It’s hard not to feel envious of those who are lucky enough to work at Patagonia–the company takes an approach that doesn’t simply throw money at a problem, but instead deeply considers what ambitious working parents need to stay committed to both professional life and parenthood. And the company recognizes that by valuing both worlds, they can better retain some of their best talent. Not many companies can do what Patagonia is doing, so most of us will have to envy on, but it’s nice to see a model company where both ambition and caregiving are respected endeavors. (more…)
Author Archive: Dr. Yael Schonbrun
Ambition and greatness looks different for professionals who dial back after having children. This essay, published in The New York Times set me on a path to explore this issue in greater depth.
“If I’m lucky, I might have as long as two hours to work. I riffle through the stack of research articles on substance use, pull out a few relevant ones, and begin revising my paper’s introduction. I’ve just gotten in the groove when a sweet singsong voice drifts over from the room next door: “Mommy, I have to go to the baaaa-throom!” (more…)
After a regular workday, Sarah would return home with hopes of a peaceful evening connecting with her adorable 2-year-old daughter. But Sarah’s fantasy of an evening of delicious snuggles and shared giggles always seemed to crash into her reality: a child-shaped necklace who demanded her full engagement and didn’t realize (or care) that what Sarah longed to do was to turn her brain off and relax.
Sarah would find herself furtively and frequently checking the clock to see how long it was before it was until her daughter’s bedtime so she could have a moment to herself. Sarah laughed as she told me: “she sucks all the air out of any room she’s in. She’s just… annoying.” And then Sarah got quiet. “I shouldn’t feel that way, should I?” (more…)
As a working parent en route to three children, I have sampled widely from the range of childcare options. I’ve also collected data on childcare types that I haven’t personally tried. Scientific analysis of these data has led me to conclude that the “perfect childcare solution” for children of pre-school age is a load of hogwash. (more…)
It was after midnight and I couldn’t breathe through my nose thanks to a nasty head cold that had made itself at home in my sinuses.In addition to my labored breathing, I was experiencing the exhaustion that comes with having two young children, being eight months pregnant, and carrying my various professional responsibilities.
I could taste the sweet victory of the bragging rights that would be mine when I showed up for work the next day… (more…)
September is a joyous time of year for the 39 million American families with two employed parents. With a summer of fractured childcare in the rearview mirror, we breathe a sigh of relief to be able to resume a better balance of family and work life. But just as we feel ourselves starting to relax, it hits us: the school calendar has a slower start than we hoped for, then gets punctured with various “vacations” that go unrecognized by most employers. Then there will be winter holidays and unanticipated snow days, spring vacations. Then summer again. September relief… not so much.
In truth, it isn’t just families with the under-five’s who struggle with locating sufficient childcare to make the professional-family life balance viable. It’s a much lengthier struggle than most politicians or policymakers will acknowledge. (more…)
On his second day of camp drop-off, Ali’s 6-year-old balked. He clung to her leg and asked if she had to work today. Did he need to be there the whole day? Couldn’t she come early to get him? He didn’t know anyone at camp and he wasn’t having fun. He teared up as he grasped for a way out of camp. Ali hugged him and said that she knew he could do it and that she would be there early if she could get out of work in time. He watched her go with a trembling lip. She glanced back as she left the drop off area and noticed how much smaller he looked than the other campers. (more…)
On Monday mornings I cavort with two small superheroes outfitted in bright red capes and felt eye masks. The larger of these superheroes is fast. During a neighborhood jaunt, he catches the eye of a driver at a stop sign and silently challenges him to a race. Determined to prove that superheroes can outperform automobiles, he churns his skinny five-year-old legs as quickly as he can. The tinier superhero tries to keep up with his big brother, committing to the waddling run of a two-year-old with an enormously round belly. The chunky little superhero increases his volume of panting to provide an audible demonstration of his speed, emphasizing it further with a declaration of “super duper fast!” And then the larger superhero scornfully observes that the tinier one could never beat a car. (more…)
Let’s assume you adore your kids. Not the detached kind of adore where you show off pictures at your reunion, or which finds you proclaiming them to be the sweetest of sleeping angels. I’m talking about the kind of adore that makes your heart expand with a mix of joy and love when your child firmly maintains that his shoes are on the right feet (they aren’t). The kind of adore which downgrades your fury to mild irritation when a singsong “I’m awa-aake!” rouses you at 5:00am on a Monday morning. It’s the kind of love that makes you want to be present and engaged with your singing alarm clock. (more…)
It’s Friday night, better known as Burrito Night in my household. I look forward to this night more than I should admit, but after a long week of working, parenting, and being compelled to wear pants that don’t have an elastic waist, I’m looking for comfort. I don’t generally do halfsies on dinner, so the giant meal in a soft tortilla package is mine. All mine. However, since I sometimes like to think of myself as a refined lady, I try to put away that gluttonous thought and replace it with a more moderate one: this burrito is enormous; I will eat only half and can then look forward to eating the rest of it tomorrow. The burrito is the size of a small dog, so this isn’t a crazy thought and it really shouldn’t be such a challenge.
But it is. In no time at all, I’ve hit the center of the burrito deliciousness. I don’t mean to be overly vivid, but it tastes so good and has such a warming and bolstering effect on my body that, simply put, I’d rather keep eating than stop. And herein lies my regular Friday challenge: do I follow the all-in path, or the more moderate one? (more…)