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I'm a professor, so I have a weird schedule. I work all the time, but largely by choice (though it's kind of expected if you want to get anywhere). I also have a lot of flexibility in my schedule.

For what it's worth, though, I've been on the single person's end of family time at work. The married people with kids call "family time" and leave. The single people with no kids are expected to stay late and finish the important things that need to get done. I respect people having families, but just because I don't have babies doesn't mean my non-work life is any less important or urgent or valuable.

I agree that work-life balance is very important, and employers who respect that benefit themselves and the employees. I just disagree that wanting "family time" should get people more flexibility than anyone else wanting time for their life.

In same profession and work situation as Egg Donor and agree about the burden on single folks. Many employers in the U.S. still do not can about work-life balance, and it also varies by profession. Another situation in the U.S. is short and understaffing, so that many of us do not have automatic backup if we have a personal emergency (or even jury duty) and a deadline to meet. The extra work is often backloaded on people who don't even have it in their job description... and the ones who don't have families.

I agree.
And it irritates me that that these things are treated as "women's" issues. Women will have more freedom in their schedules when it becomes "parent's" issues - and the father has rights to flexi-time and so on.

As to the single employee, and parent employing debate. I noticed long before I had kids that the people w/o out kids (or father's whose wives were on pick up duty) wasted so much time at the "water cooler" and then stayed late acting like "poor me" - to impress the boss that they work long hours. Rarely do they actually work more. The working women I encountered came to work, did their work, and didn't have time for that chit-chat schmooze fest, web surfing / time wasting antics that stretched out the day. The mums had limited hours and thus worked like dogs, often trying to cram a full load of work into their "part time" hours and "part time" pay.

I believe work life balance is a choice actually.

I have a demanding life sucking career that I love (:).. I have two young kids (10 and 7) and yes I work 12-14 hour days but because of flex hours and my ability to work at home this is my schedule:

7:30 at work
I eat lunch (forking five minutes also at my desk)
4:30/5:00 home
5:00-8:30 I work out, hang with kids, homework, soccer practice or game on those nights its usually 8:30 when we get home.
8:30-8:45 kids are in bed or reading in bed.
9:00 lights out
9:00-1:00am work on laptop.

its a schedule I choose, and works for the family, weekends i rarely log in unless the kids are in bed.

My choice to work these long hours, I love and am passionate about my career, kids and relationship with husband, family and friends and I work hard to fit everything in. This career does enable us to take trips as a family, ski, soccer travel etc.

I think Marko has to make a solid decision on what works for him and your family and draw a line there. I've drawn my line its just not the same for everyone.


Living in SA.

My company is fantastic; as long as you show a face during times of ‘crisis’ they don’t expect a leave form. This happened when Sean had his accident. Unfortunately we have 4 weeks enforced leave over Christmas, not what I want, personally. I do not want to go away in December. And then to share it with everyone else is crazy, especially as we do not have kids (school holidays you know)! We have 15 WDL sick leave. And no one blinks an eye if you are late for work. (My latest excuse for my being late to work – I just couldn’t get out of bed, I tried to persuade myself for an hour, but just couldn’t do it)!

They all just laugh it off.

If I have ever worked for a company who starts taking the piss, I take a book to work, read in the car before going in, read during my lunchtime, and leave at the exact leaving time. ‘Do not take advantage; loyalty works both ways, mate!’ They only pay you to work 8 hours, that it what they get!

Fortunetly for me, before I met my husband - both of us were working INSANE hours. LIke over 100 hours a week. Then the internet boom came, and we got new jobs that had more 'normal' hours - like maybe only ten hours a day. So - we know what a difference in life enjoyment we get when we work 'normal' hours. And then - with the wicked expensive day care we are going to be using - we can only leave the baby there for 9 hours a day without HUGE charges for overages.

This is a long winded way of saying that when we start working crazy hours - one of us just reminds the others of how miserable we were back when we were working crazy hours. And that work isn't the most important thing in the world.

It totally depends on where you work, as to how much you work and what kind of vacation/sick days/benefits you get in the states. For example, my dh can be very flexible with his work schedule (he is an electrical engineer for a gov't contractor), gets awesome benefits, and accrues something like 3.5 hours of time off for vacation/sick days every two weeks, so right now he has something like 60 hours saved up. (However, that usually amounts to two weeks vacation per year.) On the other hand, the last job I had (before running away screaming to be a sahm) gave no benefits, was VERY rigid about schedule (had a time clock - 7 minutes late equaled 15 minutes lost pay) and gave one week vacation/sick days after you'd been there a full year, two weeks after you'd been there 3 years, 3 weeks after TEN years, and that was the max.

OH, and that job was in the accounting department of a very successful local business.

My DH also puts in really long hours, but we are lucky that he mostly works from home when he's not traveling for work. He travels for work maybe one day a week, but it's so hard when he's working long hours from home because it's like pulling teeth getting him to the dinner table.

I'm hoping this does not come off as a bash, because it really isn't.
I just wanted to comment on what the phrase "Which means I am going to have to ask Marko to do it..." suggests to me.
It drew the same response from me that I get when I hear people talking about fathers "babysitting" their own kids. It's not babysitting. They are your kids and sometimes you must act as primary care giver.
I feel like you shouldn't have to agonise about Marko taking over part of the children's care routine because when your children need you, work shedules just have to change. Kids weigh more than work on the priority scale. If the situation were reversed, the whole world would come down on a mother who even considers prioritising work obligations over kids and (while I think we must be kinder in the way we react to the challenges faced by working mothers) the obligations and priorities of fathers are no different.
Having expressed all of that, I reiterate the caveat that my intention is not to insult or criticise, but to express a viewpoint that may or may not be different from yours or that of other commenters. I know the net can make things come off harsh in print, so I hope you read this the way I am writing it.
On another note, as I was about to post this, I just glanced to the right and saw a google ad on your sidebar "How to get pregnant fast" which links to baby-dust.com. LOL! If only they knew...

I am in Norway. Family-work balance is considered essential and (at my workplace, at least) overtime is considered evidence of inefficiency, not something to be encouraged.

We get 5 weeks of vacation a year.

It is common here for parents to share responsibilities for their children and both parents work, so both need and get accommodation as needed.

For example, my husband and I take turns collecting our daughter from kindergarten, which involves having to leave the office an hour early (we come in an hour early on our pick-up days or stay an hour later on drop-off days to offset this).

We also either take turns taking her to appointments, attending school meetings, etc., or we both go. I have to go on a work retreat next week, and--while I will miss my family like mad--I know they will be fine while I am away.

We decided together to become parents, and we work together to raise our child--we are co-parents who help each other through this madcap and wonderful journey.

IBM is great with that, I know.. I have a couple of friends who work for IBM.

I work for Cisco, and we aren't allowed to work from home, because we have to be available at the Datacentre during working hours.

I am a work-a-holic, and work often comes first.

and we have 25 days leave.. 5 weeks in total :)

I also think it depends on where you work. I live in the states, and have worked for the same company for 19 years. I spent 17 1/2 of those years childless, and I have had a pretty strict schedule. You have vacation time and sick time, and you use that for your time off, doctor's appointments, etc. However now that I have a 1 1/2 year old son and hate every day that I have to spend away from him, I asked for Fridays off and was given a reduced schedule without any hesitation. I get 4 weeks vacation a year, plus 12 sick days. Every five years I'm given one extra week vacation for that particular year, then back to 4 weeks. I find that my company has come a long way on their flexibility. If I have to leave early one day, they'll allow me to come in early to make up for it, stay late another day, or use my vacation time. I am not sure if it's just because of recent trends to make for a happier family/work balance, or because I never really needed the flexibility before and therefore didn't ask.

My husband is quite flexible with his work schedule, however he is on call 24/7 so you never know when he might get called in to work. As it stands, I take Fridays off, he takes Thursday off. On Mon, Tues, Weds I leave the house at 6am while everyone is sleeping. Hubby gets up with our son, feeds him breakfast, gets him dressed, and takes him to daycare at 10am. I pick him up at 4pm. I'm quite lucky indeed that we both have the flexibility, and that DH is such an equal part in the child care department. NOW, if we were talking household chores........that would be a different story!

I guess we're really privileged in Germany. I'm working as a programmer for HP. Employers over here have to give you three years worth of parental leave per child, which parents can split among themselves as they see fit. During that time, you can also work up to 30 hours per week if you like and if your employer agrees. (Most of them have to, depending on the size of the company.) Also, there are 10 days of "kids' sick leave" per year. As for myself, I took three years off and started to work again full time (40hrs/week) again in February. The city of dortmund (Agency for family matters) organized daycare for my children which is subsidized by the state.

Theoretically, though, I could have stayed on parental leave from the birth of my daughter in March 05 until my son's third birthday in October 09. HP couldn't even have thrown me out during that time. Alternatively, I could have used two years parental leave per child and taken the third year some time before their eighth birthdays.

Just a comment on Ute's situation: it sounds great, it IS great for those women in the workforce who want to have kids. It majorly sucks if you're a young women trying to get into the workforce because employers say "Nah, the risk you'll leave for three forking years is too forking great, we'll take the guy". Of course there are anti-discrimination laws in place, but how do you want to prove that? And when women do end up taking out nine years, with a job guaranteed for their return? Well, they've forked it up for all those people who for nine years had only temp replacement jobs for her position.

As for normal everyday life, my husband and I are pretty free to start and stop working whenever it suits us, provided wie fulfill our contracts. I start working at 6:15 and fetch my kids at 15:00 h, Marc takes them to daycare, starts working at 8:30 and gets home some time in the evening.

I know this isn't precisely the question you were asking, but I wanted to share some insights my husband and I have learned through many hours of counseling.

This post struck a chord with me because I used to have the same feelings of stress when asking my husband to go above and beyond his usual duties. He works pretty typical hours and is actually given quite a bit of flexibility - so he is home pretty early in the evening and we divide child care when he is home pretty equally. But I often had a sense of anxiety about asking for extra help during the day - from him or anyone, actually.

What I've discovered is that people like to feel needed and appreciated. They will usually have a much more positive response if you are honest with your needs and don't anticipate a negative response. For instance, if you frame a request more from a "we need you...." or a "we really miss you and want to hang out with you" perspective rather than a "it is your job to do X" then it is a much nicer interaction all the way around. And the latter perspective really is the TRUTH - but I guess I used to avoid it because it sounds needy or weak or something. But it is honest and my husband and I are making a real effort to express our needs more truthfully. It applies to all areas of our relationship and the kids especially.

I hope this helps and comes across with the sincerity it was intended. I know the work-family balance is TOUGH and a constant battle. Hang in there!


Well, I'm a SAHM who works every so often as an attorney (contract work) and magazine writer. So my life/work balance is really good--I mostly do a lot of "life" and very little "work." I left the full time practice of law b/c I knew I wouldn't be able to balance it--working 60 hours a week did not sound conducive to motherhood, at least not for me. My husband works the typical 40-50 hours, but he has a 2 hour daily commute, so he ends up away from home from 6:30-5 on good days and 6:30-6:30 on most days. We are Americans so we do have the dreadful "two weeks of vacation." However, his particular company is not super demanding and they do understand that their employees should have a life outside of work. And after another year or two he'll get (gasp!) 3 weeks of vacation!!

Honestly, I don't think you're off base. Being away from home 12 hours per day is the most my husband usually does. I can't imagine if he worked 14 hours. I just know I wouldn't like it, mostly because it would mean he'd miss out on so much time with our son!

Dr. J: You rarely get back the very same job you left. So the replacement jobs aren't as much of a problem as you seem to consider it. Besides, in order to stay on parental leave for nine years your kids will each have to be born on the previous one's birthday. I've never heard of that happening. Besides, women who really want to work usually start working again much sooner than they have to.

I have frequently worked at companies where I received no vacation time.

Another thought, DrJ: Current efforts by our government aim at making parents split parental leave more equally, making it as much of a risk to employ a man as it is to employ a woman.

Oh, forgot to mention vacation time: 6 weeks per year, each for my husband and for myself. This can vary, though. I think the minimum is 3 weeks, but I'm not sure.

I am in the United States. My job currently provides 2 weeks of paid leave per year, but this will increase to 3 weeks in 2009 since I will have been with the company for 3 years. More seniority= more leave, but of course more seniority= more work and responsibilies, so taking vacation time causes a lot of disruption to the office. Unfortunately my employers aren't too keen on us taking our vacation time consecutively e.g. they want you to take 1 week in March, 1 week in June and a couple of days over the Christmas holidays. I think you really need more than one week away from the office to properly relax.

My husband is a lot like Marko and he has a huge backlog of unused vacation time. I'm trying to convince him to take 2-4 weeks off next year so we can go to South Africa, see my family and the Kruger Park. He swears two weeks is the absolute max or else he won't get assigned any good projects. We don't have any kids yet. He wants to achieve a certain level in his career, then the plan is to move to a less stressful, more family-orientated city, take less stressful jobs and try to have kids. The timeframe is a bit tricky-- I don't want us to wait too long for fertility-related reasons but he wants to maximize the years when he can focus (almost) exclusively on his job.

I sympathsize with your, Tertia. It's hard to convince an ambitious person to be less ambitious. You've got to respect his own hopes and dreams and goals, while emphasizing that taking 30 minutes over lunch to pick up the kids is not really a big deal to his career in the long run and would mean the world to them. His employers will likely be more understanding than he thinks.

I told my employer before she hired me that I was a mother of 2 young children, and they came FIRST.... period. No if's, ands,but's about it. If my kids need me or need something I make sure it is done before the needs of anything or anybody else.. Just the way I feel about it.. now for my husband he sees himself as the main 'breadwinner', and does not have the same attitude about as I.

I have been with my current employer for 23 years. I am a unionized employee with a decent contract. I get 34 vacation days as well as an additional 17 PTO (paid time off) days. I also earn 9 hours of CTO (compensatory time off for overtime) every 8 working days. I am a shift worker, I work 8 days on and 4 days off, (if I use 8 vacation days, I actually get 16 days away from work) We have 4 3-month vacation blocks that we rotate through and during that block, you have to take a minimum of 15 days vacation (or it will be assigned to you). You can request the remainder of your vacation outside your block, but not during the months of June - Aug (can only schedule in-block vacation during those months as that is our busiest time, can use PTO and CTO if there is relief available) The block system works, you get a summer month every second year, and it doesn't matter what your seniority is, you get to take your two weeks as requested. I usually take the two shifts in-block, then request vacation at the end of March and Christmas (another crazy time of the year for us). We also have 10 days special leave that can be used for family illness. When the kids were small, I did all of the family illness days as the hubby was military. After he got out, he started using his family illness days as well.

What Pat said.

(For the record, my DH grumbles constantly about everything I ask him to do or not to do, as well as about everything I myself do or fail to do. While annoying, this allows me to ignore all his grumbling; I just treat it as white noise. I have pointed this out to him, along with the fact that if he ever is actually irritated about anything it will be impossible for me to know that, but the grumbling persists. Oh well).

I don't think we're required to get any vacation in the US, though larger companies may be required to provide some. Two weeks is typical; my employer provides 3 -- 4 now that I've been here 5 years -- plus 12 days per year of sick leave and is quite good on flexibility. We do also, if we work for large enough firms, have the right to take up to 3 months away from work for health reasons (self or family members') without pay. Woo Hoo!

What I notice here, though, is that if a man leaves work early one day to pick up his kids, it's all, "Oh, what a devoted father!" And if a woman does, it's "Gee, why isn't she more serious about her career?"

As for my personal situation, his grumbling aside one of the things I love, love, love about my DH is that spending time with his kids always comes first. Admittedly this is coupled with a remarkable lack of ambition that means less means (note the verb...noun use of the word means there...) than we'd probably otherwise have. But, so, so worth it.

I cut back to 30 hours/week of work when DS was born and am debating how long to keep it up. As I have a one-hour commute (r/t) to get here, it's not that short a workweek, but it's shorter than it was.

Sorry for the stream of consciousness nature of my comments!

I can't read all of the comments now and I don't care to debate the single/family worker's responsibilities. I think its each person's choice to put their foot down for family (or "me") time. I suspect that there are jobs that make this hard but again, where you work is a choice.

I was nervous recently (but then proud) when my husband, who works in law enforcement, actually asked for a continuance on a court case because we had plans for my son's birthday. He wouldn't do it every day but he knew it was a special day for him and he lived to his priorities.

I don't mean to sound insensitive. I know there are situations when a person CAN'T do it. But can't and won't are two different things, in my opinion, and if I faced too many times when I truly was not able to be there when I needed to be for my family, I would be looking for other employment.

Hmm, well I can tell you about my childhood, as I don't have a family myself yet. My father was not around much when I was a kid. He was a nuclear engineer and would sometimes have to work 100 days in a row with no days off. Most nights, his dinner was put away for him to eat when he got home (at nine usually) and he always left for work before we went to school in the morning. His attitude was exactly like Marko's -- that he didn't have a choice. I know that he really believed this was the case though, as I think Marko does too.

In terms of my job, I don't work a huge amount of overtime but I do only have two weeks of vacation a year, which is difficult as my parents live 3,000 miles away and my boyfriend's parents live 1,000 miles away. So, spending a week with each family per year, I haven't taken a true "vacation" in five years. It's just what we have to deal with here in the U.S.

Oh and just to add my two cents... I don't have children, but I work closely with a girl who has a young daughter (2) and another on the way. I don't mind one bit when she leaves because her daughter is sick, and I hope she would do the same for me when I have a family some day. We all have to support each other, and the fact is, I don't have anyone relying on me like she does, so I really don't mind picking up the slack occasionally.

At my last job, I had four weeks vacation a year (and four weeks of sick days too) -- yahoo! That is simply not the norm anymore; I would still be there if it hadn't been for an economic downturn. Though I probably still have it better than most with 12 days of vacation and 12 days of sick leave, with the vacation getting better after 5 years, then 10 years.

Most employers don't care about family, at least not in the US, and this is particularly true for men. I work for about half the salary that I could otherwise earn, because I chose a place that would allow me flexibility and a normal work day. (The alternative would be 12 hour days and weekend work -- no thanks!) Sometimes, picking up your marbles and going somewhere else is the only option.

I just looked at Louise M's comment -- I want to work where she works!

It also depends on your profession. I am an engineer and it is almost expected that you work weird hours. Some people come in at 5:30 or 6 and leave at 2; others come in at 10 and leave at 8 or 9. The (giant corporation...much like you work for) also supplies us with laptops so I can work from home whenever I need/want to.

I am totally jealous of all the vacation outside the US. I wanna get 5 weeks of vacation too...


tiah - your experience in the workplace has been the opposite of mine.

I think it depends on the workplace and job responsibilities. If someone else has to stay late so Marko can leave early or if he has to pass his work on to others, I can see why that would be difficult for him. Having said that, if Marko can't get away early for two days, then there is a serious problem with his employer.

It's all well and good to say family comes first, but the people who say that the loudest often have no consideration for the fact that other people have families and outside obligations as well. And one last point that is probably not relevant to you, but if the paycheque is necessary to feed and shelter the family, then committing to work responsibilities is putting family first. I apologise if this sounds snarky, but I work for the government and I am so sick and tired of listening to people spend all day bitching about their entitlements when they aren't even putting in the bare minimum time or effort. Thanks, I needed to get that off my chest.

I think you have every right to be angry(and more) at Marko for not making you and the kids more of a priority. You should not feel bad about asking him to pick the kids up while you are away- they are just as much his responsibility! I would be pretty ticked if my husband acted that way.
My husband's job(USA, Virginia, IT field)has both long grueling hours at times and flexibility. For example- last night he needed to work late but was able to come home from 7-8:30pm to see the kids, eat something and help me treat our youngest son's infected finger(that was the important part to me:). He then went back to work and got home around 1am. Another example- today the air conditioning went out at my youngest kids school so they had to close early. I was supposed to go to a drs. appointment so I called Adam to see if he could pop home for a long lunch but he had a client meeting scheduled. No biggie, I called a neighbor but she wasn't available so I rescheduled the appointment. I could have brought the kids to his work but I did not want to do that. That's a rare time when he can't accomodate me.
His job gets very busy at times where he'll work late(past 7pm) 3-4 nights a week or weekends but he also can almost always pick up the kids, come home for dinner, come home if I have an appointment or to go to a school function. He does not punch a clock and many weeks he'll come home early a day or two if he knows he'll need to stay late or work over the weekend(apparantly it's easier to work on people's computers when they aren't using them...wtf??).
His company is a family owned business of about 100 employees. They are very understanding about emergencies and family needs. He does get 3 or 4 paid weeks of vacation a year plus some sick leave. Plus he works about 10 minutes from our home which makes it much easier for him to run home and back if I need him. He could likely make more money elsewhere but the flexibility is invaluable to us at this point with 3 kids ages 6-12. He is about to negotiate for more money which would be wonderful but I don't see him leaving either way:)

I am American but for as long as I can remember have had at least four weeks vacation -- first thanks to working for a British company and then a family friendly one. I am a single mother who does not know what I would do without my family friendly schedule where I can work from home and pick up my daughter at different times as needed.
I don't think you should have to feel guilty for making Marco step in when you are away. However since you are a two parent family with a nanny I also don't think one should begrudge him for being ambitions and working somewhat crazy hours. That is how many of us get ahead in life, by working overtime or for working for companies that demand a lot of us. We could all opt to take jobs that require nothing more than 35/40 hours a week, but some of us want more of a challenge (even with my flexible schedule I also run a business on the side), and more potential for a larger payoff, an improved lifestyle. That involves sacrifice.
(Also, not trying to sound snarky here since you didn't sound like you were that annoyed with Marco -- just raising the issue).

I live in Denmark and feel rather privileged. Both my husband and I work full time and both our kids (3 and 4 yrs) go to daycare from 8 am til 4:30 pm. I drop off at and pick up 3-4 times a week and my husband does it once or twice a week so that I can meet early and finish up late at least one day a week. We have 6 wks of vacation and child's first sick day free (every time the child is sick) We have 1 year of paid materniy leave- depending on the company there is normally 6-12 months of full salary payment during this leave. The state also pays 50% of daycare expenses and gives "child support money" which is around 700 USD every 3 months pr. child.

I work in Marketing and a work day from 8:30 til 16 is not enough so I usually spend 3-4 hrs. a week working from home.

I work in the U.S. for a healthcare company. It's a great company with a great cause (critical therapies for critically ill patients), and I have never had a complaint about receiving time off. I am salaried, not hourly, so if I don't work exactly 40 hours per week, no one says a word. Also, I work from home for four hours on Mondays (but if a holiday falls on a Monday I still get 8 hours off - yay!). If the work gets done (and without mistakes, of course), no one has anything to say. I have worked here for 7 years, and I receive 15 days of vacation, 8 sick days (which may also be used for when children are sick), and 26 weeks of Short-Term Disability (as in the event of having surgery or a pregnancy) at 100% pay. My husband works for a logistics company, and he works from home Mondays and Thursdays. We have a wonderful nanny caring for our 18-month old daughter. The nice thing is that my daughter already has experience with other children (nanny has one daughter who is three years old), and will not be socially inexperienced when she begins kindergarten in 4 years.

I am out tomorrow to acoompany myu best friend to the doctor and then eat chocloate and gossip for the afternoon. H=usband therefor is home with children and new puppy. He missed an important test at work because it was sons birthday. His boss had puled a big meeting for the same tyhing so he wasn't stressed about it. On the other hand he does fly abroud for days with about a day's notice so we are flexible too.

He is stillmaking a big promotion. I work for a tuny nonprofit and they are fabulous!

I see your comment and another comment about IBM and I just laugh - my husband works for IBM/IGS and he hasn't worked fewer than 80 hrs in a week for the last 4 years, except on vacation when he only worked 20, because he had to drive to get a Blackberry signal. :) I think it depends a lot on your role.

Anyways having framed that - my husband works insane hours. He frequently works until 1 or 2, sleeps for a few hrs, and gets paged at 5 am. He works weekends. (I know all this is unhealthy; don't get me started.)

However, if my son needs him and I am not available for some reason, then he doesn't sleep at all, reschedules meetings, or works harder between the hours of 1 and 3 am. In order for me to go back to work full time he has had to do breakfast and drop our son off at 8:30 (I leave at 7am). Occasionally I have meetings and can't pick my son up. And he is THERE because he is THE FATHER and that is that. He works crazily but if the chips are down on a particular required time, he makes it work.

This issue with Marko is not about TIME if it two days. It is about responsibility. He has to step up. No guilt about it.

As for the single people picking up office slack - ok here's my piece on that. I work hard despite being a parent, but I do have to leave at a certain time - I just work again after my son is in bed. Ultimately though, if I couldn't do that - it's the EMPLOYER'S job to ensure that their teams are adequately staffed. Most employers don't do that and depend on overtime, paid or unpaid. So blame them, not the parents.

Tertia? You're doing the right thing. You are exactly spot-on about everything that you are saying (aside from the part about you being an asshole, at least in this regard). Please don't just think that you are over-reacting or some such nonsense. Tell Marko that what his employer thinks is way less important than him being a good dad, both now and in the future. If you do, Adam and Kate will be thanking you for the rest of their lives.

Marko is exactly like my own father. Much of the time throughout my schooling, he was gone before I got up in the morning, and didn't come home until after I went to bed. I got to spend time with him mostly on weekends, if he wasn't working. When I was little, I got to spend more time with him (he read my sister and I a bedtime story every night), but only because his company didn't want to pay him overtime, and so they made him go home on time. When I was very young and when I was in middle school, he was also an active elder at our church, so much of the time he would have spent at home was spent on visiting people or working on the computer-- even now he has meetings and work as a provisional elder for the church plant of which my parents are a part.

And you know what? All of that impacted our family in a major way. My sister and I really never had a clear understanding of what normal father-child relations are like. We almost never had a proper family dinner. Half the time people thought that my parents were divorced, because I rarely mentioned my father, and people only ever saw him with us on Sunday morning at church (and yes, sometimes we would drop him off at the office after the service). Even now, as my sister and I are moving to a more adult world (I'm just finished my first year of college, er, university, and she's starting grad school), the repercussions are still there. I rarely talk to my dad while I'm at school, just because it never occurs to me that he's as much of my parent as my mother is, and he's typically busy anyhow. The same was true of my sister, and she even wrote a term paper about living with a workaholic dad last semester.

Please continue to urge Marko to do the right thing regarding his work and his balance of career and family. I would hate for your children to have to grow up like I did. This isn't for him (although if he continues the way he does, do not be surprised if he ends up with health problems down the line), and this isn't for you (although it you and your marriage are extremely important, too). This is for your children; this is for Adam and Kate. You worked so hard to become parents; please don't give all that up now. I'm rooting for you guys.

If this is a double comment, I apologise - my internet can crash all by itself!

Tiah - my work experience has been different than yours. I've found that some people are just slackers. If slackers happen to be parents, they use their kids as an excuse, just like the singles use their social life.

It kind of bothers me when people say "my family comes first" because often they aren't considering that the other people at work also have families and outside obligations. It is a rare and special occupation to work in a vacuum where someone else isn't going to have to do your job when you aren't there. If we all say My _____ comes first, who's going to be left to get anything done?

This probably isn't a factor for a lot of your readers Tertia, but if your family's food and shelter is dependent on your paycheque, then being committed to work is putting family first.

I live and work in the USA - I've been with my company for over eight years and have four weeks paid vacation. My company's very liberal with how quickly you get vacation time. At some places you don't get four weeks until you've been there 15 or 20 years.

I don't have children. So I'm also often the one who has to finish things when the coworkers dash out early to catch Junior's game. Some things are still due by 5pm, even if you have to leave early.

I get 10 sick days. Parents can take 7 of those as "dependent care" days. I'd like to be able to use my own sick days when I take my Mom to various appointments. But I have to take a vacation day.

And that's where I start to bristle. People who say "Family first" usually mean "*My* family first because I have children." Let's have flexibility available to all workers.

My solution? Let the kids stay home from school those two days with Rose. It's play school...it's not going to scar them for life to miss 2 days.

I have no idea what Marko actually does for a living, but he should be able to pick up the kids or figure out an alternative for TWO DAYS of their few years on this earth, period. Period.

And I really want that to be Period, but I just can't. Sorry. Unless your two day trip is coinciding with his most important presentation of the year he just needs to suck it up and figure it out.

I work part-time now in a job well below my capabilities/professional level for various reasons, but mainly because we live abroad due to my husband's career and my job opportunities are limited. That said, my husband is there, generally without complaint, on the rare occasion I need to go in early or our sitter is sick because he knows that I need to have a career in the future, both for our financial security and my peace of mind/self-esteem/sanity/whatever. No offense, but Marko doesn't have a stay at home wife and that's largely part of why Marko has a nice house in a nice suburb, a very nice car, etc. He's got to support your career sometimes too. Stand up for yourself.

I'm in Australia, we get 4 weeks holiday a year and after 10 years 3 months longs ervice leave. Companies seem fairly felxibile about family work balance but if you really want to get somewhere then you are expected to put in teh extra hours. DH drops the kids of at school and I leave for work at 6:30am to be able to leave work at 4pm and be home aroung 5pm. The kids get the bus home from school (which is till 3:15pm)and arrive home at about 4pm, which gives them only about 1 hour before I arrive, was much more difficult when tehy were younger and always a race against time to get them at after school care. We ahve no family to help out and DH just have to do it all when I travel away for work.

Both my husband and I work from home, for the same company. We had a 2.5 yo son and we have a sitter come in for 2-2.5 hours M/F to watch him while we work. It's wonderful for us because we get lots of time with wee one while also having the benefit of 2 incomes!

The greatest part is DH is free to partake in DS activities whenever he needs to. Our son is speech delayed, and is in a speech class at the mo. My DH comes with us to class, so DS has both mom and dad there. He loves it, and we love it because we both get to learn what we're supposed to do at home regarding speech.

We had IF issues, so it took 10 long years to conceive our son. During that time, we decided how we wanted our family life to look. To meet that goal, we relocated to what we felt was a more family -friendly and affordable place, and just informed our employers we were leaving: they could like it or lump it. We fully expected to have to find new jobs/careers (we're in a very specialized field, but figured we might have to find NEW careers), but thought family life was more important. Fortunately, our employers just dealt with our decision, and here we are 7 years later reaping the benefits of our decision!

Here in teh states I know LOTS of families with unusual working situations like ours -- one or both spouses working from home, having flex hours, or other combinations. I hope that the future has more of this! I think it is VITAL for fathers to have time with their children. My son is devestated when his father isn't available for play. My DH is just as good at following DS' routine as I am (well, except even yesterday he couldn't find his pants - WTF?) and I love how close they are. I realize we have a very fortunate situation, but I truly hope more families can experience it in the future. I think it can happen, as WAH becomes more feasible and as fathers become more involved in childcare.

Well, I clearly need a new job. Or a new country.

vacation? wtf is that? i haven't gotten paid vacation in YEARS. if i don't work, i don't get paid. very easy.

In Hawaii, which has notoriously high turnover and a transient population (lot of military families and contractors) I get one week of vacation time after one year. I don't get paid for holidays until after I pass my 90-day probationary hire period. And I work in an office as a director, so it's not like I'm in retail or a waitress or something that typically has no benefits at all.

And at my old job, it pissed me right the fuck off when people bailed out at any and all hours of the day without warning "because of the kids." I know that not every person with children does this, and that if I had kids I would want the same flexibility. But in THIS office, each parent there, to a person, was notorious for vanishing without notice because "my family comes first." We were understaffed anyway and it really taxed the other team members. And to the person who said that an understaffed office means that management isn't doing things right and you should find another job, I don't disagree. But I'm wagering that for most people, you don't throw away three weeks automatic paid vacation, free health benefits, and employee matching in your IRA because of an "unbalanced" workload. You just don't. You can't.

I pretty much have the same issues. My husband often works long hours and a lot of the time I get annoyed, and feel as if it is taken for granted that I will pick up the slack. Having said that, I think that despite all the magazine articles etc about how hard it is for working women, we tend to forget that men feel pressure too. Unlike most of our fathers, who were free to put in the necessary hours to get ahead and "provide for the family", with the luxury of probably having a SAH wife, fathers are now expected to split the childcare as well. They are made to feel like bad fathers if they don't put the family first all the time. I'm all for fathers being very involved, dont get me wrong. My favourite line is "you dont babysit your own children". In the end, its easy to say that family comes first, but that does include providing a secure standard of living. There are realities of life to be dealt with. It's not a perfect world, and not all employers can or are willing to make allowances. Yes, you can say family comes first, but feeding, clothing and paying for kids education is pretty important. Presumably, Marko either loves his job, or can't change jobs, so that means working around the situation. It doesn't strike me that he just can't be bothered. If he really does get stressed about this sort of thing, then I assume he has good reason to feel that stress. I don't think it would be wise to push this issue with his company if it going to give him a lot of grief, or affect his job security. I suppose I would be annoyed at his company, but not necessarily at him.

Here in New Zealand parents get time off to look after sick children, no questions asked. Life's very family oriented, and parents often share the load by working different shifts. Very few people work 9 - 5 type jobs. Kids under 14 are not allowed to stay at home unattended, so employers tend to give you time off or let you work flexible hours. I'm a teacher, so I'm not sure how much leave other workers get. I think it's about 2-3 weeks. A lot of people take 'sickies' or 'mental health days' when they feel under pressure. Luckily in NZ, that's not often. A very laid-back, happy-go-lucky kind of life here! Everyone complains that they don't get paid enough, but I'm getting about 3 times more than I did back in SA as a teacher. NZ has a great social system and schooling is free (you can pay a donation and you pay for activities). I have four teenage kids, so thank goodness for that! Lots of other benefits too, like maternity, housing, child-care etc. Although I do regularly work about 50 hrs a week (as teachers do...), the working conditions are pleasant, so not complaining.

I am a nurse in the USA. I work 4 10hour days..every Fri-Sat-Sun off and about 240 hrs of paid time off (sick vacation or mental health days) per year.
Not a bad deal at all

Yep, we did this for ten years, I called my self a 'single married Mom'.

Then one day I had enough. I refused to do the next relocation, I told my hubby that I loved him and wanted us to be together as a family but I was taking the kids and going home as I needed more help with them and he wasn't around anyways. We were living in England at the time and home was Canada.

He lasted three weeks at his new post in the USA without us then started seriously looking and found a great new job with us here.

He's home more, we're a lot poorer and it's a life lesson for us both.

The kids? They love having both Mom and Dad around. But, not so much the lack of income. :)

I used to work late and weekends. When I had my first baby something changed for me, and I decided I did not want to do it anymore. I was not being as competitive as before compared to single guys or guys with wives who took care of their children and house all the time. I did have to give up a few projects and I was pissed off about it for a maybe a few days. But overall the choice was easy because it made me happy. It worked for me, may not work for others. Now, my husband also started working shorter hours. He is more focused during the day because he tries to waste less time and to be more organized, but I don't see a big change in his career, it kept going upward. I live in the US and I should point out that statistics say that while women stay behind in their careers after having a child, men actually get promoted more (they are deemed more reliable or some other reason like that...) So if you lived here I would say ask Marko to do a bit more at home, and you would not only do a favor to yourself, but also to mothers working in his field....

I know, I'm late!! I have been meaning to post something here for days but busy, busy, like Marko.
Tertia, you should be ashamed... you have to feel sorry for poor Marko, not angry!
Most people do not like to work 14 hours a day but sometimes you have to. Also, every company has its issues. Yours is very flexible; mine is flexible with certain things like being late or taking time to go for an ultrasound at noon but not so flexible with other things. In my office nobody wears ties for instance; in my husband's office not wearing a tie is unthinkable (we are way cooler than them). Employees cannot choose what to take; the jobs came in a pacakage (pay, position, time off, dress code) especially if you have certain responsibilities; you can take it or leave it. If you do not like it and you cannot leave, then you are in a very bad position...
As a boss, I expect people to work 8-9 hours per day. If someone has to go to the doctor, he/she can make up for those hours any other day and better have their job done.


I know, I'm late!! I have been meaning to post something here for days but busy, busy, like Marko.
Tertia, you should be ashamed... you have to feel sorry for poor Marko, not angry!
Most people do not like to work 14 hours a day but sometimes you have to. Also, every company has its issues. Yours is very flexible; mine is flexible with certain things like being late or taking time to go for an ultrasound at noon but not so flexible with other things. In my office nobody wears ties for instance; in my husband's office not wearing a tie is unthinkable (we are way cooler than them). Employees cannot choose what to take; the jobs came in a pacakage (pay, position, time off, dress code) especially if you have certain responsibilities; you can take it or leave it. If you do not like it and you cannot leave, then you are in a very bad position...
As a boss, I expect people to work 8-9 hours per day. If someone has to go to the doctor, he/she can make up for those hours any other day and better have their job done.


Responding to some of the comments here: Being the owner of my own business, I don't get any paid time off. Of course, the flipside is I can take off any time I want in theory... if I don't want to eat. Some days I'd kill for weeks of PTO (or even sick days). Trade-offs I guess, for not "working for the man".

Work-life balance is particularly difficult when your office is in your house. It's *so* easy to just get sucked into working all my awake time. I'm in the same role, mostly, your husband is... and I bet he feels plenty of guilt working so much.

Good luck!
Check out our family's blog: http://elliotts.eachday.com

Tiah, defensive much? I work in the States and it's absolutely true that U.S. corporations interpret "family-friendly" policies to mean "allow people with children to be flexible, but regard anyone who doesn't have children's request to have time off with suspicion."

As a single person, then a married person without kids, I've been told that I don't "need" my vacation and I should "schedule around the parents," even when they ask for vacation AFTER I do. What's wrong with first come, first served?

Another example: When my co-worker's wife had a miscarriage at six weeks, he was allowed to "work from home" for two weeks with no paperwork. On the other hand, when my mother was doing chemotherapy for her cancer, I was denied the same privilege. Not only that, my mother's doctor had to fill out gobs of paperwork so I had the privilege of taking LEAVE WITHOUT PAY. And no, I am not a klatcher and you won't catch me at the water cooler or even out to lunch very often. I always get high marks for being easy-going and a top performer.

And before you all descend upon me like a herd of angry hornets, let me say that having a miscarriage is painful. Dying of cancer is painful. The point is, corporations need to have "work-LIFE" programs, not just "work-FAMILY" programs. And these programs need to be applied without regard to whether someone has children. There's nothing wrong with using seniority or first-come, first-served to dole out vacation, not whether someone has managed to have a child.

There is a lot of simmering resentment in the workplace over this issue.

No, it's not assholish to expect your husband to actually be a parent. It's assholish to let him get away with not being one.

I heard a funny story from a friend whose husband was just laid (sp?) off. She does freelance work now and then, but otherwise is a SAHM. She has upped the freelance since his lay off, and had to go the office for a meeting at 4:30. She told her husband he had to be home at 4:00 so she could make the meeting, and he said he was going for a bike ride and that he wasn't sure, but he would "try to be home by then". It honestly did not occur to him that his schedule was now the expendable one!

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