How to Wreck Your Career

Some working parents argue that becoming a parent makes us better employees: wiser, more seasoned, better negotiators, swifter prioritizers, more sympathetic managers. I'm sure some of this argument is true. But most working parents would also agree that kids are a major distraction from work, whether through sleep deprivation, mental and physical exhaustion, and unexpected absences from work due to calls from the school nurse (or principal) and children's sick days.

Now there is a study out that tries to measure the correlation between parenting and productivity at work. Three Canadian universities -- the University of Ottawa, Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo and Hamilton's McMaster University -- collaborated on A Test of the Links Between Family Interference with Work, Job Enrichment and Leader-Member Exchange published in the Journal of Applied Psychology (subscription or fee required to read full text). "Interfering" factors included financial crises and caring for elderly parents, in addition to raising children. For the Cliff Notes version, turn to The Toronto Star's Focus on Home Life Can Wreck Career.

The logic goes something like this: Over the past 20 or so years, the average workday has increased significantly. The more time employees spend at work, the less time they have to spend at home. This leads inevitably to conflict between work and home, and to a merging of work and family. Employees bring work home and they bring home to work -- sometimes literally and often mentally. And this wrecks our careers.

"Employees who feel the greatest 'pull' from their home life tend to have fewer mental and physical resources to devote to their paids jobs, said Rick Hackett, who collaborated on the project. That can result in declining work performance, which makes their bosses less likely to provide them with challenging tasks or opportunities to build their careers," wrote The Toronto Star.

What do you see in your own career, and as a manager or observer of other employees? Do you agree or disagree that people juggling work and family make better, or worse, employees? What can parents -- and employers -- do to build a healthy separation between home and work more productive for everyone? What do you do to keep work and home from damaging each other?

Special thanks to On Balance reader Suzanne Brown from Melbourne, Fla., for bringing this study to my attention.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  April 23, 2007; 7:40 AM ET  | Category:  Conflicts
Previous: If Your Shoes Could Talk | Next: Caring for Mom


Add On Balance to Your Site
Keep up with the latest installments of On Balance with an easy-to-use widget. It's simple to add to your Web site, and it will update every time there's a new entry to On Balance.
Get This Widget >>


Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



First again!

Employers need to realize that workers have lives outside of the workplace. When did companies start thinking jobs mandated more than 40 hours a week anyway?

Posted by: John L | April 23, 2007 7:46 AM

What do you do to keep work and home from damaging each other?

I always remember my first priority: My family. Everything other than that is gravy.

I try to remember it, too, for others. People who've worked for me get lots and lots and lots of chances. I try not to create jobs/write job descriptions like the only person who will fill the job is a single person with no real life.

I also give 100% to my job as much as I can. Being a star performer gets you a lot of leeway when you're having daycare difficulties or car trouble or what-have-you.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 23, 2007 7:52 AM

"Being a star performer gets you a lot of leeway when you're having daycare difficulties or car trouble or what-have-you."

Correct, but it seems that the mediocre employees are the ones that ask for the most "special treatment". Wonder why???

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 8:03 AM

Ha, ha, ha. This sounds a lot like the advice they're been giving for years at Family Support Centers for military families. In short, the spouse (usually the wife) who is holding down the homefront is told to keep it together and not "bother" the deployed spouse with problems at home-- since it will impact on his/her ability to do his/her job. The idea is that when your husband (or wife) is engaged in potentially deadly work in a dangerous environment, they don't need to be 'distracted' by any outside worries like whether the dog needs to go to the vet, whether or not Junior has a learning disability and so forth. While it's probably true that distraction is not a good idea, this is the stuff that places an unbelievable toll on military families -- the woman is told that for the good of her husband the organization she can't even ASK him to behave as though he's a member of the family. This is one of many reasons why military life is so stressful and the divorce rate is so high.

Now it sounds as though some people want to give civilians the same advice. And I LOVE that line about how good employees have a week's worth of meals frozen in the freezer so that they're not distracted worrying about what to make for dinner. Do you think that advice was meant for BOTH spouses or only the wife? I don't know about you, but I'll be surprised if it leads to a sudden outbreak of lasagna making and freezing by all the men of this country. Gentlemen, get out your tupperware!

Posted by: Armchair Mom | April 23, 2007 8:04 AM

Remembering you work to live not live to work. My family is my top priority. Also, even if having young children dampens your career, why not slow down for a while. You can always revamp when they are older. I don't think you can have it all, all of the time. And I agree with John L. Work should not be more then 40 hours a week. Just the long commutes are killing people.

Posted by: foamgnome | April 23, 2007 8:04 AM

foamgnome |

"Just the long commutes are killing people."

Isn't the long commute usually the employee's choice?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 8:11 AM

John L., Foamgnome, I don't think it's that simple.

Plenty of the so-called "white collar" jobs pay you as a salaried employee not in exchange for 40 hours, but in exchange for whatever is necessary (or deemed reasonable by the culture of the employer's workplace). T

his really hits home with me right now because I'm in an unforseen busy period at work..... My annual "without the kids" vacation, for which you must line up a relative 9-12 months in advance to babysit/housesit just got shortened to a 3-day trip, because work needs me. That stinks, but its also why they pay me.

Yes, I can take a lower-paying, lower-responsibility position and move my family to Culpeper, but I don't think that would be good for my quality-of-life either. Those of us who are chained to the desk are also working to live, but we've picked a brand of work that kicks and screams its way into your family time without apology.

I keep telling myself that the exchange is that maybe I can pay for the kids college without issue and still be able to retire while I am young enough to enjoy it. I hope I am right.....

Posted by: Proud Papa | April 23, 2007 8:13 AM

foamgnome |

"Just the long commutes are killing people."

Isn't the long commute usually the employee's choice?

Posted by: | April 23, 2007 08:11 AM
Yes and no. There is not enough affordable housing close in to jobs. And not enough reliable public transportation. Even our DC metro system does not go around the city. All it does is spider web into the city. Making commutes very long. Even if everyone was willing and could afford housing closer into the city, there is not enough vacancies for the number of people who would need housing. Lastly, when two people are working, they need to find middle ground at a home base. Very often, couples work in opposite directions. I think more telecommute centers might help. Not everyone is commuting an hour more to live in a mcmansion. Some people are doing that just to get a small town house or condo.

Posted by: foamgnome | April 23, 2007 8:22 AM

Proud Papa


"I keep telling myself that the exchange is that maybe I can pay for the kids college without issue and still be able to retire while I am young enough to enjoy it. I hope I am right....."


And what if you're wrong and your marriage goes up in flames and your kids end up hating you? And you end up a lonely old man?

Is it really worth your "quality of life" for now?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 8:22 AM

Proud Papa,

I'm a salaried employee as well, but since I work for the guvmint they don't like us to work more than 40 hours/week. My peers that work in the private industry agree that "whatever gets the work done" is their standard catch phrase, though.

In fact, my wife routinely works 45-60 hours a week for an engineering consultant firm, mainly because her boss has no clue on how to manage a project to avoid last minute, rush work to get a job out on time.

A few weeks ago she worked 28 hours straight with little food and no sleep just to get something done on time that her boss had not looked at until the day before it had to go out.

I've warned her when she gets pregnant, she'll have to lay the law down to her boss about these long, energy draining last minute job requests. Fortunately she's his best employee, but he's just not a very good project manager and has to rely on his best employees (my wife) to get things done when there's not enough time to do it in.

Posted by: John L | April 23, 2007 8:23 AM

John L., Foamgnome, I don't think it's that simple.

Plenty of the so-called "white collar" jobs pay you as a salaried employee not in exchange for 40 hours, but in exchange for whatever is necessary (or deemed reasonable by the culture of the employer's workplace). T

his really hits home with me right now because I'm in an unforseen busy period at work..... My annual "without the kids" vacation, for which you must line up a relative 9-12 months in advance to babysit/housesit just got shortened to a 3-day trip, because work needs me. That stinks, but its also why they pay me.

Yes, I can take a lower-paying, lower-responsibility position and move my family to Culpeper, but I don't think that would be good for my quality-of-life either. Those of us who are chained to the desk are also working to live, but we've picked a brand of work that kicks and screams its way into your family time without apology.

I keep telling myself that the exchange is that maybe I can pay for the kids college without issue and still be able to retire while I am young enough to enjoy it. I hope I am right.....

Posted by: Proud Papa | April 23, 2007 08:13 AM
Not all 40 hour a week jobs have crappy salaries either. I work part time or full time (depending on the survey schedule). But even full time, I generally work 40 hours a week. I will be able to retire and pay for college as well. But I drive a modest car and live in a modest home. The problem is not all 40+ hour a week jobs pay as well as your does. Some are still putting in 50 or so hours a week and still making under 60K a year. Those are professional jobs too. Just not as well paid as your is. Your an attorney in a firm, right? I sometimes get all the posters mixed up.

Posted by: foamgnome | April 23, 2007 8:25 AM

foamgnome

Didn't know everyone works/lives in the D.C. area!!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 8:27 AM

Oooh I'm very opinionated about this one.

I personally think that demanding longer hours of people (not the occasional rush, but all the time) makes them worse employees, period.

Sure, the stress lines show up the most clearly when people are dealing with this inconvenience we call "family" (ha) but in fact, over time I believe that people who are NOT out renewing their spirits and creativity and everything else by participating in a wide variety of LIFE activities do burn out.

And they gradually suck as employees, and don't find the creative solutions, and then guess what? It continues to take MORE time to get things done.

Now of course there are exceptions - people who are thrilled by their jobs and who consistently fill their creative/productivity wells at them. But that is not, IMHO, the majority of the work force.


I see this constantly around me - a mistake or a rut or a poorly thought through or planned decision costs hours and hours of effort and that's money. Sure, we make it to the deadline, but at what cost? The cost of the space and time to plan properly for the next one.

And once people are used to working in crisis mode it is VERY hard to get them to back out of it.

Also people do get into this weird entitlement cycle... I worked last night so it's okay to be on a blog right now, etc. Me too. :-)

Anyways I'll stop ranting at least until later after I read other comments. :)

Posted by: Shandra | April 23, 2007 8:30 AM

Hmmm. The marriage part I am not too worried about. Proud Mama is also white collar and has been in the same business I am in now, so she understands. Also her dad continues to be in this line of work, so she knows what she signed up for.

I am also not worried about the kids hating me, so much as being resentful about the busy periods where I'm not continually available to play catch and such. There are down times during the year when I work 40 hour weeks, so I'm not concerned about being completely out of touch. But the reality is that I will eventually miss a key game, recital, play or camping trip. It hasn't happened yet, but that day will come. And when it does I will just have to be honest about it with my child and take it from there.

Yes, some days my current quality of life does suck. The point I was making though, is that even if I "slow down", meaning take less $$, move to a less expensive area and work less, there is no guarantee that I will have a better quality of life. Suppose then that my "slower" job is totally unfulfilling and I hate it? Not an improvement. Suppose my commute is worse or my neighbors are worse or my more "practical" house requires much more maintenance on my part, etc.

I'm just saying that there is no guarantee that if I scrap everything and start over it would be an improvement.

So, I'm thankful for my life today which is mostly good, but has some high stress/low quality of life periods.

Posted by: Proud Papa | April 23, 2007 8:32 AM

foamgnome

Didn't know everyone works/lives in the D.C. area!!

Posted by: | April 23, 2007 08:27 AM
Not everyone does. But this is a DC paper. So we talk mainly about this area. Our commuting problems are indicative of many large cities in this country. If you have a different experience, please feel free to share it with us.

Posted by: foamgnome | April 23, 2007 8:34 AM

I think that a lot of this depends on the treatment of the employee. If you have a family emergency and your employer is understanding, you will be likely to work harder for said employer who seemingly cares about you and yours.
On the flip side, I have been in scenarios where the boss could care less if your spouse was in the hospital with a medically induced coma... working for people who don't care about anything but themselves is awful and I do not recommend it if you have a choice.

Posted by: Chris | April 23, 2007 8:38 AM

PS- I thought this was about how to wreck your career. We really need guidance on this, so I'll rack my brain to come up with a "to do" list for those who need help wrecking their career.

Posted by: Chris | April 23, 2007 8:40 AM

Your an attorney in a firm, right? I sometimes get all the posters mixed up.

Posted by: foamgnome | April 23, 2007 08:25 AM

Nope, I'm at an IT firm. Proud Mama is an attorney. I'm hoping she makes partner somewhere so I can retire early :-)

Posted by: Proud Papa | April 23, 2007 8:46 AM

In my experience, employees stressed at home increasingly seek to manipulate office politics as their safety net and "shuffle off" work responsibilities onto colleagues. They tend to become sycophants and untrustworthy co-workers.

Posted by: party-of-one | April 23, 2007 8:46 AM

In my experience, employees stressed at home increasingly seek to manipulate office politics as their safety net and "shuffle off" work responsibilities onto colleagues. They tend to become sycophants and untrustworthy co-workers.

Posted by: party-of-one | April 23, 2007 08:46 AM

And in my experience, co-workers who hold this type of opinion tend to be bad teammates and employees. When things get busy, count on them to run for the employee manual to tell you whats "not in their job description" rather than looking for creative ways to get the job done.

Posted by: Proud Papa | April 23, 2007 8:53 AM

Then there's also the issue of having a child and boom, you find yourself no longer with the same drive to advance your career. I'm now at the point where I could soon be promoted, but I'm no longer interested in better pay, more responsibiity and more power because now that I'm a mom, this promotion is at too high a cost--less time with my child. Can't believe this is me now. But nothing is more important than my child. My drive now is figuring out how I can get a job where I can pick up my child after school and avoid after care. And I'll take less pay and less interesting work just to find this flexibility.

It truly amazes me how my priorities have really, truly shifted. And I wonder how long this shift will last. Is it permanent? Am I reverting the movement?

Posted by: mamma of 1 | April 23, 2007 8:55 AM

Thanks, Chris, for the idea!

WorkingMomX's Top 10 List of Career Wrecking Initiatives

10. Be consistently late without calling, even after being spoken to about it.

9. Be seen at a job fair by a member of the HR department or your own supervisor.

8. Tell a big lie (about a close family member's illness, for example) that causes the rest of your department to mobilize resources, even to collect money. Then get caught.

7. Go into your supervisor's office and read his/her self evaluation aloud to several other members of the department, injecting sarcastic comments, who then nark on you. Be forced to depart shortly thereafter.

6. If you have access to a network system such as email or payroll, snoop around and see what you find. Then talk about it.

5. Steal from your co-workers.

4. File EEOC complaints for each of your three supervisors, claiming racial discrimination. Do this for multiple employers in the same town.

3. Threaten or stalk co-workers.

2. Look at pornographic content (including but not limited to bestiality, child porn, and hardcore S&M) on the internet while at work. Leave a website up for "that cute little technician" from IS to see when they come to fix a problem you've called in.

1. Constantly post to a WaPo blog while at work. :)

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 23, 2007 8:55 AM

The two co-workers in my office who play the worst office politics and constantly shuffle all of their work off on others are both childless (and will never have children) and only one is married. There are plenty of cruddy co-workers out there of every stripe.

Posted by: Bookworm Mom | April 23, 2007 8:57 AM

Hey, this list can get really long:

11. When getting annual performance evaluations, don't admit you need to improve your work habits; just claim you are "different" and need more time to "get it right".

(Yes, I've got an employee like this. Three years later and she's still needing 2x the time and instruction to get even simple tasks completed)

12. Constantly tell everyone above you in your chain of command that you have no loyalty to your job, you'll take a lateral to a perceived 'better job' if it becomes available, even though you told the interviewer for your current job (me, incidentally) you would stay there if hired and gain valuable experience (that describes my OTHER employee).

13. Have a boss that hires incompetent employees, and then asks you to repair the work the incompetent worker destroyed (this happened to my wife for over a year until the bad worker left recently). Great morale builder, that one.

Posted by: John L | April 23, 2007 9:03 AM

I know this is an off topic question...but I'm hoping all of you would be kind enough to answer and offer your experiences and advice.

How do you all handle the "witching hour"--meaning dinner hour. Here's my scenario:

I leave work at 4:45-ish, pick up my DS at aftercare around 5:15...we walk in the house about 5:25-ish. He wants to see which neighborhood kids can play...he wants my attention....and many times he has a meltdown. Then, I finally get dinner going...and then hubby walks in the door. He does his version of the same thing my DS does... has his own version of a grown-up meltdown... feels stressed by wahtever he has to get done in the course of the evening... and the whole evening can get pretty stressful. What's the evening like in your home?

Posted by: Off Topic Balance Question | April 23, 2007 9:05 AM

I know this is an off topic question...but I'm hoping all of you would be kind enough to answer and offer your experiences and advice.

How do you all handle the "witching hour"--meaning dinner hour. Here's my scenario:

I leave work at 4:45-ish, pick up my DS at aftercare around 5:15...we walk in the house about 5:25-ish. He wants to see which neighborhood kids can play...he wants my attention....and many times he has a meltdown. Then, I finally get dinner going...and then hubby walks in the door. He does his version of the same thing my DS does... has his own version of a grown-up meltdown... feels stressed by wahtever he has to get done in the course of the evening... and the whole evening can get pretty stressful. What's the evening like in your home?


Posted by: Off Topic Balance Question | April 23, 2007 09:05 AM

Leslie did a whole blog a while back on this topic. Try searching through her archives and I think you will find it. I just make meals a head of time, so we just have to reheat. Also crock pot with timer helps.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 9:09 AM

Both my dh and I made sure that we were working close to home-we both did not look at jobs that were more than 8 miles from home (we live in the city, so at least I feel that if I'm paying the taxes to do that I might as well have a short commute). We both are home early and have decided that that is important to us. We found jobs that work with our lifestyles. And this is me, with an almost 4 year gap in my work history with no problem finding a job. Sorry if that offends people, it is just a true statement.


Posted by: atlmom | April 23, 2007 9:10 AM

Also

Break into tears at every performance evaluation and flounce into the bathroom.

Talk about the sacrifices you've made for the job nonstop.

Have "panic attacks" when you feel like a long weekend.

Call in sick constantly at the worst times.

Ask the boss "Are you calling me a liar?" in front of others.

Bore your fellow workers with constant chit chat about your kids and their poop habits.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 9:12 AM

How to wreck your career:
12. Re-decorate the office with silly string and hang condoms on all the doorknobs.
11. Use crayons for all paperwork.
10. Don't show up. (ala Office Space), don't quit, just stop going.
9. Show up drunk/ act drunk.
8. Sexually harass EVERYONE (only if they don't like it- careful, it may backfire).
7. Expose yourself (this one may backfire as well).
6. Write/draw/post obscene things on the bulletin/white board (in permanent marker)...and sign them.
5. Yell out how your boss is an a-hole every half-hour (ex: "The time is now 9:30 and X is an A-hole!" When they come to ask you why, pretend not to recognize them and confide in them how AWFUL the boss is.
4. Blast polka, opera, or gangsta music whenever your co-workers or boss try to talk to you.
3. Forward all your calls to your boss' line and make them act as your secretary.
2. Subscribe your employer to questionable email lists and forward them Nigerian Spam.
1. Chop up their office plants and leave a trail of clippings back to your desk.

Posted by: Chris | April 23, 2007 9:14 AM

Break into tears at every performance evaluation and flounce into the bathroom.

Talk about the sacrifices you've made for the job nonstop.

Have "panic attacks" when you feel like a long weekend.

Call in sick constantly at the worst times.

Ask the boss "Are you calling me a liar?" in front of others.

Bore your fellow workers with constant chit chat about your kids and their poop habits.

It's okay, I am sure that therapy can fix these issues for you.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 9:15 AM

"Over the past 20 or so years, the average workday has increased significantly"

I think this would be the problem.

That and things like e-mail, cell phones and Blackberries have extended work into the home, as well. There seems to be less and less of a work/home line.

Perhaps what all these studies should be looking at is the effect of the increased workday has on family, not the other way 'round. Because I work from home now at my own business, and it's amazing how much more efficient I am without 20 billion quasi-useless meetings to attend, inane phone calls or voice mails to attend to, and e-mails to read and reply to. Eight hours a day is more than enough to actually get my work done.

I also agree with the above poster who mentioned salaried white collar jobs. I've worked at companies as a salaried employee and during big projects where everyone had to chip in, the hourly employees took more money home than I did because they could get time-and-a-half overtime and I could not.

Most memorable: for Y2K my then boss irrationally decided that I was to be at work from 5 am 12/31 to 3 am 1/1. Why? Because as company webmaster, she felt it was my job to monitor our industry as the time change rolled.

The logic of this defeated not just me, but many in our small company. Because I knew less about the industry than many other employees - I just made the web site run.

Everyone else who worked extra hours that long day got significant OT - I got $50, finagled by the accountant because she felt sorry for me and thought the whole thing was BS and she really had to fight for my boss to sign off on it. My boss was amazed when I quit a few weeks later.

Work is getting to be too much, not family responsibilities. And I say that as someone childless!

Posted by: Chasmosaur | April 23, 2007 9:17 AM

Women Make Less 1 Year After College

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: April 23, 2007
Filed at 8:48 a.m. ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- Women make only 80 percent of the salaries their male peers do one year after college; after 10 years in the work force, the gap between their pay widens further, according to a study released Monday.

The study, by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation, found that 10 years after college, women earn only 69 percent of what men earn.

Even after controlling for hours, occupation, parenthood, and other factors known to affect earnings, the study found that one-quarter of the pay gap remains unexplained. The group said that portion of the gap is ''likely due to sex discrimination.''

''Over time, the unexplained portion of the pay gap grows,'' the group said in a news release.

Catherine Hill, the organization's director of research, said: ''Part of the wage difference is a result of people's choices, another part is employer's assumptions of what people's choices will be. ... Employers assume that young women are going to leave the work force when they have children, and, therefore, don't promote them.''

The organization found that women's scholastic performance was not reflected in their compensation. Women have slightly higher grade point averages than men in every major, including science and math. But women who attend highly selective colleges earn the same as men who attend minimally selective colleges, according to the study.

''The pay gap is not going to disappear just through educational achievements,'' Hill said.

Posted by: Discrimination in the workplace exists | April 23, 2007 9:20 AM

ha, then try balancing in remembering to pack your car that morning with whatever tools, etc you need to drop by your parent's house to fix the 12 things that have managed to break in the last week after work which they can no longer fix themselves, discovering that you didn't bring the right drill bit, etc, running to the hardware store, and all that jazz too. Or when THEY call you at work to say that the FOO is broken, or that they've hurt themselves. Or that their flight home is delayed and so you need to take off and take grandma to the doc etc... its neverending fun. (or you get fluffy for another few days, only fluffy doesn't like your SO, so your SO is sleeping on the sofa and you and your dog and fluffy are sleeping in the bed) I've had to leave work, meet my mother where the tow truck had dragged her disabled vehicle, drive her to work, go back to work and then get her at the end of the day to bring her back to her car more times than I want to begin to admit to. Parents are as difficult as kids sometimes I think. I'm not sure they have any concept that you do anything at that desk other than field their calls as a concierge service "Plumbing, Electronics, and Auto service, where may I drive you today?" or better "Whats' wrong?!?"

Posted by: ljb | April 23, 2007 9:22 AM

Chasmosaur got it right: "Perhaps what all these studies should be looking at is the effect of the increased workday has on family, not the other way 'round."

The prejudice is in the question itself. It shows that the US culture values work above all and values families less and "having a life" even less than that. We get less leave than many workers in other countries as well. I'm not advocating something as extreme as the situations in France or Germany, but there has to be some middle ground.

Posted by: Arlington Mom | April 23, 2007 9:22 AM

Your job is what allows you to have a home life and a family; try having a decent home, family and life without a decent job. Employers don't demand you work more than 40 hours , it8s just that to do a decnet job in todays environment requires it.

Posted by: Stick | April 23, 2007 9:24 AM

John L: wrt no. 11, I worked with someone like that- the vp and other directors were constantly telling everyone: hey, he's dutch, so that's his way. But then when I would say something to him, my (highly unqualified boss) would say to *me*: oh, you need to talk to him differently, he's dutch. So I was the one ( and others as well) who had to change the way I did things because of him-but he had to make no changes at all. I'm no longer at that company.

Posted by: atlmom | April 23, 2007 9:24 AM

"We both are home early and have decided that that is important to us. We found jobs that work with our lifestyles."

Same here. Work 7:30 am - 4 pm. No nights, no weekends, no holidays EVER.

10 minute commute to work.

Dinner on the table by 5.

Tack on vacation day to 3 day holiday weekends a lot.

Lives are calm and relaxed. No frenzied rushes. Plenty of time to stop and smell the roses.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 9:25 AM

Arlington Mom - it was a Canadian study.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 9:26 AM

Employers don't need to realize anything about your life outside of work. If you can't come into your job and devote 8 hours a day to working then you should be fired. It really gets old when you have co-workers constantly on the phone with their kids, regularly taking off early from work to go meet their kids, coming in late consistently because of their kids, taking extended lunch hours in the summer to be with their kids.

Posted by: Christopher | April 23, 2007 9:27 AM

Dotted, Please be on here today! I REALLY need to know the brand of those tennis shoes you were talking about last Friday.

Thank you.

Posted by: anon | April 23, 2007 9:27 AM

Chris, I have to disagree with you when you say "If you can't come into your job and devote 8 hours a day to working then you should be fired."

I think this is an unrealistic expectation. People have lives and stuff (or sh*t, since I'm trying to make Blogstat's next foul-mouthed poster list) happens. I certainly know of supervisors who think this is reasonable, but they are usually unhappy with almost everyone in their department/group.

I truly feel that if an employee is trying to do his/her best at work, and is willing to be accommodating in exchange for being accommodated, it's a good thing. In other words, if you're going to need to be out a few times within a couple of weeks to find a new daycare or meet with school administrators, be willing to come in on a weekend to catch up with your work.

Side note: I've worked in DC, NYC, and now the Raleigh area. There is a HUGE difference in terms of what's tolerated here vs. DC/NYC. They don't just talk about work-life balance here -- they act.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 23, 2007 9:34 AM

Christopher,

Yeah, how dare those employees actually have their lives intrude into their careers! I mean, how thoughtless of them to do that; don't they know that when they are at work, nothing else is important?

(turning off sarcasm button now)

Posted by: John L | April 23, 2007 9:35 AM

Christopher: there wouldn't be a whole lot of people to work with then. Just saying-if you really wanted to fire everyone, they'd go work for a better employer.

Posted by: atlmom | April 23, 2007 9:35 AM

The whole "employees with kids are slackers" bunch gets to come out again today. Oh joy. Where's Childless by Choice to tell us how superior she is?

Posted by: Oh brother | April 23, 2007 9:36 AM

I worked for the most abusive, misogynistic bigot at a federal agency, but the managers did nothing about it ---full well knowing the problems he created---because they thought he was very talented and quick. Yes, he has some talent---but he drives away women and minorites by being abusive, ruining their reputations by claiming they are less capable than they are and behaving like their children are a nuisance. My bottom line is: when you work for people who value that, its time to leave --

work will always be there....careers can be resurrected....family, children, friends, health, happiness and faith are the important things in life.

Posted by: outta there | April 23, 2007 9:38 AM

outta there

"I worked for the most abusive, misogynistic bigot at a federal agency, but the managers did nothing about it"

No, you didn't!!
I did!
I worked for the biggest A-hole ever!!!

There should be a Hall of Shame for these jerks!!!

Posted by: I LOVE NY | April 23, 2007 9:44 AM

Chasmosaur

Are you whining about someting that happened 5 years ago?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 9:46 AM

to Christoper:

If it was a matter of working 8 hours, I think it would be one thing, but I think a lot of us routinely work 9-10 hour days, and or take stuff home just so we look competitive in our still unstable market. There are still a lot of layoffs going on, and no one wants to find themselves in that situation. Its the extra time that gets you, even if you don't have the killer drive.

Posted by: ljb | April 23, 2007 9:46 AM

I believe strongly that being a parent can give you an edge in business from a skills perspective, but you do need to honor your work committments. I had an employee that worked part-time so she could be home with her kids after school. She got more done on a part-time schedule than some of my full-timers did. She knew she had to get her work done and didn't 'waste time' with lingering at the coffee machine or taking a long lunch. She knew that her part-time status was safe as long as she got her work done - whenever and however she could.

As for me, I choose to integrate work and home because that works for me. I just get to choose which hours I work, though sometimes my clients choose for me. My biggest challenge is stepping away from my computer on days when things are cranking. My kids help me keep my work in perspective...

Posted by: ParentPreneur | April 23, 2007 9:50 AM

"But most working parents would also agree that kids are a major distraction from work"

My work is a major interference to my kids and home life.

"And this wrecks their careers"

I have never cared that much about career. Work has never been much more than a paycheck to support my lifestyle. I would rather do work I like than dislike. I have never had work that I loved. More than anything, I'd rather not work. I guess that will come in retirement :).

Posted by: another view | April 23, 2007 9:51 AM

to momma of one, i don't think you are "reverting the movement" at all. Do what works for your family!

I work until 5:30 and pick up my child at 6pm from aftercare, but he LOVES aftercare! I have a difficult time getting him to leave. So if your child is the type that doesn't enjoy aftercare you could either 1) work at a job that gives you the flexiblity to pick up your child right after school and thereby avoid aftercare, 2) look into why your child doesn't like aftercare-- and perhaps institute changes in the program to make your child (and perhaps many other children) very happy with the "new and improved" aftercare program or 3) look into other aftercare opportunities.

Anyway, your situation may actually be unusual since your child isn't liking aftercare-- most children seem to.

In situations like this I like to consider Kant's Catagorical Imperative-- applied to this situation, if everyone in your situation did as you do, what would be the problem?

Well, if everyone did what works best for their family, the "movement" would not be reverted-- or even if it were, the overall benefit of people doing what is right for their family over what is right for "the movement" would outweigh any harm to "the movement." That's my theory-- do what is the very best for your family and it is highly likely that that will in fact be the right thing for you to do for the community at large. If your child doesn't have the temperment to enjoy the current aftercare program, the aftercare program cannot be changed and there are no other aftercare program options for you, then the harm done to your child be continuing with an aftercare program even though it is a bad fit will do more more possibly harm to the community at large than if you continue with using aftercare out of concern for some ambiguous movement.

Posted by: Jen | April 23, 2007 9:53 AM

Same here. Work 7:30 am - 4 pm. No nights, no weekends, no holidays EVER.

10 minute commute to work.

Dinner on the table by 5.

Tack on vacation day to 3 day holiday weekends a lot.

Lives are calm and relaxed. No frenzied rushes. Plenty of time to stop and smell the roses.

Posted by: | April 23, 2007 09:25 AM

well, goody for you. The rest of us who aren't qualified for the sort of jobs that offer these hours should go ahead and jump off the roof, I suppose.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 9:54 AM

Everyone's performance at work is affected by external factors at some point or another. And everyone's capacity to effectively cope with those external situations and maintain the same level of performance at work is different as well.

I don't think it is fair to assume that employees with children are less capable of performing at a high level simply because they have children. I do think that having children can increase the probablity that those external distractions occur.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 9:54 AM

What do you do to keep work and home from damaging each other?

It can't be done. You have to choose which is the priortiy, and take your lumps.

For me, it's family first, that's an easy call. And this has meant less productivity at work, less interesting assignments (but with fewer night meetings), and in general, output that is generally B-level. Still good, but not excellent.

I put in a solid 40 hour week, but that's all. Most of my co-workers work longer weeks, and have greater flexibility for longer hours and late/weekend hours when a big work push happens.

In return I get more time with my wife and daughters. Again, it's an easy call for me.

Posted by: Robert in Austin | April 23, 2007 9:54 AM

In response to the "all the regular posters on the blog get mixed up" problem, I have a solution: does anyone want to write a Wikipedia type profile of the regular posters to help newbies keep everyone straight? I will post it if you do.

Posted by: Leslie | April 23, 2007 9:57 AM

Christopher is not Chris, so PLEASE do not think that was me.

I once had a boss who would take off work for ANY excuse, surf the net while handing me all sorts of projects, and then publicly boast how she had been working for white males her whole life and now she had one working for her... this is the same boss who sent me off on the above trip and griped when I needed time to take care of my wife after her hospitalization because she wouldn't let me stay in town and monitor her in the first place (which would have prevented the hospital stay). Needless to say, I put in for a transfer... This boss soon got promoted despite being well over the weight limit (a no-no in the military).

Posted by: Chris | April 23, 2007 10:01 AM

A slightly off topic question: do your companies/firms make hourly (that is, not salaried) employees carry Blackberries or other email pdas so that they are essentially "tethered" to the office 24/7, even when not physically present?

We have an interesting (or maybe scary) situation that is arising because of this . . .

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 23, 2007 10:03 AM

well, goody for you. The rest of us who aren't qualified for the sort of jobs that offer these hours should go ahead and jump off the roof, I suppose.

Posted by: | April 23, 2007 09:54 AM

Wow, that was bitter on a pathetic level.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 10:06 AM

WorkingMomX- the day someone hands me a crackberry and expects me to use it beyond normal hours is the day I either find a new job or get paid millions to make the snap decisions that require said crackberry.

Posted by: Chris | April 23, 2007 10:06 AM

My boss mostly didn't work for about 2 weeks so that she could stay home with her sick dog (UTI). She sent emails to her bosses and our entire department. It has now become a company joke. We are all wondering when she will be forced to say "adios".

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 10:07 AM

Couples simply do not think enough about the real changes that will occur in their lives after having kids. Not only are they expensive--they require a completely different mindset. A parent needs to constantly have a provision plan, a backup plan. That is fine if a couple wants to do that.

The reason that some working parents and other employees have to alter their schedule which inconveniences others is becuase they dont think things through. They dont ask themselves long before they get pregnant EXACTLY how they will handle the obligations of being a parent. They end up being the parents without enough life insurance, disability insurance, or enough savings in bank. They are the parents that have to buy a new car becuase the other one doesn't hold a child seat. Every minor life issue turns into a freaking crisis.

All that family first stuff is fine. Lets do some up front planning first. You cant buy a car seat with love.

Posted by: TE | April 23, 2007 10:07 AM

I believe that employers have the right to expect their employees to do their job--if an employee cannot do what is expected of their position, then it's time to look for work elsewhere.

I say this as a parent and as someone who has been a "boss". As I have always been responsible ensuring that my children were well cared for during my working day, I expect that of my employees as well. You need to ask yourself if you can do the job or not and be honest with yourself and your employer. Don't expect your employer to give you a billion chances.

I do find that since becoming a parent, I am more organized and focused on my work. Unfortunately, there are some parents who believe that they can cut out whenever they want, impose on the workplace and other employees for family related issues and so on. Certainly EVERYONE has emergencies and I believe employers should be understanding under those circumstances. What I find unbelievable are parents who do not have proper child care and who do not even think to have back-up plans for predictable events. Once you are a parent, it's time to grow up and become a responsible citizen--mostly for the sake of your family. Getting fired does not help the children.

Posted by: working mother | April 23, 2007 10:08 AM

I didn't see where momma of 1 said that the child didn't like the daycare. It seems that momma wants to avoid daycare because she wants to be with the child.

Posted by: to Jen | April 23, 2007 10:08 AM

The whole social contract that used to exist between employees and employers has broken down - people change careers several times in ther lifetimes, and change jobs much more. We are used to negotiating salaries, titles, job descriptions - ut not hours. Our employers still feel like they own us while we are in their employ, and we refuse to learn how to negotiate for what we need. If our society really values efficiency and productivity, we should be capping the amount of hours spent on the job. We need to recharge and honor personal committments outside of our committments to our employers. 30 hrs. max. It's the only way to have an equitable balance between the job and other aspects of our lives. This way, a couple could stagger their schedules and both share as equal parters in running a household. Exceptions might be family-run businesses where family time is integrated with work. I had an employer who allowed me to work 6 hrs/day as a father of a new baby. I swear my productivity did not diminish one iota. And this allowed my wife to work in the afternoon/evening, giving her a break from the baby, and giving me time to bond with and take care of my son, and to be at home and recharge myself. The way we live our lives these days is self-inflicted pointless stupidity based on a destructive industrial model. This is not just about family. What if you want to pursue a degree? Fine if it is in the same field you are in, your employer might cover it. What if you want to study Philosophy? What if you want to pursue an avocation that might consume 20 hrs. of time during the week - music, art, volunteer work, social activism? These are the sorts of things that make us better, more valuable human beings and, incidentally, better employees. But not if you are constantly trying to get an edge on your colleague in the next cube. With employment rates as full as they are, all this is self-inflicted - especially if we collectively made the choice to cut back, and limit the amount of time we are willing to give to our employers.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 10:09 AM

I once had a boss who was "all family, all the time", to go the other extreme.

On occasion we would have to take overnight trips for meetings on our projects; she would insist that we return that evening instead of staying the night so she could be home for her children, even though her husband was more than capable of taking care of them for one evening alone. These trips often required 5 hour drives, one way.

On other occasions she simply refused to go, and sent me alone or with one of my subordinates. That was fine with me!

Posted by: John L | April 23, 2007 10:15 AM

Wow, Jen, thanks for the post, but you're a bit deep for me. And my child is not yet in aftercare, being only 1.5 years old. I'm just planning for the future and what I wish for is that I can be home with her to have a normal, Rockwellian evening, not the 2 hours of rushed frenzy I now have. And I'll figure it out one way or another, even if it means taking a lesser job. But that's worth it to me. That was my point. I can't believe how things change. Isn't life great? Really.

Posted by: mamma of 1 | April 23, 2007 10:16 AM

when you have a boss who works constantly, using a blackberry to send memos and edit reports while on the metro, checks voicemail and email during meetings, brags about writing reports in bed while the spouse sleeps,everyone in the department looks like a slacker. This boss has two small kids and brags about being a great parent even while appearing at work related events on weekends. so anyone who does not put in 60 or 70 hours a week is seen as lazy by comparison. This boss dismisses any excuses for not doing so by impatiently saying, well *I* do it, and it works well for me. So sabotaging one's career here is easy, even effortless!

Posted by: workaholic | April 23, 2007 10:18 AM

In response to the "all the regular posters on the blog get mixed up" problem, I have a solution: does anyone want to write a Wikipedia type profile of the regular posters to help newbies keep everyone straight? I will post it if you do.

Ha, as long as it is not written by one of the rude anon.

On topic, I work from home so it is easier for me to balance my time because I have no commute. I think bad employees come in all shapes and sizes too.

Posted by: scarry | April 23, 2007 10:22 AM

A slightly off topic question: do your companies/firms make hourly (that is, not salaried) employees carry Blackberries or other email pdas so that they are essentially "tethered" to the office 24/7, even when not physically present?

We have an interesting (or maybe scary) situation that is arising because of this . . .

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 23, 2007 10:03 AM

No, we don't make it that easy for them. We require them to stay current on their e-mail using a web-based version, so they have to log in from home at least once at work, and preferably before their morning commute in order to respond to messages. A pda would make those expectations MUCH more reasonable.

No one expresses this requirement. We all know, though, that if a non-exempt employee doesn't put in this sort of effort or show this commitment, she or he will be reassigned to a less responsible, less renumerative role with the same title. The next time there is a layoff he or she will be most dispensable.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 10:23 AM

"does anyone want to write a Wikipedia type profile of the regular posters to help newbies keep everyone straight? "

Feudin' or lovefest?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 10:27 AM

As a boss, I have always told people who work for me to put their families ahead of the job, because that is what I do. However, I have had experiences in the past where that policy was abused.

What about aging parents? Employeers need to realize that we have to deal with them too. I used up all my vacation leave, sick leave and personal time last year to deal with my elderly mother in Florida. Many times I just had to drop what I was doing and go.

My employeer understood and that was probably because I checked in with the office via blackberry a few times a day (that got my mind off of my dying mom, even for a few minutes). However, I never used my situation as an excuse for not doing something.

Posted by: dan | April 23, 2007 10:27 AM

well, goody for you. The rest of us who aren't qualified for the sort of jobs that offer these hours should go ahead and jump off the roof, I suppose.

Posted by: | April 23, 2007 09:54 AM

Wow, that was bitter on a pathetic level.

Posted by: | April 23, 2007 10:06 AM

I agree that the anon poster's comment wasn't the most mature response, but I rolled my eyes at the initial comment to which he responded, too. There are no jobs for which I qualify that offer those sorts of hours, at least not without moving, and we are done moving at this point. The bills come in every month whether or not my husband and I find our work lives fulfilling.

It's a great idea for any adult who finds him or herself working too much to re-evaluate (on a regular basis) his or her options, but there's a holier-than-thou aspect to the posts that suggest anyone not working a 7 - 3 job doesn't care enough about balance to seek one.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | April 23, 2007 10:30 AM

Working parents can actually be super productive employees. They know they don't have the luxury of putting in extra face time -- they have to get their work done so they can leave to pick up the kids, etc. This is great for employers -- until these working parents burn out and can't get much of anything accomplished. You can't do it all forever without having time for quality rest and relaxation to recharge.

Posted by: Burnt out | April 23, 2007 10:34 AM

"but there's a holier-than-thou aspect to the posts that suggest anyone not working a 7 - 3 job doesn't care enough about balance to seek one. "

Didn't see that in the original post.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 10:37 AM

It's TV-Turnoff Week. Have a family meal. Play games (NOT video games). Read together. Take a walk in the beautiful weather. Get those kids away from the dead set!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 10:43 AM

"Working parents can actually be super productive employees"

Or not. Usually depends on the workplace norms.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 10:45 AM

10:37, to each his own, however, I don't believe my interpretation required any special thought. Here is the original post:

"We both are home early and have decided that that is important to us. We found jobs that work with our lifestyles.

Same here. [supply details of high-quality lifestyle here]"

MN: Same here, in other words, the original poster and his or her follow-up comrade have decided that it is important to us to be home early.

It's important to me and DH to be home early, too, but the jobs for which we are qualified don't offer the "be home early" option. Your mileage may vary, and does.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | April 23, 2007 10:54 AM

Except for the occasional emergencies I would bet that if a person was a good/exceptional employee before they had kids they will continue to be after children.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | April 23, 2007 10:54 AM

My personal feeling is that having children doesn't change a person's work ethic. If a person was a good employee before they had kids, they aren't going to start being a cr*ppy employee just because they became a parent. Sure, having kids makes juggling everything a bit harder, but many working parents take pains to not let their children get into the way of their work/client obligations.

What gives working parents a bad name are all those employees who were always pretty poor workers, and as parents, now use their children as an excuse to continue their cr*ppy work.

Posted by: londonmom | April 23, 2007 10:58 AM

"Except for the occasional emergencies I would bet that if a person was a good/exceptional employee before they had kids they will continue to be after children. "

Or not. Some employees expect "special treatment" for being parents.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 10:58 AM

"Or not. Some employees expect "special treatment" for being parents."

But were they good before? There are exceptions to every rule but the vast majority aren't going to change their work ethic.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | April 23, 2007 11:00 AM

I don't think that seperating your work life from your family life is that good an idea. Of course when you're at work you need to work, but trying to build a solid wall between them is wrong. Things should flow.

Some things can only be done during the workday. Sometimes regular work will need to be done at home.

Over the years I have found my co-workers at work to be invaluable in sharing their experiences with me. I see them all the time and hearing the issues with their children/parents/spouses goes a long way to helping me cope. We work together better because we learn and understand each other. It's almost like a family.

Posted by: RoseG | April 23, 2007 11:01 AM

Having had parents and non-parents work with me over the years, I think we need to be careful not to drop people into stereotyped boxes too quickly. Some parents spend too much time on the phone or discussing their children and their problems, but other parents use the management skills they have developed in running busy households to improve their work at the office. Some non-parents spend even more time on the phone with friends setting up the next weekend's party schedule or going over every detail of the last major blow out. They may be more likely to show up late (or not at all) and maybe hung over after the weekend. But there are also non-parents who are totally devoted to their job and career and may have parental or other responsibilities that they manage well too.

It seems that many of the problems here result from management not addressing workplace situations equitably when employees are wasting time and then unfairly laying on extra work and responsibilities without considering impact on the overall lives of their staff. I agree with so many of the posters that our family life in the end is far more important than any "career path" that negatively impacts us.

Posted by: hsl | April 23, 2007 11:03 AM

"A slightly off topic question: do your companies/firms make hourly (that is, not salaried) employees carry Blackberries or other email pdas so that they are essentially "tethered" to the office 24/7, even when not physically present?

We have an interesting (or maybe scary) situation that is arising because of this . . .

WorkingMomX, you've whet my curiosity - what's the story? Can you share?

The firm I summered for gave almost all the attorneys blackberries, and they all professed to use them to check their email from home while eating breakfast. I also recall hearing two partners confer over whether they could get reception on the ski lifts while on "vacations" in Utah. Ugh - no thank you!

Posted by: Megan | April 23, 2007 11:03 AM

"Or not. Some employees expect "special treatment" for being parents."

But were they good before? There are exceptions to every rule but the vast majority aren't going to change their work ethic.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | April 23, 2007 11:00 AM

I agree, KLB. The ones who expect special treatment after becoming parents typically are the same employees who expected special treatment for all of their personal issues, long before they became parents. They take mental health days (in work environments where that means they are dumping on others, or giving poor client servicee); spend significant time on the phone or IMing with boyfriends, girlfriends, family members; take long lunches whenever the local upscale department store has a big sale; come in hungover on a weekly basis; etc. Family issues are only the latest in their line of excuses for why they don't perform. The good employees do the same good job after as they did before.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | April 23, 2007 11:05 AM

Hey Mamma of 1, I totally understand what you are talking about! when my child was that age, I had the same Rockwellian ideal and concerns-- but then it got to the point that he didn't want to leave when I pick him up from daycare, and that has carried over to aftercare.

When I was a child , I wanted to spend lots of time with my parents, but my child would rather be with his friends and so my expectation that he would want the same Rockwellian ideal that I enjoyed has been upset. So I've had to create a "new" Rockwellian ideal-- I leave work, go home and start dinner and then go pick up my son at aftercare-- only two blocks away. That way, he gets the time with his co-horts that he craves and I have an easier, earlier dinner rotine. I'm still not taking off nearly as early as I could with flex-time, but on the other hand, I get to spend more quality time with him in the morning. And I need to work ful-time right now so that I can afford to take a long maternity break when I have my next child if that is what needs to happen.

anyway, things are working out surprizingly well for us and perhaps it will actually all work out for you too! It may not look exactly as you expected it to look-- but it may even be better than you expected because it will be a true reflection of what works for you and your family and not some cookie-cutter "status quo" situation.


Posted by: Jen | April 23, 2007 11:06 AM

Megan -- The concern is that by making them carry Blackberries/email pdas, we are essentially forcing non-exempt (hourly) employees to work unpaid overtime. That's the problem in a nutshell. Any legal or otherwise sage advice? :)

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 23, 2007 11:06 AM

True, klb.

Maybe I'm lucky that I majored in something, and got degrees and experience in something that others can't or won't do. Maybe I'm lucky in getting the jobs I have and/orthe experience I have that is valuable, I don't know. *shrug* it is what I have to work with (I am really not trying to be snarky).

Also, I've decided long ago that when I need time off, I will take time off. My employer then has the option to pay me or not(if I need more time than my employer 'gives' me, then I will take unpaid days). Our family lives well within our means and if one or both of us lose our jobs, we will be fine and find another job or start our own business or whatever. My employer does not own my life, just some hours of my life.

Posted by: atlmom | April 23, 2007 11:11 AM

Chasmosaur

Are you whining about someting that happened 5 years ago?

Posted by: | April 23, 2007 09:46 AM


Those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. 5 years isn't even all that long ago!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 11:11 AM

Choose your priorities and stop whining. It's either career now, kids later, OR kids now, career later.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 11:17 AM

Choose your priorities and stop whining. It's either career now, kids later, OR kids now, career later.

Or none of the above! We don't all have to make cookie cutter choices. Especially because "it's the the thing to do!"

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 11:19 AM

Ok, I like my job, but I officially LOVE it now that I just overheard a SVP cancel meeting possibilities because his son has a baseball game and he needs to commute the hour home to make it in time (so he's leaving at 4:45)

I am the first one in the office at 9am, everyone takes an hour lunch/or relaxes and reads the paper for awhile (I've been yelled at for NOT taking time for lunch) and I'm out the door at 5, with smiles and well wishes from my superiors. And EVERYONE takes all of their vacation/personal and sick days. It's wonderful.

I'm paid well (about 5K over the usual). It's not my absolute dream job, but it fits in so many other ways that it's worth every second. After a year or 2 when the kids are older I will definitely be moving on, but I do a good job, enjoy it, and am generally HAPPY with my entire life.

it took many months to find a job such as this. i was thisclose to taking DREAM job with a lot more money and excitement, but I couldn't. I only have my little ones once in a lifetime.

Posted by: I love my company | April 23, 2007 11:19 AM

I am blessed with a flexible job,(I'm a Realtor), where I get to choose my hours, and my commute. The drawback is that I do work weekends, evenings, and holidays, because that's when the general public has time to look at houses. I love my Blackberry, it allows me to answer email questions from my clients while at my sons wrestling matches. When I set my schedule, I put my family obligations in first, and schedule clients around them. Doesn't work for everyone, especially the commission aspect of the job but it was a good compromise for my family.

Posted by: Sparks | April 23, 2007 11:22 AM

It seems to me that the article "How to Wreck your Career" will do just that to the author, Leslie Morgan Steiner. I found it offensive to those of us who have a family life and a career. The main point in the article is that career needs to come before work.

No one should work for any employer who communicates that to their employees, because it shows a complete disdain for personal and family values.

The article which Ms. Steiner referenced did not come to the same conclusion that she wrote of in this piece. Is someone editing her work?

Posted by: Scott Weil | April 23, 2007 11:23 AM

Chris, by the time I read this, I knew it was you:

"5. Yell out how your boss is an a-hole every half-hour (ex: "The time is now 9:30 and X is an A-hole!" When they come to ask you why, pretend not to recognize them and confide in them how AWFUL the boss is."

LOL! You're a sick, sick puppy! Thanks for the laugh.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | April 23, 2007 11:25 AM

One other thing-- if the women's movement is hindering you from doing what is right for you and your family, than I think the movement deserves to be reverted!

Posted by: Jen | April 23, 2007 11:28 AM

To anon @ 9:46 AM:

Not whining - I laugh about it now but it sucked then. Just making a point about salaried vs non-salaried and how sometimes the supposedly higher-earning salaried employees make less money.

But perhaps you might want to work on your math. The last time I checked, the Y2K rollover was 7 years ago...

Posted by: Chasmosaur | April 23, 2007 11:33 AM

One other thing-- if the women's movement is hindering you from doing what is right for you and your family, than I think the movement deserves to be reverted!

Posted by: Jen | April 23, 2007 11:28 AM

I haven't heard anyone use the term, "the women's movement" since approximately 1974. Crawl out from under that rock if you have a point.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 11:36 AM

The women's rights movement's purpose was to give us choices. We now have the right to work in almost every field(combat soldier's bing the major exception) we want. If your choice is stay at home with your children, as I did for 10 years, that's great. If you choose to try to balance work and children, that's great too. We can even choose to not have children, and focus exclusively on our careers! If you want to go back to being your husband's property, go ahead. I'll keep my choices, thank you.

Posted by: To Jen | April 23, 2007 11:38 AM

I haven't heard anyone use the term, "the women's movement" since approximately 1974. Crawl out from under that rock if you have a point.

This is why many young women are not part of the club.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 11:39 AM

I wouldn't say that I have "wrecked" my career, but I definitely have not applied for promotions that I was qualified for due to the fact that I cherish my flexible schedule, and if promoted, I would have to give that up. My schedule allows me to spend plenty of time with my young kids (3 and 1) after work. But, like Mamma of 1, I too have lost alot of my ambition. I love my job and everything else that goes along with that, but my children are my priority. I figure when my kids are older, I can apply for promotions then if I so desire.

Posted by: working mom by choice | April 23, 2007 11:40 AM

Shoe Question

Are D.C. folks really wearing Gladiator shoes?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 11:43 AM

I had an assistant once that called, usually on a nice day or the Friday before a three-day weekend and said "The baby is ill. I have to stay home."

HR said there was nothing I could do.

One time she called to say that the baby was ill and I told her that she can have the day off, but she had used all her leave and this would be leave w/o pay.

Amazingly, the baby felt better that morning and was not sick again until the following year!

Posted by: Dan | April 23, 2007 11:44 AM

Some people are better able to balance home and work better than others. I've noted here that I worked with childless singles who allowed their partying to interfere with their careers (even some folks who were over 30, and honestly, partying laike a frat boy into your 30s is pathetic).

But if "wrecking my career" means that I have passed up job opportunities that had higher pay because I couldn't meet travel demands, then I guess I have wrecked my career. But it doesn't feel that way because I love the job I have and I am able to comfortably support my daughter and myself.

Posted by: single western mom | April 23, 2007 11:45 AM

I'm sorry if I misinterpretted what "movement" mamma of 1 was referring to. i think "movement" is just shorthand for "woman's movement", which, yes, seems like a very 70s term of art! but if there is some other meaning behind "movement" in this context, please let me know.

Maybe it could be "parent's movement"? But why would the "parent's movement" be reverted by mamma of 1 cutting back on her work hours in order to meet the Rockwellian ideal? The only movement I can think of one could argue is harmed by that action is the "women's movement"-- the whole "Get to Work" Hirshman scene that argues that you are undermining feminism if you opt-out of the full-time working mother role.

As i said before, if that is what the "woman's movement" has become, then I think it deserves to be reverted.

Posted by: Jen | April 23, 2007 11:47 AM

Chasmosaur, I thought your post raised a lot of good questions, and everyone loves a good horror story (and as horror stories go, I thought that was pretty good one).

WorkingMomX, no sage advice from me - not my specialty (sage advice that is, but also not employment law). I was picturing deranged employees putting their crackberries to nefarious use, but sounds like you have a more realisitic problem - good luck with it!

Posted by: Megan | April 23, 2007 11:49 AM

"foamgnome
Didn't know everyone works/lives in the D.C. area!!"

Anon at 8:27 - just in case you're new - you'll find that foamgnome has a really hard time with the fact that a good portion of the population lives outside of D.C.

"But this is a DC paper. So we talk mainly about this area."

The WaPo may be a DC paper, but this is the INTERNET, which is shockingly read by people all over the world.

"Our commuting problems are indicative of many large cities in this country. "

Also shocking - many people in this country live outside of large cities.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 11:50 AM

11:38 -- Ahhh-- where in the world did you get the idea I want to be my husband's property? I was simply supporting mamma of 1 and trying to let her know that things can work out fine even if it isn't the Rockwellian ideal. Perhaps you have me confused with someone else? I work full time.

Yes, yes! Keep you choices1! Live your choices! That's what I'm doing! ANY movement that restricts people's chocies shuold be reverted-- don't you agree?

Posted by: Jen | April 23, 2007 11:53 AM

"ANY movement that restricts people's chocies shuold be reverted-- don't you agree?"

Huh?
Duh?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 12:00 PM

I guess I was foolish to respond to an anonymous poster. I'm done here.

Posted by: Jen | April 23, 2007 12:02 PM

Jen

"I guess I was foolish to respond to an anonymous poster. I'm done here."

Promises!
Promises!


Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 12:06 PM

I haven't heard anyone use the term, "the women's movement" since approximately 1974. Crawl out from under that rock if you have a point.

This is why many young women are not part of the club.

Posted by: | April 23, 2007 11:39 AM

11:39: what does your anon reply mean? for example, to what does "this" refer? what club are you talking about? Jen is young? mamma of 1 is young? so what?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 12:07 PM

Can we please get back on topic? I want more career wrecking instructions. ;-P

Posted by: Chris | April 23, 2007 12:09 PM

Jen

"I guess I was foolish to respond to an anonymous poster. I'm done here."

Promises!
Promises!

The best thing you can do Jen is ignore them and don't leave.

Posted by: to jen | April 23, 2007 12:10 PM

The best thing you can do Jen is ignore them and don't leave.

Posted by: to jen | April 23, 2007 12:10 PM

au contraire, anon at 12:10. I'd admire Jen for her integrity, if nothing else, if she'd do as she promised. If someone is immature enough to announce departure from a public blog as if it's an event worthy of notice, it only highlights her immaturity when she continues posting.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 12:14 PM

Play hide the fish above the drop-ceiling tiles.

Posted by: Chris | April 23, 2007 12:14 PM

How to Wreck your career part IV:

Come to work smelling like a brewery/distillery every Monday and complain of the stomach flu (had a co-worker who did that until he retired).

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 12:15 PM

I so identify with the earlier poster who said s/he worked for a boss who put in excruciating days and when the poster chose not to, the boss' rationale was, "Well, I do it!". I work for a very similar woman. This woman is 'super woman' who works 10-11 hours daily, 3 hours on weekends, and still manages to go to soccer matches. She gives me the 'evil eye' for leaving at my normal time, even though I get my work done, almost as if I'm not pulling my weight.


I've decided when my 8.5 hours are up, I'm leaving, if something catastrophic isn't occurring.

I've decided, that as a lifelong Washingtonian 30years+, that the sooner I can move south, the better. This area has become very difficult to live in.

Posted by: NW anon | April 23, 2007 12:16 PM

I'd admire Jen for her integrity, if nothing else, if she'd do as she promised.

I saw no promises. I thought she meant she was done talking to idiots like you.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 12:18 PM

Chris,
Have you heard the story of the bitter woman who, after her divorce, had to move out of the marital house for the hubby and new wife/GF? She put fish in the curtain rods. They started to really stink after a while and, after the ex replaced carpet, etc he couldn't stand it and sold it back to her at a loss. All she had to do was remove the rods and start over.

I am sure it is an urban legend but makes for a great story.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | April 23, 2007 12:18 PM

"Can we please get back on topic? I want more career wrecking instructions. ;-P"

Oh, yes!

Let's get back on the low interest topic, before Leslie sends the Washington Post Secret Police after us!!!


Posted by: I LOVE NY | April 23, 2007 12:21 PM

Jen

"I guess I was foolish to respond to an anonymous poster. I'm done here."

I'd admire Jen for her integrity, if nothing else, if she'd do as she promised.

I saw no promises. I thought she meant she was done talking to idiots like you.

Posted by: | April 23, 2007 12:18 PM

To her credit, Jen does not insult the intelligence of everyone with whom she disagrees. Take her cue, 12:18.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 12:22 PM

NW anon, I hear you! I'm very fortunate in my present job- I get all my work done and usually leave on time (if I have to stay late, I can keep track of it and use it later). In my old job I had a boss tell me I needed to stay late sometimes, even if I had nothing important to work on, just to appear busy for the big boss. What a croc. If you want to waste your free time pretending to work, that's fine, but when it's time to go home and relax with friends or family, and if there's no real crisis, I'm out the door.

Posted by: Chris | April 23, 2007 12:23 PM

what a lame rehash of a column done before.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 12:24 PM

yep, heard that one before... very slick, even if it's not true.

-----

Start wearing/displaying the logo of a competitor.

Posted by: Chris | April 23, 2007 12:26 PM

"au contraire, anon at 12:10. I'd admire Jen for her integrity, if nothing else, if she'd do as she promised. If someone is immature enough to announce departure from a public blog as if it's an event worthy of notice, it only highlights her immaturity when she continues posting."

Where is her subsequent post that you are referring to? She hasn't posted since she said "I'm done here." seems she did as she promised, didn't she?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 12:27 PM

12:24, would you rather talk about daycare? I mean, come on!

Posted by: Chris | April 23, 2007 12:27 PM

Chris,

In that wikipedia index of frequent posters, you are one of the most amusing to read (and I mean that in a complimentary way).

Good on you. It sounds like in many ways, you HAVE achieved balance.

I am beginning to think, at the ripe age of 35, that it is indeed a balance of having money to live, and telling the world to take a hike, if I don't fit into its preconceived notions.

Posted by: NW anon | April 23, 2007 12:28 PM

To her credit, Jen does not insult the intelligence of everyone with whom she disagrees. Take her cue, 12:18.

Oh, so sorry to have insulted such a nice poster who called someone immature.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 12:28 PM

there are a lot of posters who are not afraid of losing their jobs.

That's to the benefit of the remaining 85% of America. The next time their industry or the economy generally, goes into the toilet, employers will have a good sense of the workers who really need their jobs and lay-off those who are so good at setting limits.

If you want more free time to spend with your families, quit and free that job up for someone who needs it.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 12:28 PM

"I am beginning to think, at the ripe age of 35, that it is indeed a balance of having money to live, and telling the world to take a hike, if I don't fit into its preconceived notions.

It's called "FU money".

It's the best kind!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 12:31 PM

This boring blog is always about wrecking your career -- it encourages people to have children and try to work, too. It can't be done.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 12:31 PM

Shees, 12:28, either get a life or submit a comment on topic.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 12:36 PM

Yes, "FU money", or as my husband and I term it-- "6 months emergency fund", to find another job. The hope of course, is that he and I both won't want to say FU at the same moment!

Posted by: NW anon | April 23, 2007 12:37 PM

"This boring blog is always about wrecking your career -- it encourages people to have children and try to work, too. It can't be done."

Only if you're in a very specialized group of careers, perhaps. Otherwise, parents manage to handle careers and children all the time, every day.

Posted by: John L | April 23, 2007 12:39 PM

To somehow assume that children do not need and deserve a large amount of time is totally niave. You can't have it both ways. Of course if you work for the government it doesn't matter as you are neither accountable nor responsible for your time. For the rest of you, its day care and preschool so that you don't have to feel guilty or accountable for the way your child turns out.

Posted by: mcewen | April 23, 2007 12:44 PM

Here's mcewen beating his same old boring drum (thud thud thud). Look in the dictionary next to bitter and you will see his photo.

Posted by: DC lurker | April 23, 2007 12:46 PM

"If you want more free time to spend with your families, quit and free that job up for someone who needs it."

If that "someone" could do my job better they would have it NOW. That's called the free market economy. Blowhard.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 12:47 PM

mcewen -- do you have kids?

Posted by: Arlington Dad | April 23, 2007 12:49 PM

"We both are home early and have decided that that is important to us. We found jobs that work with our lifestyles."

Same here. Work 7:30 am - 4 pm. No nights, no weekends, no holidays EVER.

10 minute commute to work.

Dinner on the table by 5.

Tack on vacation day to 3 day holiday weekends a lot.

Lives are calm and relaxed. No frenzied rushes. Plenty of time to stop and smell the roses.

Posted by: | April 23, 2007 09:25 AM

right. in my view this behavior prevents other people from finding balance. the employees who use 3 days weekends to extend vacation prevent others from doing the same, as someone has to be there. this should be "balanced" as well.

Posted by: part of the problem | April 23, 2007 12:50 PM

part of the problem

"the employees who use 3 days weekends to extend vacation prevent others from doing the same, as someone has to be there. this should be "balanced" as well. "

This is common practice in my office. The boss covers when needed.

Posted by: Peppermint Patty | April 23, 2007 12:54 PM

3 day weekends are common in my office too. I think that some holidays are just not as importnat as others to some people. I mean there are plenty of holidays to go round.

Posted by: scarry | April 23, 2007 12:56 PM

In scanning some of the comments I find it interesting and impressive that parents clearly and conciously put their families ahead of the work. I agree with that view.

As a manager, I do notice that the level of distraction depends on the individual employee and family. It is important for people to know that the level of distraction will may impact career advancement as well as a manaager's assessment of current job capabilities. It's important to keep the mental intrusion, to be distinguished from normal appointments (for Doctors, etc.) and understandable childcare issues, to the lowest level possible. This mental distraction is the truly intrusive element that can undrmine one's ability to get their job done.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 12:59 PM

""the employees who use 3 days weekends to extend vacation prevent others from doing the same, as someone has to be there. this should be "balanced" as well. "

Isn't this true anytime someone takes vacation days? Not everyone can take vacation at the same time, so you have to plan ahead to get the days you want - isn't that pretty basic in every office? How does that make someone who does plan ahead "part of the problem"?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 1:02 PM

"the employees who use 3 days weekends to extend vacation prevent others from doing the same, as someone has to be there. this should be "balanced" as well. "

Doesn't every office have a dramatic employee like this -- one who complains / brags about how long it's been since he / she took a vacation day? One to complains / brags about the hours he / she puts in? They don't ask for days off for fear that the office won't function in their absence, and they are astonished that anyone else could bear to be gone. There's usually some heavy sighing involved. Ignore them and enjoy your day off -- it's a benefit that you earned.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | April 23, 2007 1:08 PM

Isn't this true anytime someone takes vacation days? Not everyone can take vacation at the same time, so you have to plan ahead to get the days you want - isn't that pretty basic in every office? How does that make someone who does plan ahead "part of the problem"?

Posted by: | April 23, 2007 01:02 PM

This isn't about planning ahead. It's about being the colleague with whom others want to work. For example, I could easily plan ahead and say to my boss, for the next 10 years, I'd like to take the week off at Christmas and the Monday after every firm holiday. That wouldn't be fair to the other 8 members of my team.

It has nothing to do with planning ahead. It has to do with respecting the family lives of your colleagues enough to take turns. Turn-taking involves NOT taking what you might be entitled to, on occasion, so that someone else is able to keep his life in balance. Maybe in your office, it's a first-come, first-served, race to fill out the paperwork environment. That's not the sort of workplace I'm discussing.

In my workplace, there will be client needs every single holiday weekend 'til the end of time. They will all be urgent. That's why they come in around the holiday. The boss is a fellow colleague with a family of her own, and there's more work than she could handle on her own or should be expected to handle on her own, if it was somehow fair to screw our boss every single holiday. If you want to work for someone that understands work / life balance, step one is, don't chase him or her out of the business. The Golden Rule applies at work, too.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | April 23, 2007 1:12 PM

"I could easily plan ahead and say to my boss, for the next 10 years, I'd like to take the week off at Christmas and the Monday after every firm holiday."

and your boss would say "no"

Posted by: not so easy | April 23, 2007 1:16 PM

MN, the voice of reason.

Aside: In some workplaces, choosing vacation times is based on seniority.

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 1:17 PM

HOw to wreck your career: Conduct a loud, messy public divorce over the course of several weeks (or months!) in the cubicle farm. Call friends and narrate juicy details, financial or infidelity-related. Use bad language while describing the soon to be exes behavior and character. Come in late a lot. Expect others to pick up the slack. (This is an equal opportunity career-wrecking move and you can still do it even if you don't have kids!)

Posted by: Armchair Mom | April 23, 2007 1:21 PM

I like Jen. Leave her alone. She has good comments and opinions.

Posted by: mamma of 1 | April 23, 2007 1:23 PM

"I'd admire Jen for her integrity, if nothing else, if she'd do as she promised . . . it only highlights her immaturity when she continues posting."

What are you talking about? I don't see any further posting.

Posted by: Alexandria | April 23, 2007 1:25 PM

Well, my fil always wants off thanksgiving and always will work on xmas. And one place he worked said that the schedule had to rotate so about every other year he would have to switch with someone (he doesn't mind working easter, either). It was so stupid.

Posted by: atlmom | April 23, 2007 1:30 PM

Play hide the fish above the drop-ceiling tiles.

I prefer hid the sausage! Ah, but parents can't do that as much anymore, right?

Too bad!

Posted by: Sausage! | April 23, 2007 1:32 PM

"I could easily plan ahead and say to my boss, for the next 10 years, I'd like to take the week off at Christmas and the Monday after every firm holiday."

and your boss would say "no"

Posted by: not so easy | April 23, 2007 01:16 PM

actually, 1:16, she won't say, "yes" to taking the Monday after Memorial Day off, 4 weeks from now, either. We don't apply for, and are not granted, vacation days. The way our business works is, each employee is expected to understand that, regardless of any vacation or holiday plans, if there is a client need, you need to meet it and not plan on a colleague to meet if for you, e.g., if there is a client need, it doesn't matter whether you paid for that Sunday night at the beach, you need to meet the client need. Now, if another colleague intends to be in the office that Monday and willing to take that project over for you, you can stay at the beach another day. Hence, the Golden Rule in application becomes, sometimes you need to be the person in the office when you don't care as much because some day you will want to have someone in the office to call when you get that Saturday, May whatever e-mail that indicates a Monday-morning emergency. That's why I typically work the week of July 4th, and incur enough good will to cover other holidays that are more important to me.

Posted by: MN | April 23, 2007 1:35 PM

A curtain rod sounds like a good place to stash some cash.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 1:39 PM

MN

I wouldn't take a job at your workplace.

I need a more structured schedule.

Posted by: Peppermint Patty | April 23, 2007 1:43 PM

There are so few of us where I work that we can sit down early in the year and decide who gets what holiday and it has always worked out.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | April 23, 2007 1:43 PM

We have so many employees who work offsite in my office that it is easy to cover the work.

Posted by: scarry | April 23, 2007 1:45 PM

I wish I had FU money, but alas, I do not... hopefully someday soon.

But balance I have found, is about setting goals, being positive, and doing your best- no matter what.

Posted by: Chris | April 23, 2007 1:48 PM

MN - that was me at 1:02, forgot to sign (doh!) I agree with you about turn taking being appropriate on the popular vacation times, but I didn't think that was what the original poster was saying - in my quick read s/he seemed to simply be complaining that anyone would take those days off, because not everyone can.

Posted by: Megan | April 23, 2007 1:49 PM

Ultimate Career Killer: Saying something bad about Chuck Norris.

Posted by: Chris | April 23, 2007 1:51 PM

Perhaps the most important thing to consider in today's discussion is that different jobs and workplaces can have different rules, cultures and customs, based on either the actual or perceived nature of the work, the size of the workplace and even the lifestyle and personality (not to mention ego, in some cases) of various bosses and clients. One size does not fit all, yet too many people are stating their own views -- and sometimes disparaging others' -- as though it did.

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 1:52 PM

Haha Chris, what about Bruce Willis aka John McKlaine.

Posted by: scarry | April 23, 2007 1:52 PM

Chris,
Huh? Is Chuck Norris your hero :-)

Posted by: KLB SS MD | April 23, 2007 1:52 PM

Sorry if I wasn't clear in my original post; what I meant to say was that I read the original poster's comments to mean that s/he turns many three-ady weekends into longer holidays. In my experience, there are people who do this quite frequently and they (a) prevent others from doing it because they get on the "books" first so others have to stick around; and (b)they use fewer vacation days this way, so they also take more holidays. Seems like they are the onles who are never around. WHile I understand planning well comes into it, I think there are those who take advantage of extending long weekends. That's all.

And for the record, I harbor no illusions that I am indispensible and I take plenty of vacation time.

Posted by: part of the problem | April 23, 2007 1:58 PM

"I think there are those who take advantage of extending long weekends"

And there are those who don't.

Sometimes it is for the best interest of the employer & the employee.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 2:03 PM

http://money.cnn.com/2007/04/23/news/economy/gender_gap/index.htm?cnn=yes

Pertinent to today's topic.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 2:10 PM

MN

I wouldn't take a job at your workplace.

I need a more structured schedule.

Posted by: Peppermint Patty | April 23, 2007 01:43 PM

okay? I hope you find, or are in, a workplace that only needs what you are available to offer. That's a good fit, by definition.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | April 23, 2007 2:13 PM

I was a consultant at a company where if you did 'extend' a holiday weekend, you were charged for the holiday day as a vacation. That took care of anyone doing that. There were business reasons I won't get into here.

Posted by: atlmom | April 23, 2007 2:19 PM

All the best at getting some FU money, then, Chris!

Me, I'm still "accumulating" it. We're by no means there yet either.

I like your attitude.

Posted by: NW anon | April 23, 2007 2:19 PM

Why can't people have both?

Statistic - In 1973, the avg. sq. feet of a house was 1700. In 2005, it is now >2400. On avg., families are smaller now then they were in 1973. Why in the world do people need larger homes for smaller families?

Live closer to work in great communities like Arlington, Kensington, or Falls Church City. You will be able to buy less house, but you will be able to recoup 2 hours a day most people spend in commutting. Not to mention, savings related to house maintenance and energy costs (You can put this money towards a maid and yard service). People want to have as much house as they can barely afford.

I agree with the previous poster, people need to plan properly prior to pregancy.

Posted by: Balance | April 23, 2007 2:20 PM

Why live in the DC area at all?

Posted by: to Balance | April 23, 2007 2:23 PM

I'm getting the strong feeling that there are those here who have not heard of Chuck Norris facts. These facts revolve around Chuck Norris accomplishing what most people would consider impossible. Life cannot be balanced without them! ie:

Chuck Norris is the only man to ever defeat a brick wall in a game of tennis.

Chuck Norris has counted to infinity...twice.

When Chuck Norris sends in his taxes, he sends blank forms and includes only a picture of himself crouched and ready to strike. Chuck Norris has not had to pay taxes, ever.

Before the boogie man goes to sleep he has to check the closet for Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris owns the greatest poker face of all time. It helped him win the 1983 World Series of Poker despite him holding just a Joker, a Get-out-of-jail-free Monopoly card, a 2 of clubs, a 7 of spades and a green #4 card from the game of Uno.

Posted by: Chris | April 23, 2007 2:23 PM

Why live in the DC area at all?

Posted by: to Balance | April 23, 2007 02:23 PM

Because I have both family and friends here. Isn't that what life is all about? Becoming a part of a community and valuing that community over things like money and convenience.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 2:25 PM

Chris, You crack me up. My dad loved Chuck as Walker, Texas Ranger. He watched every rerun.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | April 23, 2007 2:26 PM

I long ago worked at a place where daily salary was calculated by dividing one's monthly salary by the total number of days in that particular month. Then, if a an employee took a sick day on a Friday or Monday, it was counted as THREE sick days against his/her allotment (and as four if it was the day before/after a three-day holiday weekend). This was just one among a multitude of reasons I only worked there briefly -- that sort of mindset breeds lots of other crazy rules as well.

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 2:27 PM

Balance- Apartments in the Arlington area are more expensive than renting houses about 30-45 minutes away. Perhaps people would rather use their money for other things...

Posted by: Chris | April 23, 2007 2:27 PM

I believe that having me at home has allowed my husband to truly flourish at work. He is able to focus entirely on work, knowing that, barring an emergency, everything at home is taken care of. Kids sick, I will take them to the doc and take care of them until they are well. Car need to be inspected, I make the appointment. Dinner, on the table at the end of the day. If my husband needs to be away for business, he can go as long as he needs to with no question or arrangements to be made. He is able to enjoy and pursue his professional goals and I am able to enjoy and pursue my goals as well. This works because I want to be at home. I derive satisfaction from being with the kids, being room mother, taking classes at the local university and taking care of the "chores" so our free time can be enjoyed as a family. My husband is home at 6:00 each evening and spends the next two hours with the kids playing and getting them ready for bed (including showers). I know that this is not an option on a financial or personal level for everyone (not everybody wants to be room mother) but it is what works for us and we feel happy and yes, balanced.

Posted by: moxiemom | April 23, 2007 2:28 PM

Good for you Moxiemom! Really!

Posted by: scarry | April 23, 2007 2:30 PM

Catlady, that's so crazy it must be true! How awful!

Posted by: Chris | April 23, 2007 2:30 PM

Thanks scarry - I'm waiting for the lecture about him dying or leaving me. I appreciate your positive comment.

Posted by: moxiemom | April 23, 2007 2:33 PM

Careful moxiemom, Leslie might ban you for encouraging non-elite subversive behavior. ;-)

Posted by: Chris | April 23, 2007 2:33 PM

.....and then....there are couples that do have college degrees, work downtown, and rent an apartment, because they aren't willing to make that 90 minute commute from Woodbridge (where housing is more affordable).

It's a conscious decision, and again, a matter of balance.

I live downtown. I couldn't afford to buy anything in this area if I hadn't grown up here.

Posted by: NW anon | April 23, 2007 2:33 PM

Chris, I never could've made up a rule like that. I don't have the imagination ;-)

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 2:34 PM

No problem Moxiemom we will battle the linda hirshmans of the world together!

Posted by: scarry | April 23, 2007 2:36 PM

"I live downtown. I couldn't afford to buy anything in this area if I hadn't grown up here"

This is the reason I had to move away. THere was no way I was going to pay 300,000 for a condo or 400,000 for a three bedroom townhouse with no yard.

Posted by: scarry | April 23, 2007 2:37 PM

Moxiemom - May I ask the difference in age between you and your husband? Most couples I know that are the same age usually cannot have one person stop working completely.

I put this way, my wife and I are the same age (early 30 and 31). She makes 100k and I make 110k and we could not have her stop working to support my career. At the end of the day I would not want that pressure. I enjoy having balance and being able exercise and be home by 6:00 every evening.

Posted by: Balance | April 23, 2007 2:38 PM

moxiemom |

No sale here.

My fate and the fate of my children will NEVER lay in the hands of another person.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 2:38 PM

Moxiemom, What you don't mention -- and elements of our society don't grasp -- is the monetary and social value of your labors. Your monetary pay is sharing in your husband's income, and what you do is at least part of the time hard work. I don't know how it could be done, but maybe a way needs to be developed to quantify a SAH parent's contributions to family, society and making it easier for his/her partner to puruse a career.

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 2:39 PM

Not everyone's marriage is at risk.

Posted by: To 2:38 | April 23, 2007 2:41 PM

Okay, moxiemom, here ya go!

How could you possibly sacrifice yoru life and career for kids and husband?!? What were you thinking?!?

(The above is purely tongue-in-cheek and only in response to the request made by moxiemom herself, please don't flame me!)

Posted by: Nw anon | April 23, 2007 2:43 PM

"In my experience, there are people who do this quite frequently and they (a) prevent others from doing it because they get on the "books" first so others have to stick around; and "

I do understand that frustration - that was an issue in my husband's last job - there were like 3 guys who would get there stuff on the books on the first of january every year. Sorry to have misunderstood you - I think in the end it has to be a balance between planning ahead (ie, you can't expect to get a vacation day if you ask three days before) and balancing the needs of everyone in the office, which probably only happens when there is good communication and/or a good system.

However, you would enjoy the story of what happened to those folks one year (and Catlady, this is reminiscent of your experience) - one year that profits were up more than expected, they decided to close the office between Christmas and New Years as a bonus of sorts to all employees. BUT, the people who had signed up to take vacation on those days still had to use the vacation days they had signed up for! I thought that was really crappy, and it didn't even affect my husband (he not being of the type to get on the books early).

Posted by: Megan | April 23, 2007 2:44 PM

"Not everyone's marriage is at risk."

About 40% are.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 2:44 PM

Death comes for us all, though, and no one knows the time.

Posted by: John L | April 23, 2007 2:46 PM

40% isn't even a majority, let alone "everyone."

Posted by: To 2:44 | April 23, 2007 2:47 PM

"40% isn't even a majority, let alone "everyone.""

No, but it is a record high!!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 2:53 PM

"Not everyone's marriage is at risk."

About 40% are.

Posted by: | April 23, 2007 02:44 PM

Someone who knows the numbers better than I please weigh in and correct me, but I am fairly certain that, from what I've read, when you break the divorce statistics down, you find that individuals who divorce multiple times skew the divorce statistic upward. In other words, far less than 40% of people who marry will end up divorced, even though perhaps 40% of all marriages will end in divorce, e.g., the Elizabeth Taylor effect.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | April 23, 2007 2:54 PM

It really is amazing what people thunk they need to live on. When my parents got married they rented a tiny 1 b.r. Apt. Neither had ever lived on their own (when my mom suggested that my grandmother said: over my dead body...). My mom said that they could never have afforded to live on my dad's salary-they needed hers. She got pregnant three yrs later and quit work-by then with dad's raises, promotions, etc, they could afford- the same 1 BR. They had been living in. Eventually (after no 2) they bought a house- and then came no 3 (me) and eventually a bigger house. The point is that everyone makes their own decisions- some people want the longer commute and the biggrer house, some want the smaller house and shorter commute (actually, scarry, I prefer being in a city and no yard would be a huge plus for me).

Posted by: atlmom | April 23, 2007 2:55 PM

"40% isn't even a majority, let alone "everyone.""

Th majority of homes don't catch fire, but my home is fully insured.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 2:56 PM

and others have little if any choice at all because they are dependent on public transit.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 2:56 PM

I have a three-bedroom house, fenced yard, front porch, fireplace, BIG kitchen, whirlpool tub, wonderful neighbors, all for the same price people are paying for rent. And my house INCREASES in value every year. The tax benefit is mine, not my landlord's. Yes, I have to commute but the payoff is better for me.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 2:58 PM

"(actually, scarry, I prefer being in a city and no yard would be a huge plus for me"

Yep, and that is why everyone is different and entitled to their own opinions and lifestyle. Living in a smaller house wasn't the issue for me, it was the cost of the smaller house that was the problem.

To each their own, which is why I gave a shout out to Moxiemom. Good for her for doing what works for her family.

Posted by: scarry | April 23, 2007 2:59 PM

I have a three-bedroom house, fenced yard, front porch, fireplace, BIG kitchen, whirlpool tub, wonderful neighbors, all for the same price people are paying for rent. And my house INCREASES in value every year. The tax benefit is mine, not my landlord's. Yes, I have to commute but the payoff is better for me.

Posted by: | April 23, 2007 02:58 PM

no kid ever said, when grown, I wish my parents had worked harder when I was little so we could have a BIG kitchen.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 3:00 PM

The trouble is....with housing prices in this area going so high and the commutes being so long, there are those (I know three young-ish people in my field--early 30's) who have decided to leave the area entirely to find jobs in other cities because the long commute is preventing them from being with their families. (They are going to Phoenix Arizona, Raleigh, NC and Columbus, Ohio).

I wonder how much 'brain drain' and loss of future potential we as a city (region) are going to experience because talented young people get frustrated and leave?

Posted by: NW anon | April 23, 2007 3:00 PM

"40% isn't even a majority, let alone "everyone.""

Th majority of homes don't catch fire, but my home is fully insured.

Posted by: | April 23, 2007 02:56 PM


That's what's called fallacious logic.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 3:00 PM

I wonder how much 'brain drain' and loss of future potential we as a city (region) are going to experience because talented young people get frustrated and leave?

Posted by: NW anon | April 23, 2007 03:00 PM

ummmmmm, San Francisco, New York and LA don't seem to have experienced any brain drain.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 3:01 PM

"no kid ever said, when grown, I wish my parents had worked harder when I was little so we could have a BIG kitchen."

I'm not a fan of big houses, but I am a huge fan of big kitchens, because it means we can all be in the kitchen cooking together, and when we have people over, we can gather in the kitchen while one of us is cooking. And the reason I like this so much is because that's how I grew up - I have many fond memories of us all in the kitchen after a party or making dinner - and I missed that a lot when I lived in places with tiny kitchens later.

The spaces in which we live shape the ways we spend our time.

Posted by: Megan | April 23, 2007 3:08 PM

I don't understand the policy of use it or lose it vacation days without the ability to carry any over. It only creates animosity (as described above).

My las job, as awful as it was, allowed you to accrue days with each paycheck-you could only accrue so much, but it never expired.

Posted by: atlmom | April 23, 2007 3:09 PM

no kid ever said, when grown, I wish my parents had worked harder when I was little so we could have a BIG kitchen.

Posted by: | April 23, 2007 03:00 PM


But maybe some kids have been glad that the equity in their parents' home appreciated way faster than the cost-of-living, so the parents could refinance (or trade down) in order to afford to send the kids to college. A house, incl. a big kitchen (which is often one of those things that increases a house's value by more than it costs), can be a wise investment.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 3:11 PM

Megan: "The spaces in which we live shape the ways we spend our time."

So very true. And if you're in a miserable location (apt. TH, single family home--it doesn't matter)your quality of life suffers.

I like big kitchens, too, Megan, filled with light, that have 'warmth', etc. Our kitchen is the heart of our home.

Posted by: Nw anon | April 23, 2007 3:12 PM

If people cannot afford to make it here, there are plenty of other places to live. DC, like San Francisco and NYC carry a premium (incredible job market, educated area, culture, sports, and theatre). Not everyone has the ability to afford and live in areas like DC, San Francisco, or NYC. This is the cold-hearted truth.

There is no shortage of 30 year olds in the DC area (Not from I can see).

And I believe people can do what ever they want to do. If they want to live here they can make it work. I am tired of hearing people in my office and around complain about their commutes. No one said they had to live in PWC and work in Tysons/DC. They choose that (No one forced them). Most of them were not willing to pay the same amount for a house/condo closer in that was a little smaller (2500 sq ft house with a 6000 sq ft lot). These people wanted houses that were twice as large.

People make their own beds and need to stop complaining about life being unfair. Life is all about choice. Make the decision and stand by it.


Posted by: Balance | April 23, 2007 3:16 PM

So true... if you earned the day, how can anyone justify taking it from you without at least some compensation? Even in the military you can sell your unused leave back when you're getting out.

Posted by: Chris | April 23, 2007 3:18 PM

I don't understand the policy of use it or lose it vacation days without the ability to carry any over. It only creates animosity (as described above).

My las job, as awful as it was, allowed you to accrue days with each paycheck-you could only accrue so much, but it never expired.

Posted by: atlmom | April 23, 2007 03:09 PM

I'll explain it, at least with respect to my workplace. It's about talent management, including both attraction and retention of new talent. About 20% of our administrative staff have been here for more than 20 years. They accrue vacation days at a rate equal to 4 weeks per year, in addition to sick days and holidays. Before we had a "use it or lose it" policy, some of that 20% would horde their days for a couple of years, then want to use 3 months in a row. The newer employees who accrued vacation at a much lower rate, bore the brunt of having more work than they could handle and for a three-month period. It's not reasonable to expect administrative staff to do another person's job for that long a period of time. They seek balance, as well as perceived fairness. The animosity between persons with less than 5 years in and those with 20+ years in, and the over-the-top work burden caused us to lose some good people, and not be able to attract other good people.

No system is fool-proof, but this policy works better for us in terms of attracting and retaining new employees.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | April 23, 2007 3:18 PM

Hey balance

NW has a point.

A two bedroom apt in Cathedral Heights area on Mass. Ave rents for $2881/mo with two parking spaces. (Just ask me how I know!!!)

Forget the 2500 sq ft argument. Most 30-year-olds I know can't afford that.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 3:20 PM

Balance, I am 37 and my husband is 39. As I said before, I understand that we are part of a group of people who were lucky enough financially to have this choice to make. I'm from reasonable modest means (college professor and SAHM) his family was more comfortable. We had an advantage in that both our families could pay for college outright (lotta penny pinching in my house) so we started at zero instead of in the negative. I worked for about 8 years out of college.

moxiemom |

No sale here.

My fate and the fate of my children will NEVER lay in the hands of another person.

Posted by: | April 23, 2007 02:38 PM

Hey, your prerogative - that's what's groovy about this country and being a woman in this country. As someone said before we have choices.

Catlady - while I appreciate your sentiment, I think we are a long way off from that. I focus on being grateful that we can live as we choose and I get my validation from inside and from my family knowing that I'm doing what feels best for us. As long as my husband and these two little people appreciate and value my efforts that's all I really need.

Posted by: moxiemom | April 23, 2007 3:23 PM

Some of my fondest memories have been made in our family kitchen when I was growing up -- big family breakfasts on Sunday morning, baking cookies at Christmas, 'scrapping the bowl' after Mom baked a cake, homemade treats when friends dropped by, doing homework while Mom washed dinner dishes, coloring books and crayons at the table at night, dying Easter eggs with newspapers on the table to catch spills. We did most of our living in the kitchen, not in front of the TV set. Now some smart-*ss with make a snide remark about that. You people are pathetic.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 3:25 PM

Was there a brain drain or mass exodus from the affected areas after 9/11?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 3:27 PM

"I don't understand the policy of use it or lose it vacation days without the ability to carry any over"

Some workplaces do understand that it is important to take a break and recharge occasionally. Some people would never take a vacation without a use it or lose it policy. They would always find a reason that they were needed at the office. The wise employers make sure that everyone gets a well-deserved break.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 3:30 PM

Was there a brain drain or mass exodus from the affected areas after 9/11?

Posted by: | April 23, 2007 03:27 PM


THere was from the Gulf area after Hurricanes Katrina & Rita.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 3:30 PM

"Was there a brain drain or mass exodus from the affected areas after 9/11?"

You miss my point entirely--I am thinking about the future 15-20 years ahead.

People that are movers and shakers and would have had the most influence are mostly in their 40s, 50s or 60s (boomers). When these people retire, the up-and-coming younger people who could have been groomed for these positions might have opted to go elsewhere to have a better quality of life. I'm not saying this will happen, just that I am curious what effect the sky-high housing prices are going to have on the area in the next 20 or so years.

Posted by: NW anon | April 23, 2007 3:32 PM

To megan's neighbor:

That's why cos. Have policies where you can only accrue up to a certain number of days(like, say the number of vacation days you are allowed yearly plus some number, say, five- or you can only hold over up to one week each year). And or you have policies that say that an employee may not take more than xxx number of days in a row or can't do it w/o vp permission or something like that.

Posted by: atlmom | April 23, 2007 3:33 PM

We did most of our living in the kitchen, not in front of the TV set. Now some smart-*ss with make a snide remark about that. You people are pathetic.

Posted by: | April 23, 2007 03:25 PM

You are pathetically defensive.

Signed,

We People

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 3:33 PM

"Some people would never take a vacation without a use it or lose it policy."

That because some of them are stealing from the employer. That's why some employers "force" vacation use.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 3:34 PM

moxiemom,

I applaud your lifestyle even though I am a fulltime WOHM. I thought that I would always want to work for a variety of reasons including not wanting to "depend on a man" and not really wanting to stay home with kids all day.

As another poster said, that all changed once I actually had kids. I lost my work ambition and found an inner belief that we were all in this together as a family and I could depend on my husband to be faithful and to hang around when things got tough.

Unfortunately, I didn't realize this ahead of time. Since we didn't expect one of us to stay home, we didn't save for that possiblity. So now I work out of necessity.

As far as being financially dependent on a husband - There's life insurance and disability insurance to cover loss of income. For divorce, there are good lawyers :). Just as being out of the workforce can affect your career in a negative way, it can affect your life in a positive way. To each his own.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 3:38 PM

I didn't wish my parents had worked for a bigger kitchen, but I sure as h*ll wished they had not chosen to live in the middle of nowhere. Their commute was a much bigger negative in our lives than their jobs. Bad road conditions affect those with and those without kids... workers often choose to leave early or not come in at all on this basis. Traffic snarls can tie up hours a week of what would have been family time or free time.

I don't mean to preach to the commuters, exactly--there are obviously lots of valid reasons--but I am so, so thrilled with my decision to live in the city. It's not cheap and my "lawn" is a cement pad about the size of a kitchen table, but I'm effectively "free" the moment I walk out the office door. I walk home along a street of shops, do my errands, meet Mr Bee at a restaurant for dinner. If/when we have kids I look forward to pushing my stroller along the same route!

Posted by: worker bee | April 23, 2007 3:42 PM

"Some people would never take a vacation without a use it or lose it policy."

That because some of them are stealing from the employer. That's why some employers "force" vacation use.

Posted by: | April 23, 2007 03:34 PM


Why? To see if the thefts continue during their absence? What if it's a big place with multiple thieves?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 3:44 PM

Ladies, be honest here, would you marry a man who says, before the wedding, that he wants to stay home with the kids? What if he says he will leave the workforce when the kids are born and does not intend to re-enter later? Is your answer the same?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 3:45 PM

Amen Worker bee.

People want the large house with the picket fence. If people want to live here with a high quality of life they need to compromise. We have a 3 br 2 1/2 bath Cape Cod (small yard) in Arlington. My commute is 20 minutes door to door (and so is my wife's). This short commute affects our quality of life greatly. Our house is not as big as some friends out in Gainesville, however I don't have to spend an additional 2 1/2 hours a day commuting (on a good day).

People can make their lifes so much simplier and can have a challenging career, community, good health, and great kids (better environment (less gas comsumed) if they stopped trying to keep up with the Jones.

People need to live within their means and truley examine the quality of life they want (If they like long commutes God bless you).

Posted by: Balance | April 23, 2007 3:54 PM

To 3:45 no one knows what they want til it happens, kids are such a life changing event.
However, if my dh had said that to me (or anyone I had dated, for that matter) I woulda thought I hit the jackpot. I hd no intention of ever staying home with the kids, my career was very important to me.

Fast forward a few years and my priorities are completely different.

Posted by: atlmom | April 23, 2007 3:59 PM

"I like big kitchens, too, Megan, filled with light, that have 'warmth', etc. Our kitchen is the heart of our home."

NW anon, exactly, us too! Our kitchen is a good size but we have a lot of ideas about how we want to redo it to improve the functioning and make it more of a gathering space. Not surprisingly that is our top priority in terms of fixing up the house.

And moxiemom, I think it's wonderful that your family has found such a great situation that works for all of you.

Posted by: Megan | April 23, 2007 3:59 PM

I don't know how it could be done, but maybe a way needs to be developed to quantify a SAH parent's contributions to family, society and making it easier for his/her partner to puruse a career.

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 02:39 PM

Why? I mean this seriously, what benefit would this provide?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 4:07 PM

"People can make their lifes so much simplier and can have a challenging career, community, good health, and great kids (better environment (less gas comsumed) if they stopped trying to keep up with the Jones."

Just because people don't live in the city doesn't mean they want to keep up with the jones. I like living in the suburbubs. DC might be a better environment for you and your kids, but that is not the case for everyone.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 4:07 PM

My office, at the end of the year, requires all vacation leave over 30 days to be rolled over into sick leave, so at least we don't lose it completely.

However, since I regularly do this, and also get 1 day/pay period of vacation, I tend to earn it faster than I can use it up. Not to mention the nearly six months of sick leave I've accrued so far...

Posted by: John L | April 23, 2007 4:14 PM

4:07 wrote: "Why? I mean this seriously, what benefit would this provide?"

Some people -- not Moxiemom nor I, nor several others who've posted re this commending Moxie -- don't need for such things to be quantified. But some DO seem to need it in order for others to validate their unpaid work (which is of huge value to society, yet too often undervalued economically).

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 4:14 PM

Poster at 4:07

I do not live in DC.

Posted by: Balance | April 23, 2007 4:15 PM

"To 3:45 no one knows what they want til it happens, kids are such a life changing event."


If someone took a poll of all stay-at-home moms, I'd bet that more than 50% would say that staying home was a lifelong expectation and that they married a man with similar expectations.

The epiphany of the working mom who, during her maternity leave, is newly overwhelmed by her emotions and happens also to be able to afford to quit her job, is most of the time a myth perpetrated on either her spouse or her workplace.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 4:15 PM

I do not live in DC.

The whole area is DC.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 4:17 PM

The "forced" vacation is used a lot in financial fields in jobs where the work has to be done while you are gone. Having someone working your accounts while you are not there can uncover fraudulent transactions, fraudulent practices, and in simpler cases, discover good 'ol incompetence. Basically it acts as a low level audit of your co-workers work. (And you would be looking at theirs when they are out of the office...)

In the jobs I have had, the work always waited for me. The pile would just grow while I was gone. :o) oh well....

Robin L.

Posted by: Re: employee leave - theft | April 23, 2007 4:19 PM

4:15, you obviously assume that women -- or at least women who have a child -- are inherently untruthful. I'm only calling this demeaning and disrespectful because I don't want to win Blog Stats's next bad language count.

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 4:20 PM

But some DO seem to need it in order for others to validate their unpaid work (which is of huge value to society, yet too often undervalued economically).

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 04:14 PM

I can see where their unpaid work provides huge benefits their family. But I fail to see how there is a huge benefit to society.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 4:26 PM

4:26 wrote: "I can see where their unpaid work provides huge benefits their family. But I fail to see how there is a huge benefit to society."

Well, one possibility is that SAHs could be afforded a way to contribute to FICA. Perhaps our chatters could suggest other ideas, too.

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 4:29 PM

4:26 wrote: "I can see where their unpaid work provides huge benefits their family. But I fail to see how there is a huge benefit to society."

Society benefits from all the unpaid labor that SAHs do, which would otherwise entail paying workers to perform.

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 4:32 PM

Well, one possibility is that SAHs could be afforded a way to contribute to FICA. Perhaps our chatters could suggest other ideas, too.

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 04:29 PM

But SS is a payroll tax, are you suggesting we have the WOH spouse pay double?

I don't see how a SAHM(F) provide economic value to anyone but their family, so I dont' see them economically undervalued.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 4:38 PM

catlady says: 4:15, you obviously assume that women -- or at least women who have a child -- are inherently untruthful. I'm only calling this demeaning and disrespectful because I don't want to win Blog Stats's next bad language count.

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 04:20 PM

4:15 says, in part: "The epiphany of the working mom who, during her maternity leave, is newly overwhelmed by her emotions and happens also to be able to afford to quit her job, is most of the time a myth perpetrated on either her spouse or her workplace."

To suggest that some women on occasion, are untruthful is not to say that all women who bear a child are inherently untruthful. In fact, were such untruthfulness inherent, it wouldn't matter if she bore a child or not. Some men are untruthful as well. This is hardly a newsflash and it does not demean an entire gender to approach this topic honestly.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 4:41 PM

Exercise for older adults


I just came across this exercise suggested for older adults, to build
muscle strength in the arms and shoulders. It seems so easy, so I
thought I'd pass it on to some of my friends. The article suggested
doing it three days a week.

Begin by standing on a comfortable surface, where you have plenty of
room at each side. With a 5-lb potato sack in each hand, extend your
arms straight out from your sides and hold them there as long as you
can. Try to reach a full minute, and then relax.

Each day, you'll find that you can hold this position for just a bit
longer.

After a couple of weeks, move up to 10-lb potato sacks.

Then try 50-lb potato sacks and then eventually try to get to where
you can lift a 100-lb potato sack in each hand and hold your arms
straight for more than a full minute. (I'm at this level)

After you feel confident at that level, put a potato in each of the
sacks.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | April 23, 2007 4:44 PM

KLB SS MD

There is no way that you are an older adult. :)

Posted by: scarry | April 23, 2007 4:46 PM

4:38, not to see a benefit to anyone besides one's family from SAH is taking a narrow view of one's communit'sy life. Would it be preferable for the many tasks performed by SAH volunteers in the community to be paid for by raising taxes? Or do you think our society would be better of without these free services?

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 4:47 PM

KLB - that was the perfect joke for this day and this bor - ing topic.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | April 23, 2007 4:48 PM

Society benefits from all the unpaid labor that SAHs do, which would otherwise entail paying workers to perform.

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 04:32 PM

Like what?

I don't intend to undervalue the effort and work SAHM(F) do, but the amount of unpaid labor SAHs do that does not directly benefit their families is small compared to the work of paid employees.

My opinion is that this need for economic validation for SAHs is one of the major driving forces in the mommy wars. It puts WOHs on the defensive and make everyone tha works outside the home feel belittled whenever you get an artcile trynig to validate the unpaid work of SAHs.

I think men and women should feel free to work, not work, whatever. But I also think that when you stay at home to take care of your child, you should realize the luxury you have been afforded by life. Because for most people, not supporting yourself is not a viable option.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 4:48 PM

Catlady, I would never argue that sahm's aren't doing a valuable service to society.

But the idea that they have to have an accounting of what they are doing to prove that is a little out there. The accounting in their head should be enough. I never needed anyone to account to me -or to have me account to anyone- what I was doing and how valuable it was. If you (being sahm) needs that for their ego, then they need to focus on something else. It is not up to me to stroke their ego.

Posted by: atlmom | April 23, 2007 4:49 PM

Thanks Scarry, you are as young as you feel. Some days I am 18 - other days I am 81.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | April 23, 2007 4:49 PM

4:48, my point seems to have been misunderstood. I'm just saying that SAH work also has inherent economic value, that it's too often undervalued and not sufficiently respected, and that all of society (not just the nuclear family) benefits from it. I infer that you see little benefit to society from unpaid volunteer work -- but many others see it otherwise. Remember when our Marian posted a few weeks ago about the disrespect she encountered as a volunteer PT librarian at her child's school?

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 4:57 PM

4:38, not to see a benefit to anyone besides one's family from SAH is taking a narrow view of one's communit'sy life. Would it be preferable for the many tasks performed by SAH volunteers in the community to be paid for by raising taxes? Or do you think our society would be better of without these free services?

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 04:47 PM

Again, what tasks? My wife was a stay home for a while, (not really but for her it was). She did do the voluteer at school, but I think our society has moved away from voluteer positions. If something is really important it will need to be reliably done by a paid worker.

Also, I think with the way SAH has become a competitive sport in many places, the amount of voluteering isn't what it was in the past.

I also think that voluteers make it easier for public institution to provide less while charging more. So the answer to your question about raising taxes, I guess my answewr would be yes.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 4:57 PM

"Would it be preferable for the many tasks performed by SAH volunteers in the community to be paid for by raising taxes?"

No. Some tasks don't need to be done by anyone at any cost, but the doer values those tasks and does them anyway. If SAH volunteers didn't run the used bookstore at my son's school for free, perhaps the school would make the prudent business decision to close the useless drain of resources -- oops -- the used bookstore, and re-devote its limited resources to supporting the school library.

To think there was a time when everyone agreed that taxes should only be taken to pay for goods and services that were actually necessary.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 4:59 PM

4:57 wrote, re volunteerism: "If something is really important it will need to be reliably done by a paid worker."

This speaks for itself, and not in a favorable light.

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 5:00 PM

Catlady said: I'm just saying that SAH work also has inherent economic value, that it's too often undervalued and not sufficiently respected, and that all of society (not just the nuclear family) benefits from it.

I agree with the respected part but not the economic part. Marian should not have been disrespected for helping out in the library (didn't see the discussion, but don't have to say that). But the reality is that if the school needs that help, it should be paying someone to do it. What happens when Marian no longer wants to do this particular task?

Again, how does society benefit?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 5:05 PM

4:59 wrote: "Some tasks don't need to be done by anyone at any cost, but the doer values those tasks and does them anyway."

So you're saying that volunteering is just an ego trip for the volunteer, whom others are simply humoring by letting them play in their sandbox?

"To think there was a time when everyone agreed that taxes should only be taken to pay for goods and services that were actually necessary."

If the person is volunteering, then the taxpayer isn't paying for it. A good many (even if not all) of these services would still need to be performed, and would cost you more. Think, e.g., of all the volunteers in hospitals. You seem to have quite a chip on your shoulder against volunteers.

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 5:05 PM

"But the reality is that if the school needs that help, it should be paying someone to do it."

In order to pay for useful volunteer work like Marian's -- including things like reshelving books, as I recall -- would you prefer that your public school taxes be higher? Or, in the case of a private school, that your child's tuition bill be higher?

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 5:09 PM

B"ut the reality is that if the school needs that help, it should be paying someone to do it."

Do you favor higher taxes to pay for all the paid employees who will replace volunteers in schools, hospitals, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, etc? Or are these all tasks that you think don't really need to be done? Not trying to be snarky, just trying to figure out what you're actually suggesting.

Posted by: Megan | April 23, 2007 5:09 PM

In today's Washington Post:
He Made Himself a Target, But Pickpockets Didn't Bite
On a Trip to Europe, A Social Experiment Concluded: People Are Pretty Good
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/22/AR2007042201078.html

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 5:10 PM

4:59 wrote: "Some tasks don't need to be done by anyone at any cost, but the doer values those tasks and does them anyway."

catlady says: "So you're saying that volunteering is just an ego trip for the volunteer, whom others are simply humoring by letting them play in their sandbox?"

Defensive, much?

All the value laden assumptions about egos and sandboxes aside, my example would be that the teachers' lounge does not need fresh flowers, but several parents like to cut and provide them on a weekly basis. There is no reason for anyone to tell the flower providers to stop. If it were a paid service, however, no one would suggest that there should be a line item devoted to the purchase and delivery of fresh flowers for the teachers' lounge on a weekly basis.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 5:12 PM

4:57 wrote, re volunteerism: "If something is really important it will need to be reliably done by a paid worker."

This speaks for itself, and not in a favorable light.

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 05:00 PM

I agree, it speaks for itslf, but I don't think it is proof of my bad character. When you have no argument do you always turn to personal attacks.

Voluteers are voluteers, they are not necessarily trained in the task they are volunteering for, and there is no requirement that they show up all the time.

Would you go to a volunteer doctor? Maybe has a license, maybe not. How about a volunteer fire department in a big city, maybe someone will show up, maybe not.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 5:14 PM

I don't have children, but was the product of a working father and stay at home mom. As some of you begin to devalue the contribution to SAHMs to society think about this:

President of PTA = ensured that both the teachers and the parents are providing the best environment possible for the students. #Affected - 1000s

Girl Scout Leader = Development of young girls through life skill education & community service, fundraising, volunteer coordination/event management which instills the values of community service and self-sufficency in young women. #Affected ~ 100

Volunteer Counselor for homeless men & women = 2 days a week dedicated to ensuring that the homeless in my hometown are directed to the resources that they need to rebuild their lives (medicine, clothing, job training etc.) #Affected ~300/yr. for 15 yrs.

If you think that she would have been able to touch all of those different lives (all done for no monetary compensation) while working full time think again.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 5:15 PM

In order to pay for useful volunteer work like Marian's -- including things like reshelving books, as I recall -- would you prefer that your public school taxes be higher? Or, in the case of a private school, that your child's tuition bill be higher?

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 05:09 PM

If the schools had to budget honestly, and not rely on volunteer hours to run the library while shifting those budget dollars to [fill in the blank of whatever you consider the biggest waste of school budget dollars], perhaps schools would be forced to be accountable for better budget choices.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 5:16 PM

Megan, Your reply is better than mine! What I think such people as our anonymous late-afternoon poster are too selfish to volunteer, and will only perform tasks outside the family if there's money in it for them. I suppose they'd never join in, say, their block's annual trash clean-up, because they wouldn't be getting paid for it -- even though they and their neighbors would all benefit from a cleaner home are environment.

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 5:18 PM

It is a shame that you don't take volunteer commitments seriously. For some it is like showing up at a job every day. If you make the commitment you fulfill it.

So yes, if you have a volunteer fire department someone is going to show up. They are trained to do that job, and are committed to seeing it through.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 5:19 PM

This afternoon's anti-volunteer poster has simply revealed him or herself to be either soulless or argumentative for the sake of argument. Rest assured your view is shared by very few people in our culture.

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 5:22 PM

You seem to have quite a chip on your shoulder against volunteers.

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 05:05 PM

Not really, but as an economic validation for a SAHM(F), I do. First of all, who says all the volunteers at soup kitchens, hospitals etc are SAHs. I know a lot of people that both work and volunteer (myself included).

Megan said: Do you favor higher taxes to pay for all the paid employees who will replace volunteers in schools, hospitals, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, etc? Or are these all tasks that you think don't really need to be done? Not trying to be snarky, just trying to figure out what you're actually suggesting.

Posted by: Megan | April 23, 2007 05:09 PM

I think there is some of both, some things I would be willing to pay more taxes for (homeless shelters, soup kitchens) and other things I think don't need to be done (flowers in the teachers lounge) and some that could go either way (hospitals). I just got into this discussion because of the "volunteering SAHs provide a great deal of economic value to society", I don't agree and said so.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 5:26 PM

Megan, Your reply is better than mine! What I think such people as our anonymous late-afternoon poster are too selfish to volunteer, and will only perform tasks outside the family if there's money in it for them. I suppose they'd never join in, say, their block's annual trash clean-up, because they wouldn't be getting paid for it -- even though they and their neighbors would all benefit from a cleaner home are environment.

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 05:18 PM

See why you call yourself CATlady.

FYI, My wife and I do volunteer, me with coaching sport and my wife with PTO and some other stuff. We both also work full time. I just have a different opinion that you about the economic value it has to society at large. Glad that opinion makes me into a seflish bastard.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 5:31 PM

5:26 wrote: "I just got into this discussion because of the "volunteering SAHs provide a great deal of economic value to society", I don't agree and said so."

You need to look harder for the benefits of other people's volunteering in your and your neighbors' lives. Why do you have such a bug up your b*tt about that bouquet in the teachers' lounge? Most people would find it a modest but pleasing esthetic enhancement in their lives. "Man does not live by bread alone."

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 5:33 PM

"See why you call yourself CATlady."

And we can ALL see why you remain anonymous.

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 5:35 PM

I think you are underestimating the the displaced cost of volunteers (SAH or WOH) providing services that need little or no training. If you begin to calculate the number of people necessary to provide one meal at a homeless shelter the price becomes prohibitive for an organization whose financials predominately depend on donations and external support of some sort.

You generally don't hear about a lack of volunteers, so if you do a cost benefit analysis of having someone who is unpaid v. a paid employee earning minimum wage (and possibly no more reliable than a volunteer) I don't see where the economic advantage is.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 5:36 PM

at 5:31: "Glad that opinion makes me into a seflish bastard."

It would be discourteous to disagree with you.

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 5:37 PM

5:36: "You generally don't hear about a lack of volunteers, so if you do a cost benefit analysis of having someone who is unpaid v. a paid employee earning minimum wage (and possibly no more reliable than a volunteer) I don't see where the economic advantage is."

You have a heart like a cash-register.

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 5:39 PM

You need to look harder for the benefits of other people's volunteering in your and your neighbors' lives.

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 05:33 PM

First, there are two anons posting on this topic. I really could care less about a voluteer bringing flowers to the teachers lounge, it is a nice loving gesture ans I am sure teachers appreciate it. Would I want a line item for it in my school budget? No, I'd rather my kid had current textbooks.

I see a lot of benefit to volunteering, that is why I do it myself. I just don't see the great societal economic value in it. I also don't think it is limited to SAHs.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 5:40 PM

Catlady, I think you misinterpreted...I was defending the economic advantages of volunteers.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 5:40 PM

As a SINK who works full-time I also volunteer. It's not just SAHMs who volunteer. I have also served as a Girl Scout leader. I will also note that, as I have no children, my efforts were 100% towards other people, they did not directly benefit my family in any way (Unlike I suspect the volunteer efforts of many SAHMs).

What about paying me:-)

I'm also not sure that having people provide all of this volunteer work is such a great idea. What about schools & service organizations just hiring and paying qualified people? Having worked in engineering/computer science we would never say "Oh we have work. why don't we get a volunteer?" We pay good money to get someone qualified.

It bothers me that for so much caretaking work it is acceptable to expect people to do it for no pay.

Posted by: dai | April 23, 2007 5:42 PM

"So you're saying that volunteering is just an ego trip for the volunteer, whom others are simply humoring by letting them play in their sandbox?"


"Why do you have such a bug up your b*tt about that bouquet in the teachers' lounge? "

only one person is going out of her way to insult anyone who disagrees.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 5:42 PM

To 5:40: Sorry. Would you be willing to elaborate a bit further?

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 5:42 PM

Last one, then off to soccer practice :).

I think that volunteering is a great thing for society. It is some of the glue that keeps us connected to one another. It can change the lives of some and provide rewards for others. I just don't believe it should be used as a validation for SAHs because:

1. SAHs shouldn't need economic validation, what they do is very important to their families in its own right.
2. The monetary value is not as great as people wish it were.
3. It is not limited to SAHs.
4. If we as a society believe something is important, we should be willing to pay for it.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 5:50 PM

The two arguments that I have seen for paying someone to do work that a volunteer might do are:

1.There is a certain level of skill necessary to do the job

2.There is a reliability factor since there is no monetary accountability for the job.

Serving food in a soup kitchen, for example, does not need special skills and would therefore be a minimum wage position (much like working behind the counter at a fast food joint) if paid. The paid wage in this situation does not guarantee reliability either so the skill level and reliability factors become irrelevant.

So why should an organization with limited funds pay someone to do a job that a volunteer could do just as well?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 5:54 PM

5:42: "only one person is going out of her way to insult anyone who disagrees"

Obviously, then, these were compliments from you, rather than insults that anyone went out of their way to pay:

5:12: "Defensive, much?"

5:14: "When you have no argument do you ALWAYS turn to personal attacks." [My emphasis]

5:35: "See why you call yourself CATlady."

5:40: "I really could care less..." [Then why don't you?]

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 5:57 PM

So why should an organization with limited funds pay someone to do a job that a volunteer could do just as well?

Posted by: | April 23, 2007 05:54 PM

If this is the case the voluteer really isn't providing any economic value are they? Which was my point in the first place.

I never said there was no value to volunteering, just that the economic value was limited.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 5:58 PM

5:42: "only one person is going out of her way to insult anyone who disagrees"

Obviously, then, these were compliments from you, rather than insults that anyone went out of their way to pay:

5:12: "Defensive, much?"

5:14: "When you have no argument do you ALWAYS turn to personal attacks." [My emphasis]

5:35: "See why you call yourself CATlady."

5:40: "I really could care less..." [Then why don't you?]

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 05:57 PM

5:12 not an insult.
5:14 the truth as I see it.
5:40 not an insult, I wasa talking about the flowers.

5:35 natural response to being called selfish bastard for disagreeing with you. OK, that one might be an insult ;)

But I didn't infer anything about your character based on my interpretation of your opinions. I think you are a fine upstanding citizen with whom I have a difference of opinion.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 6:06 PM

at 5:31 YOU wrote: "Glad that opinion makes me into a seflish bastard."

YOUR words.

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 6:08 PM

anon at 5:50 - the voice of reason.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 6:12 PM

A reasonable person would interpret "Defensive, much?" as an insult.

If "ALWAYS" is the truth as you see it, then you aren't examining what I said, only picking out the parts that suit your purposes.

And I did NOT call you an insulting name at 5:31 for disagreeing with you. You did that all by yourself.

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 6:12 PM

there was something in that litter box, this afternoon, I tell ya.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 6:16 PM

catlady says: "So you're saying that volunteering is just an ego trip for the volunteer, whom others are simply humoring by letting them play in their sandbox?"

anon at 5:12 says: "Defensive, much?"

catlady says: A reasonable person would interpret "Defensive, much?" as an insult.

A reasonable person would review the tone of the "ego trip" comment, for starters, and be less inflamatory in subsequent comments.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 6:21 PM

Change that volunteer setting to a public library or hospital and you might see more direct economic benefit. Many volunteers there are senior citizens and are very committed. Public library paid staff and supervisors invest training hours for paraprofessional tasks that volunteers perform and that investment has good returns. The retention rate for many of these volunteers is greater than for some staff paid low wages.

I suspect that hospital volunteers perform tasks that are not necessarily quickly or easily replaced though I don't have personal knowledge of that setting.


A lot of the work these retired-from-the-workforce or empty-nest volunteers are performing is, frankly, grunt work.

As this generation of retired volunteers leaves the volunteer pool, I don't see our generation stepping up in the same way. We have different kinds of demands on our time and different expectations for volunteering. I predict that in twenty years we will either see taxes go up to fill in the work of retirement-aged volunteers or we will see a reduction in services.

Posted by: Marian | April 23, 2007 6:21 PM

Marian, you are the voice of reason! I agree with your observation that "I predict that in twenty years we will either see taxes go up to fill in the work of retirement-aged volunteers or we will see a reduction in services." I would only add that work performed by volunteers is too often underappreciated -- till it's gone.

Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 6:30 PM

"I would only add that work performed by volunteers is too often underappreciated -- till it's gone."

The same could be said of employees, docents, kind mothers and mothers-in-law.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 7:05 PM

Dai said:

"It bothers me that for so much caretaking work it is acceptable to expect people to do it for no pay."

This does bother me too, and I'm not sure what the answer is. So often, it is the case that the public sector settings for volunteer labor is where work has been done traditionally by women: libraries; schools; hospitals (nursing). I do fear that the value of that work will be denied when volunteer numbers take a plunge, and taxpayers won't be willing to properly fund these services. As much as people think they pay high taxes, we already have seen reduced funding in real dollars for school arts and phys ed programs, materials budgets and staffing for libraries, etc.

I'm know there are WOHPs who do volunteer and make valuable contributions to their communities. They certainly are more energetic than me. When I worked FT, there wasn't much left over energy and time for volunteering. I can't imagine it being a reality for many two-working-parent households (at least not in the pre-school years--maybe things change a lot once all the kids are in school).

Maybe not every hour volunteered by a SAHP is used that wisely, but there is useful work being done. Remember, many of the volunteer settings are understaffed and it does take time for paid staff to manage the work of volunteers.

Posted by: Marian | April 23, 2007 7:07 PM

7:05--
You make a good point. Too often, it is easy to overlook the good efforts of others. There are some kind-hearted people around here though. BTW, I don't know why catlady has become a bit of a target tonight.

Posted by: Marian | April 23, 2007 7:22 PM

I'm bummed I missed this discussion. Catlady, I know what you were trying to say and I think your words were twisted as often happens here.

Posted by: moxiemom | April 23, 2007 7:30 PM

4:57 wrote, re volunteerism: "If something is really important it will need to be reliably done by a paid worker."
This speaks for itself, and not in a favorable light.
Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 05:00 PM

4:59 wrote: "Some tasks don't need to be done by anyone at any cost, but the doer values those tasks and does them anyway."
So you're saying that volunteering is just an ego trip for the volunteer, whom others are simply humoring by letting them play in their sandbox?
"To think there was a time when everyone agreed that taxes should only be taken to pay for goods and services that were actually necessary."
If the person is volunteering, then the taxpayer isn't paying for it. A good many (even if not all) of these services would still need to be performed, and would cost you more. Think, e.g., of all the volunteers in hospitals. You seem to have quite a chip on your shoulder against volunteers.
Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 05:05 PM

What I think such people as our anonymous late-afternoon poster are too selfish to volunteer, and will only perform tasks outside the family if there's money in it for them. I suppose they'd never join in, say, their block's annual trash clean-up, because they wouldn't be getting paid for it -- even though they and their neighbors would all benefit from a cleaner home are environment.
Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 05:18 PM

This afternoon's anti-volunteer poster has simply revealed him or herself to be either soulless or argumentative for the sake of argument. Rest assured your view is shared by very few people in our culture.
Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 05:22 PM

You have a heart like a cash-register.
Posted by: catlady | April 23, 2007 05:39 PM


What began as a neutral statement rapidly turned into an insult-throwing barrage against anyone who disagreed: they were selfish, would not do anything except for their own families, had chips on their shoulders, were soulless and argumentative, and had a heart like a cash register.


Posted by: to Marian | April 23, 2007 7:54 PM

Or this afternoon's anonymous poster just likes to pick an argument for the sake of picking an argument.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 8:24 PM

Late to the game, but I agree with the anon poster. 1. Some volunteer activities are necessary and people would be paid to do them if there were no volunteers. Money not currently in the budget would be put in the budget somehow. 2. Others are useful, and volunteers would be sorely missed if there were none and no budget to pay for replacements. 3. There are also volunteer activities that are nice, but considered to be just a bonus, not anywhere near a necessity or benefit to society.

Examples are: 1. Volunteer fire company has no volunteers. The county council approves funding for a paid fire company. 2. Accountants volunteer at a senior center to help seniors with taxes. The volunteers no longer provide their services. The senior center does not pay for tax assistance otherwise. 3. Those pretty flowers in the teachers lounge stop appearing because there are no more volunteers.

This doesn't mean that volunteering is a bad thing - it just doesn't always have an economic worth.

Posted by: huh? | April 23, 2007 10:14 PM

now we all know the blog rules. disagreeing with a viewpoint has now become picking an argument, if you disagree with a regular.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 10:16 PM

This blog is officially closed for the day. Night all, and keep it sleazy.

Posted by: Nelson | April 23, 2007 10:37 PM

4:26 wrote: "I can see where their unpaid work provides huge benefits their family. But I fail to see how there is a huge benefit to society."

Society benefits from all the unpaid labor that SAHs do, which would otherwise entail paying workers to perform.
-----------------

I believe that SAHMs do indeed provide benefits to society, even when their volunteering is directed toward the welfare of their own families. As an example, my SAHM sister-in-law is the chaperone to most field trips for her son's class. This enables the WOHMs of her son's classmates to remain at work rather than have to take a day off to chaperone. This is just one example of her numerous volunteer activities. If she didn't perform these activities, then either a WOHM would have to do so, or the activity couldn't occur. You might argue that some of these activities are unnecessary, but that is moot: the school has decided it needs field trips, libraries, reading hour, or whatever, so some volunteer is going to be roped into doing it. It's just a matter of who (whom?). In practice, at my sil's son's school, the SAHMs do 90% or more of the volunteer work, and the WOHMs get hounded by the teachers until a few of them agree to do the remaining 10% or less.

My previous boss commented that she felt the SAHMs should do all the volunteering so the WOHMs wouldn't have to take any days off work. Her attitude was "they're just home anyway." I thought that was an interesting attitude, and that it showed the economic value of the SAHM's volunteer work. My attitude is, I stay home for MY OWN kids' benefit, so if you want me to use my time in ways that benefits YOUR kids, so that you can go off to work and make a hefty salary, then you should be more than delighted to pay me for my time.

Posted by: m | April 23, 2007 10:38 PM

Small communities where volunteer fire companies are closed sometimes must do with no firefighters. Money doesn't always magically appear to hire pros.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 10:49 PM

Stop insulting and bad-mouthing volunteers. Don't forget most fire departments and ambulance services are volunteer. Volunteers are not all SAHMs with spare time on their hands. I'm not a SAHM and have, in the past, volunteered at a shelter for battered women (babysat their kids while they worked minimum wage), helped with fundraising, sat in an emergency room with a rape victim, went to court to get restraining orders. Also volunteered as an EMT on an ambulance after 116+ hours of specialized training. It isn't all party planning for pre-K classes and PTA meetings. What really steams me is if I'm good enough to volunteer, why am I not good enough to get paid? Am I stupid or what? FWIW, paid firemen and volunteers are always at each others' throats. The paid people say "I get paid for what you do for free."

Posted by: Anonymous | April 24, 2007 10:38 AM

I think that it is quite possible to spend nearly a whole day at work doing things for home. There are just so many things to do. I'm working on a relocation from Rochester, NY to Melbourne, FL, and there are so many things to organize between me starting life in FL (buying house, etc) and husband managing son's activities plus selling the old house. It's been crazy. This is an extreme situation, I know, but I've had to really pay attention to the amount of time I'm spending doing those "home" things. I'm an employee at work after all. I've signed a contract to work full time for my employer. I may not be able to do as much free overtime as the next person, but I do need to fullfill my obligations as a good employee by focusing on my work for at least 40 hours a week.

Posted by: Suzanne Brown | April 25, 2007 6:24 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2007 The Washington Post Company