Work-Life Balance in a Blizzard

February 25, 2010

Car Under SnowAs Washington, D.C., recovers from the worst snowstorm in recorded history — and while my car remains buried in snow — commutes are beginning to return to normal.

Most schools were off the entire week of the blizzard, which meant that parents had to either stay home with their kids or find last-minute child-care options. Other schools continued to function on a two-hour delay the next week, so parents sought options to get their kids safely to and from school while they got themselves to and from work.

Many employers are extremely understanding of the flexibility needed to handle these situations. Service industries, however, can’t open without their employees, who are often paid by the hour and usually at the lower end of the pay scale. These workers can’t afford to take time off or risk losing their jobs for not showing up, so the art of work-life balance for them and their families, then, rises to a new level.

With the use of technology, I was able to do most of my work from home during the storm, which worked out great for a single person like me. If I had kids at home, though, how much time could I spend on my computer instead of spending time with them? It would be hard to put in a full day’s work.

At my last job, which was at a family-friendly women’s organization, I was expected to show up regardless of what weather or other extreme circumstance arose. Because I was one of the few employees without children, it was generally decided that having me be in the office would allow employees with children to tend to their needs. While I never minded pitching in and giving a little extra, I feel that being “family friendly” shouldn’t come at the expense of employees without family care obligations.

Work-life balance during a snowstorm brings its own challenges, but it also brings new, creative solutions to problems we face every day. Neighbors helped neighbors, carpools formed, and family roles were redefined.  I just hope Washington, D.C., doesn’t have to practice the lessons we learned again anytime soon!

This post was written as a contribution to Fem2.0’s work-life blog carnival, which is part of the Wake Up, This Is the Reality! campaign.

Kathryn Montiegel By:   |   February 25, 2010

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