Working Moms 9-5

23 posts / 0 new
Last post
GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4138
Working Moms 9-5

Are you expected to work extra hours at your job? Or even at home after hours? Do you think that if you work your hours and go home it affects promotions, etc.? Do you think single co-workers are expected to put in more hours since they don't have a family?

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg recently set off quite a debate in the tech world when she told an interviewer that she works a 9-to-5 schedule:

"I walk out of this office every day at 5:30 so I'm home for dinner with my kids at 6, and interestingly, I've been doing that since I had kids," Sandberg said in a video posted on Makers.com. "I did that when I was at Google, I did that here, and I would say it's not until the last year, two years that I'm brave enough to talk about it publicly. Now I certainly wouldn't lie, but I wasn't running around giving speeches on it."

Here's the essential questions raised by the tech executive's comments and the debate that followed: In a competitive industry where your work is never truly complete, has it become socially awkward to leave work at a time that used to be the standard?

And are those working eight-hour days that end at 5 p.m. being quietly judged by their co-workers? Whatever happened to "work-life balance"? Worse still: Are those who work these "standard" hours being overlooked for promotions?

Sandberg's timing would suggest that such biases exist. She only felt comfortable talking about her work hours once she had entered the highest levels of management.

What's clear is that many in the technology industry hope to take the shame out of having a balanced life. Mashable reader Dave Plantz said of Sandberg's story:

"Good for her! Life is way more important than work and I refuse to have to go to a funeral for a loved one before remembering that. I'll take family over developing the 'next big thing' anyway. I can always create new things, but I can't keep people forever."

Reader Jason Hunter added that we shouldn't hold different social norms for single people:

"But, let's forget about having family or being married for a minute. 5:30 as an on average time for going home should be acceptable for everyone -- single or not single ... family or no family -- assuming you don't come into the office everyday at 11 a.m."

The conversation reminds me of media mogul Arianna Huffington's thoughts on sleep: Not only do modern workers not get enough of it, but boasting about how little sleep you had last night has become a badge of honor. Those getting plenty of sleep must not be working hard enough, some assume.

And how about the blurred line between work and home life in the modern world? Sandberg admits that after dinner with her kids, she's back to checking e-mail -- it's clear that "being at work" is no longer necessary for "doing work."

The challenge here: Given that we're able to check our e-mail at all times, we assume that working at all times is the new social norm.

Ultimately, I think the measure of our work is in our productivity, not the number of hours we put in. Alas, few of us are in a position to change perceptions -- it's up to both employers and employees to make living a healthy life socially acceptable again.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/16/tech/web/cashmore-facebook-sandberg/index.html?hpt=hp_c1

elleon17's picture
Joined: 01/26/09
Posts: 1981

I agree with the statement "Ultimately, I think the measure of our work is in our productivity, not the number of hours we put in. "

I could realistically do my job 100% in half the time I am required to be with my butt in my office Wink

I changed my schedule a few months ago to 8 -4:30 instead of 8:30-5, which seems so small, but makes a world of difference on what I can do after work with DS, DH and just general around the house stuff.

I think that depending on what you do, many jobs are flexible with not expecting long hours. That said, I think it takes time to create a perception of yourself in the workplace and someone who produces superior, reliable work. If you are new, you may not have that flexibility and may need to prove yourself more.

In my situation for the future it might be choice. 1) stay where I am because I have created that perception or 2) continue to grow my career (and our financial situation) by climbing the 'corporate ladder' outside my current company.

As I choose option #2, I will have to work towards the flexibility, but I am also consciously choosing that for another reason. If I am going to be a working mother, I am going bring in the most that I can within parameters of my family/work balance. Otherwise, for me, the choice to work wouldn't be one I could be satisfied with.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

I am struggling with this right now. I work 45 hours a week. I'm up at 5 am, get home at 5 pm when dropping off and picking up the kids is factored in. I'm really burning the candle at both ends and have decided to cut back to 4 days a week. It's a pay cut but big deal. I'll get to spend a little more time with the kids and tend to appointments/errands/housework, which is something I'm not really able to do at the moment, at least not the way I should be. Plus, I don't want the kids to remember when they were little that mom just worked all the time. A few times over the last several months both kids have interchanged "mommy" with our dayhome lady's name - calling me her, and her 'mommy'. It's a little heartbreaking, to say the least.

ange84's picture
Joined: 12/28/09
Posts: 6564

Because of my husbands work and daycare I can not work extra hours routinely. As a general rule we also can't take work home due to the sensitive and confidential nature of documents. There are times when working back is required, again nature of my job, and I offer to stay but that I have to run out and bring DS back with me. With different staff there I used to feel like others were resentful, but they were also of a belief that people are stupid for having children in the first place. Some of my childless co workers do put in extra hours, however none are resentful of it, but they are also new to the job for the most part and eager to learn. I have done my days of crazy overtime and working myself to the ground, now it is time to focus on my family because my son is worth more than my job. I have to work, but I don't have to work longer than I am supposed to. So far it hasn't affected any promotions, I have one starting in a month or so in a temporary capacity and they have been talking about me building my skills by acting in higher roles since I came back from maternity leave, the fact I work in a very small office is more of a hinderance to promotion possibilities.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"elleon17" wrote:

I agree with the statement "Ultimately, I think the measure of our work is in our productivity, not the number of hours we put in. "

I could realistically do my job 100% in half the time I am required to be with my butt in my office Wink

I changed my schedule a few months ago to 8 -4:30 instead of 8:30-5, which seems so small, but makes a world of difference on what I can do after work with DS, DH and just general around the house stuff.

I think that depending on what you do, many jobs are flexible with not expecting long hours. That said, I think it takes time to create a perception of yourself in the workplace and someone who produces superior, reliable work. If you are new, you may not have that flexibility and may need to prove yourself more.

In my situation for the future it might be choice. 1) stay where I am because I have created that perception or 2) continue to grow my career (and our financial situation) by climbing the 'corporate ladder' outside my current company.

As I choose option #2, I will have to work towards the flexibility, but I am also consciously choosing that for another reason. If I am going to be a working mother, I am going bring in the most that I can within parameters of my family/work balance. Otherwise, for me, the choice to work wouldn't be one I could be satisfied with.

I agree with this. I am actually in the office less than 40 hours a week, as T's schedule means I come in at 8:30 and have to leave no later than 4:40. But, I also have a blackberry and remote connectivity so that I can (and do) work from home if need be, and I have spent years building my reputation as someone who is a consistently high performer, so I have that ability. At this point in my life I wouldn't want to work somewhere that didn't give me that flexibility, and I have a lot of sympathy for parents who don't have that kind of job/career.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

And more to the OP, I'm out the door at 4:30 sharp. I have to get the kids before 5, because I drop them off at 7 and they can't be in care for more than 10 hours a day. Just saying that breaks my heart. 10 freaking hours a day. I think I want to quit my job entirely, or at least only work a day or two a week Sad

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

I think that Americans work way too many hours in general.

I was in a career where I had to put in 45-60 hours/week to achieve the sort of success that I wanted. I would not have been able to keep that up, and be a Mother, which is why I chose to stay home when I had my first. With a husband who travels it simply would not have worked with day care pick ups and whatnot. It was very clearly a tipped playing field, the most successful people in my career were the single people and the men who worked but had SAH wives. (I guess that SAH Dads with working wives, too, that is just super uncommon in my area.).

Starryblue702's picture
Joined: 04/06/11
Posts: 5454

I say do what you need to do for yourself and your family. It basically comes down to choices. For me, I'd rather get paid a little less and spend a little more time with my family. If that means I'll miss out on a promotion then so be it. Work will always be there when my kids are out of the house, but my kids will only be small for a short amount of time, and I don't want to miss out on that.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4104

I'm not expected to work extra hours. I'm expected to get my job done, and when I leave early to take Tiven to swimming lessons or soccer practice, I might need to take work home to get it done on time. That's a reasonable trade-off for me. When I was in the hospitality industry, I didn't have this flexibility, which is one of the biggest reasons why I returned to school before I had my kids. I've been here 10+ years and I've been asked to work "overtime" only a handful of times, and at least twice I've said no with no reprecussions.

I've also not experienced any reprecussion in terms of promotions for putting my family first, but that might be because I work for a state agency. Promotions are based on Angel passing a test of necessary skills for the position and (b) your proven work experience & abilities. There's very little leeway. Even before this job, when I was in the non-profit world, the executive director would come around at 5:30pm & say, "All work & no play makes Jim look like a bad boss!" I'd laugh at him & remind him that I came in at noon so staying until 6pm wasn't a problem. (I was a contractor at 75% time so I set my own hours.) When I was fresh out of college, working at a CPA firm for tax season, we were expected to put in 65+ hours a week, which is why I didn't pursue the CPA route.

As for single people, I don't really care whether you leave work at 5pm on the dot to pick up your kids or to hit happy hour, as long as you get your work done. I don't think anyone should work overtime if they don't want to. And I think our entire corporate structure needs a breath of fresh air. There's a girl on our soccer team who literally doesn't see her father Monday through Friday; he's a partner in a corporate law firm. That makes me so sad for her, and for him. The big house and the nice cars and the pretty clothes just don't seem worth missing your child's childhood.

elleon17's picture
Joined: 01/26/09
Posts: 1981

"Claire'sMommy" wrote:

And more to the OP, I'm out the door at 4:30 sharp. I have to get the kids before 5, because I drop them off at 7 and they can't be in care for more than 10 hours a day. Just saying that breaks my heart. 10 freaking hours a day. I think I want to quit my job entirely, or at least only work a day or two a week Sad

:bigarmhug:

elleon17's picture
Joined: 01/26/09
Posts: 1981

"Starryblue702" wrote:

I say do what you need to do for yourself and your family. It basically comes down to choices. For me, I'd rather get paid a little less and spend a little more time with my family. If that means I'll miss out on a promotion then so be it. Work will always be there when my kids are out of the house, but my kids will only be small for a short amount of time, and I don't want to miss out on that.

I don't think it is always as simple a choice as that. Depending on where you live, what the cost of living is in that area, may make that choice for you. It does for us. I know they are young for only a little while, and I would love to choose to stay at home, but I also would love for my son to have dinner on the table too. It is a pain that doesn't go away.

But I don't think it is easy to re-enter the workforce as well. I read a great article the other day that talked about great advice to our children (daughters in the article), "keep an oar in the water". I think it is smart advice. No one knows what life holds.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lee-woodruff/oar-in-the-water_b_1383211.html

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

Thanks for the hug, Noelle! Smile

When I took this job a couple years ago, after coming of maternity leave, I made it very clear that I was taking it because it fit in with my family life. My employer is very 'family first' and they will try to accommodate the employees as much as possible in terms of altering hours, days, helping with lateral moves if you're not happy in your current position, working from home, etc. I would be a fool to ever quit this job entirely (I know a few posts ago I was having a pity party, saying I wanted to quit).

fudd8963's picture
Joined: 12/27/07
Posts: 1630

I think it all depends on the job. When the girls were born I decided to come back part time, just 20 hours at first and I am now up to 24 hours. I take every Friday off. I am up for a promotion, but my manager said that I may not get it because I am part time. And that I should be happy that they let me work part time. She is also part time, so it wasn't in a "snotty" way that she said it, just a statement that she likes to try to follow also. While I think it SUCKS if I don't get it because I MORE than deserve it, I won't be too upset. I am just happy that they let me work part time with full time benefits. I am also lucky that we can afford for me to work part time. Right now, it's the best of both worlds for me.

boilermaker's picture
Joined: 08/21/02
Posts: 1984

My job is anything but 9-5. Sure I'm in the office those hours, but often have early mornings, late nights, travel, events, etc. I typically put in more than 50 hours/week.....for us, it is a trade-off.

I've been able to advance in this career because my DH is a full time SAHD. Without him at home full time, I really don't know how I'd manage this career. Others in my field either have full time nannies, a SAHP, work out an elaborate system of babysitters and scheduling, or simply aren't as successful.

When I'm not traveling, I'm careful to protect my family time. I'm always home for dinner at 530p, and spend family time (dinner, bath, stories, bed, etc) with hubby and the kids. Then I often "finish" up work from 8-9p virtually.

This career affords us one parent comfortably at home. I get 24 vacation days/year-- that I take every year and enjoy with my family (in addition to 10 paid holidays.) I make more than dh and I could make combined as teachers (what we were before kids.) And I feel okay about showing my daughters and son a different path from the average family.

Sure, there are days that I hate the extra hours (like last week when I had work events Thursday night, Friday night and Saturday night....) or next week when I'll travel and then return for an event on Friday night and a gala on Saturday night......but overall, we enjoy a level of security, a full time SAHP and lifestyle that we otherwise would not have.

I do agree with Melis, though. Americans work too hard in general.....*sigh* My work is never technically "done". I'm a professional fundraiser and I could always raise more.....it's a balancing act.

wlillie's picture
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

Of course our hours aren't normal hours and I don't really get to choose whether I work overtime, but I feel like I have a balanced life. I could work more hours volunteering in the community which would give me a small lead over others when it comes to getting to pick extra job duties, but it's not worth it to me right now. I'd rather spend time with my family than helping other people, once they go to school and get more involved with other people, I'll go back to volunteering a lot. Once I get promoted to a certain level, I know I'll have to carry a smartphone that will have to be answered 24/7 whether I'm on leave, asleep, or halfway across the country in the middle of something else. I'm going to enjoy these years without that extra responsibility to the fullest.

RebeccaA'07's picture
Joined: 11/19/07
Posts: 1628

I choose to get paid a salary that makes our home life more comfortable; sure that takes time away from my family but I don't see it damaging my children so I am alright with that sacrifice. Technically I work an "8-5" job but often times I finish up work at home because I have to talk to China Reps and their hours are opposite of mine. I try to make sure and only work after our daughter is in bed. I will send emails on my phone when needed as well. I also travel quite a bit, which stinks. But thankfully I also have a job that is very flexible. If I want to take off early or need to stay home for a couple days with our daughter, it's no big deal.

In general, yes - I do think that Americans are expected to work more hours than other countries.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

The Japanese work tremendously long hours, on average. I think more than the US, Can, etc. But I think they have a higher burnout/death rate due to the hours they work too.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"elleon17" wrote:

But I don't think it is easy to re-enter the workforce as well. I read a great article the other day that talked about great advice to our children (daughters in the article), "keep an oar in the water". I think it is smart advice. No one knows what life holds.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lee-woodruff/oar-in-the-water_b_1383211.html

I was blessed to work in an industry that I excelled at, and though the economy is certainly different than it was when I retired 5 years ago, I would have no problem reentering my career due to the relationships I've maintained with colleagues even in my absence. I know that that may not be true for everyone, but it is my personal circumstance. That said, I refuse to live my life in the "worst case scenario" ~ honestly if after 22 years of marriage I divorced, my healthy alimony, share of 401K, and percentage of our savings, not to mention my own 401k's from when I was working would support me quite nicely. My children would be out of the home by then, and their college is going to be paid for thanks to the savings we are doing now, so that wouldn't be a consideration. I refuse to leave my babies or work in a demanding career which would mean rarely seeing my children simply due to some scare tactic that doesn't apply to everyone. There was no part time option in my career, it was full bore or nothing ~ and I refused to miss my childrens childhood on some scary threat that someday I may divorce and be up sh!ts creek. I consider myself a pretty resourceful person, and don't fear my ability to procure work when and if the need arose. Till then, I'm thoroughly enjoying retirement. I have plenty of career accomplishments from before having children to hang my hat on and tell my sons and daughters about when they are old enough to care.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

Just today I'm torn again. DD's spring concert is Thurs afternoon, and DS has an allergy test on Fri morning. My direct report has no children and doesn't understand the demands of family life when you've got kids. The organization as a whole is wonderful; I just happen to work for a person who isn't very tolerant of time off for routine family stuff like dr appts, kids' school commitments, etc.

I wish someone would wave a magic wand and make this situation better instantly. Wink

elleon17's picture
Joined: 01/26/09
Posts: 1981

"Potter75" wrote:

I was blessed to work in an industry that I excelled at, and though the economy is certainly different than it was when I retired 5 years ago, I would have no problem reentering my career due to the relationships I've maintained with colleagues even in my absence. I know that that may not be true for everyone, but it is my personal circumstance. That said, I refuse to live my life in the "worst case scenario" ~ honestly if after 22 years of marriage I divorced, my healthy alimony, share of 401K, and percentage of our savings, not to mention my own 401k's from when I was working would support me quite nicely. My children would be out of the home by then, and their college is going to be paid for thanks to the savings we are doing now, so that wouldn't be a consideration. I refuse to leave my babies or work in a demanding career which would mean rarely seeing my children simply due to some scare tactic that doesn't apply to everyone. There was no part time option in my career, it was full bore or nothing ~ and I refused to miss my childrens childhood on some scary threat that someday I may divorce and be up sh!ts creek. I consider myself a pretty resourceful person, and don't fear my ability to procure work when and if the need arose. Till then, I'm thoroughly enjoying retirement. I have plenty of career accomplishments from before having children to hang my hat on and tell my sons and daughters about when they are old enough to care.

Its not in the case of divorce only. What if a husband was disabled, lost his job, lost his life, savings is drained, it's not 22 years away, children are still at home, etc? Having an oar in the water doesn't mean working full-time, but keeping yourself engaged and up to date so that if there was a unfortunate circumstance options wouldn't be so limited. I don't think that is living in the worst case scenario or a scare tactic, just being smart and learning from the advice of others who thought those things could never happen to them as well. It probably follows the same reason you probably have a savings account.

There are plenty of thing for children to be proud of in their parents and their mother's career accomplishments are not mandatory for the list and the presence or lack of have no difference to me personally.

Also, to make the statement that you 'retired' becuase of "refusing to miss my children's childhood" is what fuels these divides. I am not missing out on my child's childhood.

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 274

I think each field is viewed differently. My work is very pro "life/work balance" and I work from home about 90-95% of the time. I'm the only one hindering my moving out of my role as I do not want to go back into the office at this time. I love it.

Like Melissa though, I would not being doing this just to make sure "my foot was in the door" should anything bad happen. If I could be a SAHM I would but this is the best I can arrange and has worked wonderfully for us.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"elleon17" wrote:

There are plenty of thing for children to be proud of in their parents and their mother's career accomplishments are not mandatory for the list and the presence or lack of have no difference to me personally.

Also, to make the statement that you 'retired' becuase of "refusing to miss my children's childhood" is what fuels these divides. I am not missing out on my child's childhood.

My career accomplishments are mandatory for MY list, maybe not yours. Just like my athletic acheivements are something that I want my kids to take pride in. If your list is different, bully for you.

I'm not fueling any divide. I'm simply being honest. I don't know if you read the part about my career demanding 45-60 hours per week.....but with kids that wake up at 7 am and go to bed at 6:45 and 8 pm, I most certainly WOULD miss their childhood. I wasn't willing to do that. A nanny would be attending all of their events (like this afternoons tball practice, or their friday afternoon game), and we would probably have to have a live in au pair to cover the times when my work travel coincided with my husbands. If my circumstances offend you, I would urge you to consider why. Even with the 5 weeks of paid vacation I had, I would have missed out on 90% of their lives. My circumstances aren't yours, so please read the entire post before accusing me of anything. Thanks.

As to the rest, we have extensive disability insurance, ridiculous amounts of life insurance and living trusts for our children, so I feel confident that we have done a good job planning for emergencies. My husband decided at Christmas to look for a new job after 12 years with the same company. Within 3 weeks he had received three offers from the four companies he interviewed with, and started his new position in Feb. I'm just not that worried. He is successful and would not be out of work long. If something unforseen comes up, well, according to your interpretation of the article I have "kept an oar in the water" by maintaining and fostering my career relationships. That is NOT how I interpreted the article, I took it to mean that every mother should work in case her husband up and leaves her. Scare tactic.

elleon17's picture
Joined: 01/26/09
Posts: 1981

I just read it differently than you. To me an oar in the water doesn't = full-time job.

I meant that I don't rate someone on their career accomplishments, not that mine aren't important to me personally.

My mother was worked in the hospital when she had me and became a SAHM when my brother was born. My father was an extrememly successful business owner and provided a very privaleged lifestyle. When I was 16 he sold his business to his partner and 'retired' on a 10 year buyout plan.

Within 4 years, the partner drove the business into the ground and defaulted on the payout, my father had to take it back, take on all the debt accumulated. This left my mother who had been out of the workforce for 17 years to carry the financial burden. She has given this advice to me as well. It took her years to work her way back up and she is now a very successful, high end real estate agent.

My point is that life happens. Preparations, such as your insurance and savings, are the same to me and keeping abreast in a field you enjoy (maybe different from the demands of the one you used to be in) or continuing to educate yourself (thourgh studies or volunteering, etc) are important.