July 21, 2013

Motherlode: Work/life balancing act: Set goal, then pursue it

By KJ DELL-ANTONIA

(Continued from page 1)

When we explore the question of what mothers and fathers want from the workplace, we need to consider all the assumptions we bring to those seemingly simple questions.

Rampell also writes that one of the goals of her work is to consider how books like Sheryl Sandberg's "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead" apply to middle-class women. Rampell's profile of Uttech succeeds. After all, here is someone who, when the lack of after-school care threatened her ability to work full time, helped "persuade her children's school to start an affordable after-school program ($2.50 per half-hour for the first child; $1.25 per half-hour for each additional sibling), which allowed her to continue working full time rather than dart out for pickup by 3:15, or pay to have them bused to a day-care center across town."

When she thought her family would benefit from her spending more time at home, she asked for what she needed -- the flexibility to work at home on Fridays during the summer -- and once she proved she could make it work, she asked that it be extended year-round.

By doing so, she became a pioneer for her organization's now formal work-at-home arrangement, which allows several other employees to work remotely full time.

And now, as her children grow older, she is "raising her hand to travel more for trade shows and conferences" and planning to do more to promote her career while keeping the flexibility she prizes.

As Rampell writes: "Not everyone aspires to be an executive at Facebook, like Sandberg, or to set foreign policy, like Anne-Marie Slaughter" (sh'es the author of "Why Women Can't Have It All"). But striving for flexibility and balance and striving at work are not mutually exclusive.

Uttech's situation may not be everyone's ideal, but finding -- and asking for -- what's ideal for each of us at all of our different stages is an ideal all of its own.

Contact KJ Dell-Antonia at:

kj.dellantonia@nytimes.com

 

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