Wednesday, September 19, 2012

family values

Yesterday morning at breakfast, I said to Stuart, "Wouldn't it be nice if your workplace allowed flex time? Say you could take one afternoon per week - just one! - to volunteer in the classroom and pick up the kids from school and be the one to make dinner. Then you could be more involved in the day-to-day household work and childcare and spend more quality time with Daniel and Anya. I would have the opportunity to accompany and teach piano for one afternoon without the constant interruption of picking up the kids and throwing dinner together and paying the sitter. You could make up the work hours in the evening or early morning."

It would be nice, but it's not going to happen. Most workplaces do not allow for this sort of schedule, and it's unfortunate. For all the lip service paid to "family values," it seems that employers don't actually value time with family. If they did, more parents employed outside the home would have schedules that allow them to be available to their kids after school, spend time with them, fix them healthy meals and eat together. If time with family was considered valuable, employees wouldn't feel pressure to work 50, 60, 70 hours per week.

For many, the 40-hour work week has gone by the wayside. I once read an article that 40 hours anymore is considered part time. What's so wrong with the 40-hour work week anyway? It's not lack of work ethic, people. It's family values. Even people who don't have kids surely value their non-work time. In my opinion, people who have time to eat well, exercise, and spend time with their families, and explore their outside interests make for a happier, more productive workforce.

I feel stuck in a position of not being able to work for wages as much as I'd like to. I often feel somewhat resentful about it, too. (I know I've expressed that here before.) My frustration comes and goes depending on how smoothly things are going at home and with the kids and how much paid accompanying work I am able to do. Often these feelings of resentment and frustration don't stem from any one thing in particular, but rather the general notion that because I am a mother who values time with my family, my work options are extremely limited. Sometimes I take this negativity out on my husband and kids, which isn't fair to them at all. It's not their fault our society works this way. But I am far, far from perfect, so it happens anyway.

I just wonder what we - and I mean the collective "we," not just me and my husband - can do to change this.

1 comment:

Jessi said...

This is a huge pet peeve of mine. We, the national we, are eons behind the curve on family issues. Almost all other industrialized nations have more family friendly work policies and we are stuck in this Industrial Age mindset where overworked workers means better product.

And then we complain about how kids and teens today aren't as well raised as before. Well, sure. We're creating the problem, by forcing parents to prioritize their jobs above their kids.

I think the only thing we can really do is keep talking about it. Or, you know, move to Sweeden.