Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Working parents are suffering in silence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  1. Work/life balance is hard - I am a working mom of 2 (who are now both in school) with a husband who also works full-time and some overtime. I recently have dropped down to 4 full workdays, and now have every weekend off. It's still not enough time (and barely enough money.) If I don't make time for me, as well as household chores, my life would be unbearable. Usually this amount of work and home time is adequate to get stuff done, but now Halloween is approaching and we're throwing a party for my grade 2 daughter and her friends so my task list has increased exponentially! If I didn't have that one day off during the week there is no way we could host a party! There are still tweaks for my "balanced" life, but I'm getting there.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Jessica. I know that we all fight for that balance in our lives, and we rarely (if ever) feel like we achieve it. It's important that we keep fighting though. Stay strong!