Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Get ready for change...again!

It's August. That means we're all trying to get in those last few weeks of summer to enjoy our vacations, get to any of those places we vowed we'd get to this year and ensure that our kids have fun before the back-to-school craziness begins.

For me, this August is really about panic. It seems like we are always going through some kind of scheduling and/or childcare adjustment. But this year, it's worse than ever. My son who is only 10 is going off to middle school; MIDDLE SCHOOL with 13-14 year olds who are basically about to enter high school. I was a middle school teacher so I definitely have first-hand experience. You know what's going through my mind - my sweet, little boy is going to get thrown to the wolves. And he will be taking the bus which will make it even more anxiety-provoking. On top of this mental turmoil, I will now have 2 kids in 2 different schools with  different schedules + after-school activities all while trying to manage the demands of a challenging career.

So I'm trying to figure it all out; after school programs, babysitters, working from home. You name it, I've thought of it. But the plan is not yet solidified because there are so many details to be worked out. So, yes, I'm in panic mode.

All of this leads me to a one main conclusion. As a society, we don't truly honor working families. We don't support them beyond giving some lip service to family values and flex time. We either stay home and sacrifice our desires to have challenging careers in order to be good parents or we work but know that it's frowned upon when we leave early for a soccer game or a school play. Our country is almost at the bottom of the list when it comes to maternity/paternity leave benefits - doesn't that say it all?

This is a fundamental mindset. I applaud companies like mine who are flexible and bosses like mine who are incredibly supportive. I know I am fortunate and can work through my scheduling challenges because of these factors. But this is definitely not the norm. While as a culture we have recognized small wins in this area, like companies who are family friendly and school systems that offer after school programs, this issue requires more visibility and serious policy reform. I desperately want this issue to be heard and want to get more involved to make it happen.

What do you think? Can we change things? What organizations are out there that can help? If there are any, I want to learn more about them and get involved.


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