Here’s the deal.
The fairytale formerly known as “work-life balance” is dead. We need to depart from referencing any kind of “balance.” Eff balancing. Like we’re supposed to be perfectly balanced, never off-center, never experiencing extreme joy or heartbreak, always even keel, always compensating for shifts in the scales? Nobody alive is able to pull that off. And if they were, can you imagine how BORING they would be?
Enter phrases like “work-life fit” or “work-life integration.” Anne-Marie Slaughter has ignited fiery dialogues on the topic with her “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All” piece for the Atlantic this past June. I had the opportunity to see her and Stewart Friedman, the founding director of the Wharton School’s Leadership Program and Wharton’s Work/Life Integration Project, speak on the subject at a recent conference and it woke me up to the fact that this is not solely parents’ battle. It’s something we should all be campaigning for – flexibility in the workplace that allows us to be whole human beings with interests that enrich our lives and ultimately make us more productive, more loyal, healthier (read: FEWER SICK DAYS) employees. So c’mon, companies. Get on board.
At times, I have what I call a condensed day. I power through in 6 hours what the company expects of me in 8. And then I have meetings for the remaining 2. It kills me.
We have some groundwork ahead of us. It’s a reason why I joined our company’s Culture Committee – to lobby for DISCUSSION, at least, about the POSSIBILITY, at least, of implementing time shift options to our work days to accommodate the variety of pursuits we, as humans, have (other than improving our company’s bottom line, of course). For parents, it would be a coup not to have to report to an office for all 40+ hours of the week, yet still be able to deliver on the demands of a full-time job. But for those of us training for triathalons, getting a degree, volunteering, studying another language, the ability to do those things alongside our careers is also huge. Work and life are not mutually exclusive.
So, I would like to come clean with things I have done for my life, at work:
1. Washed sippy cups I’ve discovered in my bag
2. Made doctors’ appointments
3. Taken a lunch hour to go to said doctors’ appointments
4. Looked in on my kid at after-school via webcam
5. Called my mom for a report on how ballet class was going for my kindergartner
6. Ordered diapers
7. Emailed my husband grocery lists
8. Reserved a bike in spin class (ok, I haven’t done this since 2007, before my daughter was born, but I have every intention of getting back in that saddle, or at least Googling spin class locations…unless spin isn’t a thing anymore)
9. Ran to Old Navy for socks to tide the kids over til laundry day
10. Proofread my posts (c’mon – how sharp could I be in the wee hours of the morning or evening that bookend my workday? I need to be on point if I’m going to catch any
I know I’ll be writing lots more on the topic of work-life integration (yes, I have an opinion on Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s short maternity leave, but it’s not what you think!) and I hope to engage more people in the campaign for work-life smushing, to borrow a term from the kids down the shore.
Until then, what kind of LIFE stuff do you deal with at WORK? And for stay-at-home parents, how are you integrating the parts of your day that are kid-centric with those that are YOU-centric?