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LEARNING CORNER

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Working parents are suffering in silence

At 5 pm, I have been working for eight and a half hours. I probably don't even know what time it is. In fact, I am probably in a meeting, since I work for a bicoastal company and it is only 2 pm on the other coast. (That tends to be a popular meeting time.)

By 5:14, I am trying very hard to focus on whatever I am doing and not stray from the meeting/problem I am trying to solve. I am doing my best to ignore the message that just popped up on my screen, or to convince the person who popped into my cube to come back tomorrow.

And then it is 5:15, and a calendar reminder pops up. This is the moment that I am never ready for. But it is a big moment and I have an important decision to make: Am I going to leave the office on time or work late?


I am sure that I am not the only parent out there who has to remind themselves via Outlook that it is time to go home. The more interesting discussion is why we have to do that.

A new study by Bright Horizons Family Solutions claims that 98 percent of parents have felt burnout and that a significant portion of them believe that any hope of a work/life balance begins at work. But here's the worst part: Those parents aren't being vocal to their workplaces about what they need.

It's a vicious cycle: Parents experience burnout and don't let management know; management does nothing to change the environment for the better; parents get fed up and leave the company; management is confused and doesn't know to make improvements for the next set of working parents who come into the newly opened position.

I, for one, do not completely agree with the majority of work/life balance beginning at work. I believe that a good work/life balance begins with me. Yes, it is important that I work for a company that has a culture of balance, but more importantly is the action that I choose to take when it is the end of the day and that reminder pops up telling me that in 15 minutes I need to head out the door.

What changes would you make to improve your work/life balance? Share with me in the comments.

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Comment by Lauren Markman on October 22, 2015 at 6:39am

Hi, Sofia. I think that all working parents have a flexible definition for the word "sanity." But you are right, every family has to find their new level of normal in unusual circumstances.

Comment by Sofia Prada on October 20, 2015 at 10:05am

I am one of those parents who need a reminder to leave on time because days are too short! All working parents struggle, but some circumstances make us struggle a little bit more. The combination of full time work that fills the heart but not the pocket, a family of 4 with one child in the autism spectrum and no family or really close friends around to ask for help make it really difficult. We have to do it all by ourselves!, but that’s life! Who said that was going to be easy? Having a conversation with our employers helps a lot. Good communication is key to find some sanity in this busy world :)

Comment by Tiffany Benyacko on October 14, 2015 at 6:27am

Laura, this hits home for me! I changed positions with the same company last year and it's not been good. I lost all of my flexibility. I would love to see more work from home days, even 1 helped me out in the past. 

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