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Redefining marriage motherhood and community

July 5, 2020jdegrootBlog

Black Career Women and Strategic Mothering

I was excited to have Riché Daniel Barnes join one of our Thursday webinars. Her amazing book, Raising the Race: Black Career Women Redefine Marriage, Motherhood and Community taught me how much the Black professional mothers in her study have in common with our Shared Care families.

Her study reinforced how the dichotomy between work and family isn’t working for anybody.

To challenge this, these Black professional mothers had adopted a more flexible approach that provided a wider range of options to meet their responsibilities around work, family, community and marriage.

When I asked Riché what prompted her to begin this study, she explained, “I was in grad school, so I had time to take my daughter to the library a couple times each week and I kept on noticing the same Black mothers who were there as well. Every Black woman I knew had always worked. But this group of women were showing up week after week. Some of these mothers were taking time for family alongside their careers. Some were not planning to go back to work. Some were planning to go back, they just weren’t yet sure when.” And all of them, Riché pointed out, were doing this without any role models.

Riché uses the concept of “Strategic Mothering” to describe what she observed.

This is an approach Black women have used for generations as a way to strengthen their communities through their work as caregivers, culture bearers and community builders. Whether flexing a full time job, working reduced hours, or temporarily stepping away from their careers, these Black professional women were searching for ways to break down the dichotomy between work and family.

In a previous interview, when asked how their more flexible approach to work and family was an example of “Strategic Mothering”, Riché answered, “In the time span that I interviewed these families, only 2 have ended in divorce. These women saw having an intact family as important to the community. Family life is devalued. Marriage is devalued. The majority of black children are being raised in single-parent households. These women saw what they were doing — by staying together — as ‘raising the race.’”


However, as Riché clarified, these mothers hadn’t arrived at these answers just by choice.

Their strategy was based on a history that included slavery and racism. This historical context helped illustrate why, as Black women, it was assumed they would combine work and motherhood. It also underscores how the ongoing racism Black families face – including Black professional families – makes it extremely risky to rely on just one parent’s income.

Riché explained, “These families knew they were making a precarious decision. Even as professional families, most were just one generation away from not having had anything. And because their financial circumstances were often dependent on an employer – they knew they had to put other types of financial solutions in place for themselves.” For many, this meant having some other type of income producing activity on the side, whether it was real estate, something entrepreneurial, or something else.

Riché and I ended our conversation by talking about the growing divide between the haves and the have nots.

Riché argued, “We are putting more responsibilities on families to take care of themselves, and we’ve eroded the safety net that so many of us have worked hard to create.” Going forward, we need to create good public policy and good workplace policies. Unfortunately, Riché concluded, our country does not seem to be going in this direction. “We need to pivot our conversation and recognize that families can’t do all of this work themselves.”

Check out the above YouTube video for our full conversation with Riché. Get inspired by how these mothers redefined marriage, motherhood and community.

Creating a New Normal

May 27, 2020jdegrootBlog

Virtual Visits with Grandma

By Diane Mangano-Cohen

For twenty-five years I have had the privilege of being a grandmother to six amazing individuals.

Until recently I have enjoyed weekly visits with my two youngest grandchildren, but social-distancing has changed all of that. There is no more once-a-week childcare for my adorable twenty month-old granddaughter, and no more special time with my curious kindergartener-grandson.

Not being able to hug them has been very unsettling for me. I also noticed that my daughter and her husband were struggling with juggling work from home and caring for two children who require full time attention. Their regular childcare helpers were “Out” and all four of them are now literally “In”.

After a few weeks of social-distancing, I realized it was time for a little creativity. I missed my grandchildren and our routines, and I knew their parents needed a break from the constant supervision.

The answer I came up with? Finding virtual experiences that my grandchildren and I could share using the internet.

To design our virtual visits, I used what I knew about my grandson’s current interests as my starting point. I made suggestions and then we brainstormed together on virtual trips to cities, museums and animal habitats. At my grandson’s request, our “visit” to Paris included showing him where Lafayette’s tomb is–he is a big Hamilton fan! I had not known that Lafayette was buried in Paris and together we learned that dirt from Boston’s Bunker Hill is in his burial plot.

I also learned when visiting one of our travel locations it’s a great way to talk about the world and local customs of the people. I share how far away the location is and how long a plane ride takes to provide some context. This is a time-intensive process, but with my own social-distancing, this is a great way to keep me busy and keep my mind stimulated.


Some days my grandson is more attentive than others. Being flexible and being able to switch gears helps us both.

Some visits include art projects after watching the specific artist’s techniques, giving us both a creative outlet. Sharing our work at the end allows us more interaction. For our “Mondrian” project I used pre-cut black construction paper and crayons and my grandson did an amazing job using only Legos.

When researching a recent topic, I do a Google search by typing in, for example: “Best place to virtually see spiders.” This search resulted in a huge variety of websites and YouTube videos. I selected several videos to watch to find the one I felt would best hold my grandson’s interest. I am learning a great deal by viewing these videos to find the age-appropriate and interesting presentation, and have found the whole process very engaging.

Timing my visits with his sister’s nap means both parents have extra time to work or just be off-duty – truly a win-win-win.

Technology has been key to making this happen, and we are fortunate to have both computers and iPads available. We have used both on almost all virtual visits. I can see his face and I know when I need to re-gain his attention with a simple, “Buddy, you still there”? What my grandson needs most is company. We have conversations; but sometimes I’m just a trusted, reassuring voice while he plays with Legos, magnetic tiles or draws.

Video-visiting with the twenty month-old is very different. She tugs at my heart strings when she hugs or kisses the screen. We dance, sing, read stories, eat meals together and just look at each other.

Last night I also video-visited with my oldest granddaughter who is about to turn 25. Working from her apartment in Dallas proved to be too confining, so she is now staying in a Tiny House in the Mountains of Colorado. I also send her a daily “Good Morning” text, which I can tell brightens her days.

I’m really pleased with all the different ways my “virtual grandparenting” has evolved – and like any activity done from the heart, it has provided me with more benefits than I give.

Want to discover how to create a more resilient family – even during the Covid-19 pandemic – through rest, focus and connection? Listen to the above YouTube recording of our recent Thursday webinar.

Weathering The Covid-19 Pandemic

April 21, 2020jdegrootBlog

A Team at Home Makes Tough Times Better

By Janna Cawrse Esarey

A couple weeks into the Covid-19 pandemic, with schools, businesses, and fishing closed—my husband LOVES fishing—the mood in our household turned bleak. I got sighy. My husband got grumpy. And our two daughters, ages 11 and 14, got zombified by TikTok.
We needed to regroup.

Thanks to much learning through ThirdPath, my husband and I had already been flexing work around our family’s needs, sharing care of our daughters and our healthy but high-risk parents who live nearby, and talking openly with each other about money.

But now, a few weeks in, our sweet moods were turning sour. Money stress. Anxiety about the future. Social withdrawal.

After a preliminary huddle with me, my husband called a family meeting. We needed more structure to our days, he explained to our girls, a routine that promoted health, productivity, and joy for each of us.

We made a huge rambling list of possibilities: activities we wanted to do (theme dinners, read-alouds), skills we wanted to learn (photoshop, carving), habits we wanted to develop (meditate, exercise), passions we wanted to pursue (aerial silks, dog training), home improvement projects we could finally knock off the to-do list (weeding, hang art, save the amaryllis). Some of the activities were frivolous (watch every Star Wars movie in the so-called correct order). Some were serious (read half a dozen memoirs to help me hone my writing craft). But all ideas went on the board.

Next, my husband wrote up a Plan of the Day that included various buckets. We figured if everyone could try to do something from each of these categories daily, pandemic life in our house would be much better. Heck, life would be better.


Meditate—Just 5-10 minutes a day. I use a popular meditation app that has content for the whole family; over the years the kids have used it to ease worries or fall asleep. I switched to a family plan so we could all give meditation a try.

Work/School—I rise early and write every day before heading to work to deliver meals. That leaves my husband Zooming on business while overseeing the girls’ distance learning through their public schools. We’ve told the girls their number one lesson in every subject right now is self-direction. It’s a legitimate and valuable lifelong skill; what an opportunity to learn it.

Home—Kids are often more capable than we think. I was surprised when my husband taught our youngest to iron at age five. I taught the kids to do their own laundry around that age, too. These days they’re tackling more than just the basic chores (clean bathrooms, vacuum). They’re also trimming hedges, hemming curtains, power-washing the deck. When kids contribute authentically to housework alongside adults, they know they’re part of a team.

Exercise/Nature—Where we live we can still exercise outside, thank goodness. Even just walking the dog counts as much-needed time in nature. In addition to us each trying to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, our youngest is in charge of the Daily Exercise Challenge. Our eldest won the wall-sit contest. My husband won at plank. I always win at Most Likely to Laugh Hysterically While Competing.

Skill/Passion—These buckets are often the best parts of our days. They’re self-chosen, self-motivating, and, therefore, the best way to get our kids off the screen. Or, if the skill being learned is screen-based, photoshop, say, at least they’re giving TikTok a break.

Eat—Our school district is making sack lunches and breakfasts free for all students, a huge help for us financially and logistically during this stressful time, so that just leaves dinners to plan. Normally, my husband is the chef, but now each of us is taking a turn. The girls came up with the idea of International Night twice a week; two people cook and the other two present fun facts about the country.

Morale in our home has improved. We don’t accomplish every bucket every day, of course—and we still experience a good bit of cabin fever—but we’ve had some pleasant successes and fun surprises.

Janna Cawrse Esarey is a writer, mother, sailor, and school bus driver on an island near Seattle. She is the author of the travel memoir The Motion of the Ocean and is working on a new memoir called MATE about how navigating modern parenthood is more perilous than sailing the Arctic. She knows; she’s tried both. Visit saildogbark.com where you can drop her a line.

Want to discover more about how parents are creating a “team at home” to manage the unique needs of their families, adjusted work responsibilities and time to recharge during this period of crisis? Listen to the above YouTube recording of our recent Thursday webinar.

The Art and Science of Systems Thinking

January 15, 2020andyagnewBlog

A World Increasingly Obsessed with Work

To understand how we became a world so obsessed with work, you have to understand “systems thinking.”  It helps identify the multiple forces that brought us to this present moment, and provides insight into how to make change.

Below are some of the “Laws of Systems Thinking” Peter Senge outlines in his book, The Fifth Discipline.  We’ve taken the liberty of applying them to the issue of finding time for both work and family.

Listen to the YouTube recording to hear our powerful conversation with Peter Senge about this troubling problem, and how we can use systems thinking to create more satisfying lives.

Dividing an elephant in half does not produce two small elephants
It’s hard to develop solutions that take the whole system into account, but unless we do, real change is not possible. When it comes to work and family both sides impact the whole.  To make change, we can’t just focus on changes at work OR home – we can’t cut the elephant in half – we must make changes in both arenas.

Cause and effect may not be closely related in time and space
Systems are very complex, and over time a change in one area may have unintended consequences in another. We can see this from the problem progressive countries faced when long paid parental leaves inadvertently contributed to gender inequality. Luckily, many of these countries are now addressing this problem by requiring fathers to take a certain percent of paid time off as well.

Today’s problems come from yesterday’s “solutions”
Assumptions around the need to be physically present to get work done are certainly archaic, but it may have been the only way to get work done during the industrial age. Today, the opportunities and challenges of new technologies and a global economy make it much easier to “blend” work and life. However, read on to see how today’s solution is creating problems for tomorrow.

Photo by Hendrick Cornelissen

The cure can be worse than the disease
Today, for some people, “blending” has literally become never turning off work. We can see this in Shark Tank super-star Kevin O’Leary’s comments, when he said, “I don’t have a division anymore between vacation time and work. It’s always both. I work every day.” And that rule also applies to his employees: “Do I expect my employees to respond to me when they’re on vacation? 100%,” he says. Is “blending” the only option in today’s 24/7 global economy?

Faster is slower
In today’s global economy, some believe the only answer is working harder and faster, but perhaps there is a better way … Instead of prioritizing work over the rest of our lives (and the environment!), we believe we need to develop a new mental model that allows all of us to live life at a more human pace. We at ThirdPath call it “Work-Life Integration” — prioritizing work alongside other life interests — whether it’s caring for our children, our aging loved ones, our communities, or caring for our environment.

Small changes can produce big results — but the areas of highest leverage are often the least obvious
Click on the YouTube video to listen to our conversation with Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline – one of the most well-known books written about systems thinking.  We explored the growing problem of “workism” – the pattern of people seeking validation exclusively through work — and how to use systems thinking to fight against it.

Stop! Take A Break!

December 2, 2019andyagnewBlog

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.

We learned about this while talking to one of our favorite Thursday webinar guests, Christine Carter, happiness expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, when she talked 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.

Joe Robinson, also talks about this in his book Don’t Miss Your Life, where he 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.”

Here are 8 different beneficial pauses, big and small, that Robinson suggests we start implementing 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?

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.

OR: Listen to our December Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar to learn why turning off work on vacation is good for you AND good for your organization.

Here are the YouTube videos and schedule of this year’s webinars. Or download the latest recordings on iTunes.

The Importance of Hope

October 15, 2019jdegrootBlog

Creating Culture Change Requires Courage and Hope

A guest post from Jessica DeGroot, ThirdPath’s founder and president.

What keeps the ThirdPath community moving forward? Learning from and being inspired by the amazing moms, dads and leaders who have gone ahead and asked for change – even when they’ve had to be the first to do so. Since founding ThirdPath I’ve learned that connecting to this courageous community has made us smarter, it’s also fostered my sense of hope. What derails the progress we are all working towards? Losing hope, and losing courage.

Why do I know this? Change is hard. It requires overcoming many obstacles, But here are a few things that help us stay the course:

  • Previous positive experiences around work-life integration – so even if you are failing at the moment – you stay motivated to keep making changes to achieve integration once again
  • Strong support at home, including someone who keeps encouraging you to reach for an integrated solution, even if it means leaving an unsupportive workplace
  • Seeking out role models who inspire you that integration can be achieved
  • Taking time to recharge and replenish your energy so you can overcome the next obstacle

As Peter Senge taught us long ago (see info graphic on right), when people maintain hope around what’s possible, it helps them avoid lowering their goals, it also helps them discover new and more creative solutions.

Why do I know this better today? Because of how personally challenging this past year has been.

I have always believed there is a “win-win” answer around work-life integration. However, this year, as I balanced my leadership role at ThirdPath with the unexpected and all-consuming demands of elder care, it taught me that some years we will fall short of this goal. Sometimes life will demand more of us, and work will need to take a back seat.

If you think it’s gotten easier for leaders to integrate work and life since ThirdPath was founded, think again. Here’s why:


  • Creating a high performing team that supports everyone’s work-life integration goals is the best way a leader can achieve work-life integration themselves
  • Creating a team like this is harder than you think, especially in a chronically overworked workplace
  • Unpredictability – like what I experienced around elder care – makes planning much more challenging
  • When leaders don’t have time to think and plan, they give up on improving their own work-life integration, as well as their drive to think more creatively with their teams around these issues
Read more …
In fact, unpredictability and lack of time for thinking and planning is probably one of the most significant factors that contributes to chronically overworked workplaces

Given these truths, should we be surprised that so many leaders give up hope, lower their goals, and let work take over their nights, weekends and even vacations?

I know there is a better way. I know supporting leaders to model integrated lives is key to change. However, this past year also taught me how hopelessness might be an unexpected obstacle to change.

How do you renew hope? Find support. Take time to recharge. Recommit to your goals … AND listen to the amazing conversation I had with Brigid Schulte about this exact issue. I promise it will renew your hope that change is possible.

Another option? Join one of our Overwhelm Mitigation Groups. Let us help you learn how to set win-win boundaries at work, so you can have more time and energy for life.

Time for Work and Family

September 15, 2019jdegrootBlog

The Many Gifts of Shared Care

Bryan and his wife both worked a four-day work week when their son was born. Now they are “empty nesters” and can quickly see how the “gifts” from adopting this approach just keep on coming. Read on to learn what Bryan gained from sharing care with his wife. Or watch the YouTube recording of our Thursday Webinar where Bryan and another dad explore the benefits of adopting this approach for themselves and their organizations.

Here’s what Bryan learned: I always knew I wanted to be a very involved Dad but until the time comes when the baby is born and real, it can be difficult to know exactly what that means. As it turns out, Shared Care has been an ideal way of being intimately involved in the day-to-day care of my son. By spending the first few months at home with my son and wife and then caring for my son one day during the work week (known to him as Daddy Day, Mommy also has her own day during the work week), I was able to develop the kind of relationship with my son that I had always hoped for.

Being able to truly share in the care of my son with my wife has been a true gift, some of the benefits anticipated, others quite a surprise.

As anticipated, the greatest benefit of Shared Care has been to share many more of the ‘little moments’ with my son so that I felt as though I witnessed his growing up first hand. I knew his favorite books and his favorite playgrounds, the stories he made up while playing with his trains, and how he liked his grilled cheese sandwich cooked at lunch.

Shared Care brought my wife and I closer together as we felt like ‘true partners’ in this whole business of raising a family.

We shared our lives on several fronts – the ups and downs of clients and projects and deadlines and co-workers and the ups and downs of playtime and napping and discipline and mealtime. Shared Care has helped to foster a wonderful closeness with my wife and as a family.

Shared Care helped me become a better employee as well as a more productive one.

Because I knew my time at work was limited, when working, I found myself very focused. I became better at prioritizing and retaining a perspective on what part of my contribution was the most valuable both to the company and to clients. My company also recognized my contributions both verbally and monetarily regardless of the truth that I continued to prioritize family alongside work.


Read more …

Another benefit of Shared Care was learning how to create self-time.

Both my wife and I learned how to structure our lives so that we both had a certain amount of private time in any week to ‘do our own thing’ and recharge. We’ve been able to create windows of time where each of us has the night off, or a morning off, where we can pursue our own interests apart from work and children. This time has always been precious to me.

One of the many benefits of ThirdPath and its mission of teaching couples about Shared Care is that it helps to create a vision of a new family structure where men and women contribute in significant ways both in the raising of children and in the generation of income.

It can be easy to feel isolated at times on this new path, especially when I was the the only father on the playground on a Thursday morning, or the only male senior technical person who worked a reduced schedule. But to my mind I have the best of all worlds. I developed a depth of connection with my sons that I never had with my own father, have done work I love and moved ahead in my career, all while also creating a lifelong bond with my wife. I may be biased but looking back, it sure feels like Shared Care has been a better way to combine work and family.

Thanks for being such a pioneer Bryan! We are confidant that forging this path for all of these years has made it easier for others to follow in your foot steps.

5 Mandates for Change

August 15, 2019jdegrootBlog

Making the Impossible Possible

When Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All” went viral in 2012, we immediately recognized adding “men and women” to each of her 5 mandates summarized ThirdPath’s mission. These mandates are also at the root of making “the impossible possible” – supporting a new appraoch to careers and family that doesn’t force people to choose between the two.

During our 2018-2019 Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar season we explored each mandate. We also added a sixth mandate – Men and Women Creating Win-Win Boundaries. Check out the May and June webinars, they also demonstrate how this is a key ingredient for supporting men and women to share things at home.

Anne-Marie Slaughter makes the case in her book Unfinished Business, “Most of the pervasive gender inequalities in our society – for both men and women – cannot be fixed unless men have the same range of choices with respect to mixing caregiving and breadwinning that women do.”

She also argues, “It’s time for CEO’s, supervisors, and team leaders to assume that the experience of caregiving… helps people become more efficient, and develop knowledge, patience, adaptability to different rhythms, honesty, courage, trust, humility, and hope.”

To learn more about her revolutionary vision, listen to our YouTube recording of the Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar with her.

We’ve also included a recap of the mandates below. Reading them, you’ll quickly see why putting these mandates into action helps make the impossible possible.

Anne-Marie Slaughter’s Mandates for Change:
Redefining Work, Careers and Family


Read more …
Men and Women Changing the Culture of Face Time – This is at the root of ThirdPath’s work; encouraging men and women – at any point in their careers – to look for the unique flexibility in their jobs. Not every job can be flexed in the same way, but there is a flexible solution for every job.

NEW – Men and Women Creating Win-Win Boundaries – Following an integrated approach to work and life means learning how to set win-win boundaries, otherwise flex becomes working days, nights, weekends and vacations. However, doing this requires making choices – both at work and at home – so we have the time and energy we need for what’s most important.

Men and Women Redefining the Arc of a Successful Career – This is at the core of our work with ThirdPath’s Pioneering Leaders – the male and female senior leaders we work with who all “walk the talk.” Whether on our bi-monthly leadership calls, or at our Pioneering Leaders Summit, together we are exploring the opportunities and barriers of creating workplaces that support an integrated approach from entry level to executive level.

Men and Women Revaluing Family Values – That’s what we’ve been doing since launching ThirdPath, including our ground breaking work supporting Shared Care families. We help both mothers and fathers redesign work (and careers!) so they can stay actively involved in the joys and responsibilities of caring for children. We’ve also learned this approach is key to balancing work and elder care.

Men and Women Rediscovering the Pursuit of Happiness – Whether it is the joy of an amazing vacation, making the most of summers, becoming an active volunteer, or a hobby enthusiast, this mandate gets right at the heart of our work. Most importantly – following a “third path” can continue all the way through phasing into retirement.

Men and Women Becoming an Innovation Nation – Lotte Bailyn discovered this in her pioneering work around the “dual agenda” where she designed solutions that were good for business and employees’ personal lives. Over and again, our amazing ThirdPath community has taught us, when you encourage employees to prioritize work alongside life – men and women, parents, single persons and grandparents – they will also find a way to improve how they work.

Listen to this year’s Thursdays with ThirdPath webinars – each episode will show you how to put these ideas into action.

Our join one of our Overwhelm Mitigation Groups. Let us help you learn how to set win-win boundaries at work, so you can have more time and energy for life.

Navigating Love, Family & Two Careers

July 15, 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

Read more …
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 one of ThirdPath’s OMG! – Overwhelm Mitigation Groups.

Our OMG experience provides an opportunity to learn and master key integration skills. The 1-hour calls meet monthly with a skilled facilitator, like-minded peers, and proven methodology. Join our OMG! 12-call series starting this summer.

 

Shaping The Future

June 15, 2019andyagnewBlog

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

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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Our Mission

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