In their new bestselling book, “Womenomics,” authors Claire Shipman (ABC News Correspondent) and Katty Kay (BBC World News American Newswoman) write about how highly credentialed and educated women have increased their value in the workplace. Based on a study conducted by Pepperdine University over a period of 19-years, Shipman and Kay note that companies with more women in top positions post higher profits that exceed their industry median.
What does this mean? It translates to greater leverage for women in the workplace. It means that if employers want to maintain their position, they will need to retain these highly skilled and experienced women workers. And Shipman and Kay contend, they’ll “adapt to our lifestyle demands.” Ultimately this translates to more opportunities for women to negotiate flexible work schedules that create balance between the demands of career and the needs of their families.
How Do We Keep Our Mojo By Balancing Work and Play?
Balancing work and the demands of home life have always been challenging for women, much more so than for men. According to my friend and colleague, Terrill Welch, a women’s leadership coach, “Women still usually have primary responsibility for home management, child-care and elder care.” Terrill emphatically suggests that companies establish a workplace culture that supports work/life balance for everyone in the office. “The encroachment of work into personal and family time is an issue for both women and men,” Welch says.
So that’s good news for women, right? Yes, but maybe no.
The good news is that women are in a better position than ever to negotiate “family friendly” work schedules. But, if all you are doing is substituting one form of work (your career) for another form of work (demands of home and family life), is that really contributing to your overall well-being?
What About Playtime For Parents?
Most of our adult daily life falls under one of two categories: work and play. And for adults the majority of time is usually spent on work with far too little time allowed for play. As adults, we tend to spend leisure time on escape activities, distractions from the responsibilities of work. And for working women, spending time with the family often means taking on the role of caregiver, taking the children to soccer practice, to the swim meet, planning activities and events for them. Where’s the playtime for you?
It’s not an easy question to answer, for we are all brought up in society where we put our needs secondary to those of our children. It’s natural. Every parent wants a better life for their child, and that is only right.
But maybe there is another way. What I suggest is that we look for ways to engage in joyful, creative and spontaneous play that is vital to our well-being. It doesn’t mean that you are going to shirk your responsibilities as caregiver or chauffeur. Rather, I suggest that you look for ways to engage with your children in simple play.
The fondest memories of my childhood are the simplest memories – playing “catch” in the backyard with my father. Flying a kite with my mom and dad on a Saturday picnic. Helping my mom prepare a picnic lunch that we all enjoyed together as a family (ok, I admit there is some “work” in that!).
I turn to Vared DeLeeuw, who writes MomGrind and who is rapidly becoming one of my favorite writers on the Internet. She just published a great article titled 40+ Activities for Kids, and she lists some fabulous ideas and ways to re-introduce yourself to the idea of spontaneous play with your children. Here are some of our thoughts on the subject.
Tips for Engaging in Play With Your Kids
1.Practice hula hoop. I actually remember doing this with my mom during the first hula hoop craze in the late 1950’s. It was a joyful moment, and is a lovely memory for me to this day.
2.Play hide and seek. I did that with my parents too- what fun.
3.Go exploring in the backyard. I remember “camping out” in our backyard with my dad and brother. What an adventure!
Here are some tips from Owning Pink's friends on Twitter:
PaxOfMind Scrapbooking- they love photography. And it helps them with spelling, artistic/color arrangement. We also go to the zoo together and just went hot air ballooning too!
yayayarndivaRead silly stories together, make up your own stories and jokes.
sparkyourartI love to do art activities with kids. Paint, draw, clay, ect... Not only is it just fun, it also becomes a time to chat.
bhtrezevan I taught my son how to swim and ski... good mojo for all.
LarkedSing with your children. They love it when you both know all the words.
HappinessInsideBuild a wild dream vacation!
mominisraelMy mother did like a good game of Gin Rummy.
PaxOfMindWe kite. We travel to high mountain lakes to enjoy the sport.
tamajamaPlay frisbee with them. And get your mojo by honestly trying to catch every one.
yayayarndivaBlow bubbles, jump in puddles or sprinkler, play in mud, cook together.
Some of Lissa's faves:
1. A day at the beach. Build sand castles, splash in the surf, throw tennis balls to the dogs, get wet and dirty, and do a whole lotta laughing!
2. Drawing on the sidewalk with chalk. I can get fancy, Siena can scribble all she wants, and we don't have to get attached to the art we create. It'll all be gone with the next dew.
3. Dancing together. I put on my best Pink Playlist and Siena, Matt & I boogie together until we're so exhausted we feel like we're gonna fall over!
4. Hiking. We make up stories as we go. Mommy gets her exercise and Siena gets to run around in the woods.
5. Painting- with brushes, feathers, fingers, or whatever else we feel like! Since I'm an artist, we have loads of goodies to create with. We make paintings together, both of us with brush in hand. It's great fun!
6. Have a scavenger hunt. Remember those from your childhood? I can't wait 'til Siena is a bit older so we can do this one. One of my favorite memories from being a kid.
These are just a few examples, but I hope you can see how “playing” with your children can help rekindle the inner child in you. And what better example to set for your children than showing them that even as an adult, it is “ok” to play, to be spontaneous, to laugh and squeal with joy!
Rather than teaching them how to live, you are living life and showing them how to live.
What a wonderful lesson that would be.
Wishing you peace and play,
Lissa's Note: Thank you Fred! I love this and totally agree that we can't be Superwomen, and having fun yourself while playing with your kids is KEY to keeping you mojo. But don't forget, Pinkies, that it's also important to take time JUST FOR YOU- without the kids. I know it's hard (especially when that guilty voice rings in your ear while you're at the spa/movies/lunch with the girls/yoga). But YOU time is just as key to keeping balance, recharging your mojo, and making sure the time you spend with your family is quality time :) Thanks again, Fred. You rock, brother!
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