Tag Archives: work/life

1, 2, 3 or more?

9 Oct

My husband and I have 2 beautiful boys. We have often talked about whether we want 2 or 3 kids, and lately I have really felt that given a few years to recover from 2 pregnancies in a row, I would like to have a third. My husband isn’t totally sure – but he isn’t opposed to it either. Nataly over at Work It Mom Blog posts about whether your job influences your decision to have a certain number of kids. She references an interesting Wall Street Journal article called appropriately, “The Juggle” about this topic as well.

Due to the fact that both my husband and I work, and both of us work together on our own company, I have often thought about what a third child would do to our schedule. Luckily though, my husband and I have an excellent working arrangement that allows us to work and run a company of 40+ people, but still have time for our kids. We live in Eugene, Or which is a nice small town. We have no commute (It is less than 5 min between office and home) and my family is in town to help take care of our kids. Every Friday my mom takes the kids. If we need to travel for business, we either take the kids with us, or leave them with their grandparents. I can go to work early and leave earlier, my husband takes the opposite schedule. We are both home every night for our 6pm dinner.

Choosing to move to Eugene was a hard decision for us. When we moved we did not have kids, but were ready to start a family. We lived in London, and before that San Francisco. We loved big urban places and were afraid of the smallness of Eugene. But in the end we knew that this town would afford us a different lifestyle a better lifestyle when we had kids. And we were right! We chose to forgo an urban center with lots and lots of restaurants and night life, a place where we had lots of friends and a very busy social calendar, and a place where we needed to commute an hour plus every day. And instead we get a beautiful (albeit rainy) town with tons of outdoor activities, affordable housing, no commute, grandparents a few blocks away, good neighborhood public schools (yes public!), and a family business with flexibility and support.

The downside: running a family business means we are ALWAYS working. At the dinner table in between discussing what my 3 year old did at preschool, and singing songs with my 1 year old, we talk about work. When we drive to the mountains to take the kids to the snow, they nap, we talk about work. The very few times my parents babysit on a Friday night for us to go out to dinner, we talk about work. You get the picture.

But at the end of the day the choices that we made allow us to raise our kids, and not be restricted by career when we plan our family. I know we are lucky. I know not everyone has these choices. But I think that there are always compromises that can be made that will help you accommodate both career and the family you want. And maybe one day we will live in a country where all businesses will be family friendly and will help parents with the ever present work/life balance.


Should work accomodate life?

26 Sep

Penelope Trunk, who writes The Brazen Careerist, wrote yesterday about Harvard changing some admission policies to their MBA program to accommodate women who want to have children and careers. She writes a fascinating post about female GENXers vs. Millenniels and their different approach to work, marriage, and kids.

I think the most interesting idea she poses is not whether life and family should accommodate your work and your career, but that instead maybe we should think about our lives accommodating our work? Its an idea that I truly believe in – but had never heard posed in just that way. I worked in the Silicon Valley for 6 years during the height of the DOT COMs (from 1996-2001) and struggled with the amount of “face time” required by the companies I worked at. The frustrating thing to me — was that people were hanging around at work, just so that they could say that they had been there for X number of hours. I meanwhile am someone who arrived at work before 8am (everyone else rolled in around 10:00), ate lunch at my desk, and powered through my work sot hat I could leave by 6. I felt that working 8 or 9 hours straight – focused and intensely, I was getting so much more done then those people who waltzed in at 10:00 am, took a 2 hour lunch at 1, played XBOX from 5-6 and then went out to dinner, and then came back to the office until 10 or 11 pm.

That being said, when I moved to Oregon, and came to the company where I currently am, I was baffled by the way everyone fled the building at 5:30, as if the school bell hand rung. I stayed until 6:30 or so and felt weird that everyone had left so soon. It felt like they weren’t working hard enough. Then slowly over the next few years as I negotiated deals with partners, talked to vendors, managed strategic accounts, time and time again people were surprised at the size of Palo Alto Software. They were sure it was a company double its size because of the amount of stuff we were able to produce. So why the disconnect? As I worked here I began to understand. People at this company come in by 8:30 am, sit down and do their work. They don’t goof around, they don’t go to the gym, most of them don’t go out to lunch but instead bring lunch and take short breaks. And this is not something enforced by some company time clock. People do this because they can come in and get their work done and then go home and LIVE. You will rarely see people here on the weekends. People do check emails form home and occasionally when needed do work from home.

But overall people who work here are happy people who lead full lives. Whether they go home to wives or husbands and children, or significant others, or hobbies, or whatever, doesn’t really matter. What matters is that they go home, leave work at work, relax and do things they want to do. So when they come into work the next day, they are not tired, they are not frustrated, they are not feeling overworked and under appreciated. So they come in and give 200%. And Palo Alto Software reaps the benefits!