Making the Most of Summer
Think summer has to be a struggle between work and family? Think again. Here are some of the things ThirdPath has learned about balancing work and family over the summer. And one of the most important things we’ve learned is that taking 20 minutes to write down what you liked (and didn’t like) about this summer will be a big help when you plan for next summer.
- In general summers can allow for an enjoyable “slower pace” at home.
- But summers also take A LOT of planning.
- The age of your children will also have a big impact on what happens during the summer. What worked last year might not work again this year since your child is a whole year older!
- Finding the “right” camp can be a highlight, but finding it can be quite a journey.
- Another summer goal is finding the “right” mix of planned and unplanned activities – balancing boredom versus over scheduling.
- Summers can also provide an opportunity for children to develop independent interests, such as reading and trying out new hobbies.
- Over time families often develop a rhythm to summers that can last year after year, some becoming deeply valued memories and “family traditions.”
You can also listen to what a few pioneering mothers and fathers had to say about summers by clicking on the SoundCloud player for our Thursday with ThirdPath webinar on this topic.
Interested in learning more? Here are some summer solutions we thought were very creative …
– Grandparents and extended family can play a great role in summers. Children can spend one or two weeks with them (and sometimes with other cousins as well). This can provide a great opportunity for the two generations to get to know each other and connect.
– A partner in an accounting firm negotiated a “flex year” schedule – working a total of 20 hours during the summer months. This gave her maximum time with her school aged children. Then during her “busy season” – January through April – her husband became the primary parent in charge.
– ThirdPath has also met many families where one parent intentionally became a school teacher as a way to have more flexibility throughout the summers. In one of these families, the other parent negotiated an alternative summer schedule so she could work remotely one day a week.
– Telework can be a great summer solution when caring for teens. It’s also a great option for stretching out limited vacation time. One family planned a two week beach vacation but only used one week of vacation time. They did this by trading off who was working (in the mornings or in the afternoons) while the other parent played with the children at the beach.
You may also want to take a look at this great blog post from author Christine Carter about her 3 steps to a successful summer
Don’t forget our summertime tip: Write up your “summertime” notes, then pull these out in February when you start planning for next summer!
Men and Women Fighting for Change
In this blog post ThirdPath celebrates the men and women who participated in our 2017 Pioneering Leaders Summit.
Together, our pioneering leaders have begun to put the pieces together for a world that supports success at work and success in our lives outside of work – it’s also a world that will profoundly improve the lives of fathers.
Healthy family systems need time to recharge…
Families need money, families need care, and families need time to recharge. With over 15 years of working with individuals, leaders and families, ThirdPath has also learned that organizations gain when men and women learn how to set thoughtful limits at work so they have time and energy for their lives outside of work.
The male and female leaders at our Summit took many steps over the course of their careers to achieve this. All of them also created a “team at home” to better manage both domains.
Increased demands on families, means less time to recharge…
This year’s Summit focused specifically on the “new family” stage – a time when many families feel stretched thin – and many also fall into gendered patterns at work and at home.
Instead, the fathers at our Summit shared stories of rearranging their work schedules to pick up children from daycare. Or they became the primary parent designing work around family. Or they broke new ground by having both parents work reduced schedules to share in the care of their children.
Add to this one job – or both jobs – requiring more than full time work, and it can lead to chronic overwork and gendered patterns at work and home…
Read more …
That’s why men and women need to work together to redesign work, family, and to push back at norms around overwork.
Check our our “Redesigning Leadership” page to learn more. Or are you ready to take the next step towards creating a more integrated approach to work and life? Join our next Overwhelm Mitigation Group – learn how to push back at overwhelm, get more efficient at work, and have more time (and energy!) for life.
Meet Diana and Rashi!
We are very proud of our newest ThirdPath team members. When you read their stories, you’ll see why they are a great fit for ThirdPath, and a great example of how organizations can support people to live “whole lives.”
Diana Blasdel – Fundraiser and adventurer
For Diana, figuring out how to finagle balance is always a challenge and constantly changing. The location of home shifts weekly as Diana, her husband Miguel and their dog Remy LeBeau, move to a new city with the Jersey Boys National Tour – Miguel performs and Diana works with merchandise. In addition to the tour, Diana has blended this nomadic lifestyle with flexible virtual jobs that also allow her to pursue a career of meaningful work with nonprofit organizations.
When Diana became ThirdPath’s first Manager of Development and Donor Relations, she was asked to create her preferred “triple win” schedule that was good for her, good for getting her work done, and good for the people she worked with. To figure it out, Diana took out a red marker and blank calendar and mapped out not only time for ThirdPath, but also for other obligations to make sure balance existed between her professional and personal life.
Read more …
Diana admits none of this is easy, and believes it will always stay “a work in progress.” Amidst the juggling, her biggest challenge is remembering to carve out time for herself, or it becomes harder to balance the rest.
Rashi Shyam – Crafting a life that includes work, love and play
Having grown up working in her parent’s store, spending years in investment
Banking ,and then eventually owning her own business. Rashi is no stranger to a
dedicated work ethic. Today, as ThirdPath’s new Manager of Programs and Operations, work continues to play a prominent role in Rashi’s life, but so does her commitment to caring for her family, and even a little time to unwind.
After years in investment banking, Rashi decided to start her own event-planning business so she would have more time for family meals, to help with homework, and attend her children’s sports games. However, she quickly learned her new business could at times mean “there was no end” to the work to be done. Rather than being free to fully enjoy her child’s sports game, she had to keep one eye (or two) focused on work.
Taking a position with ThirdPath, Rashi is beginning to see a new way of working. With a self-created set schedule that allows for time at the gym in the morning, a boss who respects the time limit of conference calls, and flexibility to adjust her work hours if life happens (i.e snow days!), Rashi is beginning to let go of the “I should be working” guilt. Instead she’s learning how to be focused while at work, and then to “not feel guilty when giving myself time to unwind or spend time with my children.”
As Rashi says, she is excited to work for an organization that truly reflects her life goals, supporting an integrated approach to work life and the shared care that she and her family are working towards. You can find both Rashi and Diana’s bios on our website.
Creating a “Team” Approach to Family Finances
We had a powerful discussion about work family balance and finances on our recent Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar. Missed it? Check out the YouTube link we’ve created for you. Scott Behson also provides some great advice on this topic in his book – Working Dad’s Survival Guide.
Read on for a few of Scott’s words of wisdom:
1 – You May Need to Choose – Big Bucks or Work Life Balance
Scott references Warren Farrell’s book at the start of his discussion of family finances. He does this because, as Scott explains, “among other things, jobs that require or strongly encourage extensive travel, long commutes, long work weeks… earn significantly more than jobs that are more stable, have more regular and reasonable hours, and do not make such time-based or psychological demands.” However, Scott also reminds us that jobs that pay less may have other non-financial benefits, like “more satisfying work, better work-life balance, less stress and more free time.”
2 – Success Is the Freedom to Live by Your Priorities
Throughout the section that focuses on family finances, Scott argues, “My over-arching philosophy when it comes to finances, work and family, is that the key to success is the freedom to act in accordance with our priorities.” To do this, Scott encourages his readers to be careful around the big financial choices they make, like the decision to buy a house. “Maybe instead of working harder and sacrificing family time, you can free up time by examining and reducing these large expenses.”
Read more …
3 – There is a Lot to Gain From Smart Budgeting
Scott talks about the value of creating a family budget. In fact he compares it to something he does at his workplace. In August his organization creates a very conservative budget, “not quite a worst-case scenario, but a bad-case scenario.” Then, a few months later when they have a better handle on their financial picture, they create a second budget. This second budget is almost always better than what was originally projected, and as a result, people are more at liberty to spend on things that are “nice to have” not just “need to have.” Scott points out, “If we do 85% budgeting, we have more slack in our finances to accommodate unexpected expenses.” In contrast, “If your regular income and regular expenses simply equal out, your finances can be compared to a rope already taut. With no slack, the rope has no more capacity to be stretched further without fraying.”
4 – Create a Team Approach to Your Financial Goals
Scott ends the chapter by encouraging parents to talk through different options with each other to create a common plan. He concludes with one father’s illustrative story. “My wife and I talked about my transition from a long-hours, good-paying job with good benefits to going out on a limb and starting my own consultancy… We had some financial cushion, but it was scary. Now I can have a much more family kind of lifestyle, and we can share the load more easily at home. The fact that my wife and I talked all the implications through – what does this mean for our mortgage, for college savings, for health insurance, for her work? – made the transition so much better.”
We also know real and lasting change will only happen when societies support men and women to share in the work of earning income and caring for their families. Want help designing your Shared Care work-family solution? Check out our “Work Family Options Resource Book.”
After Fifteen Months of Chronic Overwork, I Still Have One More Month to Go
The last 15 months have been challenging, not just because of some unexpected life events (learn more), but also because our organization is growing. Growth is a good thing. We want to reach more people with our exciting and important mission. But the trick is figuring out how to have growth happen at approximately the same rate as our capacity to manage this growth.
Luckily, at ThirdPath we very purposefully build in slower periods of work over the summers so we can make changes to address these types of issues. In fact, this summer we put a great plan in place to manage this growth. However, hiring and training people takes time, so my chronic overwork continued through the end of the year, and I’m hoping it will be behind me in the next month (or two).
Read more …
I like to tell people to think of their capacity for work as a glass of water.
Is your glass filled to the brim? Overflowing? Or do you have a little wiggle room at the top of the glass?
When managing my capacity for work, I’ve learned to very intentionally plan around busier and less busy periods of work – or continuing with the glass analogy – to plan for the times when my glass is filled to the brim and spilling over versus when I have a little extra room at the top. If I’ve done a good job preparing for a busy period, I have created extra support and good personal habits to handle this peak period more effectively.
During slower periods, I use the “extra room” in my glass to make changes that will improve how I work going forward. I systematize processes, re-prioritize tasks, and decide what to delegate so that I have more time for what I am uniquely qualified to do.
It turns out working this way isn’t just good for you, it’s also good for your organization. It means you are better able to manage the unexpected – both at work and outside of work. It also means I come to work more refreshed, and better able to keep my perspective about what’s really an emergency and what’s really most important. However, this Fall, I could tell living with this on-going level of stress wasn’t good for me.
When constantly in a state of overwork I began to notice how smaller things pushed me off balance very easily.
I was quick to lose my perspective. I even caught myself working less efficiently, and even making some mistakes.
In October, my husband and I planned a long weekend away to celebrate my birthday. I pride myself in my ability to turn off work while on vacation, and I was able to do this during this trip as well. But even with this break, when I got back to work, I was shocked to see how quickly I returned to the same stressed perspective I had before vacation.
Once again there was a task that needed to get done that was going to require more time than I had available. And just like before vacation, it pushed me immediately into a stressed response, instead of being able to step back and imagine a more creative solution.
The truth is with so many months of stress behind me and a few more to go, I shouldn’t be surprised that I’m still behaving this way.
I didn’t do anything wrong. Growth is good. Life happens. ThirdPath has also developed and begun to implement a plan that will end this period of overwork. But I also have to admit that during the last 15 months, sometimes I have traveled to a bit of a dark place. A place where I start losing hope, and believing things will never change.
Luckily I have developed and maintained a number of good habits to regain my normally optimistic outlook. I exercise regularly. My husband cooks amazing healthy dinners for our family. I carve out routine times during my work week without calls or meetings so I can get focused work done. And all year long I relied on my staff to help me keep focused on my top priority work.
When I get overloaded, I also try to remember to stop and take a walk, or to call a friend, or to do both. This helps remind me that it is probably the chronic overwork that is causing me to see things worse than they are. But I’m also really tired of it, and I’m looking forward to a much more balanced 2017!
Did you make a New Year’s resolution to push back at overwork and create more time for life? Let us help you.
Check out our free resources, including our “Key Integration Practices” handout.