Video: Michelle Obama on Work-Life Balance

michelle obamaApparently Michelle Obama brought a four-month-old Sasha with her to an interview for the Vice President of Community and External Affairs at University of Chicago Hospitals, and she was only willing to take the job if it came with tons of workplace flexibility.

I’m working from home today with my own four-month-old (who is thankfully going on 90 minutes in what is usually a 60-minute nap), so this video struck home for me.

I’m very lucky that TriplePundit is a sustainable business and a very flexible place to work, but I have to admit that the addition of an infant to my life has created a ton of extra (miraculous, mostly enjoyable) work. Baby Frances is delightful, but my life was already pretty busy before she arrived. I can’t shake the feeling that I’m not quite working up to my former potential, just because there are only so many hours in the day. Sheryl Sandberg argues in “Lean In” that it’s possible to have a demanding executive-level job and leave at 6 p.m. if you just really focus while you’re at work (and catch up on email after the kids go to sleep). The trouble is, my mind is now also full of issues like managing daycare schedules (How do they just close for two weeks in July but charge you for the full month?), when to start solids and how to do it, and the pros and cons of sleep training.

The brain of a sleep-deprived woman only has so much room for problem solving, and most of my job is problems solving of one sort or another — truthfully, something must give and the infant is pretty effective at insisting that her needs get met first. Yes, she’s still pretty young, but let’s be honest, I wasn’t really at peak performance for most of the pregnancy, so we’re going on over a year now.

So what say you, working parents of the world? I’m all for flexible workplaces, especially now that I absolutely need one, but is the dark secret of all the work/life balance advocates out there that you don’t actually accomplish quiiiite as much as you did before you became a parent? Or am I just in a rough spot? Inquiring minds want to know!

Jen Boynton

Jen Boynton is editor in chief of TriplePundit and editorial director at 3BL Media. With over 6 million annual readers, TriplePundit is the leading publication on sustainable business and the Triple Bottom Line. Prior to TriplePundit, Jen received an MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School. In her work with TriplePundit she's helped clients from SAP to PwC to Fair Trade USA with their sustainability communications messaging. When she's not at work, she volunteers as a CASA -- court appointed special advocate for children in the foster care system. She enjoys losing fights with toddlers and eating toast scraps. She lives with her family in sunny San Diego.

One response

  1. Well written Jen. Like many working mothers have told me in recent months, it does get better!

    But I completely agree with you – I’m not sure I’m sold on “Lean In” just yet. I also think the pursuit for balance is amorphous at best. Some days I’m more productive than others BUT creating a structure and a regime definitely helps. My son might not love that but it certainly helps keep me on deadline with many more checks on my to-do list than before. And a constant compartmentalization mentally of everything I need to do to make sure he’s healthy and growing and my work is receiving my full attention.

    It’s a moving target for sure – thoughts?

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