The Mother of All Balancing Acts

You don't have to choose between a briefcase and a diaper bag. Here are proven strategies toward a more rewarding work and family life.

The Moutons sometimes cut back at the office, but refreshingly, this doesn’t always fall squarely on Yvette’s shoulders. “I don’t always work as many long hours as my single colleagues,” says Charles. But with a happier, more cohesive home life as the trade-off, “I count myself as being just as successful-if not more-as they are.”

Tip #4: Seek out a “family-friendly” employer
Frank Kelley, Coleen’s husband, offers his employees the opportunity to work flexible hours and obtain additional compensation in overtime pay. “As a family person, I understand the stress and concerns one has trying to juggle both family and work commitments,” says Kelley, 37, owner and president of Remodellers Operation Group, a home improvement company. “I don’t want to have to choose between the two, and as the head of this company, I don’t want my employees to either.”

The ability to work and maintain a household simultaneously requires more than the teamwork of those within it. It also necessitates the cooperation of an employer. Support such as Kelley’s, however, is not the norm for most working couples.

The Labor Department reports that only about one-third of businesses currently provide benefits under the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act. This legislation, which requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year to an employee who needs to care for a newborn, newly adopted or sick child, a sick spouse or parent, applies to employers with 50 or more workers.

Fortunately, this isn’t likely to be the prevailing trend. The Clinton administration recently introduced additional legislation designed to protect parents from workplace discrimination and make the office more family-friendly.

A truly “family-friendly” company, says Iris Goldfein, co-chair of Diversity and Work/Life Champions Group for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Chicago,will be able to show at least three things: family-related benefits and programs clearly described in the company handbook, employees actually using them and a culture that supports them. “On paper, it’s easy for a company to say it offers maternity leave or flextime, for example,” she says. “But you need to know if the culture actually supports those who want to use them.”

There are no quick fixes for achieving balance between the worlds of work and family, or a guarantee that they will always remain on an even keel. “It’s a huge, huge responsibility to

Additional reporting by June Smith Bryant

Resource Guide
A Little Help From Some Friends
You’re sure to get tired trying to juggle too many balls-even with hubby’s assistance. Fortunately, there are other resources you can lean on for support. The following can provide the helping hands you need to do all that you have to do.

Organizations
Alliance of Work/Life Professionals
515 King St., Suite 420
Alexandria, VA 22314
703-684-8396
National Partnership for Women and Families
1875 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 710
Washington, DC 20009
202-986-2600

Websites
Woman’s Space (http://wospace.cnation.com)
This clearinghouse site is a working mother’s dream.
It’s full of links to sites on women’s health, family
and career.
Work+Family Newsbrief
(www.workfamily.com)
A plethora of information on corporate work/life programs and issues.
NetWorkingMoms (www.networking moms.com)
Resources and inspiration for women juggling career and family responsibilities.

Books and
Publications
Balancing Acts!: Juggling Love, Work, Family

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