, we love reminding folks that working for the government is the most important work you can do. If your resume and experience qualify you for a leadership position, and the only reason you’re not pursuing it is because you aren’t willing to make the sacrifices you see other leaders make, I challenge you to think outside the box. It’s not an either/or scenario – you can be a leader and choose not to make those sacrifices that you don’t think are necessary. The worst case scenario (and I’m willing to bet it’s a rare one) involves being returned to the General Schedule, as well as getting a first-hand lesson about just how important it is to have a relationship between your personal values and your organization’s values. To me, the potential to model a different image of leadership – one that perhaps more employees need to see and could benefit from – is worth what amounts to a non-risk.

    Best wishes to both your career aspirations and your growing family, Dan. You can have it all, if you’re willing to choose and live by your own terms.

    Check out Susie Steiner’s full list of regrets at http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/01/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying

  • #155671

    Julie Chase
    Participant

    You are a GS14!? wow. That is why you don’t have any family time. You are “expected” to put in the “time”. In the private sector you would not even ask the question, as there is another equally ambitious person waiting to take your place and the bosses in the private sector know it. As a lowly GS05, my day begins precisely at 0700 and ends precisely at 1530. I walk out the door, end of workday. I read constantly on this site and on other gov sites of the clamoring/clawing to the top. People who are LinkedIn and the Networking crowd….blah, blah, bather. This is the price you pay on the way to the top. I have to ask, to the top of what? You would have to drag me kicking and screaming and/or unconscience to work in Washington, DC, NYC, Miami, LA, San Fran, or any city filled with nameless, faceless people. Between the traffic, the high crime and the outrageous cost of living…..no thank you! Don’t take a management job at a high GS level unless you want to miss your children growing up. I am at the end of my working career/life. I have 9 yrs. God willing and the installation doesn’t close under BRAC. My kids are grown & I am looking forward to being a grandparent. I toiled in the private sector in a minimum wage job……the trade off was, we could afford to buy a house with DH working for the Fed and I working at something which afforded me to have my children with me all day. That was the trade off. It was hard, it was grueling, the private sector and right to work and fire state that I was in made me conscience to “get through it”. I joined the fed later in life and have comfortabley settled in a GS05 job that I truly enjoy and it is “predictable”. No surprises. I don’t fight traffic, the cost of living isn’t that bad, my DH just retired CSRS….and we are now geting comfortable. We don’t have a mansion on the hillside, we have a home that greets me at the end of the workday, which ends precisely at 1530.

  • #155669

    +1, Candace… Especially the part about “you only get one chance to mold them…” My hunch is that most people who choose career realize it too late…

  • #155667

    Steve Ressler
    Keymaster

    Amy – I’m curious your take vs Candace’s on the first year (her argument is never really lets up just different items – baseball practice/etc). What do you find about later years that make work/life balance easier?

  • #155665

    Candace Riddle
    Participant

    +1 Michael….especially the suggestion to “propose” what you need to your agency.

  • #155663

    Amy Ngo
    Participant

    My kids are still pretty young, but I do believe that it’s more and less demanding in different ways. Babies need constant diapering, feeding, and sometimes holding… Toddlers are more independant but test boundaries and there is more “teaching” and “coaching” that a parent does. For me, although I love babies, I find them to take a lot of my energy and time. All the bottle washing, clothes, bathing, teeth brushing, etc… As they get older you begin to teach them to take care of those day to day things on their own and these are important life lessons.

    One thing that I haven’t seen discussed is the importance of having a great support system in place for you and for you child. As a parent, I view my role as the faciliator of positive life experiences for my children. It’s not always that I need to be the one they look to. It’s important they development meaningful relationships with other adults and children.

    I’m fortunate to have my in-laws close and they have been our FT day care when my kids are 0-3 yrs. Then at 3 we have them attend preschool FT. But my in-laws are there to back my husband and I up if we’re ever in a bind that we can’t leave work in time to do pick up or attend an important event. I feel good about the support system we have in place and in comes through in my devotion to my work. I also don’t have the stresses of needing to drop everything to pick them up if they start running a fever because I know I have some great adults who can act on my behalf if needed.

    It’s also important to decide what you want and what you are willing to do… I want to have a career so I find ways to make it easier on myself: my examples include having family watch the kids when possible; In the past I’ve hired help to do laudry, cleaning, and meal prep so that when I’m home I can devote my time to the kids.

    Some ideas are: Consider having your childcare live with you so you don’t have drop off and pick up. Hire help for the household stuff you don’t really want to do anyway. It seems like an expense but it’s worth the piece of mind. Or just let go of the things that really don’t need to get done.

    Help your child by setting up a support system for them. It’s important they have additional outstanding adults and role models in their life, including, but not limited to you! 🙂

    At every stage it will take some creative problem solving to make it work well for you. Flexibility is key. Don’t be afraid to ask or pay for help, even if it’s just temporarily to help you get by when your starting a new job or have a heavy project going on…

  • #155661

    Steve Ressler
    Keymaster

    Makes sense. In general, I think life is about choices and they all have trade-offs so the best thing is to make sure you are at least thinking through the choices and the ramifications and be willing to live with the consequences.

  • #155659

    Julie Chase
    Participant

    If you are a GS14, getting live in help, a nanny or a cleaning person wouldn’t be a problem at all. However, I don’t think the OP wants miss his child growing up and being raised by others and his home cared for by others. Just an empathic opinion.

  • #155657

    Chris Cairns
    Participant

    Good question. My personal opinion is how much resource leverage do you have? If you’re in a position to surround yourself with good talent (even if it’s eventually), you can delegate to trusted and dependable resources with peace-of-mind.

  • #155655

    David Dejewski
    Participant

    Really great responses. Experience is talking here for sure!

    Someone once told me to look at the person (s) who are doing the job you’re looking at five years longer than you. They will give you some idea of where you will be in five years. If work/life balance is important to you, go find out how they’re dealing with work/life balance.

    Decisions we make – the way we live our lives and the priorities we place on things – will have a more profound effect on children than any words we can come up with. Live as you would want your kids to live. They will follow your example.

    I left the government as a GS-15. 50-60 hour weeks were not uncommon, but I chose to look at it this way: If I can’t get what I need to get done in 40 hours or less, why would I want to hire me? I held my staffs to the same standard – though many chose on their own to work long hours anyway. I made myself available during my working hours, but I learned to draw the line with everyone when it was my family time. Nothing in civilian life was so important that it couldn’t wait until morning.

    Today I run a business, but I am also a Boy Scout leader and the Dad who shows up. I give back to my community through the Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), through community Web site’s I run, and through volunteering. My kids see doing what I do and they internalize it. Last year, my daughter started a neighborhood cleanup program!

    You, Dan, are already way ahead of the game. By asking this question at all, you’re well on your way to achieving the work/life balance you’re searching for.

  • #155653

    ResultsPronto
    Participant

    This is a complex decision, a mix of career and family aspirations, and reality checks on time in the day, and energy to pack it all in and still perform well. The only person who can put values on those elements and calculate an answer is you. A GS14 without supervisory duties is a GEM. Supervising is not only time consuming, but it can be very stressful. If you end up with a difficult supervisory situation, it can consume you- and chances are at your level, supervision won’t come with a grade increase. Due to budget cuts, I was given a lateral transfer from a supervisory position, to one without supervisory responsibilities. I was worried about the loss of responsibility, but actually, it’s been an opportunity to focus on the JOB, which I love… and the pay is exactly the same. I am more in control of my time at work, and thus my time at home, because I am my only responsibility. My creativity, focus, and passion are all up. I am not saying I’d never supervise again, but even with great employees, to supervise right, it takes time and may not be the main reason you came into the field your in… But again, you know your opportunities and aspirations best.

    The bottom line, I don’t think balance is achievable in the pure sense- especially balancing home/work. If you keep this in mind, whichever path you chose, at least you’ll have your eyes open and can deal with whatever comes. You can only balance over the long term.. i.e. on any given day you may or may not achieve it. For example, if the child is sick or hurt, realistically, can/will work take a back seat no matter what meetings/travel/deadlines are looming? What if a very high level meeting your team has been preparing for a year is on that day, and you are giving the presentation? These issues will tend to be more critical if you have a position of more responsibility. Of course, perhaps you can manage to reduce or eliminate bottlenecks if AND ONLY IF you have enough authority (I recommend it!). But is it worth the extra effort and stress to you? Do you have the support at work to take care of family, and the support at home to take care of work? How do you suppose it will impact your career if you take off to help a sick child, especially if it goes on for a long time, or happens sporadically but often? Many single parents can comment on how this impacts a career. Can you tolerate or manage that impact? Is your employer flexible enough to come up with alternative work plans, if so, that’s great. But will they or won’t they negatively impact your career (this has nothing to do with if they are technically ‘sanctioned’). Could the work situation change over the growing up years of your children… most likely.

    One poster said quality is more important than quantity time with kids… that has been a subject of debate for decades- what does your own heart say? I think it often depends on the child, and what they may be struggling with at different times in their life. Will you have another child? Everything will be different then… maybe not as dramatic as for child one, but this will be a new and unique person with a different set of needs than the first. I think you have to calculate as honestly as you can, the sacrifices and advantages on the family and the work side you make by- taking on, or not taking on- more responsibility at work- money, advancement, engagement on the job, versus time away from your kids, flexibility on both sides, and how you feel about quality/quantity time.

    By starting a family, you’ve already committed to more responsibility at home. So a pro/con list may help. Make sure you think through as many things that could happen on both sides and give them a rating or value of how important or detrimental to your life goals those are. Ask your self, “what’s the best/worst that could happen?” for all sides and possible situations. Be brutally honest. It’s almost cliche, but ask, “at the end of my days, how will I feel about this choice or that choice?” If you don’t know… status quo until you do is not a bad option.

    Best of luck, and congratulations on coming on the baby’s first birthday!!

  • #155651

    Pattie Buel
    Participant

    Love the 25/8! Definitely feels that way some days

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