ThirdPath

Navigating Love, Family & Two Careers

January 25, 2019andyagnewBlog

The Challenge & Possibility of Integration

Don’t get us wrong – we know it’s challenging – but over the last 19+ years we’ve noticed a new paradigm, both at work and at home, that makes “integrated careers” more possible.

We’ve learned a lot from pioneering people like Amy and Marc Vachon — authors of the wonderful book Equally Shared Parenting — as they moved ahead in their careers while also creating time for their children and relationship to each other.

On the Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar where we featured Amy and Marc, you can find out how they first began their journey and what they’ve discovered as they’ve continue to navigate a path that supports love, family and two careers. Just click the link to the right to hear more!

Amy and Marc are what we call Whole Life Leaders – professionals who have moved ahead in their careers while also creating time and energy for their lives outside of work.

To become Whole Life Leaders, they developed a variety of “integration skills” that let them push back at a world that now lets us work anywhere and all the time. Instead, they looked for ways to become more effective at work so they had time and energy for their lives outside of work. You too can follow the path Amy and Marc Vachon have traveled down, and it all begins by putting into practice the following simple processes:

Key Integration Practices

1 – Create Time to Reflect
Create “pauses” at work. Make the most of slower periods at work to assess what you are doing and develop fresh and creative ways to focus on your most important work. If no slower periods are in sight – gain a fresh perspective from a short vacation, a “no work” weekend, or even just a quick walk outside during your lunch break. As Marc said on our webinar, “The only way to think in new and creative ways, is if we aren’t constantly running around putting out the next fire.”

 

Vachons

2 – Make Changes Outside of Work
Develop a clear sense of highly valued non-work activities. Create time for family, friends, volunteer work or projects that feel of equal importance than the work you do. Get help from the people who are close to you to make time for non-work activities. Your spouse, a friend, a family member, or coach can all be resources to help you reach for your goals. This has been a cornerstone to both Amy and Marc’s approach. They wanted to craft a life where they were successful at work, partners in the care of their children, and to continue life interests beyond work and family. It turns out by doing this, they’ve also created a healthier, less harried lifestyle – something they are modeling to their children as well.

3 – Make Changes at Work
Below are some of the tools Whole Life Leaders like Marc and Amy use to help improve their effectiveness at work. The beauty of these skills is that they are also very teachable, and we’ve got ways to help you start learning them right now.

  • Reduce email overwhelm. Adopt better habits around reviewing, managing and responding to emails.
  • Create quiet time. Block off routine time in your calendar for quiet, focused, thinking work.
  • Plan around the “seasons” of your work. Discover ways – at work and home – to better manage peak periods of work.
  • Improve delegation. Delegate to junior employees as an opportunity for them, and as a way to create more time for you.

4 – Experiment, Learn, Repeat
Maintain an experimental approach! Remember, changes may need to happen both at work and at home.  As Amy and Marc progressed in their careers and moved into positions where they began to manage others, you can imagine they had to learn a few things along the way. Whether it was Amy creating a job-sharing leadership position, or Marc’s conversation with his boss to collectively combat overwork and overwhelm, both would agree, the journey has been very worthwhile.

Want to learn how to develop these integration practices so you have time for work, love and play? Join our OMG! – Overwhelm Mitigation Group – starting this spring.

Email us at: Time4Life(at)ThirdPath.org. Put “OMG!” in the subject heading and we’ll send you more information.

 

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Shaping The Future

October 21, 2018andyagnewBlog

Change Can Begin at Home

We need to continue to push for changes in public policy and more flexible organizations but there are changes that we can make in our own homes to move away from rigid gender based roles and assumptions.

Fathers in particular are taking huge steps in rewriting their own family stories around what it means to be a modern dad and a modern family. Here are some real life examples of inspiring fathers who are recreating their own family narrative.

Dads working full time …

Dan (New York Dad) – “My wife and I have developed a rhythm of working together to balance work and home life. Most days I handle getting our daughter’s things together for the sitter and drop off / pickup. Jen handles getting our daughter ready for the day and getting us out the door on time. In the evenings we share in the tasks of bath duty, laundry, story time and bed time routine. I enjoy this arrangement because Jen and I split up the responsibilities giving us each one on one time with our daughter but still have time together as a family.”

Dads flexing work hours …

Miguel (Chicago Dad) – “I’m a stay at home dad who works part time and enjoys every minute of both. After 20+ years in the button down corporate world, I took a step back and decided that I wanted to stay home with our daughter since we knew she would be our only child. She brings me joy and excitement every day. I love being able to be around for all the big milestones as well as the silly little things. Of course it helps that my wife works full-time which covers our day to day necessities. Keeping my hand in the working world allows me to have some balance and engage in grown up conversations. I wouldn’t trade this for anything!”

Dads staying home full time …

Dan (Chicago Dad) – “You never know what life is going to throw at you. All you can do as a couple is adapt and make sure you are there for each other.  Our “style”, dates back to the end of 2005 when I left a high pressure banking job for what I thought would be a 12-18 month break to spend more time with our 3 boys and decompress. Almost 8 years later, I remain “retired” and a full time stay at home dad. My wife’s career flourishes (I’m very proud of her), and I would not trade the time I have had seeing my boys grow and mature. Being the only dad at school events clearly designed for moms and continually asked why you aren’t “working” can be tiring. But taking comfort in knowing you were there for your kids makes it all worthwhile.”

Dads sharing in the care after school …

Michael Ramberg

Roger Trombley

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Listen to our March 2018 Thursday with ThirdPath webinar where two dads discuss how they share work and family responsibilities of their school aged children. When both parents learn how to navigate school closures, sick days, after school activities and summer schedules, it can make full time flexible work possible for both parents. And when men and women both learn how to share in these predictable and unpredictable changes, everyone wins – moms, dads, kids, and our workplaces. Here are a few things you will gain from this approach:

More time as a family:

After school time can be great for both bonding and productive activities. Parents can plan an after school adventure instead of waiting for the weekend. They can also schedule appointments and errands. One shared care dad combined the two, “my kids weren’t always thrilled to get the errands done, so I’d make a plan to go someplace fun afterwards.”

More wiggle room for change:

Learning to work as a team, knowing which parent can flex and when, as well as building a network of support with family and friends, will pay big dividends when families work together to navigate school closures, sick days, and the summer months.

More opportunities to teach life lessons:

As children become more self-sufficient, creating a relaxed afternoon at home can give everyone time to connect. Having a friend come over can free up parents to get other household tasks done, or as children grow older, they can help you with these activities, by learning to take on responsibilities like laundry and cooking meals.

More able to be present for teens:

Older school aged children may start to need you less, but being around still makes a big difference. Parents of teens learn that teachable moments come at different times – at the mall when trying on clothes, or late at night when they are trying to finish a paper. Other parents admit to “shamelessly eavesdropping” during car pools. This helps the parent ask better questions later on such as, “So how is that new coach?” By taking turns being the parent at home, both parents increase the likelihood of being available, whatever comes up.

Want to learn more about mom’s and dad’s who are doing things differently at home? Check out our “integrating work and family” web page.

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Ben’s Story

Every few months we feature one of the pioneers that make up the ThirdPath community. This month we are putting a spotlight on Ben Applegate – founding partner of Applegate & Thorne-Thomsen.

Ben’s Story

Ben founded his firm on the “counter cultural decision” that instead of requiring excessive work hours in order to meet an inflated bottom line, their firm would value time for life alongside earning “enough money.”

Ben Applegate: “We founded our firm in 1998 after leaving a larger firm. It’s a boutique practice providing housing and community development work funded primarily through tax credits and the government.

“Our mission statement has always been to be the best at what we do on a nationwide basis while balancing profitability and lifestyle for all of our employees. Anytime we bring someone into the firm we talk about our shared vision – to make a good living, but not necessarily the greatest of livings. That filter has served us very well. If we get a sense that someone who we are interviewing is only negotiating hard on salary, we know it’s not going to be a good fit.

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“When we started we had 4 lawyers, now we have 29 lawyers. I’m not sure if all of our success is do with our shared vision, or if it’s also to do with being a mission driven law firm doing community development work. But I do know that we never have to recruit, and we have a waiting list of people who are willing to abandon the “golden handcuffs” at their big firm positions to work with us.

“At many big firms the target is now 2,000 billable hours in order for you to get your bonus, and you may not even get your base salary if you don’t hit that target. We have been able to build our firm on a 1700 target. It’s a good trade-off. The discount on their salary is made up with more time for life.

“It doesn’t always work that way. We go through periods of ‘episodic overwork’ – when things pick up. But when this becomes ‘chronic overwork’ we know it’s time to go hire more people.

“There have been times when someone bills over 2,000 hours, and what we do is counsel them to see how we can help them get their lives more in balance. Obviously this was the opposite kind of conversation they were having at the large law firms that they came from.

“The benefits to our clients are clear. If you can operate within the 1700 billable hours model, that leaves capacity for the inevitable periods of episodic overwork, but you can meet these upticks in demands with greater efficiency and less burn out. If you are already at 2000 billable hours – if you are already running the factory at over capacity – then when you get another order in, something is going to break.

“The whole dollars trade off is something I’ve been preaching to Jessica and the other ThirdPath Pioneering Leaders forever. It’s really about making that counter cultural decision that enough money is enough, and that we don’t have to make it all about maximizing profits.”

To learn more about Ben Applegate and two other inspirational leaders who have created thriving law practices that support people to be successful at work AND successful in their lives outside of work, click the below SoundCloud icon. These three leaders are:

  • Ben Applegate – Founding partner of Applegate & Thorne-Thomsen – see below for more information
  • Tony Doniger, Senior partner at Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen – read his commentary on this topic
  • Peter Lando – Founding partner of Lando & Anastasi – read more about their firm’s philosophy

Thank you Ben, Tony and Peter for leading the way to creating truly 21st century workplaces!

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Pursuit of Happiness

September 25, 2018andyagnewBlog

The New Revolutionaries

This month’s blog post provides a sneak peak at some of the critical issues we will shine a spotlight on in the upcoming 2018-19 season of our popular webinar series – Thursdays with ThirdPath. Starting in October we will be exploring how to make the impossible, possible – how to promote family well-being AND gender equality!

Brigid Schulte does a great job looking at this in her book Overwhelmed, Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time.  In it she describes the web of forces that make us feel stuck in a life that is going too fast – a life that includes little time for reflection and even less time for joy.

But Schulte wants us to think bigger:
“What if not just women, but both men and women, worked smart, more flexible schedules? What if the workplace itself was more fluid than the rigid and narrow ladder to success of the ideal worker? … And what if both men and women became responsible for raising children and managing the home, sharing work, love, and play? Could everyone then live whole lives?”

At ThirdPath we are putting these revolutionary ideas into practice:
People who are part of the ThirdPath community are showing us how to push back at overwhelm. They have also discovered, changing their approach to work and family is not just good for their own lives, but good for their workplaces.

Leaders and fathers are a critical part of the revolution:
Click the SoundCloud icon to listen to our conversation with Brigid Schulte and two progressive leaders who describe how they have redesigned both work and family to create more satisfying lives, not just for themselves, but for their whole teams. Or read on to learn how one young dad switched to a four day work week, creating a win for his workplace and a win for his family. We’re so proud to be part of this movement for change – the groundswell of people who are choosing to step away from constant overwhelm and reclaim their lives.

CJ is one of the new revolutionaries:
CJ is one of the father’s ThirdPath has worked with to “redesign” his work so he had more time to care for his children. Our job was to help CJ find a “win-win” solution – one that was good for him and good for his workplace.

living the dream

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In order to reduce his workload from five to four days, we asked CJ if could: systematize tasks to reduce the amount of work required; change who did the work – for example delegating tasks that no longer were a good use of his time; slow down the pace of his work by reprioritizing the deadlines of less critical work.

CJ also noticed how many of his “highest priority” tasks required focused attention for prolonged stretches of time.  As the company’s sole engineer, CJ was often the person people came to to ask for help – but these constant interruptions got in the way of him getting his own work done.

CJ decided to talk to the company’s general manager, Molly, about the suggested changes.  What CJ noticed was that as he sought input from Molly, they both became more clear about what CJ should really be working on.  CJ explained, “I can get confused about what my top priority work should be because everything seems like a priority.  I can see where a regular review of what I am doing could be really valuable.”

“In both areas of my work, R&D and process improvement, I have a list that is two miles long.  My daily tasks are chipping away at these two long lists.  By having too much to do, all that happens is that the progress in both areas slows down. Now I’ve gotten better at asking, ‘What is my biggest priority?’ and, ‘At what rate do I need these things to get done?’”

Molly became an advocate for CJ, even helping him create routine “quiet time.” For example, Molly gently encouraged CJ to take a look at his own reluctance to say “no” to the various disruptions during his designated periods of quiet time.  “I do enjoy those interruptions,” CJ admitted, “but my job suffers, and engineering and design tasks get put on hold.”

Six years later we asked CJ for an update. Here’s what he said:
“One of the best thing about the changes I made is that I have more energy at work — which means I’m more productive when I’m at work. I also have more energy at home — which means I’m a better husband and father. Combined with my commute, my work days are long, but then I get 3 full days to focus on my home life. It also means I’ve been able to schedule all personal appointments on Fridays, so I rarely if ever take time off work for personal matters, this is a benefit for both me and my employer.”

Join the revolution.
Want to create an integrated approach to work and life like CJ? This year’s Thursday with ThirdPath webinars will help you do just that.  Tune in all year, or download our recordings. Want to get started today? Check out our many resources. Click here to learn more.

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Take That Vacation!

August 2, 2018andyagnewBlog

Take A Vacation: It’s Time To Recharge Your Batteries

Taking a vacation is good for you, its good for your family and it turns out its good for your organization!

Here’s what we at ThirdPath have learned about the importance of vacation time over the past 15 plus years of advocating for doing work and family differently. You can also listen to our Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar where we discussed this topic by clicking on the SoundCloud player.

In Short, the Shared Care parents and Integrated Leaders we’ve worked with, have taught us that disengaging from work while taking a vacation can improve our effectiveness at work and increase the skills we need to find a more satisfying approach to work and life.

However – some of us might need to challenge a few work norms to make this happen: the fear of being perceived as an under performer; the pressure to see it as a win-lose proposition – either we meet our client and customer needs or our own personal needs; or the worry that maybe there’s no point to take a week off given the demands to be available while away and the difficulty transitioning back upon return.

But there’s a lot to gain when we push back at these norms.

Vacation Benefits:

– Time off can have several health benefits like reducing risk of heart disease, stress and depression.

– Seeing new places and experiencing different things can have a positive effect on our overall outlook on life, providing a fresh and new perspective.

– Time away from work can also help us remember that work is just one part of who we are and remind us that we have friends, family and other life interests.

Here’s a list of ideas to help increase the enjoyment of your time away and maximize the benefits upon your return. For the full list, click here.

New Vacation blog image

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Vacation Check List:

  • Plan vacations around the “seasonality” of your work. Try scheduling longer trips for less busy periods of work and “long weekend vacations” when work is busier.
  • Block off pre and post “quiet” work days. Avoid scheduling meetings and phone calls the day before you leave and the day you return to allow for the “unexpected” and for catch up time when you return.
  • Create a “what can wait” list.  A week before you go, create a list of things that you can wait to get done after vacation, versus tasks that must be completed before you go.
  • Decide how “connected” you want to be.  If you need to check email or voice messages, plan ahead around what’s least disruptive.
  • Carefully define emergencies.  Think ahead about what challenges could arise. Clearly define emergencies to avoid everything becoming one.
  • Keep track of what worked well.  Create a list you can refer back to of helpful ideas for planning your next vacation.

And don’t forget, creating vacations that really recharge our batteries may also require us to change how we approach vacations as a family. Two parents working together as a team to plan and make the most of a vacation, makes it a better experience for everyone. (And while you’re at it, don’t forget to plan a romantic getaway for just the two of you!)

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Pioneering Dads

Every few months we feature the pioneers that make up the ThirdPath community. dads w logo
This month we are putting a spotlight on a pretty amazing group of dads who do a “deep dive” into their strategies for managing work and family life.

Listening to them we can see there is no one way to structure our lives.  This is the new normal for fathers – one where they play an active role in balancing work and family responsibilities.  It’s also the new normal for flexibility at our workplaces. Clearly, both dads (and moms and everyone else!) benefit from these changes.

Two parents invent “Shared Care” long before the child was born …

As a college professor, Scott Behson (and author of, The Working Dad’s Survival Guide), works remotely for more than half of his work hours.  This allows him the flexibility to manage work and home, and to work around his wife’s career.  She is an actress whose work schedule varies, including travel, evenings and weekend work.  Scott and his wife discussed Shared Care before having children. Then, once their son was born, they were more easily able to create their shared solution. By doing this, Scott believes. both parents were able to pursue their ideal career goals without sacrificing their active involvement in their son’s life.

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A stay at home dad returns to work as a flexing lawyer …

Kevin O’Shea is now a lawyer who manages a demanding schedule at work. Over the past few years however, having a workplace that supported him to work flexibly so he could be home when his children got off the school bus, was very important to him as a single parent.  To make up the hours, he worked weekends or at other times that worked around his children’s schedules. Prior to this, Kevin was a stay at home dad for 14 year. When he returned to work, his parents helped him make this change by providing some of the care.  Today, his parents are a little older, and now Kevin is the one providing care for his parents.

Two dads learn to push back at “work first” careers

Kipp Jarecke-Cheng is part of a two-dad family. About twelve years into his relationship, he and his partner started talking about having a family. At the time they were both in “work first” jobs – jobs that expected you to put work before the rest of your life.  But Kipp knew that when he became a parent he wanted to have plenty of time to be the primary caregiver at home.  To do this Kipp realized he needed to find an employer that allowed him to work more flexibly. Soon after they adopted their son, Kipp changed to a job where he spent 60% of his time traveling and 40% of his time working from home. Kipped loved this new arrangement, including how it made it possible for him to manage important household tasks like making dinners and packing lunches. Today they are a family of four and Kipp continues to value the flex that comes with working for a progressive employer. (We are also happy to say that Kevin O’shea and Kipp Jarecke-Cheng are both ThirdPath board members.)

Together they are making change for all fathers …

Lester Spence started his family while still in graduate school.  During this time he shared the primary caregiver role with his now ex-wife. While getting his graduate work done, Lester also made time for changing diapers and making meals. Later, he organized his academic schedule around the needs of his family, and once he became a professor he was able to get an even greater level of flexibility. Lester is glad to see progress is being made for a greater number of fathers.  Today, his own employer even offers paid paternity leave – something that wasn’t available when Lester’s children were small.  But Lester reminds us, even more needs to be done “we need to fight for policies that create a broad safety net for all families.”

For their kids, their relationships AND their own personal growth …

Christopher Persley worked a few decades in education and then moved into school administration until he felt the need to become a stay at home father.  When this happened, the family crafted a new solution that worked for everyone, including taking several steps to make sure the solution worked financially. Now, Christopher’s child has started school. This means Christopher has been able to transition back to part time work.  He also describes how they have “found a way to juggle everything that is important to us … whether it’s finding time to work out, or clean up, or to have date nights, we value keeping track of things, including meeting once a month to talk about our budget. It does take work, and a lot of balance and flexibility.  But for us, it feels like we are making it work and we are very happy with our lives.”

Together they are rewriting history …

As we ended the call we asked two pioneering men who are working hard to make change in the wider-world to share their thoughts.
Doug French is the co-founder of Dad 2.0 Summit, an annual event where dad bloggers meet, learn together, and explore the commercial power of dads online.  Doug is a single dad who talked about how he “can’t imagine life without extensive flexibility.  My ex and I really share this flex together.” Simply put, Doug finds that flexibility makes lives better, and when employers get this we will all be in a better place.

Brad Harrington, Executive Director of the Boston College Center for Work & Family (CWF) then wrapped up the call by sharing a few summary points.  When doing this, Brad underscored how there is no one size fits all solution for managing work and family – instead dads (like moms) are finding a wide range of creative solutions.  Whether it’s Shared Care, being the primary parent, or pushing back at a “work first” work culture, there are many new options for dads and moms. Next we need to change public policy to catch up with this dynamic new landscape.

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Stop! Take A Break!

July 2, 2018andyagnewBlog

Pauses Increase Happiness and Effectiveness

Are you feeling the need for a pause in your life? Luckily, there is a good deal of evidence that shows taking a pause helps us to live happier lives AND become more effective at work.

As Joe Robinson, author of Don’t Miss Your Life, points out… “Satisfying work and a well-lived life are the result of thinking, assessing, and having the attention to create a better pathway forward. Something no one else can do for us. What you want doesn’t happen on its own. You have to make it happen.”

Following are 8 different beneficial pauses, big and small, that Robinson suggests we start implementing in our lives today…

1. Big Picture Pause.
Set aside a chunk of time, say, 30 minutes this week and then once a month, to think about where you’re going at work and life this year and why you’re going there. What are your work goals? Life priorities? What’s missing from the picture? What do you need to change? How can you do that?

2. Work Effectiveness Pause.
Review tasks and identify ones that are frequent bottlenecks and time-wasters. How could they be adjusted for less stress and more effectiveness?

3. Priorities Pause.
Set aside 10 minutes at the end of the workday or at the beginning to map out the top five tasks on your list for today or tomorrow.

man on peer

4. Balance Pause.
Each Friday, take a few minutes to assess the state of your work-life balance. Are you out of whack? What needs to happen to have a better work-life fit?

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5. Recharge Pauses.
Fatigued brains look like ones that are sound asleep. Pause when the pressure peaks, you’re stuck, concentration fades, the daydreaming begins. Take a walk, listen to music, or plan your weekend to build up energy and cognitive resources again.

6. Free Time Pause.
Take time to put together a free-time log for a week of all your time outside work. Where are the time sinks? Where are the free-time slots you could schedule a new hobby or activity? What would you like to do? Salsa dancing? Cycling?

7. Vacation Pause.
Figure out at the beginning of the year where you want to go on vacation and when you want to go. This makes it easier for coworkers and managers and locks them and you into making the holiday happen at the most opportune time, with plenty of notice to make workflow adjustments.

8. Life List Pause.
Take some time to think about what you’d like to do on this planet for the experience of it. What’s on your Life List? Sail the South Seas? Learn guitar? Keep a rotating list of five experiences and start jotting down steps to make them happen.

To hear more about taking a break, check out our “Finding Your Sweet Spot” webinar where we talked with Christine Carter, happiness expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, about her book, The Sweet Spot, How to Accomplish More by Doing Less. In it she draws on the latest scientific research on positivity, productivity, and performance to demonstrate that by doing less we can actually accomplish more.

Want to learn how to implement these pauses and create a better balance between work, love and play? Join our OMG! – Overwhelm Mitigation Group – starting this fall.

Email us at: Time4Life(at)ThirdPath.org. Put “OMG!” in the subject heading and we’ll send you more information.

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Steps We As Dads Can Take To Change Our Workplace Cultures

June 4, 2018andyagnewBlog

A Guest Blog by Scott Behson

“I worry that unless my generation of busy involved dads don’t start making change happen, company cultures will remain unchallenged, and more and more dads will have to struggle seemingly alone.” – Scott Behson

Dads, do you relate? As we wait for politics and organizations to catch up with the needs of dads in the workplace, Scott Behson recommends taking matters into your own hands.

Below is an excerpt from a blog post Scott wrote describing the steps you can take to help change our work cultures to recognize dads as actively involved parents.  Or listen to our Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar by clicking the SoundCloud icon, and hear two dads talk about the changes they made – at work and home – to play a more prominent role in their children’s lives.

Be the Change You Wish to See

If you have the security, flexibility, courage and inclination (I recognize some may have more ability to do this at work than others), here are a few steps we can take in our workplaces to make it easier for dads to discuss and address work-family demands at our workplaces.

    1. Talk about your family and ask other men about theirs
    2. Make sure other men in your workplace see you use work flexibility for family reasons
    3. Take paternity leave
    4. Start a Beer Fire! Organize a group of male friends or coworkers to discuss life outside of work

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Where to Begin?

If you are excited by these ideas, here are some ways you can start integrating your life outside of work into the workplace right now.  Each idea is a small but important way we as men can make it easier to discuss our lives as dads at work – and taking these steps will have a big postitive impact for both men and women!

• Keep pictures of your kids/family not just in a small frame facing you on the desk, but in a prominent place at your workstation (an 8×10 on the wall behind you may be ideal)

During “water cooler” chit-chat with other men, don’t just talk about the latest sports gossip, tell them what you did with your kids last weekend, or discuss their little league games (or whatever)

Ask other men in your workplace about their non-work life, including their families. Encourage them to share their family activities – like what they did with the kids on vacation, etc.

You can integrate these tips at the beginning of meetings you run or if you are a supervisor and can generate these conversations with men who report to you, that’s even better!

Many dads struggle with work-family issues but, because they do not see other men talking about these issues, many feel like they struggle alone. By putting these suggestions into action, you make it more normal for men in your workplace to discuss family issues, and to bring some of our non-work lives into workplace discussions. These small but important steps also lay the groundwork for making big changes around creating more supportive workplaces for all.

Scott Behson, PhD, is a Professor of Management at Fairleigh Dickinson University and author of Working Dads Survival Guide. Scott lives in Nyack, NY with his wife, Amy, and son, Nick. Contact him on Twitter (@ScottBehson), FacebookLinkedIn or email.

 

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Skills For a Lifetime

May 2, 2018andyagnewBlog

Lets Get Happy

As couples move throughout their lives, new opportunities arise alongside new challenges. Dr. Sara Yogev, author of “A Couple’s Guide to Happy Retirement and Aging,” helps us understand that building a team at home early in our relationships will help with transitions now AND later in life.

According to Dr. Yogev, couples often neglect communicating about their needs and expectations through large transitions, but being aware of how change impacts the marital dynamic is huge. To keep a handle on big changes, Dr. Yogev recommends “both spouses to take time to think about what he or she wants, exchange this information, try to help each other with these goals and be willing to compromise.”

Following are 10 ideas Dr. Yogev recommends for navigating a happier retirement – many are great tips that couples could practice at any age! Or listen to Dr. Yogev share even more insights by clicking the SoundCloud link to the right.

  • Share expectations – Take time to talk about what you both are expecting.
  • Address your relationship with money – Get a sense of your “money style.” Are you a spender or saver? Doing this helps you develop a common financial plan even if your styles are different.
  • Prepare for mixed feelings – With every big transition, it’s good to remember there will be some things we like, and some things we find more challenging.

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  • Address issues as they surface – When problems arise, avoid the temptation to sweep things under the rug.
  • Custom design your days, weeks, months – Use a calendar to make sure both of your needs are being met and don’t over schedule.
  • Celebrate your body – Getting into a routine of exercise and eating right is something that will benefit you across the life cycle.
  • Celebrate your sexuality – Just like creating healthy routines around exercise and eating, couples also benefit from investing in their connection to each other.
  • Retirement inherently requires us to “say good-bye to work.” However, Yogev encourages couples to try working shorter days, or shorter weeks as a way to transition into this change – something Shared Care parents have likely already had lots of experience with!
  • Give each other physical and emotional space – Not having set work schedules that keep you apart, retirement requires becoming more intentional about the time you want to spend together and the time you need for your own interests.
  • Stay mentally active – There are many ways to stay active in life. Support each other to find new and engaging interests.

Whether phasing into retirement, or balancing work and family, this list reminds us that couples will gain a lifetime of benefits by taking steps to work as a team to meet their own needs and their needs as a couple.

Want to learn more? Why not take a look at our ‘Get Started’ resources page for families and send for ThirdPath’s Work Family Options Workbook.

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Andrea’s Story

Every few months we feature one of the pioneers that make up the ThirdPath community . . .

Andrea’s Story
Andrea Knowles was clear early on that she wanted to live a life that included time for both work and family. To accomplish this, fresh out of law school, she began taking the steps she believed would most likely help her achieve this goal.

Andrea began her journey by securing a position at a large law firm. While there, her goals were to work hard, gain experience and respect, and to save as much money as possible so she would have more financial freedom later on.Andrea Twins

Unlike some of the other newly hired lawyers at the firm, Andrea lived well below what she earned as an attorney and put all her extra savings towards paying off her student loan. Once debt free, she then kept up this modest lifestyle in order to build a nest egg that would fund a year off and let her travel and see the world. After working long hours at the large firm, she needed this time to relax and breath. She also knew taking this time would play a crucial role in her ability to search for the ideal firm that would support her longer term goals.

During her year off Andrea traveled and spent time with friends and family. She even met her future husband. After about 6 months, she began looking for a new place to work. While being interviewed at each law firm she was very open about wanting an integrated life, and she looked for firms where people were already living this way. Did people have children? Was life outside of work important to them? Could people work reduced hours? To really understand the culture of the firm, she also looked very carefully at the leaders. Were some of them role models for the type of life she was looking for?

Ultimately, she turned down opportunities where an integrated approach was not encouraged or otherwise feasible, and eventually she found her current firm – a litigation boutique that felt very aligned with her vision.

When she began working at her new firm, Andrea worked full time. She also got engaged, married, and then began looking for a house with her husband. While doing this she saw it as another opportunity to think ahead about their future goals. For example, she advocated for a house that would support a short commute. She also knew the importance of finding an affordable house so they could cover other important expenses like the cost of day care and her goal to work reduced hours when they started a family. Soon after this was all put in place, they got pregnant. In fact, they learned they were going to have two children not just one!

After the birth of the twins, Andrea began experimenting with working flexibly and reduced hours. The benefits of a reduced schedule allowed Andrea to take off most Fridays for almost 2 years. She then had a year where one of her twins required numerous doctor’s appointments, so instead of taking Fridays off, she used the company’s flexibility to work half days to attend the appointments. When the twins were in preschool, she continued with an 80% schedule and flexed her hours for different family responsibilities, including helping out at their children’s co-operative pre-school. When the twins entered first grade, Andrea went back to full time hours, though she continues to flex her hours as needed for family responsibilities.

Andrea’s determination to live out her dream of having an integrated work life informed her decisions early on. She made financial decisions that allowed her to live debt free and save up the funds necessary to hunt for a firm that embodied her vision of work life balance. Many of her fellow employees and leaders have families and work flexibly themselves. She also sought out a life partner whose goals for work and family were similar. And she took time to interview prospective employers until she found a good fit.

What are your goals for an integrated work life? What steps have you taken, or do you need to take, in order to get closer to your dreams? Listen to our full interview with Andrea and be inspired by a story that will help you think about how all the different pieces – work, money, partner and family – can fit together to support an integrated whole.

 

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Assist individuals, families and organizations in finding new ways to redesign work to create time for family, community and other life priorities. Develop a growing community of individuals, leaders and organizations to influence wider change - both within organizations and at the public policy level. Support a new mind-set where everyone can follow a "third path" - an integrated approach to work and life.

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P.O. Box 9275, Philadelphia PA 19139
Phone: 215.747.8790
Email: time4life (at) thirdpath.org