Main | July 2008 »

9 posts from June 2008

June 30, 2008

Madonna pays the price for BlackBerry addiction

Madonna      Madonna has become the new poster child for the personal price of BlackBerry addiction. Just months ago, we learned that both she and husband Guy Ritchie sleep with their BlackBerrys.

    She told Elle Magazine UK: "It’s not unromantic. It’s practical. I’m sure loads of couples have their BlackBerry's in bed with them. I have to sleep with my BlackBerry because I often wake up in the middle of the night and remember that I’ve forgotten something, so I jump up and make notes." She revealed that her husband, Guy Ritchie, also tucks his handheld computer under the pillow at night.

     Now, there are reports that Madonna wants a divorce and that she has hired Paul McCartney's divorce attorney. Madonna supposedly told Guy Ritchie she wants a divorce after the couple agreed they had fallen out of love and had simply drifted apart.

      I'm sure there are lots of reasons the two drifted apart. But I would put money on the fact that the BlackBerrys in bed didn't help matters. As great as PDAs are for work life, they can be a threat to home life. Does this have you thinking twice about bringing a BlackBerry to bed?

June 25, 2008

Does telecommuting risk your job security?

    Today, I tackled telecommuting in my Miami Herald column. Sure, employers are more willing to allow it with today's gas prices soaring, but are you putting your job at risk by being out of sight out of mind. See my tips for staying visible even when working from home a few days a week.

    Also, to check out my discussion on telecommuting with anchor Jim Berry on CBS4-My33, click here.

June 24, 2008

Working Women Want a Raise

Money     Is money on the top of your mind? You have lots of company.

    A  raise overtook health insurance as the most desired change in the work lives of women, according to the sixth Working America Ask a Working Woman survey.  Working women are desperate to earn more money -- we would even give up balance to get it. Those surveyed said if they had more available time, they would work another job, ahead of spending more time with friends and family, exercise, taking a class and getting more sleep. 

"Unemployment is up, the credit crunch is squeezing people and gas prices are hitting record highs. America's working women need a raise and a break."  says Karen Nussbaum, Executive Director of Working America.

    As one would guess, debt is a huge issue. The survey shows women are using their credit cards to pay for durable goods and everyday items. Six in 10 respondents have at least some credit card debt, and many said they won't be able to pay off their credit cards in the near future

   Women also said they take a hit in their paychecks for having kids. Eight in 10 respondents say having children hurts their career and prospects in the job market (27 percent say hurts strongly).

   Would a raise be the top benefit you seek from your employer? If you had free time would you take another job?

June 23, 2008

What women want -- sex or money?, a dating website, recently asked some 2,000 of its users what couples should spend more time discussing: women chose money, men chose sex. "Hot sex isn't what keeps people together," says Thomas Plante, a psychology professor at Santa Clara University. "But not being on the same page about finances can be fatal."

   In this month's Money Magazine  research shows married couples are astonishingly clueless about many aspects of their financial life together. Half of pairs came up with completely different figures when asked to estimate their family's income and net worth.  And, about a third of those surveyed admitted to lying to their partner about money. The article attributes this problem to the way couples divide financial labor in the family --who pays the bills, who invests, who buys insurance and who files the taxes. The article suggests the solution is to talk to each other. It advises reinforcing informal talks about money with a more pointed sit-down in which you review each other's savings.

   Here are some things you both need to know: how much money did your spouse earn last year, what's the last big purchase your spouse made, how much does your spouse owe, what's the current value of your spouse's 401k, how much did the two of you report in joint income on your tax return last year.

   Have you ever lied to your spouse about how much something cost? Do you look at your spouse's credit card bills? In between balancing work and home life, do you considering discussing finances a top priority?

June 22, 2008

Baby Borrowers?

Baby Have you heard about NBC's project to show young adults just how tough parenthood can be? The creators of NBC's Baby Borrowers  want teens to see that babies are a complete package, and being able to deal with the tougher aspects requires maturity. For 10 years after I married, I put off having kids because I worried I wasn't mature enough. Guess what? I'm in my 40s and I  still worry about it.

    The creators feel that if starry-eyed teens glean some real experience it's likely fewer would become moms. NEWS FLASH -- If adults borrowed babies before we had our own many of us also would think twice about whether we were ready to handle it. Just week, after a difficult day at work, I found myself giving my daughter that horrible immature explanation parents resort to, "because I said so."

   The premise for the NBC show is five teen couples live together for the first time and fast-forward through the various stages of parenthood. On the fourth episode of Baby Borrowers, the teens have to take care of pre-teens. All I can say is, good luck with that! Last week, the same pre-teen daughter mentioned above, woke me from a sound sleep to tell me she was having trouble falling asleep. After the third wake-up, I didn't exactly display the utmost of maturity when I put the pillow over my head and screamed out, "Stop with the drama!"

  Of course, most parents know the entire package that comes with children is well worth the trials our kids put us through and the struggle we undergo to balance work and family. I like to think that overall, most parents serve as mature role models for our kids most of the time. But these teens might as well learn early, raising kids -- borrowed or your own -- can be challenging.

   So, what valuable lesson would you have learned from borrowing a child? Would you still have had the desire to have your own child after the experience?

June 19, 2008

Take a Mom vacation

    Summer! I just came across an article that suggests working moms take momcations. These are vacations designed for your needs rather than for your significant other or children. Personally, I like the idea. I am going take a momcation in South Beach in July. Here are the tips suggested by Deanna Keahey, founder of Adventurous Wench, a travel company for women.

  • Getting started: Drop the guilt. These getaways don't replace family vacations.
  • Pick your partners: Maybe you have local friends who are up for a road trip or an old friend or sister who lives too far to see regularly.
  • Plan your getaway: Three-day jaunts are common. Keep it simple to avoid stress. You may want to plan it around a special event like a milestone birthday.
  • Prepare for departure: Talk about your plans with your kids a few weeks in advance and remind them regularly so your absence doesn't surprise them. Get them excited about quality time with dad.
  • Hit the road: Have fun!

Top momcation sites:;;;;

June 18, 2008

Will Dad Ever Do His Share?

   In a provocative article in The New York Times, writer Lisa Belkin delves into the concept of equal parenting with When Mom and Dad Share It All.

    Belkin points out that experts say any way you measure it,  women do about twice as much around the house as men. But there is a movement underway toward marriages where spouses are each equally likely to plan birthday parties or put the children to bed or be the parent who goes along on the school field trip.

      As Kathy Lingle points out on her work-life blog  some call it “shared care”, while Belkin prefers the phrase “equally shared parenting,” but they are both talking about spouses who vigorously attempt to split the tasks of parenting (and housekeeping) precisely down the middle. Each partner doing exactly half of everything.

    Sometimes, though, when a man earns more, he feels he should do less at home. As Lingle notes, gender does seem to exert an inequitable tug on the division of labor at home. Belkin quotes Francine M. Deutsch, a psychology professor at Mount Holyoke and the author of Halving It All: How Equally Shared Parenting Works as saying "the nuances of relationships are complicated, built on foundations that even we may not see until we try to alter them. If your partner’s ambition is what attracted you in the first place and if his/her decision to dilute that ambition would make you think less of him/her, then this is not for you."

    But what happens when you take gender differences out of the equation. To do that, Belkin looked at same-sex couples. She discovered "While straight parents get into the blame game about who is shirking responsibility, lesbian moms bicker about not getting enough time with the kids.'' Belkin discovered lesbian couples have a more equal division of housework and parenting than their heterosexual counterparts.

    What do you think of equally shared parenting? Would it work in your home?

June 17, 2008

Feeling vulnerable at work?

      Look around your workplace. Are people in an emotional state in which they feel extremely vulnerable and afraid for their futures? Is there a psychological recession that is plaguing our country’s workforce?

    Author Judith Bardwick  says there is and she says the reason is workers no longer believe that even if they are good at what they do, they will be guaranteed job security. ( This has proved true in my industry) In Bardwick's book, One Foot Out the Door, she says today’s workers are not only burdened with concerns about job security, they’re also not particularly motivated to work hard. She thinks employers need to step up their efforts to engage employees. I wonder if it's too late for that.

   These days, fear for job security is stronger than the desire for work/life balance. I see a lot of nervousness out there.  In my workplace, the office gossip (talk of job cuts) has made all of us much less productive.  An office culture survey by Hormel shows most workers can't get away from office gossip because it happens at their desk rather than outside their workspace. 

     With most businesses suffering right now, do you feel less motivated to work hard because you feel you will earn less or be laid off regardless? Do you worry about job security and personal finances during the work day? Is the worrying justified?


June 16, 2008

Work/Life Balancing Act Relocates

WELCOME to the new location for my work/life balancing act blog. You can read my archive at

One of the best Father's Day articles I read was by Winston Townsend, a picture editor at The Miami Herald. Winston wrote about how his son-in-law's untimely death gave him, the grandfather, a new turn as a father figure. His daughter and her four daughters now live with him.

He writes: "Robin and I, empty nesters for two decades -- with all the flexibility and tranquility that implies -- are about to roll back the calendar to a time of bedtime stories, PTA meetings and endless laundry."


     I can imagine how thankful Winston's daughter is for the help her parents are giving her. For so many of us, our parents are our safety nets. Just last week, my father-in-law came to the rescue when my son called me at work from his summer camp's clinic. I once wrote about actress Jada Pinkett Smith who said she survived filming Matrix reloaded in Australia just after having a baby by bringing her mother with her to watch her three young children under the age of 4. From the movie star to the office worker, many of us make this work/life balance succeed by turning to our parents or in-laws to help care for our children.

    What this trend most accomplishes for working mothers, including myself, is to remove some of the guilt and anxiety. There's a comfort knowing your child is with a grandparent who loves him or her. Of course, letting grandparents pitch in often means letting them do things their way, maybe even overindulging.

     Have you benefited from letting the grandparents pitch in? Has it raised any issues for you?