Are Parents Better Employees?

As most have heard by now, after Democrats won control of the House, Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the next Speaker of the House and first woman to hold the job when Congress convenes in January told CBS News anchor Katie Couric that she's broken "the marble ceiling." Pelosi also remarked that raising her five children was the best preparation for the highly visible job as "elect of the elect" presiding officer of the House.

The same day, I heard Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, speak at a luncheon in Virginia about her experience running H-P and various divisions of At&T and Lucent Technologies during her groundbreaking career as a female business executive, the subject of her new book, Tough Choices. She, too, echoed Pelosi. "Parents make great employees because they've mastered two of the most critical tasks of successful management: multi-tasking and prioritizing."

While it was great to hear parenting lauded as a management tool, I'm not sure I always agree. Because of caring for my kids, my energies at work are diminished. I am always exhausted. My brain works far less well than it did before sleep-deprivation became a constant in my life. I can't stay late at work even when I have to (although I can work on my computer in my kitchen until 1 a.m. and often do!). Sure, I'm more efficient. I'm more understanding and sympathetic. My multi-tasking skills could win me an Olympic medal. I like to think I see a more holistic view of life than I did before I had kids. But on many days, I'm just scraping by, cutting corners, doing the best I can within the limited hours I now have to devote to work. What I've gained by becoming a parent seems cancelled out by the energy, flexibility and mental acuity I've sacrificed.

How about you? Do you think parents make better (or worse) employees? Why or why not? What have you learned from parenting that you've been able to put to work at work?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  November 20, 2006; 7:25 AM ET  | Category:  Moms in the News
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Are where are you going with this? Are you next going to advocate for preferential hiring of parents?

I believe that I am very much the same hard working employee I've always been. What becoming a parent has done is made me more efficient and less likely to waste time and socialize at work. I find that people stay late for "show" or do so because they wasted time otherwise during the day. Also, I tend not to volunteer for extra work or make trades like I used to do. If I'm asked directly by my employer or someone has an emergency, I do pitch in. And Sure there are assignments needing attention, but taking work home can almost always be an option.

And multitasking is a myth. When humans multitask, all of the tasks are diminished. I work in a profession where multitasking is necessary and I find that more mistakes are made and some tasks take longer. We need to dispel this multitasking myth if we want higher quality work.

Posted by: morning mom | November 20, 2006 7:46 AM

I teach a lot of adult students, and I'm think being a parent myself has made me a better teacher of older learners. I'm able to see their strengths, to see the unique outlook they bring to my classroom -- and yes, I'm a lot more understanding when a student calls me up and has a real reason for needing an extension and so forth.

And since I spend so much time teaching my own children things, having a family has truly has made me a better teacher. And having a child with learning disabilities has taught me A LOT about how people learn and how to best tailor my teaching to someone's learning style.

Finally, I prefer when my kid's teachers are parents themselves because they tend to give fewer stupid filler assignments that just eat up family time and resources without contributing much to my kid's education overall.

So in some professions (teaching, maybe counseling?) having children can really enhance one's work.

Posted by: Armchair mom | November 20, 2006 7:56 AM

Carly Fiorina may be able to multi-task but she made a major blunder with HP by acquiring Compaq and got the boot from the Board of Directors.

Nancy Pelosi waited till her kids were out of elementary school before she embarked on a career, although I think Fiorina did it the hard way - climbing the corporate ladder when he kids were small. Two different examples if my history is correct.

I'll (hopefully) have more energy or at least focus in 10 years when my kids are starting college and finishing HS. My time won't be divided as much - so maybe this is the time to start my career?

I agree with morning mom though, my time is organized better now that I have kids. The "staying after at work" is very much a show from my experience and I probably get more done in my day because I don't mess around at work. As for multi-tasking - it is more necessary at home for me, my work is very straightforward and requires concentration.

Posted by: cmac | November 20, 2006 8:04 AM

Parents would seem to make better employees for one big reason: Parents HAVE to work because they have responsibilities and are less likely to rsik a paycheck/benfitds disruption.

I have seen this actually hurt parents come bonus time because management may not offer as much incentive comp to keep them happy. The chance of jumping ship for another company if/when they get screwed is reduced since they may not be willing to go without for any extended periods if the gamble doesnt work out - the risks are too high to be without health coverage and a salary to cover the mortgage.

Sadly, parents ARE better employees, because management can pay them less than they have to pay the unencumbered.

Posted by: Fo3 | November 20, 2006 8:14 AM

People who don't have children at home tend to ask for less "special treatment", tend to waste less employer's time dealing with personal business at work, and tend to have less "drama". Although some mothers go through a kind of "temporary insanity" when they are planning their daughters' weddings.

I agree about the "workaholic" stuff being mostly for show. Most people who work through lunch on a regular basis don't have anyone to lunch with. Most people who stay late and come in on weekends have a bad or non-existent homelife. You can fool some of the people some of the time...

Posted by: DZ | November 20, 2006 8:19 AM

More on last week's topic about pets and choosing between your child and a pet. Most mothers would choose to save their children over their husbands in a heartbeat.....

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 8:27 AM

I don't believe parenting has much to do with working (I say this as a former working mom). I think individuals have personal qualities which make them better or worse employees, and I don't think parenting is a pro or a con.

Before I had my daughter, I used to grumble about the woman I worked with who always got Christmas off. The rest of us used to take turns with the holidays, but she always got Christmas off and didn't have any shame in pulling rank on the rest of us "because she needed to be home for the kids." As younger, single, childless people we (her co-workers) just let it go, but grumbled amongst ourselves. Once I was a mother, I understood this a bit more, but I still never even thought to play this card because while motherhood is one thing, seniority is another.

I would say I was honestly a better employee before I was a mother - I didn't have anything else to distract me from my work. I never worried about trying to get home early so I could spend more time with my daughter, or thought about her during the day. I think I was more productive when I was childless.

That said, I think being a mother definitely taught me how to "roll with the punches" a bit more than I was previously able. Perhaps some people learn "multi-tasking" as a parent, but I had that one figured out a long time ago!

Posted by: Vienna mom | November 20, 2006 8:29 AM

It all depends on what being the 'better employee' means in the job. In some jobs, better may mean perfect attendance. In some jobs, better may mean number of 'eureka moments.' In some jobs, it may mean doing what you are told. In some jobs, it may mean telling people what to do. Parents don't make better employees per se. If they were good employees before, then they are afterwards. And vice versa.

Posted by: dotted | November 20, 2006 8:32 AM

I firmly disagree with Fo3 about parents having to be better employees because they ARE parents. So do single people! We have no option but to work since there is no other paycheck coming in. We also are the only ones who can let the cable guy in, the plumber, etc. We also have parents and siblings who sometimes need our help. So while the argument may be that parents have to leave work sometimes for their kids, single people also have to take time off for family and household emergencies that married people can sometimes share. I don't see either single without kids or parents being a factor of being a better employee - it is the individual and their personal work ethic.

Posted by: KB Silver Spring | November 20, 2006 8:32 AM

Taking off work to let in the cable guy? That's gotta be the most petty excuse for taking off work I've ever heard since I've been reading this blog.

Posted by: Super Dad | November 20, 2006 8:38 AM

"Nancy Pelosi waited till her kids were out of elementary school before she embarked on a career"

That's an old wives tale. Nancy Pelosi was involved with Democratic politics for a long time even when her kids were young. She didn't achieve an elective office until they were older.

And you can insult Carly Fiona as much as you want, she is and was a successful business woman. She took risks like men do. Her mistake was having an ego like a man. Women can be better.

Posted by: morning mom | November 20, 2006 8:39 AM

Leslie's question presents an either/or issue of whether parents are better employees. The answer is, "some are; some aren't." And, in most cases, they were that way before they became parents.

Posted by: Raysmom | November 20, 2006 8:48 AM

Can't you identify an example when you see one? What is better - electrician? Plumber? Direct TV guy?

Posted by: To Super Dad | November 20, 2006 8:50 AM

Taking off work to let in the cable guy? That's gotta be the most petty excuse for taking off work I've ever heard since I've been reading this blog.

-----------------------------------

Do you have a stay at home spouse - or are you part of of the anti-TV crowd?

I am spending the fall semester without cable, since the cable company requires that you be home for a four hour block and that is impossible with my teaching schedule. I think I will probably continue on without cable come spring since I am more productive divorced from ESPN...

Posted by: to Super Dad | November 20, 2006 8:51 AM

Oh for crying out loud! We need more rationalization for doing it all, and then the example that's given to us is a fallen executive?

When did one's parental status determine the type of employee they're going to be? You have parents who leave work at the sign of a mere sniffle. You have parents who barely spend time with their kids because they're overworked. Surely there are those without kids that are equally lazy or hardworking.

I think that a person's work ethic (however strong or weak) speaks to their overall character in general. I can see how their parental status may factor into that--but it's not the determining factor at all.

Still, the fact that Carly Fiorina is quoted for this blog is rather disturbing. Surely there has to be a greater example of someone who has done it all that could be quoted...

Posted by: RaiseYourOwnKids | November 20, 2006 8:52 AM

Carly Fiorina always seems to be out there speaking about being a leader. The only thing is that I've never seen her lead. HP and AT&T both seem to be on the rocks after her tenure.

Posted by: Dulles | November 20, 2006 8:54 AM

It depends! I work with one parent who has one kid and family in-town. I love working with her. She is efficient and, although she stays home with a sick kid now and then, she gets her work done and has a back-up plan for caring for her kid when there are meetings, etc. that she needs to be here for.

On the other hand, I work with another person who has three kids and does not get the job done. Her attention is split. Worse, she has a very critical personality and is always blaming co-workers for her failure to move projects forward.

So...it could be the obvious reality that three is more than one. Or, it could be that working parents make great employees IF they have adequate front-line day care, and back-up support at home.

Posted by: Silver Spring | November 20, 2006 8:55 AM

I am clearly a worse employee now that I am a mom. Before I had my child a year ago, work was a major obsession for me. Now it is not. My baby means more to me than any job ever could. Given any choice between my job and my kid, I choose my kid. That said, there are plenty of coworkers without children who have other priorities, and that makes them less-than-ideal employees too.

Posted by: chicagomom | November 20, 2006 9:04 AM

I am not sure the quality of the study - but there was one that asked a group to make promotion decisions for candidates from different demographic groups based on resumes. With similar experience:
- single/childless women were promoted first
- followed by married men
- followed by single men
- followed by mothers
This study seemed to suggest that the view of how parenthood effects performance differs by gender.

Posted by: study | November 20, 2006 9:12 AM

I have to admit this topic isn't quite capturing my interest...but then neither did Friday's pets/children discussion.

Maybe I need Jokester to 'start me up.'

Posted by: dotted | November 20, 2006 9:18 AM

To me it is clear that becoming a parent reduces any individual's effectiveness. Parents have to leave at a specific time and often have higher priorities than work. They also become more upwardly mobile because of the financial pressure of providing college funds. These factors conspire to disrupt team endeavors.

Whether this makes parents worse workers on average is less clear to me. I know individual parents who are nevertheless quite effective. And parents who can work from home may still put in extra hours when needed.

Posted by: aeschylus | November 20, 2006 9:21 AM

KB - and who is the person helping me? remember not all parents are married.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | November 20, 2006 9:23 AM

I've learned 2 things from being a parent:
Don't get so wound up. Chill.
It's not all about me.

Before the kiddos came, I was super-organized, planned everything and always
wanted to control the outcome. Things had to be done a certain way (my way). I was pretty inflexible, kinds selfish. And the best part, I didn't even realise it!

When the kids came, I learned I couldn't control their colic, their sleep schedule, their behavior(!). They'd throw up just before we left for a nice weekend vacation, they'd fall asleep during the fireworks show, they'd throw a fit going to preschool. I gradually learned, through tears and frustration, to just chill. Now I just say to myself, "they grow up just fine DESPITE what I do". I can't program them like robots because they are unique
individuals created for a purpose. My role is to provide for them, train them up to walk the straight and narrow, and release them to do their good work. I learned to just do the best I can and not sweat over the outcome.

Being a parent has helped me become not just a better employee, but also a better person (I hope!) And I'm still learning!

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 20, 2006 9:25 AM

To divorced mom of 1 - I never said all parents are married - I was simply tryint to show that single people and married people take time off work for different reasons not necessarily related to being a parent. Notice I said "sometimes share".

Posted by: KB Silver Spring | November 20, 2006 9:27 AM

In general, it has been my experience that parents make worse employees. They are always taking off early to do things for their kids and they act like it is their right to do so. What really makes it bad is when you have a manager setting the extremely bad precedent of taking off on a whim for kid-related activities.

Posted by: Chris Harrison | November 20, 2006 9:32 AM

Bonjour! Let's talk about Carly. Oooh la la! I love her! She is so pretty, her hair is mmm so perfect and her suit is top class. She carries herself with importance. when she speaks, everybody listens.

I used to work for HP when she was CEO. One day she actually came to visit our worksite. Everybody was so excited! We all stopped work and lined up along the hallways. We wwaited in line and were given HP posters and flags. 45 minutes later, she appeared. She was magnificent! Radiant! Beautiful! She smiled at me. Oooh, I will always remember that day. I will always treasure that smile.

Posted by: Thierry | November 20, 2006 9:34 AM

I tend to agree with you Leslie. I do think the lessons learned when becoming a parent does carry over to the rest of your life. However, at least when my daughter was an infant, I never got a full night's rest and was always sleep-deprived. In fact, she never even slept consistently through the night until age 2 1/2 so I was like that for a while. I think that when the kids are older and you can devote time to your career is when the lessons come in handy.

But when your kids are at home, you certainly do have some restrictions as to what you can do (unless you have a nanny or SAHD). But I've heard that employers prefer to hire married males with kids because they think they are more responsible than single men. But that doesn't apply for women...

Posted by: Librarianmom | November 20, 2006 9:44 AM

Nice of you to pick the HP clowns as examples of successful corporate women. What did Carly the Queen do? She was a pretty face, wonderful salesperson, who pitched grandiose ideas but never had the organizational skills to properly run a large company. Stock price went way down and stayed down, thousands of employees laid off, wrecked the wonderful HP culture and was booted off the company, left the company in shambles and destroyed.

Let's see - Patricia Dunn, ex-director of the HP board, white-collar criminal charged with 4 felonies. She should be a good candidate for the CIA now. :)

Let's see - Ann Baskins general counsel of HP, authorized illegal and unethical pretexting. She wrote up the high and mighty HP code of ethics. She violated them in a heartbeat.

The wonderful thing is, they all got a huge severance package. Carly: $42 million, Ann $3.7 million. And Carly's latest book absolutely shreds the board, but they were the ones that GAVE her $42 million for a job poorly done.
Crocodile tears, anyone?

Posted by: RingMaster | November 20, 2006 9:47 AM

To Thierry: Did Carly do her prom queen wave as she passed by? Or did you have to drop to your knees and bow your heads?

Posted by: KB Silver Spring | November 20, 2006 9:51 AM

It could be that being a parent helps employees after their child reaches a certain age. I was a walking zombie the first two years of my daughter's life. Two years with out sleep and pumping will do that to someone. I also wonder if parenting effects both postively and negatively to women and men equally. I don't know where you people work but I don't see parents take off any more then single people. For the government you get a set amount of leave. Parents do not get any more leave then single people or childless couples. I see all people taking leave irrelevant to parent status.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 20, 2006 9:51 AM

Hey Morning Mom, why so antagonistic this morning? I agree parents become more efficient at work -- wish companies could see how unimportant and in fact wasteful face time is! Disagree that mulitasking is a myth. It is real and invaluable -- and it is very frustrating to try to work with someone who can only focus on one job at a time!

Carly Fiorina is hardly a "fallen executive" Raise Your Own Kids! I think you should change your name to Check Your Facts. Fiorina turned around and transformed HP within a few years and had remarkable accomplishments at AT&T and Lucent as well. She's brilliant and a real change agent. Not perfect, of course, and the Compaq merger was challenging and draining, as most large scale corporate mergers are. But precisely because she is a new kind of executive -- a confident, smart, decisive yet feminine leader -- she's been controversial. But she's no more "fallen" than someone like GE's Jack Welch.

Jokester -- your jokes are so lame sometimes but I think we really need them. Keep them coming...

Posted by: Leslie | November 20, 2006 9:52 AM

Harumph. If your parents didn't have children, chances are you won't, either. Harumph.

Posted by: Amos B. Hoople | November 20, 2006 9:52 AM

Yes! She was waving like you say a "prom queen" , like Miss Universe you know?
Smile, wave.
She looked so pretty.

Posted by: Thierry | November 20, 2006 9:54 AM

There are many more successful, smart, confident, decisive yet feminine leaders. Carly is not one of them.

Yes she brought change, but it was change for the worse.

Posted by: RingMaster | November 20, 2006 9:56 AM

What a ridiculous question this is! I can't imagine that a bad worker suddenly becomes a good one just because she/he become a parent. The fact is, some people can be great employees for one company and lously ones for another. The success you have is often related to factors such as how well you and the job "fit" and your interactions with your manager/supervisors and co-workers. I would say parenting has very little to do with it. Once again, some things that parents attribute to their parenthood status, such as being "less selfish" and "more focused" are often simply the result of becoming more mature, not having children.

Posted by: Justine | November 20, 2006 10:02 AM

For most people, I think being a parent helps to build skills that are advantageous in the workplace - multi-tasking, supervising, directing others, etc. (I first became a supervisor in an office at age 21, and my boss told me it would be a lot easier to boss people around after I became a mother - she was right!)

But I'm not sure if those things aren't more than wiped out by the other side...divided loyalties, decreased time to spend working (no matter who you are, unless you literally have someone else doing *everything* for your child), tiredness, etc.

And in the end, I don't think it matters much as far as performance whether a person is a parent or not. I'm already sick of hearing about Nancy Pelosi being the ultimate example of motherhood. How many years are we going to have to hear about her mother of 5 voice? ::gag:: And I think we could come up with a better example of a working mother to admire than someone who just got fired.

Posted by: momof4 | November 20, 2006 10:02 AM

I think employees with kids are not as good as those without. The ones with kids are always rushing to get home to be with them, which I understand. Their priority is the kids. They don't do the overtime sometimes needed by the job and are distracted by lack of sleep and phone calls from spouses and day care providers. The non-parents don't have to deal with all of that.

Posted by: Manager | November 20, 2006 10:04 AM

KB, I don't think Fo3 was just talking about taking time off work. Yes, single people have to meet the cable guy too. However, it's pretty inarguable that the more roots you have in a place, the harder it is to pick up and leave. Parents by and large have more ties to an area (and by extension, to their companies). This gives them less bargaining power, because they can't threaten to leave their current jobs as easily (you don't want to risk not having an income for a few months or needing to move to a new city when you'll be disrupting your kids' lives.) This also means they're more risk-averse in general at work because throwing the status quo out of balance affects their entire family.

Beyond the obvious benefit to companies of having loyal employees, I'm not sure being risk averse necessarily means you're a better employee. It's certainly possible, though.

Posted by: sasha | November 20, 2006 10:06 AM

Do parents make better employees?

If they didn't, why would companies spend so much money on benefits which primarily benefit families when they could hire single and/or childless people for less money?

From my experience, married people with children have far more stable lives in the long run and it shows in their work patterns.

Does this mean that single and/or childless people can't be good employees? Of course not! But the simple fact remains that people with families are more likely to stay with a company so long as it treats them well.

Posted by: Rufus | November 20, 2006 10:11 AM

Well, here's my experience in an office department that had ~10 employees (4 men, 6 women). When I started there 8 years ago, only one of my female coworkers had a child, a 2 year old. We all worked well together and built a good and successful team. Most days were 9 to 5 and the work flowed well. Within a few years, the one mother had another child four other women had their first children, and things in the office began to deteriorate. Not talking about juggling work around maternity leaves, but the problems that arose after maternity leave, when suddenly every mom had to take time off weekly for sick babies and doctor's appointments and such. Management allowed "working at home" so many of the mothers "disappeared" for days at a time -- and guess what? Very little "work" was turned in that was supposedly generated during that time at home.

Several of the mothers received promotions and used their higher status to take even more "work at home" days. The work pace became hectic and the office atmosphere stressful as those of us left in the office were always having to figure out how to route things to those supposedly working from home. We never knew when someone would be in or out because no one was required to keep to a schedule. You could call in that same day and say, "Oh, I'm working at home." It really changed our situation to one where there was daily stress and long hours, so no, I can't say that becoming a parent made any of these women a better worker. Thank god a couple of them moved on, but the efficient and productive atmosphere we once had seems to be gone forever, and these women simply don't care, as long as they can stay at home with their child and collect managers' salaries.

Posted by: The answer for me is "no" | November 20, 2006 10:12 AM

"If they didn't, why would companies spend so much money on benefits which primarily benefit families when they could hire single and/or childless people for less money?"

Because if they didn't (hire parents), we wouldn't have a complete work force.

Posted by: momof4 | November 20, 2006 10:13 AM

OFF topic: did you guys see this article today? http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/18/AR2006111801196.html It is on Asian egg donation. Pretty interesting.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 20, 2006 10:15 AM

Leslie says:


"Parents make great employees because they've mastered two of the most critical tasks of successful management: multi-tasking and prioritizing."

Not all parents, or even the majority, have mastered multi-tasking and prioritizing. Some parents develop such skills. Others don't. In my experience, the parents who don't know how to prioritize or multi-task are even worse employees than they were before they had kids. The childfree/childless folks who don't have those skills also are nightmare employees.

and to Chris Harrison and Manager, you apparently do not have any single-income or primary wage-earner parents in your workplaces. They don't "have to" leave at any particular time because there's no childcare pick-up deadline, and they generally knock themselves out at work because their families' respective financial security is entirely dependent upon how well they do their jobs. It would be nice if you acknowledged the existence of a significant portion of the parents in the workplace for their commitment to a job well done.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 20, 2006 10:15 AM

"I've learned 2 things from being a parent:
Don't get so wound up. Chill.
It's not all about me."

Plenty of people without children learn these things. It's called "adulthood".

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 10:16 AM

In my experience, I have seen singles range from stellar workers to ultimate goof-offs. I have seen married w/children range from stellar workers to just average clock punchers. I have not seen anyone w/ a family to support being a total goof-off. Perhaps it is the responsibility factor that saves them from the bottom.

Regarding examples, I don't think most of us can relate to Pelosi, Fiorina or any other visible high-powered figures. We relate better to people we know personally - neighbor Jill, co-worker Fred, Uncle Bob, etc. So I don't think we make very good points holding up these women as models to be emulated. We really know very very little about their lives, their struggles, how they run their household, worldview, husbands, etc. Just my little opinion.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 20, 2006 10:17 AM

I think we've also missed the point that parents (most parents) have an inner guilt working against them when it comes to their kids. I feel guilty for not having more time with my son. I feel guilty for not being able to work more hours. It's a vicious cycle. We want to be all things to everyone.

What I find to be more irritating in the workplace is the separation of staff and higher paid employees. At my job, working from home is a perk that attorney's can utilize for whatever reason they deem it necessary. Their secretary however is more than likely the primary caregiver at home and if the kids are sick they haven't a choice but to stay home for their care because their daycare doesn't want sick kids (no big surprise here)!!!

Attorney's whose wives stay home create yet another problem for the secretary. Male attornies get spoiled at not having to participate in those kids are sick days no matter what, but their secretaries must take off. We're caught between a rock and hard spot.

But back to the original question -- do parents make better employees? It's quite an unfair question. Why don't we ask instead -- do parents make better bosses?

Posted by: CJ | November 20, 2006 10:22 AM

It seems like it all boils down to the fact that if you were a good employee before you had kids you are a good employee with kids. If you were a slacker before you will be a slacker after. Parenthood/marital status irrelevant.

Posted by: People are who they are | November 20, 2006 10:26 AM

Leslie:

Sorry, I think I got her confused with Dunn. Still, it appears Fiorani is not without her own detrimental contribution to HP.

Couldn't there have still been a better example to use then?

Posted by: RaiseYourOwnKids | November 20, 2006 10:27 AM

I agree with the previous poster that ADULTS make the best employees.

Parenthood isn't the deciding factor. In fact I find the question to reek of discrimination. Do blonds make better employees, do men make better employees, do left-handers make better employees?

That said there are some jobs that I think it's better if you are a parent.

Posted by: RoseG | November 20, 2006 10:28 AM

Parents might be better employees, but they aren't very considerate people.
At my preschool daycare, the kids that are sick are ALWAYS the ones with working parents. They disregard the daycare health policies and drop off their whining sick child who of course engages 1 teacher for the entire 8 hours, and then that kid infects the entire class.

Posted by: RingMaster | November 20, 2006 10:28 AM

I think a married man with kids has the advantage of a positive perspective attached to his work ethic and ability. Having a dedicated wife that trusts him enough to spawn children already demonstrates his likeability, loyalty, and experience in a leadership role. These characteristics alone are what is sought after by employers, and on a human level, are what makes up a healthy and happy work environment.

Posted by: Super Dad | November 20, 2006 10:41 AM

"Hey Morning Mom, why so antagonistic this morning?" Disagree that mulitasking is a myth. It is real and invaluable -- and it is very frustrating to try to work with someone who can only focus on one job at a time!"

I'm not being antagonistic. I just disagree with some of what you have written. You tend to make assertions that are not evidence-based. Neurobiological studies do show that multitasking is a myth. I'm a physician and scientist and I've read the studies. People delude themselves into thinking they can effectively do more than one thing at a time. And I work in a field where I am always doing more than one thing at once. I'm sure I'd be more effective if I didn't have to.

With regard to criticizing women executives---there is so much more criticism against male executives that I find singling out women to be sexist. It's bad enough that women get ripped to shreds by the media and the male dominated leadership structure, why do we do this to ourselves?

And lastly, there is a column in the Wall Street Journal today on the front page of the Marketplace section titled "Women Tell Women: Life int he Top Jobs is Worth the Effort". I don't have on-line access, but the jist is that "balance" is a myth and should be banished from our vocabularies. Further that there is nothing wrong with being ambitious and shooting for the top. I agree with the column and I wish more women would stop bemoaning the sacrifices.

Posted by: Morning mom | November 20, 2006 10:43 AM

CJ -- GREAT points about guilt, and also about how dads with at-home spouses sometimes have trouble understanding the juggling act.

Posted by: Leslie | November 20, 2006 10:47 AM

"I think we've also missed the point that parents (most parents) have an inner guilt working against them when it comes to their kids. I feel guilty for not having more time with my son. I feel guilty for not being able to work more hours. It's a vicious cycle. We want to be all things to everyone."

No one can "make" you feel guilty. Just stop feeling guilty. I know that's glib, but you have to work and that is the way it is. Your kids will be fine and they will appreciate you more knowing you are providing for their welfare. And just understanding that you can't be all things to everyone is a start. No one is all things to everyone and I wish women would stop this self-flagilation.

Posted by: morning mom | November 20, 2006 10:48 AM

to morning mom: I assume you've read this board for awhile and perhaps can appreciate that much of the flagilation, to the extent it exists, is not self-inflicted.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 20, 2006 10:50 AM

I know that it is fun to de-cry the value of the face-time put in by singletons who blend personal / work time a bit more... but there are some things I do in the face time category - showing up to sporting events, longer hours with my door open for questions, conversations with students about questions extraneous to class, comparing notes on classes with other professors - that I think have some positive value. Do I think everyone needs to do these things - no. Should they be part of the job requirements - no. But the empty nesters & singletons are often doing a bit more than just wasting time.

I am at the college level - so it is different, but I don't like the suggestion made above that parents necessarily make better teachers.

Posted by: wasting time | November 20, 2006 10:50 AM

Fo3 -- Employers have to pay parents less than the "unencumbered"? Well, they don't "have to" pay one group more or less. But having been told more than once from a boss, "What do you need the money for?" -- the implication being that a single person didn't need a raise as much as a parent did -- and knowing friends who have experienced the same discrimination, I disagree with your general viewpoint.

Posted by: Alice | November 20, 2006 10:51 AM

believe me, wives in two-income households face this sort of raise discrimination quite as often as single persons to.

Posted by: to Alice | November 20, 2006 10:54 AM

"to morning mom: I assume you've read this board for awhile and perhaps can appreciate that much of the flagilation, to the extent it exists, is not self-inflicted."

I've only look once in a while on this board and yes, there are some judgmental posts. But just because someone says "staying at home is better" or any other such thing doesn't mean it's true. Nor should it change anyone's mind. It doesn't make me feel any more "guilty" for having a career and missing a kid event once in a while. I only assume that when others criticize working mothers, they do so because the criticizer him or herself has some bad feelings about their own life situation and believe that criticizing others will make him or herself feel better or superior. LIfe's too short to let stupid people "make" you feel one way or another.

Posted by: morning mom | November 20, 2006 10:59 AM

Super Dad> Having a dedicated wife that trusts him enough to spawn children already demonstrates

Uh, are you married to a fish? ;^)

Posted by: aeschylus | November 20, 2006 11:01 AM

"Having a dedicated wife that trusts him enough to spawn children already demonstrates his likeability, loyalty, and experience in a leadership role."
As Dr Phil would say "Are you kidding me?" Just because a man fathers a child doesn't make him a good leader. Nowhere close to a good argument.

Posted by: To Super Dad | November 20, 2006 11:03 AM

>>People who don't have children at home tend to ask for less "special treatment", tend to waste less employer's time dealing with personal business at work, and tend to have less "drama". Although some mothers go through a kind of "temporary insanity" when they are planning their daughters' weddings.<<

You're right. I work in a large office and I've never heard of a childless person who conducted any personal business while at work. I guess if you don't have children, you don't HAVE any personal business to take care of other that work, work, work. And none of them ever ask for special treatment. Only people with children have high-maintenance personalities. Nor do the childless have any drama -- especially the young 25-year-olds with a hectic social life. What a focused, placid bunch those are! If only those menopausal old cows planning their daughters' weddings would shut up, we'd all be super-producers like DZ.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 11:03 AM

"Sure, I'm more efficient. I'm more understanding and sympathetic."

Leslie,

Are you saying here that you're more efficient, understanding, and sympathetic than non-parents? Or that you're more efficient, understanding, and sympathetic than you were before you became a parent?

If the former, why would you think so? Are you assuming that non-parents, by definition, are lacking in these qualities?

I really hope that's not what you're saying.

Posted by: pittypat | November 20, 2006 11:04 AM

I thought the point of the mommy blog was to promote equality among parents and the childless. I guess it has pulled a 180.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 11:05 AM

WHen I was single and then married w/o children the working moms were the worst! All the working moms had a flexible schedule and everyone else had to work around them. Want an answer or a document after 3:00 - can't have it mommy had to go get the kids at the bus, hold your work until tomorrow or make a guess. I ended up staying late frequently to take care of things that came up after "bus time". Nothing in my life was ever as important as what their children were doing - it was their trump card and they knew it.

I'm now a SAHM of 2 with a successful husband and we couldn't be happier. My husband can go to work and focus knowing that everything is taken care of at home. His children are being cared for by someone who loves them as much as he does, the dry cleaning is taken care of , kid sick? mommy will be there to take care of him/her, children are taken to activities and these activities are attended by their mother who often takes pictures to share with him. All of his energies during the day are focused on his work and my energies are focused on my work. We are a well oiled machine. I think the best employee is a married person with kids and a stay at home partner.

Posted by: Super SAHM | November 20, 2006 11:06 AM

Super SAHM // I think the best employee is a married person with kids and a stay at home partner.//

applause!! best post I have seen in a long time!! heartily agree!!

Posted by: Bob | November 20, 2006 11:13 AM

Bob, I like the way you think! haha

Posted by: Super SAHM | November 20, 2006 11:16 AM

Just to add - our family as tried both. My wife tried full-time, 30hrs/wk, 20hrs/wk, I've done 1 day work from home, etc. We've tried lots of solutions. All of them have varying degrees of stress and it's just very hard. So we decided that she'd work as a substitute, I'd go full-time and we'd sacrifice our income and pare down our lifestyle. The result? Much happier family life. this is our balance and it is worth it. $$$ or family, we choose family anytime.

Posted by: Bob | November 20, 2006 11:18 AM

Morning mom - Again - I stated that my history on Pelosi needed review but given that I don't know exactly what "involved in politic" means - it could be the cocktail circuit. Her family had a lot of political connections (and money)so it's not like you or I going to work at the local political level and working our way up. I equate her work in politics to the Kennedys - built in. The point was that she did not seek elective office till her kids were older and she makes a big deal out of it now. So I mentioned it.

As for your rah-rah over Carly - good for her - I knew she was successful. However, she made a mistake - a costly one - and it ended her career as CEO. A man that ran HP into the ground would have been fired as well. She is making tons of money giving speeches so I don't feel sorry for her. My opinion is she was not that great - which I think I am still entitled to. From the posts I see I am not the only one.

Posted by: CMAC | November 20, 2006 11:20 AM

"The wonderful thing is, they all got a huge severance package. Carly: $42 million, Ann $3.7 million. And Carly's latest book absolutely shreds the board, but they were the ones that GAVE her $42 million for a job poorly done."

Well, yeah.

That's what happens with male top execs when a company wants to get rid of them. Why shouldn't the same perk apply to women?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 11:21 AM

"It seems like it all boils down to the fact that if you were a good employee before you had kids you are a good employee with kids. If you were a slacker before you will be a slacker after. Parenthood/marital status irrelevant."

This is the best statement on this board. I had an employee who worked hard, was committed and trustworthy, self starter, etc. She is the same after two kids. I had an employee who did just what she had to do to get by, took advantage of any opportunity to pass work to others and constantly complains how busy and underpaid she is. She is still unmarried and childless, slacking and complaining.

It is who you are, not whether you are raising a child...

Posted by: Thank you People are who they are !! | November 20, 2006 11:22 AM

Super SAHM, I love you!

Posted by: Super Dad | November 20, 2006 11:24 AM

"I think the best employee is a married person with kids and a stay at home partner."

You don't know me, you don't know my family, and you don't know anything about my job or how I perform my job. How can you possibly be so arrogant as to claim you know what is "best" for our situation?

It's mind-boggling how idiotic and smug some people on this blog can be.

Posted by: to "Super" SAHM | November 20, 2006 11:26 AM

Fiorina is listed as a speaker for the Washington Speakers Bureau with a fee code of "6" which means $40K++.
Pretty good for someone that, as Jokester says, is "shooting the bull".

Posted by: RingMaster | November 20, 2006 11:28 AM

Pittypat -- I meant that I am more empathetic than I was before having kids, not that people with kids are more so than childless.

Morning Mom - I think we are defining Multitasking differently b/c I agree that focus is GREAT. But obviously as your responsibilities increase you need to be able to focus on many things within one week, day or hour, even if it's sequential focus.

Re: Facetime. Some of it IS valuable, especially in terms of accessibility to other employees.

Posted by: Leslie | November 20, 2006 11:28 AM

I'm just thinking about what makes a good employee. I'm in a white collar/professional environment, so I can't really speak to situations other than my own, but colleagues I enjoy working with usually do the following: reply to emails and requests promptly, complete tasks thoroughly, and are pro-active on questions/tasks. It doesn't matter much to me if folks need to leave by 3 for bus time every day if it is part of a schedule I am aware of, and they are hardworking and diligent while they are on the job at work. I particularly appreciate email or phone replies to requests if they can't fulfill them immediately, just saying "I'm out of the office after 3 pm each day, but will respond to your message as soon as I return." This is helpful for managing expectations, etc. With regard to working parents/single workers - I haven't noticed a sizeable difference. There are slackers in both camps, the parents just sometimes think they have a good excuse for their slacking. I usually have a feeling that these folks would be slackers though even if they lived alone with no dependents and had no other demands on their time. I think people might notice slacker working parents more just because usually, as you age, there are more parents in an office than childless folks. Of course, I'm sure it depends on the office, but I'd say the split is 70/30 in my office, again with slackers in each camp.

Posted by: The original just a thought | November 20, 2006 11:29 AM

No, parents don't make better employees. Employees are good/bad/indifferent based on their work skills. It's like people with children think that those of us who are childless have no human interaction skills, no ability to resolve conflict and no patience. Kids aren't the only way to develop life skills.

Plus, and this is a LONG-TERM beef of mine, those of us w/o kids often end up doing more than our share of work so that those w/ kids can unfairly head home early/catch soccer practice/cook dinner. Having kids doesn't mean you should shirk your responsibilities or expect that the rest of us should accomodate your decision.

Argh.

Posted by: Good Grief | November 20, 2006 11:30 AM

"it is very frustrating to try to work with someone who can only focus on one job at a time!"

Yes, Leslie. But some people's minds work best that way -- for instance, software programmers, editors, screenwriters, mathematicians, surgeons, morticians, chemists, etc., ad nauseum.

That's why different jobs require different temperaments as well as skills.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 11:31 AM

I know that since becoming a parent I am a much better employee. I have been forced to become extremely efficient in the work place. I spend less time chit chatting and more time focused on what needs to get done by 5. I have never asked for preferential treatment and never received it. I make up my hours when I get called away. I have yet to miss a billing quota in 4 years and generally exceed it on a monthly basis. I meet my deadlines. I need my job to provide for my children and so I have this incentive to perform at my best. This is more than I can say about my childless co-workers. I am currently busting my back to redo some seriously shoddy work that it took a childless co-worker over a year to royally screw up even with repeated help from others. I need to complete this task by the end of this month and guess what I am on schedule. I had to pick this up about a month ago. I also am still meeting my other work requirements. I do not think that all parents make better employees but those of us who were good employees to start with remain so and those who were lousy employees pre-children also remain so.

Posted by: mommyworks | November 20, 2006 11:31 AM

CMAC,
I was not involved with all of the Carly fawning. But I will add-- think about how successful and talented she must be/have been to have made it to the top of a top company. She messed up so do a lot of men. I don't think we should be singling out women. How about we all look at the special section of women executives to look out for this year in the Wall Street Journal. These women are truly inspirational!

I read last week that actually Pelosi was long "involved" in politics and this was in the context of she really was working while her kids were growing up. I don't know if it was paid or not, but the implication was that it was (I'd respect her even more if she worked with kids). Who knows if she really timed her election bid to child-rearing or she is just saying that to seem more moderate. I think it is the latter.

And here comes the working mother bashers again. What a dumb thing to say that the best employees are those with a stay at home spouse. I agree with the other posters above that if you were a good employee before, you are after you are a parent. Just because you have children doesn't mean you suddenly become less (or more) responsible.

Posted by: morning mom | November 20, 2006 11:33 AM

"Kids aren't the only way to develop life skills."

AMEN!

Posted by: Justine | November 20, 2006 11:35 AM

Having kids has nothing to do with it. Some people are great employees, others aren't. Your work ethic doesn't change when you have kids.

Posted by: vj | November 20, 2006 11:36 AM

Leslie, you sound burned out. Normal parenting shouldn't leave you so tired at work and vice versa. Is it possible that you've chosen a path that is too hard?

Life can burn you out sometimes, whether you're a parent or not (I am). Usually, when I'm exhausted, it's more emotional than physical, and it's related to non-kid things.

In any case, I think burnout is an issue for many in the workplace, regardless of parenting status.

Posted by: Kate | November 20, 2006 11:38 AM

Good Grief,
It has not been my experience that employees with children slack off and the childless have to pick up that slack. I think it is a generalization. I have had childless employees whine about parents without any evidence that it was true. At that job, I worked with a bunch of whiners and the whining was equal opportunity (bad employees, not bad leadership--was why I left). I think we need to be careful to label any group--this leads to discrimination in hiring and promotion practices. Again, if you were rude and irresponsible before having kids, I don't see how that will change once kids come along. And the reverse.

Posted by: morning mom | November 20, 2006 11:39 AM

"They disregard the daycare health policies and drop off their whining sick child who of course engages 1 teacher for the entire 8 hours, and then that kid infects the entire class."

Evidence that becoming a parent doesn't always make you "less selfish".

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 11:40 AM

To vj: yes, having kids changes you as well as your work ethic. I personally know people who suddenly "grew up" and realised party time was over when they had a newborn. They just became model worker #1.

To Kate: Leslie is not burned out. She has it made. She told us she has it all and this was due to her great wisdom, choices and her own hard work. We have a lot to learn from her, if only she will teach and share.

Posted by: RingMaster | November 20, 2006 11:42 AM

Wonder what the divorce rate of workers with stay at home spouses is compared to the national average....

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 11:42 AM

Kate, you make a great point. Burnout can be caused by lots of reasons. Typically stress as opposed to long hours. Some of my best jobs with the least stress had long hours. And this was when my child was a baby (had a great nanny). My worst job created so much unnecessary stress and my hours were flexible.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 11:42 AM

morning mom - "I don't think we should be singling out women." I singled out Carly and Pelosi because Leslie singled them out in her article. Are we not allowed to criticize women now? That is silly.


FYI: We have 4 ladies that started to work in my office after "raising their kids" - they are truly the most valuable employees we have. Each has cut their own path - 2 have gone full time and 2 part-time - but they are all very efficient, hardworking and relaxed. Nothing ruffles their feathers - a deadline is just that - not the end of the world. It is refreshing to work with them as opposed to giggling 20 year olds.

Posted by: cmac | November 20, 2006 11:47 AM

I think individual work ethic has more to do with what qualifies as a "good employee" than whether or not one has children. As a single person with no kids I take offense to the claim that parents are "better employees" than others. It all depends, frankly. I know employees with kids who waste time and others who are great employees.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 11:50 AM

CMAC,
Leslie did not criticize these women, but the subsequent posters did. I think people take more pot-shots at highly successful women way more than at men. It's a fact that Carly Fiona was a successful, talented business woman--had to be in order to rise to the top. In fact, I'd venture to say that women need to be BETTER than men to rise that high. So she was doing something right. Whether she messed up HP is up to debate. The company didn't perform well so she was let go. Happens to men all the time and nary a peep. In fact, many of these men are swooped up by other companies.

People love to bash successful women and I try to avoid doing that knowing that women tend to get more criticism in their situation than men do (and things like "was she using her Miss Universe wave" also demean women).

And as I said before--being a parent doesn't automatically make you better or worse as an employee so I agree with you.

Posted by: morning mom | November 20, 2006 11:55 AM

"Having a dedicated wife that trusts him enough to spawn children already demonstrates his likeability, loyalty, and experience in a leadership role."

Huh?

Super Dad, that's quite an ego you've got there.

And, just for kicks, explain to me how having a dedicated wife demonstrates his likeabililty.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 12:00 PM

The fact is that parents who have or are in the process of taking care of kids have proven to others that they are capable of accepting responsibility. another bonus on their behalf when it comes to making decisions on who to hire.

Posted by: Super Dad | November 20, 2006 12:03 PM

If you don't believe me, go see her in person. She still has the Miss Universe wave. She is one hot baby! After her visit, men were walking back to their offices with both hands in their pockets.
And smiling :)


Posted by: Thierry | November 20, 2006 12:04 PM

Rumor was that Carly was offered a cabinet position (Labor secretary or something??)
but turned it down because she felt it was nto prestigious enough. She wanted Secretary of State.

How about that, Condi?!

Posted by: RingMaster | November 20, 2006 12:12 PM

Hi Kate --I am definitely burned out and have been for a decade! But I can't just take a break from my three kids. I think working parents just get used to running on empty and enjoying the ride.

Posted by: Leslie | November 20, 2006 12:14 PM

Super Dad, love you back. Si that you honey? Are you my husband? Is this the Pina Colada song?

Re: the poster who thought I was smug... ummm the question on the board was what do you think is best so I told ya! I don't know anything about you or your life, but judging by your post I'm thinking you are probably not very happy. Mighty harsh reaction to a simple opinion. Have a good day - gotta go deliver Thanksgiving baskets with the kids school.

Posted by: Super SAHM | November 20, 2006 12:18 PM

Leslie // I am definitely burned out and have been for a decade! ... I think working parents just get used to running on empty and enjoying the ride.//

That's a very high price for "success", for "having it all".

Posted by: Bob | November 20, 2006 12:19 PM

I don't have kids (yet), but I've worked with a wide variety of parents and non-parents. I have to agree with the viewpoint that parenthood does not generally change the quality of someone's work or their work ethic, with the possible exception of the few who are immature and are forced to grow up quickly when the baby arrives.

In the companies where I've worked, I've always had a flexible schedule that allowed me to work extra hours some days so that I could take time off on others. The parents I've worked with took advantage of those policies. As far as I'm concerned, as long as you have leave or flex time to use, it's your business what you do with it, whether it's attending school functions for your kids or taking a day off to go to the doctor or dentist yourself - or even take care of your partner's dog, alluding to last week's post. I believe most parents, with normal, reasonably healthy kids, can balance their work and home schedules without unfairly affecting other workers.

Posted by: Married and Childless | November 20, 2006 12:21 PM

"Morning Mom - I think we are defining Multitasking differently b/c I agree that focus is GREAT. But obviously as your responsibilities increase you need to be able to focus on many things within one week, day or hour, even if it's sequential focus."

Well then it looks like your definition of "multi-tasking" is different from everyone elses. "Multi-tasking as most people use it mean doing more than one task at the same time, not in the same day or week. Geez, we all do more than one thing in a week. And I've never had a position where I didn't have more than one thing/project to work on. I just don't work on all of them at the same time and people do try to do this (answer the phone, e-mail and work on a memo for example).

It seems to me that you changed the definition in response to my attempt to debunk the "multi-tasking" myth.

And lastly, I have kids--but they are never the source of my stress or feelings of burn out. The workplace however, is a different story. Lots of stupidity in the workplace. I feel sorry for you if you feel your children are the source of your burn-out.

Posted by: morning mom | November 20, 2006 12:22 PM

Leslie: I am definitely burned out and have been for a decade! But I can't just take a break from my three kids.

Why can't you take a break from work instead?

Or are you burned out from parenting? How are your kids causing you burn out?

Posted by: RingMaster | November 20, 2006 12:27 PM

Bob,
Yes, women can "have it all", just like men do. If someone is "burnt out" because of their children, then he or she doesn't have a partner who pulls his (or her) weight or the right organizational skills. I've had/am having a successful career and terrific children (well-adjusted, smart, happy) b/c I have a helpful husband who is also successful at his career. Am I at every playdate? No and so what? My mother stayed at home and I don't think she was every with us when we played with our friends and neither were any of their mothers. Such a myth that we have to be with our kids 24/7. In fact, I can't stand the women who smother their kids round the clock. Their kids are often (not always) whiney and helpless. That's the risk of being a SAHM

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 12:27 PM

Married people are better than those who are single, parents are better than the childless. The moralizing -- implied or not -- is getting tiresome. And using these two individuals as examples isn't exactly a validation of the thesis. One hasn't yet done anything in her new job (unless you want to call picking a leadership fight that she lost an accomplishment), the other was driven out of her job for what amounted to poor judgment.

Posted by: fjc33 | November 20, 2006 12:28 PM

"I have kids--but they are never the source of my stress or feelings of burn out"

Morning mom, Ummm, kind of wondering what kind of kids you have or how much time you spend with them if they are never a source of stress. Do they never wake up at night, get sick or fight with each other. Do they sit quietly and do their homework, clean up and load the dishwasher? Do they do their own laundry? I don't know anyone with kids who would say that they are never a source of stress or burn out. Lemme know how to get kids like that.

Posted by: Super SAHM | November 20, 2006 12:30 PM

Being a parent has nothing to do with it. Parenting gives some more maturity as they learn how to gain patience, and grow and develop things versus thinking everything can happen upon their command. But, not all parents think that way even with their own kids. the true way parenting could work in the workplace is for people to really live up to all this family first and family values talk, and support working parents in the workplace.

Posted by: RobGreg | November 20, 2006 12:30 PM

I'm back in school now, so my perspective on this is a little different. I am in the 3rd trimester with my first child, and I attend school with a number of mothers.

One of the things I've noticed is - and who knows if they'd do it anyways or not - that the mothers seem to have the most excuses about why they "can't" do something. I have a classmate for example who wants to volunteer at her son's school, so she cuts class regularly and then whines that her grades are bad and how she "needs" As in them. And then she blames the professor instead of herself when she ends up with Cs and Ds lol ... granted, maybe she would have the same lazy attitude about school regardless of whether she had kids, and maybe her kids in that way are just a convenient excuse for her to blow off a demanding course schedule.

I guess my view is: if you want to prioritize your kids over everything else, fine. But for the love of God, don't try to pretend that you are giving 100% to areas of your life where you are a slacker. :/

Posted by: StudentMomToBe | November 20, 2006 12:43 PM

I work in a company that has a pretty liberal leave policy. I notice that many parents take off early here or there and many singles stay later. People are in charge of their own projects but still. Sometimes I wonder if I should make up a fake kid just to say on a Tuesday afternoon at 3- "Oh, my kid is sick in daycare and I have to go get him."

Posted by: Fairfax | November 20, 2006 12:44 PM

Good point, Super SAHM, I think Morning Mom needs to sign up to do more child based volunteer work. I think what Leslie is trying to say about burnout is that when someone becomes a parent, putting as much effort as posible into life becomes exhaustingly fulfilling, as it should be. anything less, and you might as well anoint yourself as a bonified slacker, which Leslie is anything but.

Posted by: Super Dad | November 20, 2006 12:46 PM

'Kenny grew up and eventually became the chairman of Enron.'

best joke I've heard in a long time.

Hey, suddenly there is a spell checker in this little white box. What a day!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: experienced mom | November 20, 2006 12:47 PM

//If someone is "burnt out" because of their children, then he or she doesn't have a partner who pulls his (or her) weight or the right organizational skills.//

I guess you are saying that Leslie's husband isn't pulling his weight, therefore causing Leslie's burnout.

Posted by: Bob | November 20, 2006 12:48 PM

Hey- why the parent vs nonparent debate? Almost everyone becomes a parent at some point (sorry, stridently childless folks, but it's true), so it's not like we can do without parents in the labor force.

Posted by: randommom | November 20, 2006 12:51 PM

"I am definitely burned out and have been for a decade! But I can't just take a break from my three kids. I think working parents just get used to running on empty and enjoying the ride."

Leslie,

If you'd been "burned out" for a decade, you wouldn't be walking around right now. You'd be dead or institutionalized.

"Burn out" has become an easy way to describe being tired and oversubscribed. People who truly suffer burn out in their jobs (or at home) are generally rendered incapable of continuing to do the job, because it's so stressful emotionally, physically, mentally, and/or spiritually (think social worker, teacher, nurse, other helping professions).

Executives and high-profile newspaper writers are not likely to suffer the depression, loss of physical and mental stamina, and frequent sleeplessness that accompany these kinds of jobs (which are usually paid in inverse proportion to how much responsibility and human interaction they require).

Real burnout doesn't leave you perky enough to run a blog like this one, even if you do have to work at 1:00 a.m. to finish your columns on time.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 12:53 PM

actually, regarding Leslie's burnout, I have seen many times that balancing the needs of three children (and husband and career) is much more difficult that the needs of one or two children. This is, of course, dependent on many factors.

I am glad that part time professional work is easier to come by than it was 20 years ago.

Posted by: experienced mom | November 20, 2006 12:54 PM

Wow, arrogance abounds. No one knows what is best for my family except for my family. We do have someone at home who loves my kids as much as I do-my nanny. We joke all the time that she doesn't leave when my husband gets home- she waits for me, the joke being that she doesn't thinkd he can take care of the baby. The reality is since I pick up the older one from school, she wants to see him at the end of the day. And we also joked that she wouldn't let us go one our family vacation b c she didn't think we could do it. She is definitely a part of the family and wonderful w the kids. So both my husband and I are confident that our children are well taken care of and so - please come up with another excuse.

And whoever said that just b/c a man has found someone to procreate w makes him responsible - that is ridiculous. There are plenty of men not worth a darn who are married with kids.

Posted by: atlmom | November 20, 2006 12:54 PM

For further reading, check out Ann Crittenden who (literally) wrote the book on why parents make good employees. It's called "If You've Raised Kids, You Can Manage Anything."

http://www.anncrittenden.com/

At the very least, it sure ain't fair to punish parents in the workforce, which remains the reality for most moms.

Posted by: Brian Reid | November 20, 2006 12:55 PM

"At the very least, it sure ain't fair to punish parents in the workforce, which remains the reality for most moms."

What???!!!

We've just listened to scores of women talk about how moms in the workforce get special treatment, and you're saying they get punished?

Give it up!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 12:57 PM

My understanding is that Carly Fiorana is a step mom -- in a role where she was not responsible for childcare. Her husband is older than her, and retired from his exec career to support her aspirations (according to the bios that I've read). So to say that she is a model as a working mom is a huge stretch... Her particular status may also explain the rave reviews she's receiving on this blog from the rank and file at HP.

I guess that's what happens when you put a marketing MBA mindset at the helm of an S&T firm with, historically, a very different culture. Whether the choice was male or female, that kind of person as leader created the inevitabilty that the company would change dramatically. And it did. It wasn't because she was a woman.

Posted by: Curious | November 20, 2006 12:59 PM

test

Posted by: tickles | November 20, 2006 12:59 PM

"The fact is that parents who have or are in the process of taking care of kids have proven to others that they are capable of accepting responsibility. another bonus on their behalf when it comes to making decisions on who to hire."
So all the neglected and abused kids are in our imaginations because their parents never harm them? Wake up and smell the coffee dude.


Posted by: To Super Dad (again) | November 20, 2006 1:00 PM

Are parents with more kids better than parents with fewer?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 1:03 PM

To Brian Reid

What about the parents who have raised bad or mediocre kids? Doesn't one parent usually do the lion's share of the child raising? Does the other parent deserve equal kudos or boos?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 1:04 PM

Leslie made the mistake of posting so often and so early (4 times!) Rare occasion to see her actually keeping up with the blog. Anyway, let's see how digs herself out of this "burnout from kids" hole.

Posted by: Bob | November 20, 2006 1:06 PM

To all the people who say that us working parents are slackers on the job: bunk. I sit near a childless woman who planned her wedding for literally half the workday for months on end. She is the most entitled woman I have ever met. I sit near a young Gen Y guy, fresh out of college, who routinely deals with "personal" business at work, and who takes off to deal with the cable guy, whatever. I used to work with a young 25-year-old who would disappear for a few hours (and ask me to cover for him) to go stand in line for new video games! Meanwhile, I have found as a parent I am more efficient than ever at work. I have to leave promptly at 5 each day to get a train to get home to get my kids. Never have I missed a deadline, and if I have to communicate by cell phone or Blackberry after leaving, I will. But I don't waste time during the workday like young people who end up staying late because they took a zillion smoking breaks, chitchatted or IM'd each other all day, and had their cell phones ring all day with plans for the evening. The parents in our office come in, do their work, and get out of there to their "second jobs" - taking care of kids.

Posted by: amnesiac | November 20, 2006 1:09 PM

If what Curious said is true, then I am sorely disappointed in Leslie's poor journalism skills. It's irresponsible to be holding her up as a model of a working mom that we can relate to. How about a little more research, next time?

Posted by: RingMaster | November 20, 2006 1:09 PM

It is so fascinating to see pple talking about who is a better worker, etc. Really, if you think a coworker isn't pulling their weight many times mgmt is aware. You have no idea how much their last raise or bonus is, etc. So really, concentrate on what you are doing and if it really does affect you, then your boss needs to intervene. If you are unhappy, leave. Complaining really doesn't help and just gets you stressed out. Really.

Posted by: atlmom | November 20, 2006 1:10 PM

I wake up and smell the coffee everyday, and by the way, it's not the child's father, but mommy's boyfriend that does most of the abusing. And yes, parents of larger families are usually more responsible and more capable of prioritizing their work load.

Posted by: Super Dad | November 20, 2006 1:11 PM

hey atlmom, i think your nanny is more "family" than you think. just ask your husband what they do together when you're not home yet. :)

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 1:11 PM

Plees don't talk about the lovely Carly in this bad way. She is beautiful person, non? I will wish she have my children.

Posted by: Thierry | November 20, 2006 1:13 PM

Super Dad

Don't parents of larger families use their older children (usually girls) as unpaid labor to help raise the younger children?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 1:20 PM

Is Thierry for real?

Does anyone else think he's a hoax -- maybe another of "Liam's" characters?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 1:24 PM

I agree overall that parents are just people and so there will be the full gamut of people who work hard and people who dick around.

I also think parenting does add challenges and new parents, particularly, are /learning/ how to deal with the challenges. So during the learning curve there probably is a higher chance of drama. But someone who is generally on the ball will figure it out pretty quick.

A couple of thoughts I've had about the larger issue of balancing it though:

A lot of workplaces, in my opinion, have expectations that are unrealistic. I'm not talking about whether you show up on time and stay the full day; I mean having people be available outside of working hours, or costing/timing out projects in an unrealistic way so that people have to work in a crazy way to meet deadlines. I think that tends to be what often blurs the line.

At that point, it is true that a parent leaving on time to pick up his/her kid can seem like a burden to the rest of the team. But it is something to consider that people put the blame on the worker who isn't available for "the extra mile" when in my experience it's quite often poor planning or simply running with hardly-enough staff that causes the problem.

Also I think a lot of people see work as a zero-sum game: if someone is getting time to deal with a personal issue that's a loss to me. The best workplaces I've been at have been flexible for everyone. Frankly, I never wanted to be burned and in a coma and have months of rehab, but my coworker was and I was glad to see that there were accomodations made for her whether I ever get to "take advantage" of that or not.

Also people are not their work. It's possible to be an "only decent" worker rather than stellar and be a great person.

Posted by: Shandra | November 20, 2006 1:26 PM

To the Anonymous Poster: For all of the "special treatment" that gets discussed here, moms tend to pay a high price in the workforce. Every piece of research I've seen suggests that mothers take a salary and career advancement hit compared to their single colleagues. Oddly, fathers don't suffer the same fate (working dads tend to make *more* than their unmarried counterparts).

Posted by: Brian Reid | November 20, 2006 1:27 PM

to anon at 1:20 -

I realize your post is snarky, but I'll answer it anyway.

Yes, they do. But it's part of being part of a family. Just as you likely make your kids (if you have them) clean up their
toys, set the table, and brush their teeth, it's the responsibility of my 14 year old SON to occasionally watch his younger siblings. He is paid if it's an evening sit that I would otherwise have to hire someone to do, but the "I'm running to the store for milk" times he is not.

Posted by: momof4 | November 20, 2006 1:27 PM

TO SUPER SAHM!!! How dare you make those kinds of statements!! Are you assuming that everyone makes 6 figures and has the option to only have one income that takes care of everything in your life? Well, there are many of us who have/require 2 incomes to survive. We struggle, we sacrifice and we do without to make ends meet. No nannies, no big vacations, no high tech christmas' and no college funds. So just remember this: your machine is oiled now, but the oil pan can start leaking at any time.

Posted by: CJ | November 20, 2006 1:28 PM

"We need to dispel this multitasking myth if we want higher quality work."

Hahaha...watever, Ik'm taling on the phone while I typ this!

Posted by: Eric | November 20, 2006 1:31 PM

I used to work for HP in French office, Grenoble.

Posted by: Thierry | November 20, 2006 1:31 PM

//If someone is "burnt out" because of their children, then he or she doesn't have a partner who pulls his (or her) weight or the right organizational skills.//

I am puzzled about why Leslie's burnout comment is garnering such abuse or misinterpretation. If you time shift, e.g., have to work at home late after the kids are asleep because it was important to have a family dinner together, work on homework, read bedtime stories, you can easily end up in a semi-permanent state of sleep deprivation. If I get 8 hours of sleep once per week, it's a good week. My husband's sleep batting average is a little worse than mine because his job frequently demands that he work between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Perpetual sleep deprivation is underlying core of whatever work-life balance issues we have. Are we alone among parents?

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 20, 2006 1:32 PM

No, but seriously, I don't think multitasking is a myth, though I do think it has limits.

But anyway, take the example of a person singing while playing an instrument; many people excel greatly at doing both exceedingly well at the same time. It's possible they're better at both when not done concurrently, but that doesn't make multitasking a myth. What it does mean is that you have to a) develop the skill and b) you have to apply it intelligently. If I'm editing a large document or composing an e-mail, that's not the best time to be talking on the phone--another language intensive activity. On the other hand, if I'm copy/pasting content from one document to another, it's probably OK to have a phone conversation about where an afternoon meeting will be held.

Posted by: Eric | November 20, 2006 1:39 PM

SuperSAHM: you have a lot of nerve. How idyllic your little life sounds with you taking care of the home front while hubby works. How you can say it is the best for everyone else is beyond me. Judge people much? And it will be nice to see how it all works out for you if hubby ever divorces you, dies, or otherwise becomes incapable of taking care of you and your kids. It's also nice how your future retirement savings are entirely dependent on your hubby's pension plan or lack thereof, his IRA (nonearners are not entitled to make IRA contributions) as well as his Social Security. You won't have much in the way of Social Security. So I do hope you're well taken care of down the line and don't become a burden to the rest of society --- the majority of which is slogging away in two-earning households trying to make ends meet.

Posted by: quartermaine | November 20, 2006 1:40 PM

"I am puzzled about why Leslie's burnout comment is garnering such abuse or misinterpretation. "

It's the Internet; why would anyone be nice to unmeetable strangers?!?!?!

Posted by: Eric | November 20, 2006 1:41 PM

To SAHM,
Actually, I'm very fortunate to have 2 really great kids. I don't get stressed from interacting with them because I don't consider what they say and do to be totally useless and stupid like some of the crap at work. They are both rule abiding, smart and can keep themselves busy. One likes to read and the other likes imaginary play with her friends.
My kids do fight, but I tend to not intervene unless I must (they need to learn to negotiate out of these things). They rarely get sick and if one does wake up at night, so be it. So I lose some sleep, but this is not a source of stress even if I have to be up at 6 to get ready for work. The meet and exceed my expectations of children (they're great kids). I understand that it's hard work having children and despite what some SAH parents may believe, I am involved with their lives, but I don't smother them. I don't miss the important things and they like what I do so much, that both want to be what I am. That says a lot.

It's the people at work who often don't meet expectations and act like idiots at times. I don't expect professionals to drop the ball such that I have to pick up their slack. I expect children to mess up. It's a part of growing up.

Posted by: morning mom | November 20, 2006 1:43 PM

This is a weird concept. There are parents who are good employees and childless people who are also good employees. The effectiveness of a worker depends on the person, not their parental status.
It's artificial issues like this, like the stay-at-home versus working mom debate that divides workers rather than seeing how an individual's experience can enhance the workplace.

Posted by: uplandermom | November 20, 2006 1:46 PM

Oh, yeah I forgot to add that both of my children do their "chores". They take out the garbage, sometimes load and unload the dishwasher and my daughter likes to sweep. Getting her to put her toys away can be tough, but it is my expectation and I don't back down. Getting kids to do what they need to do needn't be that hard as long as you are consistent and follow-through on the consequences. They're not perfect, but again, no stress teaching them right from wrong and how to be a contributor to the family. Another secret is figure out what motivates them--positive reinforcement works like a charm.

Posted by: morning mom | November 20, 2006 1:46 PM

NC Lawyer and Leslie - I feel like I am at AA. My name is CMAC and I get burnt out. There I said it. Why would anyone take offense to someone saying they are burnt out? Given the very little bit of information we have on anyone on this forum, even Leslie (I mean that we know more about her because of her book and forum topics), to criticize their feelings of being burnt out is stupid.

I am happy that some people don't get burnt out - it is something I aspire to. I don't go around moaning all day long about how tired I am or expect people to help me because I am tired, but my life is demanding sometimes. Isn't everyone's? I'm not a whiner at work or home and truly hate the ninnies that complain constantly, but there are days when the stars and the moon align, that I feel like I could sleep for 24 hours straight and still be tired.

Posted by: CMAC | November 20, 2006 1:55 PM

"Good point, Super SAHM, I think Morning Mom needs to sign up to do more child based volunteer work"

If you could only know how stupid that comment is. My life's work involves kids AND I volunteer in child related activities. I am an expert in child development and their issues (and I have written books on child issues). Boy some on this list are really in need of a reality check.

And I maintain that if Leslie's burn out is her family, then she needs to reevaluate the home situation. With a supportive spouse and excellent childcare (and I assume a housekeeper), it can be good, very good. I do feel for those who struggle with the ability to afford good childcare.

In my line of work, I advocate for better and more affordable childcare so that parents can work without the stress of knowing how their kids are doing. I've seen this issue discussed before so I won't add more comment to this.

Posted by: morning mom | November 20, 2006 1:59 PM

Leslie on Nov14:
"I think you can have it all. I feel like I do. I'm grateful for how hard I've worked to make decisions that work for me and my family now."

There! Leslie has it all.
No burnout, no balance problems, no childcare worries. She has career, family, $$$, husband, power, influence, etc. Everything you could ever want.

Posted by: QUOTE | November 20, 2006 2:07 PM

I think people are overreacting to SuperSAHM's comment. A person with children who has a SAH spouse may well have more ability to focus at work and not have to deal with all the things that come up for a person who has a working spouse. This comes up occasionally with my boss and I - he has a daughter the same age as my son, and his wife stays at home. He never has to take time off because his daughter is sick and obviously doesn't worry about a lot of the household things that I do - every now and then when we are talking about our kids this becomes very obvious. He is a great boss, however, and allows great flexibility and doesn't seem to hold it against me when I need to take time to care for me son. But I can see SuperSAHM's point - it's similar to what someone else said about having a good support network for childcare - the more support someone has, the easier it is for them to focus more completely on work. Obviously some employees with SAH spouses won't be such great employees, and plenty of parents with working spouses are outstanding employees. It just seems like those with SAH may (depending on how their marriage works) have more support and not have to juggle as much.

Also, I'm with CMAC on feeling burnt out - why is so horrible to say you feel that way? I often feel stretched too thin, and find I need break not just from work but from my son too - a couple hours to decompress, do something just for myself. Doesn't everyone?

Posted by: Megan | November 20, 2006 2:15 PM

To Super SAHM: keep up the great work at home! Your family appreciates you.

Posted by: RingMaster | November 20, 2006 2:19 PM

It's amazing how much people whine. The childless people (or "childfree," or whatever they call themselves...although "childfree" always makes me think of Stayfree maxi-pads...) whine about parents getting a break in the workforce, tax breaks, etc. The parents whine about not having it all, being burned out, etc. How about this concept: you CANNOT "have it all," at any point, no one. Life was not designed to be fair. And as Americans we do have it better than about 95% of the rest of the world's population, even those of us griping about workflow and who's leaving early.

So, if you are a childless person, get over yourself, because most of us (myself included) are parents. You may outgrow your philosophy and join us yet, and then you too will understand why a kid is a bigger priority than a Yorkshire terrier.

If you are a parent and you're stressed out about rushing home from work or bothered that you don't have enough time to volunteer to PTA, get yourself too. Because no one ever said it was easy, and I'll bet you would still rather have your kids and do all this than not have your kids and be able to do whatever you please. I know I would --- and not to sound all perfectlike (because I am routinely stressed out too), but i am a single mom who manages to make it work. Granted, I have worked through my share of bitterness about people who are still married and "have it easy," compared to people like myself, who are divorced and have to work and whose standard of living went down instead of up. But I am still not too bothered by the fact that I have to rush home and feed my kids and take them to piano lessons, etc. At least I have them, they're healthy, and I can afford piano lessons.

I cannot have it all. I cannot afford to send my kids to the expensive day camp that some of their friends do. If I try to get a higher-paying job that will fund the day camp, there goes my leaving at 5 to get home to make them dinner, or the Tuesdays I get to work from home. You get the idea. But I am so glad to have what I have. It's taken me 4 years to be able to say that, because for the past 4 years of post-divorce struggling I kept thinking it would somehow either fall into place or I would get swept off my feet by a rescuer. Here's the deal: there are no rescuers...life is not easy....it beats the alternative....and we should be glad we have healthy kids, a place to sleep, and food to eat. I guess I am getting in practice for Thanksgiving later this week.....

Just my two cents' worth.

Posted by: lightbulb | November 20, 2006 2:19 PM

CMAC --

Being perpetually tired is not the same thing as burnout.

I guarantee you, none of the posters on this blog suffers from true burnout. Not even close.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 2:19 PM

Leslie: I do think you are on target. Sleep deprivation must diminish work productivity. Many days I could barely type and answer the phones, let alone do strategic thinking and creative marketing. However, as derived in the term "on balance", I also regard the focus of a parent as a work advantage, less chit-chat, less gossip, in order to get out of the office by 5PM and show a measure of productivity. During rough homes times, co-workers often picked up my slack, and were supportive. That support was valuable to me as a person and raised my level of commitment to my organization.

Posted by: triplet dad | November 20, 2006 2:24 PM

Dear "Super SAHM": You are super judgmental and super arrogant about how your way is surely the "best" way for everyone. I can't say whether or not you're actually a "super" mom, but I do know that no one likes being around someone who's always patting themselves on the back for their chosen lifestyle -- not even your kids. Trust me, I was the child of a "super SAHM" growing up. She bragged about how important it was to be a "full time" mother, how much she volunteered, how hers was the "best" family situation (sound familiar, Super SAHM?).

It was just faaaabulous for her. Until my father left with no forwarding address. All of the sudden, working parents were OK in her book.

Take yourself down a peg, please.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 2:26 PM

Super SAHM, you could have gone to work and hired a nanny to raise your kids. Instead, your family chose to have less bling, forego your income and have you stay at home to raise them. Great decision! Keep up the good work.

Posted by: 230 | November 20, 2006 2:31 PM

CMAC --

Being perpetually tired is not the same thing as burnout.

I guarantee you, none of the posters on this blog suffers from true burnout. Not even close.

Posted by: | November 20, 2006 02:19 PM

How can you say that? Do you know what people are going through in their personal and professional lives? Are you burnt out after a loved one dies? A divorce? A corporate merger? A**hole boss? Home destoyed in a fire? Chemotherapy? Sick child? You couldn't possibly know what each poster is personally experiencing. Maybe you have a corner on the "burnt-out market?"

Anonymous posting again, I see.

Posted by: cmac | November 20, 2006 2:31 PM

amnesiac, the examples you give are of "young" people as you clearly point out. Just because people are single or married with no kids, doesn't mean they work less hard than you do. The examples you mention are those of immature workers, not childless workers.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 2:33 PM

Talk about pot calling the kettle black. You are judging Super SAHM the same way you tell her not to judge anyone. Youhave problems with your mom, deal with her, don't take it out on Super SAHM.

Posted by: To 2:26 | November 20, 2006 2:34 PM

Actually, congress changed the law years ago. A non earner in a family can make contributions to an IRA juat like everyone else. Of course, it is less than one fourth of what one can put into a 401k, but still

Posted by: atlmom | November 20, 2006 2:37 PM

"A lot of workplaces, in my opinion, have expectations that are unrealistic. I'm not talking about whether you show up on time and stay the full day; I mean having people be available outside of working hours, or costing/timing out projects in an unrealistic way so that people have to work in a crazy way to meet deadlines. I think that tends to be what often blurs the line.

At that point, it is true that a parent leaving on time to pick up his/her kid can seem like a burden to the rest of the team. But it is something to consider that people put the blame on the worker who isn't available for "the extra mile" when in my experience it's quite often poor planning or simply running with hardly-enough staff that causes the problem.

Also I think a lot of people see work as a zero-sum game: if someone is getting time to deal with a personal issue that's a loss to me. The best workplaces I've been at have been flexible for everyone. Frankly, I never wanted to be burned and in a coma and have months of rehab, but my coworker was and I was glad to see that there were accomodations made for her whether I ever get to "take advantage" of that or not.

Also people are not their work. It's possible to be an "only decent" worker rather than stellar and be a great person."

What Shandra said. Why is "parents vs. non-parents" even an issue? Why can't we acknowledge that everyone, childed or childfree, needs flexibility, days off, and room for a personal life? And why can't we acknowledge that not everyone is going to be a superstar?

I'm gonna get all Barbara Ehrenreich on you and say that fussing about parents vs. nonparents and who is a better worker and who gets the biggest slice of pie is fiddling while Rome burns, or rather quibbling while the middle class vanishes. We are all in this together, and parents and childfree have more to gain by seeking common ground against those who would turn the US into a plantation oligarchy with a tiny wealthy population over a vast class of poor.

I, for one, am more concerned about our "winner-take-all society" (title of an excellent book by authors named Frank and Cook - worth reading!) than whether parents or non-parents or brunettes or birdwatchers or people surnamed "Smith" are better employees.

Posted by: Flyonthewall | November 20, 2006 2:39 PM

What makes a good employee is what motivates him or her. For some people, it's the responsibility of providing for the family. For others, it's the satisfaction of a job well-done. You look at the motivation to predict the results. If it's true that parenting status determines worker quality, how come interviews don't start with "How many children do you have?". Everyone knows that it is bunk.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 20, 2006 2:41 PM

"I guarantee you, none of the posters on this blog suffers from true burnout. Not even close."

Posted by: | November 20, 2006 02:19 PM

Are you trying to say that there is some "official" definition of burn out, and if so, please provide it. Otherwise, I see no problem with people using the term to describe being perpetually tired and stretched too thin, because that's how most people use it in everday life.

Posted by: Megan | November 20, 2006 2:42 PM

While I applaud women who try to juggle children and job, I also am offended by having to take on additional responsibilities at work to "accommodate" parents.

I tried to juggle my job and elderly parents, hundreds of miles away. I was given no special consideration, and admonished for wanting to occasionally work a 40 hour week in 4 days to take 3 days off to assist them in their last years.

At the same time, I had a colleague with two children. She'd show up at 10:30 to 11 a.m. (I'd be in by 7), and would be gone by 2 to 2:30. That is she worked about 1/2 time, paid full time. I worked about 60 hours/week.

Where is the equity there?

If you have children, you should be sure that you have the time and resources to take care of them -- not burden your colleagues with extra work. Sorry! It's just not fair!

Posted by: Workingsinglewoman | November 20, 2006 2:47 PM

A woman had to write something that dumb.
Parents make better employees , sure.
No having a baby doesn't make you a better
employee , in fact most people will tell
you it takes away from your time and commitment to work . We are tired of having to give special treatment to people
whose careers are second to family , yet
want to be treated special at work

Posted by: larry gregory | November 20, 2006 2:47 PM

Lightbulb -- great post! Thanks!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | November 20, 2006 2:48 PM

I respectfully defer to the trained psychiatrists on the blog or to any diagnostic information that might appear in DMS-III, but the fact that a random, anonymous respondent at 2:19 says "it's not burnout" doesn't amount to much.

The definition I've found is, "fatigue, frustration, or apathy resulting from prolonged stress, overwork, or intense activity". To anon at 2:19, you don't know cmac, you don't know me and who are you to determine whether or not we who are living these lives have experienced, or are experiencing burnout? In addition, you're fighting over a label and ignoring the core topic at hand.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 20, 2006 2:48 PM

"Super SAHM, you could have gone to work and hired a nanny to raise your kids. Instead, your family chose to have less bling, forego your income and have you stay at home to raise them. Great decision! Keep up the good work"

Someone who stays at home instead of having a career is allowed to make that decision. But to praise them for it? Tell them "good work". Give me a break. People who opt out of the workforce are not commendable people and are not worthy of admiration.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 2:49 PM

"So, if you are a childless person, get over yourself, because most of us (myself included) are parents. You may outgrow your philosophy and join us yet, and then you too will understand why a kid is a bigger priority than a Yorkshire terrier."

When you say "outgrow your philosophy," you're suggesting that most child-free people are young -- 20s, early 30s, I guess. However, most of the child-free people I know -- and a good number of the child-free on this blog -- are in their 40s or 50s.

No wanting kids isn't a philosophy to be outgrown when one becomes mature. Sure, some younger people change their minds as they age, and even a few older ones, too. But, in general, the decision to have or not have kids is not a question merely of maturity. If that were so, older parents would be better than younger parents -- and we all know that's not how it is!

Posted by: pittypat | November 20, 2006 2:51 PM

Yikes - the jackals are circling! I didn't say that anyone else's lifestyle was wrong, I was simply adding my two cents about what works for my family and what situation I think is ideal. Just because I think my situation is ideal, doesn't mean that I think you are bad parent for choosing a differnt path, maybe I hit too close to home (the ladies doth protest too much). Do whatever you want with your life and your kids. Lighten up.

Thanks to all the people who wished my husband would leave me or die - you must be terribly kind people who are a joy to work with - bet you go to church a lot too! To all the supporters, thanks!

Posted by: Super SAHM | November 20, 2006 2:51 PM

it's getting to be that time of day!

Posted by: experienced mom | November 20, 2006 2:53 PM

bet you go to church a lot too!

What, only church-going people can be nice? Good grief, and christians wonder why people get tired of religious commentary

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 2:56 PM

to Super SAHM: imho, the church comment was inappropriate.

Please, state your opinion without cutting down others. Do not denigrate.

And shouldn't that apply to all? Reasonable discussions necessitates good manners.

Posted by: dotted | November 20, 2006 3:00 PM

"bet you go to church a lot too!"

Oh boy this woman is something else isn't she!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 3:02 PM

who dost protest too much?

First you said:
I think the best employee is a married person with kids and a stay at home partner.

THen you said:
I didn't say that anyone else's lifestyle was wrong
...
--------------------------

No you just said they weren't good empoloyees... I wonder why they were bothered?


Posted by: to super SAHM | November 20, 2006 3:02 PM

"In addition, you're fighting over a label and ignoring the core topic at hand."

NC lawyer --

And what IS the "core topic at hand"?

From my perspective, it's more people on the top third of the economic ladder once again whining about how hard their lives are.

Burnout is physically and mentally disabling. It's not just being tired because you overshedule your life.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 3:05 PM

I think there is misunderstanding all around. Number 1) Super SAHM did not say a married man with a SAHW was a better husband or this was the best situation for the family. She said she believed they make better employees. Being a better employee is not necessarily better for the family. If DH works 60+ hours a week and never sees his family, he may make employee of the month but he is basically not raising his children or being anything more then a pay check to his family. Number 2) SAHM, if you go back and read the post clearly, the poster did NOT wish that your husband would die or divorce you. What the poster said was what seems like a perfect situation may not be in the case of divorce or death. Also what the heck does the church statement mean? My god, I meant some of the meanest people in church and some of the nicest not in church. If the religious right is any indication of how church goers react to others, (I hope they are not), then they are anything but nice. Religion does not equal "christian" values.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 20, 2006 3:05 PM

While I have no desire to be a SAHM (I am currently a working single mother) I don't understand the jealousy and bitterness directed towards those women, as exemplified here.

"People who opt out of the workforce are not commendable people and are not worthy of admiration."

Super SAHM is extremely fortunate in being able to choose the lifestyle that she has. Why direct such a nasty attitude towards her for her choice (although on the flip side she hasn't seemed very understanding of the other side either)? I see the same nasty attitude towards SAHMs directed towards those who are able to take time of work to write a book or travel. Life is not a rat race. There's more to it than work and hating those with different choices and interests than you.

Posted by: confused | November 20, 2006 3:06 PM

We are all in this together, and parents and childfree have more to gain by seeking common ground against those who would turn the US into a plantation oligarchy with a tiny wealthy population over a vast class of poor.

____________________

This was a great post. Didn't ancient empires hold their power by using a "divide and conquer" strategy? Now it's parents vs. nonparents, pet lovers vs. non-pet lovers, union vs. non-union workers, we're all segmented into our own little groups squabbling over crumbs while the fat cats sit back and have the last laugh.

This blog doesn't help much either. I think in her desperation to come up with a new topic for every day, the author has to pick subjects that are guaranteed to get people all worked up over trivial issues.

Re: good and bad employees. If you have a problem with your coworker and you think it's causing you an unfair burden, please please speak to your supervisor about it. It is hard to be a good boss when people would rather fume silently than let me know what's going on and give me a chance to address the situation. (Though in my experience, a lot of the preferential treatment is perceived, not real.)

Posted by: TiredbutHappy | November 20, 2006 3:10 PM

"to Super SAHM: imho, the church comment was inappropriate."

Why?

The hypocrisy on this blog is rampant. Super is just pointing out one of the ways in which it is expressed.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 3:10 PM

I'm with foamgnome on pretty much everything. SuperSAHM, I defended your comments earlier, and just so you know, I don't go to church and am not a Christian. It is one of my absolute pet peeves when people assume that they have a lock on being good people bc of their religion. If I had a nickel for every time someone assumed I was Christian because I was doing volunteer work or some other "good deed", and then seemed put out or even offended when they learned I wasn't...well, I wouldn't be rich but it would probably buy a fancy coffee at Starbucks.

Posted by: Megan | November 20, 2006 3:11 PM

"How about you? Do you think parents make better (or worse) employees? Why or why not?"

Could we please read the question at the beginning? Exactly how might one answer that question without, even offhandedly making a judgement about someone else. If you disagree with my opinion, that's fine but to say that I'm judgemental I think is unfair (oops, is that judging you to say that I thought you were unfair -sorry about that too!)

"Religion does not equal "christian" values. " that's what I was trying to say.

Let me say this one more time, I don't care what anyone else does at their job or with their kids unless it impacts me. I think that my husband is an excellent employee in large part because our financial status and educational status creates a situation in chich I am willing and able to stay at home with the children. Works for us.

Posted by: Super SAHM | November 20, 2006 3:18 PM

Super's comment re: church is inappropriate because church or no church is irrelevant.

Super's comment re: church is inappropriate because comments on religion are explosive and divisive.

Being explosive and divisive is not a way to argue the appropriateness (i.e., correctness) of one's opinion....which is what she/he was trying to do.

Posted by: dotted | November 20, 2006 3:19 PM

though she may have qualified her statements in her last post of 3:18

Actually, it is easy to answer the question without prejudging others. A number of people have done just that today. They answer the question without saying "my way is best". That answer is inherently different from saying "this is currently working well for us right now"

Posted by: dotted | November 20, 2006 3:23 PM

I think people who post repeatedly on this blog make for fairly crappy employees. Focus, people!

Posted by: The Best Employees | November 20, 2006 3:23 PM

Altmom, you might be thinking of so-called "spousal IRAs." But the law on what kind of income can go to an IRA did not change. A spousal IRA is an IRA contribution made by the working spouse, not the stay-at-home spouse, after he or she has already made his/her regular contribution. However, no unearned income (except alimony) can be contributed to an IRA. Unearned income would be, for example, income from investments, interest, Social Security, or other sources other than a job.

And SuperSAHM - as was pointed out above, at NO time did I "wish" your husband would die or leave you. But the fact is, that happens, quite often. No matter how well you know him or how safe his lifestyle, you have no control over what he does or what happens to him. And personally, I would much rather have a foot in the employment world to be protected than to be completely reliant on someone else. Doing so ultimately protects my children better than a completely reliant, dependent spouse who is at her wit's end IF her husband splits or dies.

Posted by: quartermaine | November 20, 2006 3:25 PM

Anon at 2:49,

What's wrong with opting out of the workforce? Do I have a moral requirement to make money and turn around and spend it so that the government and big business have more opportunities to profit from my work? I'd rather just work directly for my family, so we get the full benefit.

For the record, I AM NOT criticizing working parents here, just defending staying home.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM... | November 20, 2006 3:25 PM

Actually, I'm posting while I'm waiting for a printout. My attempt at multi-tasking...chuckle.

Posted by: dotted | November 20, 2006 3:25 PM

to dotted: I had to laugh, as well. I post when I'm either waiting for a printout, or waiting for a call to begin. Otherwise, I don't want to get home one minute later than my job takes to do.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 20, 2006 3:28 PM

My Carolina blue skies were happy on Saturday...

Sunday, however, was a mixed bag: Panthers won, Steelers won, though 'skins lost.

How about this for a blog question? Do sports fans make better employees?

come on...laugh...You want to.

Posted by: dotted | November 20, 2006 3:37 PM

hubris breeders! beware of flying to high and having your wings melt from the sunlight . . . just because you have kids doesn't mean you are superhumans who are better than we mere mortals who haven't bred . . . stop swilling the kool aid that says society should cater to you because you are better than the rest of us . . . some of you may be better employees, some of you are not -- I don't for one minute believe you are more represented in the population of "great employees" than your numbers would suggest you would be . . .

Posted by: Colorado Kool Aid | November 20, 2006 3:42 PM

Smug Super SAHM at 11:06: "I think the best employee is a married person with kids and a stay at home partner."

Backpedalling Super SAHM at 3:18 " to say that I'm judgemental I think is unfair"

How is your "best employee" pronouncement NOT judgmental?

Posted by: Ugh | November 20, 2006 3:44 PM

SuperSAHM - I was applauding your first post silently - then reading the bash-SuperSAHM posts with my mouth hanging open, wondering exactly how they interpreted your post that way - then agreeing completely with Megan...

...then you lost me on the church thing. I know what you meant, but please don't stoop to their level! Dragging religion into things is never the answer. :o)

On burnout and Leslie being burned out - weeellllllll.........I'll just say this - I have read Leslie's book and from that and this blog, she normally makes it sound like she has found the best solution for balance of career and family for her. She's not working the hours she used to, but she still has a fulfilling career. She also has (I think) a certain amount of hired help and a husband who at least tries to do his part. So if she is STILL feeling "burned out" after all of that, it seems to me that she's still trying to do "too much." Either she's trying to be a supermom when she is with her kids, or she's trying to do too much career-wise.

Being occasionally tired is one thing. Being "burned out" is quite another. I would re-think my situation if I was even "tired all of the time", much less "burned out."

Posted by: momof4 | November 20, 2006 3:45 PM

dotted, IMHO sports fans make better employees to hang out with because they have something to talk about other than politics, religion and whether or not their colleagues are good employees, good breeders, etc.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 20, 2006 3:46 PM

To SuperSAHM-bashers:

How come it is OK for others to say

"I think a parent makes the best employee"

or

"I think a non-parent makes the best employee"

....which are both answers to the question of the day, I believe - and it's not OK for SuperSAHM to qualify her answer in more detail with

"I think a parent with a SAH spouse makes the best employee."

She probably should have said "generally speaking" after that sentence, but I guess I thought it was implied, just as those who said that they thought parents or non-parents made the best employees implied "generally speaking" as well.

Posted by: momof4 | November 20, 2006 3:48 PM

Leslie,

Why is it that these blogs you post tend to pit one camp against another? Parent vs. non-parent, WOHM vs. SAHM, etc. Furthermore, there's even a split within those in the same camp which often just reduces people to mud slinging and name calling. How on earth does that contribute to any insightful wisdom on finding and creating balance?

Now, I realize people are responsible for what they say in their own posts. But it seems to me that your discussions aren't really objective to begin with, so that's what starts the day's blog on an uneven keel.

Just a little observation and constructive criticism here. What you (or anyone else) may have accomplished or found to strike a balance may or may not be the right fit for anyone else.

I realize we're all different. Have different backgrounds, value things differently, want different things out of life. Why do we need to foster an environment that only breeds contempt for someone who has chosen differently?

Posted by: Curious Poster | November 20, 2006 3:50 PM

Momof4 - I nominate you to be the Secretary General of the On Balance Board - bringing people together in peace, wisdom and oh, balance.

Posted by: Super SAHM | November 20, 2006 3:51 PM

NC lawyer, LOL! I know diddly about most sports but love doing the NBA pool etc just for kicks and something new to talk about.

Somedays this blog definitely contributes to low productivity for me, but if it weren't the blog, it would be something else - there are just days where you need some distraction. Since I work from home 4 days, I can't go chitchat with other officemates (and bring their productivity down too!), so the blog it is.

Most days though, it's while I'm waiting for someone to get back to me on something or downloading or printing a large file.

Posted by: Megan | November 20, 2006 3:52 PM

I say: keep those jokes coming!

Posted by: luvajoke | November 20, 2006 3:54 PM

After running a search on the word 'best'...

The first one to use 'best' employee was Super. All prior opinions used 'better'...

That is why super was bashed and the others were not. It was not her opinion per se...it was the judgementalism behind 'best'. Best usually means superlative vis a vis others.

Posted by: dotted | November 20, 2006 3:55 PM

I'd really like to hear from moms -- stay-at-home, working, whatever -- who have three kids under age 10 and are NOT burned out! Are you guys kidding me? I need work in order to get a break from the constant refereeing, homework helping, laundry, food preparation, tush-wiping, hair detangling...I may be burnt out, but if I didn't have work I'd also be completely and utterly insane.

Posted by: Leslie | November 20, 2006 4:03 PM

Dotted, I understand what you mean about best, but better also implies judgment - you are still saying that one way is superior to other ways.

I think that what happened is that people read Super SAHM's obvious satisfaction with her situation as smugness or criticism; that happens a lot on this board, most often (I think) in arguments between child-free and parents. It seems like someone saying, "I love my life" is often interpreted to also be saying "and therefore, anyone who does it differently than me is not as good."

So, my guess is that even if she had said "better," many people would have reacted the same way.

Posted by: Megan | November 20, 2006 4:05 PM

I have one daughter who is almost three. I am tired most of the time. I am not sure why you guys think Leslie is off when she says she is tired all the time. I can easily see a situation when that would be true. Try nursing, pumping, and a baby who doesn't sleep through the night till after 2 years old. Yup, that was my life last year. I was tired all the time. I wouldn't have used the term burn out because I was still in new mommy heaven. But I was tired all the time.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 20, 2006 4:06 PM

Weighing in....

I don't have 3 under 10 now, but I did have 4 under 10 at one point, and I'm not burned out (now or then!)

re: better/best - I agree with Megan.


Posted by: momof4 | November 20, 2006 4:08 PM

OFF TOPIC ALERT - how did you and your spouse decide on a name for your child when you were pregnant? We're having a dickens of a time coming up with one we think we'll still like in 5 years!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 4:10 PM

MOm of 4: Were you working with 4 under 10? That may be the difference. Leslie was working at least part time during all this. I would not have been tired all the time, for the first two years of my DD life because I would not have been pumping and I could nap while she slept. But add work into all that and I was tired all the time.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 20, 2006 4:11 PM

"WHen I was single and then married w/o children the working moms were the worst! . . . I think the best employee is a married person with kids and a stay at home partner.

Just to recap, Super SAHM didn't just say, "I love my life" which would have been a positive sentiment. She (a) identified working moms -- not working parents -- as "the worst," and (b) was at least non-gender specific in her identification of married persons with kids and SAH partners, as "the best". I wish her all the best but am quite glad that the persons in charge of my hiring didn't hold such views and hired me on my merits and credentials and not based on their biases about which personal life choices make one the "best" employee. Meanwhile, since I joined my team, 2 single persons and 2 dads in single-wage-earner families have come and gone due to a variety of performance and non-reliability issues. jus' saying.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 20, 2006 4:12 PM

also re why so much venom for Super SAHM's post

-- a lot of people don't have the option to have one spouse stay home (need both incomes, single parents, etc.), so it's insulting to hear that we are summarily ruled out from being the "best" employees simply because of our economic/marital status.
-- some people work because they have rewarding career. I'm willing to bet that those who love their work are among the "best" employees, regardless of whether or not they have a SAH spouse.
-- she calls HERSELF "super" and deems her husband "the best employee." That lack of humility isn't exactly endearing.
-- the church remark (speaks for itself)

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 4:12 PM

OFF TOPIC -
"a baby who doesn't sleep through the night till after 2 years old. Yup, that was my life last year."

Foamgnome - did your daughter start sleeping through the night? Did you do anything to force/encourage this? My son (now two) is not sleeping through on a regular basis and it's really starting to take its toll - any advice, suggestions, hopeful encouragement? We're very reluctant to just let him cry it out but are beginning to wonder if that's what needs to happen.

Posted by: Megan | November 20, 2006 4:14 PM

Gotta defend Carly and myself that I never held her up as a model of a working mom! She is a model of a working STEPmom. She married her husband Frank when his two girls were quite young (both under 8) and she has never described herself as their primary (or even secondary) caregiver, although it is clear she loves them deeply. If you've got to trash me, at least read my original entry so you can trash me properly!

Posted by: Leslie | November 20, 2006 4:15 PM

foamgnome - I get it, I really do. My 6 year old was 2 before she stopped nursing and waking up at night. My 4 year old still doesn't sleep through the night in his own bed, and he nursed until he was 28 months.

But I *still* say that if you are "tired all of the time", there's got to be something that can be improved. (Which might explain why you are visiting a blog called "On Balance" in the first place!!) For every person, it's something different....it can be letting up on perfectionist issues regarding housework or the holidays - it can be cutting back on hours at work if possible - it can be severing high maintenance or toxic friendships - whatever. But you don't have to be "tired all of the time". And yes, I realize that for many people - single, low income parents; people with sick family members; parents of special needs children, etc. - there's no way around it. But for most of us, there is a way.

Posted by: momof4 | November 20, 2006 4:15 PM

Megan, I will post more later because I have to leave now. But playing constant music CD helped, stopped nursing helped, and just getting older helped. I will try to remember to write off topic tomorrow for you. Best of luck.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 20, 2006 4:16 PM

My last word on multitasking: For two hours this morning, I participated in and presented on a conference call while also reading/writing emails and reading/posting on the blog. I also accepted a FedEx package and let the dog in AND out. (Glad I have that handy mute button on the phone.) Never could have done this before I had kids!!!!

Posted by: Leslie | November 20, 2006 4:17 PM

your dog only begged you to let him/her in and out ONCE in two hours?? LOL, your dog has far less demanding expectations than mine!

Posted by: to Leslie | November 20, 2006 4:19 PM

"And yes, I realize that for many people - single, low income parents; people with sick family members; parents of special needs children, etc. - there's no way around it. But for most of us, there is a way."

Actually mom of 4 that only leaves middle and upper middle class married people with no special circumstances (sick parents, special needs children, etc) I am not so sure that is most people, many people yes, but not necessarily most.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 4:20 PM

foamgnome - no, I was not working outside the home when I had my fourth child (my oldest was 3 months away from 11 years.) So you're right - working does add to it.
I worked full time until my 3rd child was born, so I get that as well. :o)

But that was really my point - if you're "burned out" or "tired all of the time" and you have a way to cut back on something to fix that problem - why not do it? (Once again, recognizing that there are many people who don't have a way out - but when we're talking about someone like Leslie, that isn't the case.)

Posted by: momof4 | November 20, 2006 4:21 PM

You still need to wake up and smell the coffee. All the child abuse and neglect it not the fault of the mother's boyfriend. Dads do it - mothers do it (albeit not as much). The idea that once a man becomes a parent he is suddenly responsible and ready to run the world is absurd.

Posted by: To Super Dad (one last time) | November 20, 2006 4:23 PM

to To Super Dad (one last time): and the poster child for your argument? Kevin Federline . . .

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 20, 2006 4:26 PM

Foamgnome, thanks!

Momof4: "But I *still* say that if you are "tired all of the time", there's got to be something that can be improved. "

I'm surprised this message is meeting such resistance - when I'm feeling wiped out I have to hope it is true and that with a little change, things can get better. Though I'd hazard a guess that as often as not, changing our own internal expectations of ourselves is what would make the most difference, and can feel like the hardest change to make.

Posted by: Megan | November 20, 2006 4:28 PM

You rest our case! Thanks.

Posted by: To NC lawyer | November 20, 2006 4:28 PM

Foamgnome, my hat is off to you (or should I say my nursing bra?) for pumping for so long! That's a lot of hard work on top of being a new mom, too. Those who don't pump or who respond easily to a pump may not realize just how physically and emotionally demanding it is for some of us.

(To be clear, I am not trying to subtly bash moms who don't BF or pump! I'm just saying I'm in awe of Foamgnome for her dedication.)

Posted by: Also Off Topic | November 20, 2006 4:30 PM

"once a man becomes a parent he is suddenly responsible and ready to run the world"

My point is that there is absolutely no one on this blog that has ever voted for an US President that was not married with kids. So, one last time, I've stated my case. Not that every US President is entirely capable of doing a good job, but it is *perceived* by the voting public that a man with wife and kids is trusted the most.

Posted by: Super Dad | November 20, 2006 4:38 PM

"From my perspective, it's more people on the top third of the economic ladder once again whining about how hard their lives are.

Burnout is physically and mentally disabling. It's not just being tired because you overshedule your life.

Posted by: | November 20, 2006 03:05 PM"

Again, you are making assumptions. You seem to know everyone's economic, social and physical capabilities on this forum and make general, sweeping comments.

If you have a definition of burn-out you would like to share, please do so - and be specific. It may well be mentally and physically debilitating - but under what circumsatnces? Obviously you know where the bar is set, so give it up. Enlighten us with your anonymous wisdom.

Posted by: cmac | November 20, 2006 4:41 PM

And wasn't President Clinton the epitome of trust? Still not buying it.

Posted by: To Super Dad | November 20, 2006 4:41 PM

Since everyone is going off topic now...

My pediatrician gave me good advice about getting DD to sleep through the night. I didn't want her to cry, but the doctor pointed out that an uninterrupted night's sleep is beneficial for everyone, especially a growing child. If DD cries because you try to feed her carrots with lunch instead of candy, do you give in? No, because it's not in her best interest to let her eat junk. Same thing with sleep. If she cries because you don't go pick her up 3X a night, you're acting in her best interest so don't feel guilty if she protests.

So I took the advice and after two nights, DD was sleeping 12 hours straight and was in a much better mood during the day, with only one nap (down from three naps). Obviously this won't work for every baby (or every parent) but it's made all our lives a lot better. Worth considering.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 4:42 PM

"So, if you are a childless person, get over yourself, because most of us (myself included) are parents. You may outgrow your philosophy and join us yet, and then you too will understand why a kid is a bigger priority than a Yorkshire terrier."

The only reason that is the case is because...well...a kid is human, and we have a survival instinct and a set of social pressures that teach us that our kinds' survival is most important. Well, that and kids are a direct offshoot of ourselves.

But to pit one persons' preferred emotional bonds against another is just arrogant, imo. My fiance and I like to say that we hope we want to have kids before it's too late. This not a "philosophy, just a naked acknowledgment that our lifestyle is not appropriate to child rearing. Anyway, should we have kids, I have no doubt that they will become a priority over our very much beloved cats. But in the meantime, the truth about whether my bond with my pets is less valuable than your bond with your child is just impossible to ascertain. As such, what's the point of such condescension?

Posted by: Eric | November 20, 2006 4:48 PM

if that's your point, it's absurd. We can't vote for someone who's not running. Further, that's a frankly absurd criteria. I'd rather vote for a single veteran, then someone who avoided serving, had two female children (with no draft in sight), and might irresponsibly get us into a war because he's got no skin in the game - dang, that sounds familiar.

While it would be nice if all male parents behaved responsibly, there are plenty of men who have behaved irresponsibly after becoming parents to disprove your point. Shall we remind you of John Allen Muhammad? countless dads who run off and leave single moms to deal with the consequences of their sexual activity?

Posted by: to Super Dad | November 20, 2006 4:49 PM

While I agree with the second part of the post of 04:40 it wasn't me - the Original to Super Dad.

Posted by: The Original to Super Dad | November 20, 2006 4:52 PM

Eric, trust me. My kids mean more to me than your pets do to you. I can't believe I even have to explain that.

Posted by: Lightbulb | November 20, 2006 4:55 PM

Here's a multiple choice question to help some people decide what's important: If I ran over ___ with my SUV?:
A. A squirrel.
B. Your cat.
C. Your kid.
What would make you feel worse?

Posted by: fat suburban | November 20, 2006 4:56 PM

" DD cries because you try to feed her carrots with lunch instead of candy, do you give in? No, because it's not in her best interest to let her eat junk. Same thing with sleep."

See, for me that analogy doesn't hold up. I wouldn't give my child the candy, but I would also comfort his crying - give him a hug, etc. - in other words, still do what I know is better for him, but ALSO respond to his reaction and try to meet his emotional needs. And I'd probably offer him a different vegetable if the problem is he just doesn't like carrots.

With letting him cry at night, I feel like I'm ignoring his emotional needs - yes, I'm sure some of you will blast me about that, but it's how it feels to me. The idea doesn't bother me as much now as it did when he is newborn, since he's got enough cognitive ability to understand that I love him even when I'm not there (I think), and so on, so I'm not totally averse to doing it, and it may be what we resort to. But I doesn't feel the same as not giving him candy (or pop!).

But I do appreciate your story about how it worked for you - my other worry is that it just won't work, so hearing from others is helpful. ;)

Posted by: Megan | November 20, 2006 5:08 PM

"I'd really like to hear from moms -- stay-at-home, working, whatever -- who have three kids under age 10 and are NOT burned out! Are you guys kidding me? I need work in order to get a break from the constant refereeing, homework helping, laundry, food preparation, tush-wiping, hair detangling...I may be burnt out, but if I didn't have work I'd also be completely and utterly insane."

Leslie and others,

My grandmother came to this country from Eastern Europe when she was 18. She traveled alone, spoke no English, and had an arranged marriage waiting for her in the U.S.

Over the next 50 years, she raised three children and one grandchild in a large city, singlehanded; divorced three husbands (all were abusive old-country types, and she got NO child support or alimony); worked simultaneously as a seamstress, midwife, and corset sales rep, since she was the sole source of support for the family; bought her home; grew her own vegetables and fruit; plucked her own chickens; learned English; and read three American newspapers every day. By the way, she had the equivalent of a 4th-grade education when she came to this country. And she was diabetic.

When I read comments like the above, I just have to laugh. My grandmother never complained, and boy did she have reason to! She was full of life and love, even though her health was often poor. She wouldn't have had time for discussions about "balance"; there wasn't much balance in her life, anyway. She did what she had to do without the help of husband, nannies, or a car.

Middle-class moms nowadays have it so easy -- whether working or at home -- that they should be embarrassed to complain about anything -- except, of course, abusive husbands, which are never tolerable.

Posted by: Gotta laugh | November 20, 2006 5:11 PM

Lightbulb:
You might try working social services...then you'll meet plenty of parents whose kids mean less than nothing to them, and who treat them accordingly, so that's sometimes why people have to ask. When someone loves another living being enough to put his/her interests first, I think that's worth celebrating, be it a child or a dog. There's a real cruelty to this thread that I find disturbing.

Posted by: eitheror | November 20, 2006 5:14 PM

So, Gotta laugh, I assume you have never complained about anything in your life to anyone? Because your logic goes on indefinitely - there will always be someone who has less than you. It's great your grandmother was so awesome; I feel very lucky to have what I do; I will also feel free to talk about things I'd like to do or have be better.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2006 5:16 PM

several of us had grandmothers with similar stories. Sorry, it's not at all helpful to blast those of us reading a blog ABOUT BALANCE for seeking, duh, balance.

i, in fact, struggle on a daily basis to limit that old-world work ethic and put it in its box, else I'd spend all of my time providing and providing and providing for my family and no time with my kids. If you think that's the right choice, go find a blog and a group of bloggers of which you approve. The rest of us will continue seeking balance and provoking the all-too-comfortable, thank you very much.

Posted by: to Gotta laugh | November 20, 2006 5:17 PM

gotta laugh - I love grandma stories - my greatgrandmother has an even harder luck story than yours. She came to this country in 1917 with 6 kids from the Yugoslavia with her husband. She had 2 more children here - was pregnant with the 8th when her husband was killed in a coal mine blast. Spoke no english. No pay out from the mining co. She ran a speak-easy to support herself and her kids. Lived in poverty during the 20's and 30's - finally moved in with an adult daughter in 1935 (my grandmother). Never remarried - (Apparently had a russian boyfriend that brought her a cow) but from what I understand she was the most pleasant woman in the world.

What does all this mean - NOTHING. She was happy to be here (in the USA). So am I. My great grandmother didn't have time to complain. We are so lucky to have the lives that we do - but I don't think my great G or your G would care if we took a minute to B&M on a blog. They would be amazed that there is such a thing. I know in my family the previous generations always wanted their off-spring to have it easier than they did. So far in our family that has been true and we are blessed. But just because my family worked hard doesn't mean that I can't be tired or complain. Look - I am complaining right now about complaining - how's that!

Posted by: cmac | November 20, 2006 5:32 PM

Leslie -- If you were refering to me in your 4:15 posting, here's my response:

You wrote:
"News anchor Katie Couric that she's broken "the marble ceiling." Pelosi also remarked that raising her five children was the best preparation for the highly visible job as "elect of the elect" presiding officer of the House.

The same day, I heard Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, speak at a luncheon in Virginia about her experience running H-P and various divisions of At&T and Lucent Technologies during her groundbreaking career as a female business executive, the subject of her new book, Tough Choices. She, too, echoed Pelosi. "Parents make great employees because they've mastered two of the most critical tasks of successful management: multi-tasking and prioritizing."

While it was great to hear parenting lauded as a management tool, I'm not sure I always agree. "

You mention Carly in the same sequence as other working Moms, thus strongly suggesting to readers who don't know her story that she's got something in common with working Moms (biological or step) who have child rearing responsibilities. My comment was intended to clarify the difference in their roles -- since your post did not. It was not intended to trash you. In fact, I think you're pretty brave to instigate discussions on such thorny topics.

Posted by: Curious | November 20, 2006 5:32 PM

Yes i agree, parents make much better wage slaves. You can see the sweat on their faces when layoffs are about to be announced, wondering how they will be able to provide Trevor with his weekly starbucks hot chocolate.

Posted by: Middle manager | November 20, 2006 5:37 PM

Loathe as I am to agree with Super SAHM, she does have one point. Anyone who has a full support system behind them to take care of the household responsibilities will be able to concentrate more fully on work and be a better worker. The same support can be purchased, however. Dry cleaning need to be picked up? They deliver and my doorman can accept it. I can hire a maid to clean. etc. etc.

That kind of support costs big money. If you want a clear mind to focus on work, either you can pay for help or you can sacrifice one income and have your spouse do all that for you so you don't have to worry about those daily grievances.

However, it doesn't seem balanced. The SAH parent is stuck doing the chores and the entire family depends on the breadwinner. Am I living in a fairy tale to think there's a way the work distribution could be more equal?

Posted by: not a mom | November 20, 2006 5:54 PM

to not a mom: no one is "stuck" unless the tasks they are doing don't synch up with their goals and values. The objective risk is that, as industries and job outlooks change, the family might end up entirely dependent on a breadwinner in, oh say, IT for example. In that example, if the SAH spouse's job skills are no longer current and if the breadwinner spouse's job gets outsourced and other industry leader's are outsourcing the same category of jobs, the family will have to reevaluate its financial strategy and find a way to weather the storm or relocate to India.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 20, 2006 5:58 PM

NC lawyer: That's fair. Personally, I want a personal assistant, but it might be cheaper just to get married :)

Posted by: not a mom | November 20, 2006 6:01 PM

not a mom: LOL, ask any married, employed-outside-the-home mom and she'll recommend the personal assistant.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 20, 2006 6:05 PM

RE:

"Eric, trust me. My kids mean more to me than your pets do to you. I can't believe I even have to explain that.

Posted by: Lightbulb | November 20, 2006 04:55 PM"

________


Got news for the not-so-bright "Lightbulb."

My SERVICE DOG is infinitely more imporant and means more to me than your child does to you. You can come and go and function without your child. Without that DOG, I can not.

And my Service Dog had the LEGAL right to go into all sorts of places where your child can be banned.

And every penny of the expense of procuring and maintaining the dog is tax deductible as a medical expense; and your child is not fully tax deductible.

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.


Posted by: Digustedwithpompousfools | November 20, 2006 6:13 PM

Carly Fiorina was not "successful" at HP, and it was her own fault. She crippled the company and set it up for total failure, just like she did at Lucent. She mesmerized the board and Lew Platt, but she didn't fool the middle echelon or the rank and file, who saw right through her. She laid off employees left and right, and fired managers who were too timid to lay off employees. She paraded around in corporate jets and limos, which the company BOUGHT for her, not leased, and whose pilots and drivers were on the corporate payroll. Her annual compensation was obscene, considering the results she was turning out, and her severance package was -- well, I was gonna say "criminal," but the board did sign on the dotted line when they hired her.

The only thing Carly was successful at was looting HP and getting away with it. Just think of how many laid-off employees would still have jobs if HP hadn't had to pay for her excesses.

Having watched the looting of HP from the inside, I would never consider Carly an example of "successful" anything.

Posted by: Former HPer | November 20, 2006 6:14 PM

"Parents make great employees ..."

She certainly had no qualms about getting rid of "parents" when it came to improving the company's bottom line.

Posted by: Former HPer | November 20, 2006 6:17 PM

disgusted: Did you really mean this?

"My SERVICE DOG is infinitely more imporant and means more to me than your child does to you. You can come and go and function without your child. Without that DOG, I can not."

Posted by: cmac | November 20, 2006 6:47 PM

Hi Curious -- Carly's quote was from her perspective as a manager who has overseen thousands of working parents, not as a working mom herself.

And the grandmother story -- great, sounds like a wonderful woman. My grandmother never complained either, she just drank herself to death. One problem with these rosy olden day stories is that women were strongly discouraged from ever complaining about their lives (much less writing about them for posterity).

My personal view is that most parents who aren't burned out are a) on drugs or b) not entirely truthful. Raising small kids is relentlessly demanding, exhausting work, 24/7, 365 days a year. Wonderful, thrilling, life-changing, too.

Posted by: Leslie | November 20, 2006 7:09 PM

Megan - have you tried the No-Cry Sleep Solution and/or its toddler companion? I can't claim my 15 month old is sleeping all the way through the night but he's gone from three times up to once up most nights after we tried some of the strategies in that book (she gives a range and you can try whichever ones).

For a book that's even more balanced also I really like Ann Douglas's Sleep book, I forget the name of it. Not sure if that one's available in the US though. Her blog's at http://anndouglas.blogspot.com/

Good luck. :) My doctor said "do you sleep through the night?" and I said that I'm usually up once a night and she said "sounds like you got one of you." :-)

Posted by: Shandra | November 20, 2006 7:24 PM

"my other worry is that it just won't work,"

For Megan with the night-waker:

If you're not fully committed to the let-them-cry strategy (like you'll give in after he cries for 10 minutes), it won't work. So don't even attempt it until you're prepared to go all the way. (and also I think they have to be at least 6 months old --ask your doc for sure)

Also, I did sit by the crib the whole time DD was crying, rubbed her back, etc. I don't know how much that helped to comfort her, but she did know I was there and I hadn't abandoned her. But she was very angry that I wasn't picking her up in my arms, so she cried A LOT that night. One awful night in exchange for at this point more than a year of good sleep.

But since everyone's different it might not work this well for you. Tricky little creatures, these babies! ;-) Good luck with whatever you choose.

Posted by: off topic | November 20, 2006 7:26 PM

And Curious -- thanks for calling me brave!

Posted by: Leslie | November 20, 2006 7:53 PM

'My personal view is that most parents who aren't burned out are a) on drugs or b) not entirely truthful'

ok, that is just rude, Leslie.

Posted by: experienced mom | November 20, 2006 8:19 PM

I'm questioning whether the "real" Leslie actually just said that.

I have no idea why it's so hard to believe that some people have indeed achieved balance in their lives. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that "hey, I'm tired. I should probably throttle back on some aspect of my life."

And this "Raising small kids is relentlessly demanding, exhausting work, 24/7, 365 days a year" comment is just insulting coming from someone who makes a TON of money, has a supportive spouse and a career outside the home, travels regularly away from her family, has healthy children who are all in school, and who has household help. It's insulting to parents who are struggling financially - it's insulting to parents who truly never do get a break from their children because they are really with them 24/7 - it's insulting to working mothers who really *do* do it all because they don't have outside help or a supportive spouse - it's insulting to people who have children with special needs.

Posted by: momof4 | November 20, 2006 8:28 PM

OK, DD was the very worst sleeper. The things that helped us was as following: I started playing a lullabye CD on repeat all night long. Even if she woke up, she heard the music and that seemed to soothe her. Now, I think she just relates to the music with the concept of sleep 2) Also I think we do something that is controversial to some parents. We lay in bed with her and snuggle till she almost falls asleep. There are some who would argue that if she doesn't fall asleep on her own she will never do it. I doubt that because each one of my nieces and nephews slept on their own by around age 7-9 years old. 3) This one is going to sound silly but we let her pick out her own bedding. She choose Madeline theme. So $200 later, we had the complete Madeline bedding. Darn thing was retired and hard to find. But she loves her Madeline bedding and was just so thrilled to have them. She nows sees her bed as a postive experience. 4) When she stopped nursing, she magically seemed to sleep better. That is just something you have to let them do on their own. My DD self weaned a week before her second birthday. 5) I never let my kid cry it out. Now, some would argue that you can get a kid to sleep earlier. I believe that is probably true. But I have a kid who feels emotionally secure in her own room at night. All people wake up during the night. The key is getting your little one to figure out how to soothe themselves back to sleep and feel confident that they are alone. 6) Night light is a must. I don't like rooms to be in the pitch dark either. OK, here are the things that I believe aided my DD in taking sooo long to sleep through the night. 1) I nursed. So a lot of her wanting to nurse at night was because of comfort. She related nursing to security and comfort. 2) I did the family bed from birth till around age 18 months. Then it just got annoying. She was so big and rolling around on my head and my face. She also still has this very annoying habit of grabbing my hair for comfort. She also started kicking DH in his privates in her sleep. Imagine waking up at 3 am to that. Even though it was rough to kick her out of our bed, and that came with its own drama, it was worth it. I truly believe we are soo bonded because we did things like nursed and shared the family bed. It was really enriching experience till she got nutso in the bed. 3) Well, we refused to let our kid cry it out. I think that can cause prolonged sleep problems. I would not have choosen another way if I had to do it all over again. But my advice is it will be rough. In the end, you have this fabulous kid who feels secure and happy. And that is worth it. But it was truly a hard 2 years. In the end, I would say if your kid goes beyond 2 1/2 and is still not sleeping on his own, consult a sleep specialist. Because your kid may have real issues with sleep rather then poor sleep training or immaturity. My friend at work has a son who has not learned to sleep through the night and he is over age 3. Both parents look frazzled all the time. It is unhealthy for the parents and for the kids. Kids need sleep and so do parents. Best of luck. I know it is horrible when you don't get sleep for years on end.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 20, 2006 8:35 PM

Leslie -- Yes, brave with a really thick skin...

Posted by: Curious | November 20, 2006 9:29 PM

I used to think that I was just sensitive and tried to believe that Leslie wasn't setting up her posts in a purposefully inflammatory way.

But, Leslie, you were really rude today in your comments. You wrote to someone, "...maybe you should change your name to 'Check Your Facts'". If this was a different Leslie, please state so. Otherwise, I'll admit - I lost a lot of respect for you that I was struggling to hold on to in the first place. You no longer get the benefit of the doubt in my mind.

If, as moderator of this blog, you are so disrespectful, how can you expect the participants to be kind? Or to find common ground?

Posted by: to Leslie | November 20, 2006 9:50 PM

I know I'm coming late to this party, but just wanted to share my observations as a manager of an office of government lawyers. Several of the longer-term employees have become parents, and every one of them became more efficient in order to get their work done and get out of the office. They have also proven to be very flexible about taking phone calls at home, working on weekends, and otherwise doing whatever it takes to get everything done. The one area that I have concerns about is travel. Understandably, it is more difficult for some parents to travel overnight, and the newer parents very much do not want to travel at all. I have tried to accommodate them as much as I can, with the understanding that it is a temporary reprieve and they will be traveling again when the child gets a little older. But back to the question about employees -- I agree with those who say that a good employee is good whether he/she has kids or not. And the parents in my office who need more flexibility than some others are very valuable to the office, so I want to accommodate them. I would do the same to accommodate a non-parent with health issues, aging parents, pet problems, or whatever. Over time I have figured out that each of us needs a little extra support at some time(s) in our lives and as long as everyone in the workplace feels he or she will get the same treatment when they need it, there seems to be very little resentment.

Posted by: Manager | November 21, 2006 12:11 AM

Every time I read this blog and all the "burned out" comments, I become even more grateful for the balanced life I have. This "running on empty for 10 years" life must be complete hell. Don't tell me it's actually fabulous and fulfilling. If it was, you wouldn't be calling yourself "burned out". Are you really that good a parent if you characterize yourself as constantly "burned out"?

Posted by: Madeleine | November 21, 2006 9:25 AM

"Eric, trust me. My kids mean more to me than your pets do to you. I can't believe I even have to explain that."

-Lightbulb

Trust me, it's not possible to objectively make such a comparison, so therefore your comment is meaningless. The only thing it does is condescend. By your thinking, a person who can't have their own kids can't empathize with your situation. I dismiss that assumption out of hand. It's arrogant at best, solipcistic at worst.

Posted by: Eric | November 21, 2006 9:56 AM

"One problem with these rosy olden day stories is that women were strongly discouraged from ever complaining about their lives (much less writing about them for posterity)."

Leslie,

You are truly thick. There was nothing "rosy" about my grandmother's life. It was drudgery, day in and day out.

As for women being "discouraged" from complaining, again you have only a rich woman's perspective. There was no one in my grandmother's life to "discourage" anything, because she was the only adult in her household. You're assuming a traditional family unit where none existed.

But, of course, this is typical of the well-to-do. They just can't imagine lives lived without their own values and expectations.

Posted by: Gotta laugh | November 21, 2006 10:23 AM

Gotta laugh,

I think that a) Leslie was using "rosy" sarcastically and b) it is definitely true that women back before the civil rights movement of the 1920s, and even after it up until the civil rights movement of the 1960s, faced a lot of "pressure" to play the subordinate role with a happy face.

Obviously this isn't true in every case imaginable, but to say it's simply a "rich woman's" perspective is inaccurate.

Posted by: Eric | November 21, 2006 10:42 AM

Thank you, everyone who shared your sleep tips! Shandra, I'll definitely check out the books. Foamgnome, it sounds like we have similar children and similar parenting styles - we did the family bed until he was a little over a year, and then he was just too big, so we slowly moved him to his own bed, but I still nurse him to sleep and he's still up a couple times a night. We decided to try night weaning him, and have been working on it gradually with some success (minor setback when we traveled), and that does seem to have made a difference. I'll try the other suggestions and hope we get through. It's also just really nice to hear from someone who had a child who wasn't sleeping and got there somehow - gives me some hope that we will too!

Posted by: Megan | November 21, 2006 12:15 PM

>>Finally, I prefer when my kid's teachers are parents themselves because they tend to give fewer stupid filler assignments that just eat up family time and resources without contributing much to my kid's education overall.

>>So in some professions (teaching, maybe counseling?) having children can really enhance one's work

I never realized that my worth as a teacher was based on my ability to have a child. I've been teaching high school for 10 years, and have been able to do many roles within the high school environment because I wasn't married (until 2 years ago) and have no children. I am a class sponsor, I was an SGA mentor - which require loads of time on the weekends and after school. I also can spend the necessary time with my 120 or so "children" with before and after school help that they need. If it's an academic need, or they just need someone to talk to, I can be there for these students without worrying about getting home for any children of my own.

I'm sorry you feel that homework is filler, the homework I give my students is to help them practice concepts for my subject. The projects that they are given are to make a link between science and the real world. Maybe you should read Jay Matthew's article today on homework.

Just my venting when I feel I've been attacked, sorry if anyone is offended.

Posted by: amwhite | November 21, 2006 12:56 PM

I think a good employee is a good employee whether he/she is a parent or not. I have a European attitude towards work -- it has to be interesting and fulfilling and profitable but, after all, it is just work. It's not your family and it's not your life. Before kids, we went out after work and hung out with friends. Now with kids we also stay up late but with very different functions (basically trying to catch up with the household chores). In either case, I would not want to stay at work longer than necessary. In a way, I think I am a better employee now because I am very focused. I know that I have a limited amount of time to get my work done; I don't spend time socializing. If I have to do an errand at lunch I try to plan my day so it does not make me less productive.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 21, 2006 2:28 PM

amwhite -

You may be right in that your high school homework assignments are useful and effective. But the fact remains that the vast majority of homework assigned at the elementary level *is* filler. I am happy with the lack of homework that my children receive in our schools, but I've heard some real horror stories from people in other areas of the country about how long it takes their 9 year old, or their 7 year old, or their FIVE year old, to complete stupid worksheets each evening. It is a complete myth that if a child doesn't start doing homework in the early grades, that they won't be able to cope with high school or college homework. And for those who say "it's necessary to teach responsibility" - let me, as the parent, take care of the responsibility teaching, thank you very much.

Posted by: momof4 | November 21, 2006 2:36 PM

Wow - it must be awful to be Leslie's husband. Poor fella. Jump ship like her last husband before it is too late.

Posted by: dc | November 21, 2006 3:32 PM

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