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Home for Dinner

Home for Dinner

Striking a work/family balance
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The COO of Facebook leaves work every day by 5:30 to have dinner with her kids and she thinks you should too.

How great is that? There are so many things that I love about Sheryl Sandberg's video highlighting her commitment to prioritize family dinner. It's refreshing to hear professional women talk openly about their balancing choices. Notice that Sheryl doesn't brush over her decision to leave "early" as if it were no big deal. It is a big deal, maybe especially so in the tech industry where Sheryl works. This clip makes it pretty clear to me that leaving by 5:30 is not the easy thing, but it's the right thing for Sheryl and her family. So she makes it work.

I know that some of you are thinking, That's great for her. Maybe someday when I'm the boss of the company, I'll leave whenever I want to!

Yes, it's true that by being the COO, Sheryl has some latitude. But Sheryl wasn't always the boss! I don't believe you have to be in that position to make it work. Personally, I left work at 6:00 p.m. every day to be home with my family throughout my entire career, not just when I hit the executive suite.

Notably, even though Sheryl is the COO, she doesn't discount the needs of her company and her coworkers. She knows that her team members need to feel that she's engaged and contributing, whether or not she's in the office at 5:30 p.m. So she gets up early, sometimes she stays up late, and she does her job really well. And that part matters.

I've seen these kinds of trade-offs from all sides; as a mom, a coworker, and a boss. Some women do it really well and some really poorly.

I think the women who managed the worst tended to see work and family as enemies, locked in constant zero-sum competition.

So what's the difference?

I think the women who managed the worst tended to see work and family as enemies, locked in constant zero-sum competition. For them, prioritizing one meant necessarily punishing the other. With that mindset, guilt and resentment start to take over as your primary motivators. That's not a good place to be. Let me tell you, when you start to resent your job, it shows. And if you're miserable at work, your family will feel it too.

Women who balance the best tend to see work and family (and other priorities like faith and health) much more collaboratively—like pieces of a puzzle that fit together to form a bigger picture. Prioritizing one piece at an appropriate time doesn't hurt the others; it helps the whole.

Yes, sometimes balancing work and family is hard. But it can be hard and positive, or hard and negative. You really can choose.

Diane Paddison

Diane Paddison is a business professional and founder of 4wordwomen.org, local groups of professional working women committed to faith, family, work, and each other.

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Sandy

August 04, 2014  3:27pm

Balancing work and family is always a challenge and this type of encouragement is awesome. Thanks for sharing.

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TC

July 04, 2014  9:30am

Please, use as examples the lawyer next door, the accountant across the street or the assistant principal of your daughters middle school. That family should be a priority is important no matter what the gender. And ,while Sheryl wasn't always the boss, she has been a highly successful woman with help along the way (not that there is anything wrong with that). Could it be that not only does she appreciate family mealtime but also feels entitled- for what ever reason. Let us not forget Marissa Mayer the CEO of Yahoo, who upon becoming CEO built a nursery for her children adjacent to her office, for convenience, yet cancelled all work from home positions. The point, many women work out side the home or in it and find the time to put family first. The woman I admire is the woman who has successfully raised 6 God loving ,Kingdom advancing children, alone! while working at home.

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Grace

July 03, 2014  11:58am

More time is not always better work! Good reminder about boundaries.

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