Employers Can Do More to Support Work-Life Balance

work life balance web largeFamilies typically struggle to maintain some semblance of work-life balance.  In most cases such balance can never be achieved and is a tremendous source of strain on a marriage.  See how this article from The Huffington Post describes an amazing employer’s innovative approach that results in a win-win for everyone!

8 Reasons Why Employees Never Want To Leave This Amazing Company

For years now, SAS, the Cary, North Carolina-based tech company, has made pretty much every list of best places in the universe to work. So it got us thinking, what’s really so great about this place? We would take it as a given that SAS — the world’s leading business analytics software vendor — offers a nice paycheck and first-class medical, dental, and vision care for the whole family, but surely there must be some other reasons they consistently wind up as the company with the lowest turnover rate in the tech sector (and voted best place to work in IT by ComputerWorld.) Sure enough, we found them: The not-your-every-day-variety of benefits (we don’t just mean free Gatorade) that make a difference. Here are some of our favorite perks they offer because, as we know, it’s the little things that count:

1) The subsidized cafeteria includes a kids’ menu with hot dogs shaped like octopuses.
SAS encourages parents to have lunch with their kids. The children are walked over from the on-site subsidized day care that is also offered. Eating lunch with your kids helps workers stay connected to them during the work day. Plus the kiddos get to see where mom and dad go every day, because they go too. As for the hot dogs shaped like octopuses, we are told the cafeteria takes the extra step to splay the ends and create the octopus look. Presentation matters, you know.

As for those employees who would prefer not sharing lunch with the little ankle-biters, there are plenty of other dining options. SAS has four on-site subsidized gourmet cafes, coffee bars that serve Starbucks; there’s a free breakfast every Friday, and fresh fruit is delivered to all break rooms on Mondays. There are free snack and drink stations on every floor. The cafes also cater and can whip up a nice last-minute birthday cake to take home to your room-mate.

2) Can you count to 37.5? That’s the maximum number of hours SAS wants you to work in a week. 
SAS is big on work-life balance and puts its money where its time clock is. It is staffed to a level so that people aren’t routinely working late or long. Sure things come up and you might have to work on the occasional weekend, but just adjust your schedule and keep it to 37.5. Flex time rules.

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The full article can be found at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/18/best-places-to-work_n_4240370.html

12 “Thirty Second” Ways to Connect with Your Spouse

Everyone is so busy that finding time to connect with your spouse can seem difficult.  Dr. Jamie Long has the following 12 suggestions for quickly connecting with your spouse:

  1. Daily touch
  2. Be curious
  3. Side with your partner
  4. Express gratitude
  5. Sleep naked
  6. Relive a memory
  7. Create new memories
  8. Listen to him or her
  9. Share a laugh
  10. Expressions of loving-kindness
  11. Flirt
  12. Turn off the electronics

To read the full article at www.PsychologyToday.com:
12 “Thirty Second” Ways to Connect with Your Spouse”

 

Stay-at-Home Dads, Breadwinner Moms

The next time you see a father out shopping with his kids, you might need to check your assumptions.

“I’ll get the, ‘Oh, look, it’s a dad! That’s so sweet!’ “says Jonathan Heisey-Grove, a stay-at-home father of two young boys in Alexandria, Va., who is pretty sure the other person assumes he’s just giving Mom a break for the day. In fact, he’s part of a growing number of fathers who are minding the kids full time while their wives support the family and who say societal expectations are not keeping up with their reality.

Read the rest of the story at:
http://www.npr.org/2013/05/15/180300236/stay-at-home-dads-breadwinner-moms-and-making-it-all-work

Hanging onto “Us” after Baby Arrives

According to research, the biggest drop in marital satisfaction occurs after the birth of the first child.  Anyone who has cared for a newborn understands the all-consuming nature of caring for a very young baby.  The challenge for couples is to integrate a little one into their lives, while retaining a sense of themselves as a couple.

Although it is certainly nice to be able to go out on a formal date, carving out the time to do so can be unrealistic for many new parents who may also be very nervous about leaving their newborn.  Maintaining a connection with your spouse can be less complicated and less time-intensive than you may realize.  Try these simple strategies for staying close:

1.  Get physical.  Eye contact, smiles, warm embraces, holding hands, sitting close to one another, or giving a quick neck massage are easy ways to maintain a physical connection without it taking much time. Resuming your sexual relationship is also important whenever you are both ready.

2.  Express words of appreciation and support.  Words are tremendously powerful in fostering connection.  If you were a new parent, how do you imagine you would respond to your spouse saying the following things to you?

“I’m so glad to see you.”
“Thanks so much for letting me get a little sleep.  I really appreciate it.”
“This is hard work, but I’m so lucky you are in here with me.”
“I miss you.”
“You are amazing with the baby.”

Kind words do not take much time to utter, but can have long-lasting positive effects on the bond with your spouse.

3.  Establish yourselves as a team.  Parenting is much easier when you are truly working together. Much too often, what actually happens is that Mom becomes the parent, while Dad moves into the position of being her helper.  Even our language reflects this arrangement:  “Is your husband helping you with the baby?”  The first few weeks of parenthood are a vital time to negotiate your partnership as parents.  It is important you support one another as you both muddle through the challenges of caring for a new baby.  Don’t be too quick to swoop in and take the baby if Dad is struggling.  If you are breastfeeding, consider pumping occasionally so Dad can bond with the baby and you can get a little rest.

If you are able to move toward one another and work your way through the challenges you face after a baby enters your lives, your  relationship will definitely emerge strengthened.

Multitasking and Working Moms

Working moms multitask about 10 hours per week more than working fathers according to a study published in the December 2011 edition of the American Sociological Review.   On average, working mothers spent 48 hours per week multitasking, while working fathers averaged 39 hours.  Women in the study were more often juggling childcare and housework, while men were more likely to be engaged in less labor-intensive multitasking, such as returning a business call while watching their child playing.  The study’s authors, Shira & Schneider, suggest these findings explain why women report feeling more rushed and stressed out than their partners, even when both may have a similar workload.

Because women are under more scrutiny than men for their abilities as housekeepers and mothers, they found multitasking to be a more negative experience, while men experienced multitasking as positive.  The study’s authors suggest it is important for men to share household and childcare tasks more equally, and that employers need to allow men more flexibility so they can be more involved in home life.  Here’s the link to the full study:

Multitasking and Well-Being among Mothers and Fathers in Dual Earner Families

What is your experience?  Do you feel you and your spouse share tasks equitably?  If so, what did you do to make things feel fair?

Your Mate and Depression

NPR has an interesting article today about how your spouse’s behavior can affect your mental health:  Mate Doesn’t Have Your Back?  That Boosts Depression Risk.