Archive: August 2007

Contest: New Name for Stay-at-Home Moms

"Stay-at-home mom" is one of the most inaccurate job descriptions on the planet. SAHMs are rarely at home, and given that 57 percent report planning to return to work one day, they're clearly not staying anywhere. And more and more, SAHMs are actually dads. The world needs a new, accurate, respect-inspiring, gender-neutral descriptor for moms (and dads) whose full-time job is raising their children. And who better to come up with the right term than all of you? Strap on your thinking caps and shoot off your ideas. The prize for this competition will be eternal fame, on this blog at least. My ideas: sabbatical parent, temparent, director of child development. I'm sure you all can do better, so let's hear your ideas....

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 31, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (182)

The Wonders of Commercializing Fatherhood

By Rebeldad Brian Reid Anyone who has spent any time over at my other side project, rebeldad.com, knows that I spend an inordinate amount of time moaning and complaining about how dads get marginalized in the media. And when I talk about the "media," I mean the media writ large, not only the news media. Fatherhood continues to be a sitcom punch line. Dads are almost entirely missing in action in parenting magazines (there's a whole post coming on that one). And men showing their paternal side in commercials? Forget about it. Take a look at the back-to-school ads, and let me know if you see a single one where the parent skipping through the mall or the office supply superstore or the department store is someone other than mom. Ditto ads for toys or household products or just about anything else (except, perhaps SUVs). The net effect is a...

By Brian Reid | August 30, 2007; 7:25 AM ET | Comments (0)

The 68-Year Old Entrepreneur, Part II

Welcome to the "On Balance" guest blog. Every Tuesday, "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life. By Joan Weintrob Please see the yesterday's Guest Blog for Part I of Joan Weintrob's story. In the 1970s many orthotic and prosthetic facilities were pretty rough around the edges. Nice people ran them, but with minimal attention to professional standards, aesthetics, patient comfort, and working conditions. In my jobs running Inova Fairfax Hospital's Occupational Therapy and Orthotic-Prosthetic departments and as a Certified Prosthetist Orthotist I had visited enough of them to know I could do better. What I especially wanted was to show the orthotic-prosthetic profession how a truly professional...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 29, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (221)

The 68-Year-Old Entrepreneur, Part I

Welcome to the "On Balance" guest blog. Every Tuesday, "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life. By Joan Weintrob There I was, less than a month after graduating from college and already married. Yes, that's the way we did it back in 1960. My mother and three aunts were all working mothers and I was about to follow in their footsteps. Married life and work was an adventure--moving from the East Coast to Los Angeles and work as an occupational therapist on the beach in Santa Monica. Then came pregnancy and baby, followed immediately by a move to Dayton, Ohio, where I had no family and few...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 28, 2007; 6:15 AM ET | Comments (211)

Frieda's Balancing Act

Welcome to the Tuesday guest blog. Every Tuesday (and days like today when I'm on vacation) "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life. By A.A. Camp For over 20 years I have worked as a lactation (breast-feeding) specialist for the health department and hospital in our small town near New Orleans. I have advised two generations of women, including many mother and daughter combinations. I have always enjoyed this job and believe that I have made a positive contribution to the community. In late August 2005, Hurricane Katrina moved us out of our house and devastated the New Orleans area. The hurricane changed our life and my...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 27, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (131)

Babies at Work?

A regular On Balance reader, Carla Moquin, recently went live with her a passion project: Getting babies to work. Or more accurately, encouraging employers to allow babies at work, when and where appropriate, so that new parents can return to their jobs with their babies for the first several months of life. As part of her consulting company, Babies in Business, Carla spent nearly two years researching and interviewing dozens of organizations with babies-at-work programs. Benefits include: * Lower turnover among new parents * Increased morale and productivity * Enhanced teamwork and collaboration * Better recruitment * Increased respect and loyalty from customers and clients There are relatively few companies nationwide that offer this unique employee benefit. Carla's out to change that. Babies in the Workplace includes a list of businesses that currently allow babies. The site also contains details about benefits for families, businesses and society and tips for...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 24, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Why Scientific Research May Rot Your Brain

By Rebeldad Brian Reid I'm sure a huge chunk of you saw the news earlier this month that research from the University of Washington shows Baby Einstein videos will actively rot your kid's brain (the exact words from the press release: "over-use of such productions actually may slow down infants ... when it comes to acquiring vocabulary"). And quite a few you probably plugged in to the brouhaha that followed. Disney -- the folks who own the Baby Einstein franchise -- have gone into full-on attack mode (and not without reason), arguing that the study's limited findings were exaggerated and hyped far beyond what the science would suggest. The Mouse has asked for a full retraction. My point is not to take on the television debate -- that's for others who are far more steeped in all of this than I -- but to raise the general point that any...

By Brian Reid | August 23, 2007; 6:40 AM ET | Comments (0)

Life in the Carpool Lane

It's been three years since I traded my full-time, in-the-office job for 100 percent flexible hours working from home. I make about the same amount in terms of salary, and my family transitioned to my husband's benefits coverage. The big benefit to our family is that I'm far more available to my kids, ages 10, 8 and 5. Although I'm happy with my work/life balance these days, every few months I feel the pull of the office and wonder when it will be time to return. Here's what dumbfounds me: Between our three kids we've got three soccer teams, three basketball teams, one pediatric practice and two speech/reading therapists. Thank God our kids are in the same school these days or I might not be able to work at all. I could say "no" to my kids more often. But good health, physical exercise and competence in reading and talking...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 22, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (296)

Staying for The Sake of the Kids

Welcome to the "On Balance" guest blog. Every Tuesday and on days like today when I'm on vacation, "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life. By Maggie Leifer McGary "You have a lot of 'babies,' " my nine-year-old son said to me a few months ago, glaring at me over the lunch table. I had just gotten off the phone with my fiance. I'd ended the call with my usual "bye, baby." My son apparently hadn't appreciated my using that particular term of endearment for anyone but himself. I can't say I blame him; it must be incredibly hard to watch your mother love someone new, whether...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 21, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Legally Ambitious

Much of the discussion about work/life balance focuses on flexible schedules, parental leave policies, equal pay and career compromises. But it's not as politically correct to tackle how women -- and men -- can parent effectively without abandoning their ambitions. Since its founding in 1979, one voice has consistently insisted women can have it all: Working Mother magazine. Now, for the first time Working Mother, which also publishes the well-known Top 100 Companies for Women list, tackled one of the most competitive fields for men and women: law. Last week, the magazine and Flex-Time Lawyers banded together to announce the top law firms for women looking to strike a better work/life balance -- and climb to the top. Almost half of law school graduates over the past 15 years have been women, but we make up only 16 percent of equity partners (those who share in a firm's profits) in...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 20, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (69)

'High School Musical' Hype

Tonight at 8 p.m. there will be a blessed two-hour break in bickering, pinching, shoving and teasing in homes across the country. The reason? The debut of the Disney Channel sequel to the 2006 made-for-TV tween hit, "High School Musical." My two older kids, 10 and 8, have been talking up the debut -- and negotiating to stay up late to watch it -- for more than two months. In honor of "High School Musical," I bought the DVD version of the 1978 hit "Grease." "It was the "High School Musical" of my childhood," I told my kids. My best friend Skippy and I went to the Uptown Theater by ourselves to watch it. Skippy was from New York and knew sophisticated tricks like how to stand on the toilets between shows so we could sneak back in for another free show. And another. We watched Grease in the theater...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 17, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Fringe Benefits of Housework

By Rebeldad Brian Reid I rarely use my coffee table to display coffee-table books anymore. I don't have the room in the budget for huge, overpriced tomes full of glossy pictures. And I don't really have room on the table, either, what with the half-completed artwork and medical journal articles and laptops and whatnot. But I am tempted this summer to clean off the table and plop down a wonderfully scandalous book: Porn for Women. If you click the link, you'll see that Porn for Women is actually something of a joke, a hardback that contains nothing but photographs of fully clothed, aproned men performing housework. At least, I think the whole thing is something of a joke. While I don't think the sound of the vacuum sends my wife's heart aflutter, I have collected enough information on the link between housework and sex to conclude that the best way...

By Brian Reid | August 16, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Strength to Give

My cousin cared for his wife, at home, for seven years as she slowly died from frontal temporal degeneration, an incurable neurological disease. He has Multiple Sclerosis himself. Instead of golden years of retirement together, he and his wife both faced incurable illnesses. During those long years before his wife's quiet death this past spring, I often wondered how he and other caregivers find the strength, patience and hope to care for a loved one with a terminal illness. In addition to taking her to doctor's and therapy appointments, my cousin offered daily kindnesses I can hardly fathom. It took 90 minutes for him to feed her at each meal. In addition to bathing her every day, he washed and styled his wife's hair as she would have done herself. He went to Nordstrom's cosmetics counter to learn how to apply her makeup (and did a good job, too). He...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 15, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (116)

America the Beautiful

Welcome to the "On Balance" guest blog. Every Tuesday, "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life. By Clare I want to merge two very controversial topics--immigration and home/life balance. This past weekend I drove my 12-year-old daughter and her friends to a sleep-away summer camp in Maryland. We picnicked and swam at the nearby Elk Neck State Park on the Chesapeake Bay. It is a gorgeous park with leafy woods and a lovely little beach with calm, warm waters. There were lots of families at the park and at least half were immigrants, based on the amazing variety of language and food and music. Alongside the family...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 14, 2007; 7:40 AM ET | Comments (280)

Back to School Boogie

Rebel Dad (and others) have already sent their kids back to school. Mine head back the day after Labor Day. Summer is over -- or close to enough to catch a whiff of new textbook smell. For the first time since becoming a mother, all three of my kids will be going to the same school. It's an 11 minute drive from my house (which also happens to be my office). The school offers a fantastic, affordable aftercare program that lasts until 6 p.m. every day (and they do homework!). For the first time in 10 years I don't need full-time childcare. For my oldest child, back-to-school means he's getting his first locker and two free periods a day. My youngest is afraid of kindergarten -- the great unknown. My middle child is furiously completing a diary about everything that happened this summer (hour-by-hour). For me, this back-to-school season means...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 13, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (219)

Bad Boss Contest

Now here's a contest no one wants to win: Working America's annual My Bad Boss Contest. Working America is the 1.6-million-member community affiliate of the AFL-CIO - aka the unions who brought workers the 40-hour work week followed by the weekend. The group reaches out to working people who don't have unions to bring them together as a powerful voice on economic issues. Some of the stories submitted to the Bad Boss Contest are outrageous, some hilarious. You can take the Bad Boss Quiz and read others' stories. Together they tell a poignant story about the workplace and family life. People who can't get time off to go to funerals, take care of extremely sick spouses or relatives, or care for a new baby. Last year the contest received more than 5,000 entries. While I understand the employer perspective -- the work does need to get done -- my own...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 10, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (121)

Getting Rid of Time Sinks

By Rebeldad Brian Reid The chief challenge in balance, on a personal level, is making time for all of the stuff that needs to be packed into a day. And while there are now about a hundred thousand books out there that will teach you to do more, faster, it seems like the best way to extend a 24-hour day is to ruthlessly eliminate those time sinks that steal hours or minutes and give little in return. I've identified a number of time sinks in my own life, three of which I have made progress toward eliminating: TV: Once upon a time, before kids, I followed a huge number of TV shows. I was conversant in ER, NYPD Blue, the X-Files, all those now-defunct Thursday comedies and a handful of other shows I probably would not admit to watching if confronted. At the same time, I was working 10-hour days...

By Brian Reid | August 9, 2007; 8:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Higher Wages, Healthier Children, and Time Off

Finally, a small bit of good news has come out of the Iraq war: Last week, before Congress recessed for August (the "Summer District Work Period" is how it's described on the U.S. House of Representatives Calendar), the Senate approved an expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act to allow the family of wounded military personnel to take up to six months of unpaid leave without losing their jobs. Current law -- the same that allows for unpaid maternity leave -- allows only 12 weeks. One of the more heart-wrenching back stories of the war has been families forced to choose between caring for injured veterans (often in military hospitals far from home) and keeping their jobs. In the last week of work, Congress improved "balance" in our lives in other important ways, according to a Reuters recap yesterday. "We have made more progress in the last seven days...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 8, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (188)

Are You The Other Mother?

Welcome to the "On Balance" guest blog. Every Tuesday, "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life. By Gwendolen Gross Eight years ago, I had my first child. I faced an identity transition from editor/opera singer to mother/writer/teacher, and a move from grad school renter to homeowner in a leafy suburb where women dressed up to go to Rite-Aid. As part of early motherhood, I had to answer the common question: "So, are you going back to work?" It sounded harmless enough. But underlying that question were the battle lines of post-feminist womanhood. If you choose to be a mother, what kind will you be? Will you breastfeed?...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 7, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Breast Milk on Planes

Well, it only took a few years for the Transportation Security Administration to come to grips with two fundamental truths of our modern world: 1) business travelers include breastfeeding mothers flying without infants and 2) breast milk is not an explosive device commonly used by terrorists. On Saturday, Aug. 4, the Transportation Security Administration put into effect new rules regarding getting breast milk through airport security checkpoints (with or without an accompanying infant). Mothers flying with, and now without, their children will be permitted to bring breast milk in quantities greater than three ounces as long as they declare it for inspection at the security checkpoint prior to screening. More evidence of our tax dollars at work, taken from the TSA's Q&A: Q. Do passengers carrying breast milk need to taste it to prove it is not a liquid explosive? A. No. We will not ask a traveler to taste...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 6, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (131)

Kids, Clothes and Balance

My mom distinguished herself in my early childhood by letting us kids dress ourselves at age four or five. We quickly learned some critical life lessons: Wool tights are a bad choice in June in Washington D.C. You will not be smote if you wear ratty red Converse sneakers to church. Sleeping in a wet one-piece leads to an interesting bathing suit-shaped rash. The most important lesson was that she trusted us to make decisions (albeit small ones) for ourselves. This freedom also made her child-care burden a little lighter since she didn't have to dress us four kids on a daily, or hourly, basis. How we dress our kids -- or were dressed as kids -- says a lot about us. My husband picks out entirely different outfits for our five year old than I would (and he doesn't get stressed by things being inside out, unmatched, or backwards)....

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 3, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (99)

The Boys are Alright

By Rebeldad Brian Reid Former Postie David Von Drehle has the cover story in this week's Time, writing about the "Myth About Boys." It's well worth the read, even at 4,000+ words, for the way in which it cuts through all of the breathless warnings about how boys today are a bunch of video game-obsessed, super-medicated, borderline illiterate thugs-in-waiting. As it turns out, the stats suggest that Von Drehle's generation was far more screwed up (and that I came of age during a golden age of teen delinquency). But what was really interesting, from a balance point of view, was Von Drehle's attempt to explain why boys might be doing marginally better: Maybe our boys are doing better because we're paying them more attention. We're providing for them better; the proportion of children living in poverty is down roughly 2% from a spike in 1993. And we're giving them more...

By Brian Reid | August 2, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (168)

Revolution by Lawsuit

On this blog and in my own life, I've heard myriad stories of employer discrimination against moms, almost-moms and dads. A woman fired while she was pregnant because her employer assumed she wouldn't return from maternity leave. Another who returned to find her responsibilities drastically reduced. A senior executive transferred to a job that required extensive travel and evening entertaining -- after she had given birth to three children in three years. A man ridiculed for taking paternity leave. I have my own stories, too. None of us filed lawsuits. We were afraid of ruining our reputations or wasting our time within a system that seemed unfair or uncaring about our determination to be good employees and good parents. Now, one woman has convinced me we all should have been braver. Joan Williams was the subject of last Sunday's New York Times Magazine's article Family Leave Values. Williams, a legendary...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 1, 2007; 7:15 AM ET | Comments (0)

 

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