Why Work Sucks and What We Can Do About It

There is an actual book called Why Work Sucks. I learned about it reading Joan Blades’s and Nanette Fondas’s, The Custom-Fit Workplace: Choose When, Where, and How to Work and Boost Your Bottom Line, which answered that exact question — and offered some concrete solutions.

As Blades and Fondas showed in their carefully researched book, The Custom Fit Workplace, 55 percent of American workers are unhappy at their jobs. Many have told pollsters that they would forego some pay in exchange for flexible work options. While job-sharing and other work flexibility tools exist, workers are reluctant to ask for them because we are in a recession.

But, actually, now is the time to ask, the authors argue. It may seem counterintuitive, but as Blades and Fondas laid out, flexibility is not only good for employee morale, but it is good for the bottom-line, too.

The hard part is asking. Allowing workers such flexibility calls not only for progressive management, but a complete change in our thinking and culture.

Today, our workplace does not work for most folks with caregiving responsibilities, or anyone who wants a life outside of work, because it is paternalistic. Even as we have moved from an assembly-line, industrial economy to an information, project-based one, work is set up for one person — presumably a man — to work long hours while someone at home — presumably a woman — cleans house and picks up after the kids. It is no wonder so many women in the workplace report being unhappy.

But it isn’t any better for men, who, are more involved as parents and caregivers than ever before. Nearly 40 percent of men in 2008, compared to 19 percent in 1996, are their parents’ main care provider, according to this article in the New York Times. Furthermore, with the decline of union jobs has gone a decline in worker rights. Thus we have this authoritarian work culture, in which workers are treated like children who must be micro-managed, and they are painted as slackers for requesting more flexible work options — even if they would be working smarter!

As Blades and Fondas noted in their practical tips for employers, there is no evidence that offering flexibility — with a trial period, which is key — to employees will make them less productive, but actually, the opposite has occurred for those workplaces that have implemented such progressive policies, and have encouraged their workers to use them. Employers such as Costco, Cisco, SAS, Del Land, AT&T and Johnson Moving and Storage, have saved money on reducing staff turnover, energy costs — AT&T actually closed an entire complex to let its employees work from home, saving the company $6 million —  and an increase in productivity as the workers, who reported being happier, were not embroiled in commutes and office politics.

Businesses have been able to utilize the skills of new mothers, by allowing them to bring their babies to work, or offering onsite childcare, or simply a safe place for women to express milk. Fondas and Blades were able to capitalize on nursing, tying a decrease in sick days to babies being nursed.

Companies save on re-training and recruiting new employees by allowing workers “custom-fit” jobs. And there are so many options out there for all kinds of industries and workers needing a certain schedule.

First of all, the custom-fit 21st Century workforce is a Results Oriented Work Environment, referred to in the book as “ROWE.” The idea is it doesn’t matter how many hours an employee takes to perform a job, but whether the job is done.

Of course, some jobs, like those at hourly-wage retail jobs, still require face time, therefore telecommuting is not an option. However, Fondas and Blades explored an array of options that may be a custom-fit, including baby-to-work programs and onsite childcare, job-sharing for workers who can’t or don’t want to work full-time, and ample time to let an employee know when he or she will work. For many retail workers, they often don’t know what their schedules are even two weeks down the line. This proves to be a nightmare for the parent who must line up childcare, or folks caring for their parents. To imply that caregivers shouldn’t participate in our workforce is unreasonable and should be unacceptable in modern society, which leads me to the important thing I gained from this book.

Custom-Fit Workplace allowed me to see the American workplace more clearly, and for the absurdity that it can be. When I was a scared 20-something, commuting and working in a newsroom, I felt guilty cutting out before 5 p.m., even if I got in at 7:30 a.m., had turned in my story and was merely surfing the Internet to pass time.

I’d use my sick days as mental health days because, at times, I felt burned out, especially after our company cut staff and imposed story quotas on the reporters. When our company started giving us an additional (unpaid) week’s vacation in the wintertime, I admit, I was secretly thrilled because I needed the break. I needed money, too, but that week allowed me to recharge the batteries and come back stronger and more focused on my job.

Perhaps not surprisingly, I quit my job in favor of contract work after I had a child because the company demanded a commute, travel, plus a full 40 hours in the newsroom. There was no telecommuting policy, not even for a day. (I asked.)

The bottom line is this isn’t the best nor most efficient model for a business to keep its employees and make money. Imagine what we would accomplish if work were less sucky for all?


Unemployed College Graduate Sues Her Alma Mater

I love my alma mater. Boston University not only gave me a lot of free money and “only” $20,000 in student loans, which I paid off this year, but it opened many doors for me.

I would probably feel differently if I were Trina Thompson. Thompson is suing her alma mater, Monroe College in New York City, for $70,000 in tuition plus $2,000 in personal compensation after failing to secure work in an atrocious job market. From MSN:

While the suit’s outcome is pending, it does raise questions as to whether colleges have a responsibility to help students find jobs after graduation. With the average public in-state student forking over more than $26,000 in tuition and fees alone, do colleges owe them something in return?

Absolutely, says David Kimmelman, general manager of careers and jobs for Avenue 100 Media Solutions, Inc., a marketing firm that targets colleges and universities.

“This is the area where colleges are failing our students miserably,” he says. “In the United States, we pay more money for our children to go to college than anywhere else in the world, and for what? This year only 19 percent of 2009 college graduates [who applied for jobs] have found full-time employment.” The figures he cites are prior to graduation, per the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Jennifer Grinder is, unfortunately, not part of that 19 percent. She graduated last December from Northern Michigan University with degrees in political science and public relations and spent three months after graduation searching for work in a related field, with no luck. Grinder has since moved back in with her parents and returned to an accounting assistant position she held last summer in order to start paying off her $40,000 in student loans.

“I’ve done two internships but it doesn’t make a difference in this hard economic time,” she says. “I live at home because I make $9 an hour and there’s no way I could pay rent and my $400 [per month] student loan bill with that… We justify taking out student loans in large quantities thinking that we’ll get good jobs. It’s almost like we’ve been lied to.”

I plan to follow Thompson’s suit, although I doubt it will go anywhere. Can you imagine the can of worms that would open if every unemployed college student could sue her alma mater?

That said, the MSN article raised a good point: All these colleges advertise their “90 percent” student employment rate, but they are not being truthful as to what these numbers mean. Are these students actually employed in the fields that they studied? Did they find work right away or were they forced to bunk with mom and dad for a while?

Also, $26,000 for in state tuition and fees? Yikes! That is double what public school in my home state cost just 10 years ago. Ow, ow, ow! It is so wrong for students and families to fork over this kind of money in this economy.

What do you think? Should colleges be held accountable if their students can’t find work?


Personal Bankruptcy Up 34 Percent

Due to unemployment and declining home values, 1.25 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in the year ending June 30, according to an article in the Washington Post.

Despite recent signs that the recession might be easing, the bankruptcy filings show that relief is still eluding many households. Several bankruptcy experts said that they expect the number of filings — including Chapter 7, which wipes out some debt, and Chapter 13, which reorganizes it — to reach a high not seen since 2005, when a new law making it more difficult to file set off a rush of personal bankruptcies. Indeed, 126,434 consumers filed for bankruptcy protection in July, the highest monthly total since the new law was implemented, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute. “This will be the biggest year since 2005,” said Samuel J. Gerdano, the institute’s executive director.

What’s driving so many people to bankruptcy is the loss of jobs and home equity, experts said. Many Americans once had the luxury of refinancing their homes to pay off their debts. Now that home values have declined and jobs have become scarce, consumers are finding themselves with no choice but to face up to their creditors. And in many cases, those creditors are not making it easy. Credit card companies, for instance, have been raising interest rates and minimum monthly payments on many of their customers in anticipation of a new law that will restrict such practices.

How have you managed your debt load in the recession?


Women To Surpass Men in U.S. Workforce

In case you missed it, the New York Times ran an article about how women are poised to overtake men in the workplace.

A whopping 82 percent of the layoffs during the ongoing recession has befallen men, according to the Times.

Women tend to be employed in areas like education and health care, which are less sensitive to economic ups and downs, and in jobs that allow more time for child care and other domestic work….

In recessions, the percentage of families supported by women tends to rise slightly, and it is expected to do so when this year’s numbers are tallied. As of November, women held 49.1 percent of the nation’s jobs, according to nonfarm payroll data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By another measure, including farm workers and the self-employed, women constituted 47.1 percent of the work force.

Women may be safer in their jobs, but tend to find it harder to support a family. For one thing, they work fewer overall hours than men. Women are much more likely to be in part-time jobs without health insurance or unemployment insurance. Even in full-time jobs, women earn 80 cents for each dollar of their male counterparts’ income, according to the government data.

Actually, the women profiled in the Times story seemed to be in a tough spot. Not only were they working for low wages, but their newly unemployed husbands were not helping them at home.

Women like Ms. Mohammed find themselves at the head of once-separate spheres: work and household. While women appear to be sole breadwinners in greater numbers, they are likely to remain responsible for most domestic responsibilities at home.

On average, employed women devote much more time to child care and housework than employed men do, according to recent data from the government’s American Time Use Survey analyzed by two economists, Alan B. Krueger and Andreas Mueller.

When women are unemployed and looking for a job, the time they spend daily taking care of children nearly doubles. Unemployed men’s child care duties, by contrast, are virtually identical to those of their working counterparts, and they instead spend more time sleeping, watching TV and looking for a job, along with other domestic activities.

Many of the unemployed men interviewed say they have tried to help out with cooking, veterinarian appointments and other chores, but they have not had time to do more because job-hunting consumes their days.

“The main priority is finding a job and putting in the time to do that,“ says John Baruch, in Arlington Heights, Ill., who estimates he spends 35 to 45 hours a week looking for work since being laid off in January 2008.

While he has helped care for his wife’s aging parents, the couple still sometimes butt heads over who does things like walking the dog, now that he is out of work. He puts it this way: “As one of the people who runs one of the career centers I’ve been to told me: ‘You’re out of a job, but it’s not your time to paint the house and fix the car. Your job is about finding the next job.’ “

Many women say they expect their family roles to remain the same, even if economic circumstances have changed for now.

That is a lot of stress on a marriage.

Are any of you returning to work following a spouse’s unemployment? What is your new setup like?


Another Reason Why the Supreme Court Matters

It’s not the one you’re thinking of.

The Supreme Court is a “Kitchen Table Issue” this election season (and every presidential election season) because every piece of state and federal legislation aimed at economic and social issues is at risk from an increasingly conservative court.  From the minimum wage, to employer health insurance requirements, to family leave – virtually every entitlement the average American worker has gained since the 1930s would be unconstitutional according to the ideology of some right wing judges.

Prior to 1937, the Supreme Court was extremely reluctant to uphold anything that interfered with the right of a business to contract as they saw fit.  They struck down one piece of economic legislation after another in what was known as the “Lochner Era” on due process or interstate commerce grounds, until President Franklin Delano Roosevelt became so frustrated with the intransigence of the court he threatened to “pack” it by creating a new position on the court for every justice over 70.  Narrowly avoiding a constitutional crisis, the court began to change their view, gradually abandoning their former position on economic and social issues and laying the groundwork for the system of worker protections and social programs we are accustomed to today.

But this was never a “done deal.”  The long legacy of the Warren court has left most Americans pretty complacent about mainstream economic protections that are considered shockingly liberal by some conservative judges.      While Chief Justice Roberts specifically cited Lochner era cases as examples of unwarranted judicial activism, other republican appointed justices might not feel the same way.  Even within the ultra-conservative Federalist Society, there is debate on the merits of Lochner era jurisprudence, (many conservatives-like Roberts-actually hate Lochner era thinking for its judicial activism) but even the idea that it might be debateable is scary to me, as a lowly worker bee.

Whatever his reputation as a “maverick” might be on other issues, Senator McCain has voted for every republican court appointee since taking office, including Janice Rogers Brown, who has stated publicly that she advocates a return to pre-1937 interpretations of the constitution. In contrast, Barack Obama is a former Constitutional Law professor who stood up in opposition to Brown’s appointment.  His speech is easy to understand and worth reading, but I’ll give you a few of the important excerpts:

For those who pay attention to legal argument, one of the things that is most troubling is Justice Brown’s approval of the Lochner era of the Supreme Court. In the Lochner case, and in a whole series of cases prior to Lochner being overturned, the Supreme Court consistently overturned basic measures like minimum wage laws, child labor safety laws, and rights to organize, deeming those laws as somehow violating a constitutional right to private property. The basic argument in Lochner was you can’t regulate the free market because it is going to constrain people’s use of their private property. Keep in mind that that same judicial philosophy was the underpinning of Dred Scott, the ruling that overturned the Missouri Compromise and said that it was unconstitutional to forbid slavery from being imported into the free States….

Justice Brown, from her speeches, at least, seems to think overturning Lochner was a mistake. She believes the Supreme Court should be able to overturn minimum wage laws. She thinks we should live in a country where the Federal Government cannot enforce the most basic regulations of transparency in our security markets, that we cannot maintain regulations that ensure our food is safe and the drugs that are sold to us have been tested. It means, according to Justice Brown, that local governments or municipalities cannot enforce basic zoning regulations that relieve traffic, no matter how much damage it may be doing a particular community.

I could go on.  But I think you get the general idea.

Currently, 5 members of the supreme court are aged 70 or over.  It only takes five members to constitute a majority, and three of the younger members – Thomas, Alito, and Roberts – lean significantly to the right.   Whatever your opinions on other matters decided by the Supreme Court, think long and hard about what kind of economic future you want for your family when you go to the polls this November.

Cross-posted to my new blog “Kitchen Table Issues


Tough Love

A week ago, I wrote about a stay-at-home mother whose husband left her with three children under the age of four. She wrote to Berkeley Parents Network.

We all agreed the father is an immature asshole. And for the most part, she received sympathy and well wishes from BPN readers, too. Most readers recommended she move to live near family and friends, which many moms on MotherTalkers did, too. Most readers recommended she go after her husband for alimony and child support and thought she had a good case since they had been married 15 years and he is the one who left the marriage.

Almost all the moms told her to take time to mourn and then find a job and childcare for the girls. Some moms offered their e-mail addresses and help in the way of playdates and dinner casseroles, which makes me proud to live in Berkeley. Then there was this letter, which felt like a sucker punch. Talk about tough love:

You asked for survival tips and I really hope you mean survival tips for your daughters as well as yourself.

First – Your 4 year old should be in preschool. She is not a baby as you claim, she’s a preschooler. You are making her spend her time with someone 1/2 her age and then expecting that she’s not going to act like someone 1/2 her age. Unfair! Also, I hope you do not refer to her as a ”baby girl.” It allows her no room
to work toward becoming a kindergartener, which she will be next fall, or at the latest the fall after that.

Second – A nearly 2 year old is not quite a baby either. You will probably want to transition her to a preschool situation as well. Toddlers love other kids their age; it’s how they learn to navigate the world.

Please allow you children to have lives outside of yours. Its how they build a support system they can count on when you are not able to provide what they need. As a single mom, oh hell, even as a married mom, you cannot provide everything they need. Get on a schedule and stick to it. Allow your kids to help. A 2 year old can fold wash cloths. A 4 year old can sort laundry. This can be fun or a drag, it’s your choice, please choose wisely. I am speaking from the perspective of a single mom of a daughter who was doing these things from age 2 on, as well as a daughter with a sister of a divorced mother.

And, yes, there are many children who at 18 months have on-going dialogs if they were spoken to and respected as individuals rather than babies. You also need to think about getting a job. This is for your financial survival as well as a perspective on how people think, cope and work with what they have. It will also help your daughters see women and girls as strong and capable.

This is probably not the kind of support you may have been hoping to hear, but it will help you with your self-esteem, the self-esteem of your daughters and your life plan going forward.

Been there, still there and doing that

I can’t imagine my two-year-old folding clothes. Then again, there was this dreamer:

I feel for you! I was raised by a single mother of three. She was off and on welfare, but that doesnt really work anymore because welfare for a family of four is something like $750 a month plus Foodstamps. I think children need thier parents in their early years. Many studies indicate a child’s first three years make a huge inpact on who the person is in their life. I would start now with preschool for the 4yo, with maybe three half-days, and then work up to more time. My baby is only one, but I am looking into this awesome preschool by my house because she is super social and I plan to start 2 half days then 3 half days. I had started by going to ”babytime” at the library where the parents are also present, so I knwo she would love preschool. So even young children can go to preschool/nursery school, you just need to shop around for the right one…

Also, you migth have to suck in your pride, but CalWorks, the welfare program, will help you get retrained for the work force. You may qualifiy for some money that wont be enought to live on, but the major helpful thing they do is pay for things like CHILDCARE. Even after you get a job and are doing fine, they will help with childcare costs for 2 years and it can be the childcare of you choosing. They will also pursue the dad to pay up, so that stress will be off of you. I spent my first year of motherhood finishing grad school (part-time). It is hard, but I only had to go to class twice a week for 3 hours and I had flexibility of when to study. you can get financial aid. I personally think school is easier than ft work when children are small, and you are investing in the future. You need people around you for support. Maybe look for single parent support groups. My mother, when I was 2, helped start a cooperative house. We lived with three other single mothers, and had two mothers that didnt live in the house that were involved. They would all have one day a week that they would watch the kids from 9am to 2pm and every other weekday they had free.
write me if you want to talk more.

Hang in there!


Like Soni said, I would live near family or friends who would help (I deleted that ‘graph because of repetition) before treating my two-year-old like an adult. Then again, all my family and friends work, which is why Soni’s tips aren’t practical. Two or three-day-a-week childcare for a single parent who must earn a living is completely unrealistic. In this sense, Soni is high. But her letter offered helpful tips in terms of the welfare office’s role in providing childcare and even going after the father to pay up. (If this is true. My understanding is it is very hard to receive public assistance due to welfare “reform.“)

Nonetheless, most of the letter-writers were thoughtful and fell somewhere in between. Everyone was in agreement that this woman needed support in the way of family and friends and legal help. I especially loved the suggestion by one writer to leave the children with their father and leave him scrambling for childcare. Then again, it may be child abuse to leave them with someone so aloof and inconsiderate. I don’t know how a parent can leave his own children — especially with someone who cannot provide for them. What a prick.  


How To Explain a Résumé Gap

MSNBC.com recently doled out advice on how to explain a gap in work experience when one takes time to raise children, for example.

The columnist, Eve Tahmincioglu, even went so far as to suggest not writing any dates on the resume, which would raise more flags in my mind. Then again, I am not an HR person:

It’s a good idea not to put any dates on your résumé. Ken Siegel, president of The Impact Group, a Los Angeles-based group of corporate psychologists, says dates only work against you. “If there are no dates, then there are no gaps to explain,“ he says.

Interesting. I am curious to hear from you employers if this is effective. Personally, I would want to know the length of time someone spent at a company.

The column specifically addressed the concerns of parents re-entering the workforce:

You have several options here.

If you’ve taken a huge chunk of time away from the work world and it’s something you don’t want to elaborate on with a hiring manager, Dr. Loren Ekroth, publisher of “Better Conversations“ an ezine, says: “A person is better off saying something like ‘personal sabbatical’ if they’ve been between jobs than saying nothing.  Holes draw attention to themselves.“

And don’t belittle the experience you had, whether it was taking a year off to backpack around Europe or a decade off to watch your kids.

Recently I interviewed the CEO of Reuters, Tom Glocer, about his climb to the top, and we talked a bit about the issue of why there weren’t more women in top executive positions. Difficulty re-entering the workforce after taking time off for their kids was, we both agreed, one of the stumbling blocks.

He believes women need to play up the skills they developed when caring for their children, the leadership and organizational lessons they learned. Women, he says, should look at child-rearing as a positive and not make excuses for it.

Indeed, my best friend took eight years off to raise her two sons, and when she decided to re-enter the workforce she was at first apprehensive about how an employer would perceive her time off. She did some free consulting work for several months and went back to school to get a law degree. As for explaining the gap, her tack was not to mention that she stayed at home on her résumé, but to be honest about it when she got her foot in the door.

Now she’s a high-powered corporate attorney in New England.

Good to know.


Working Mother vs. HRC

(Crossposted at Mombian.)

Last week, the Human Rights Campaign released its 2008 Corporate Equality Index, which rates major U.S. companies on their LGBT friendliness, based on inclusive benefits, anti-discrimination policies, marketing, and philanthropy. A record 195 businesses earned the top rating of 100 percent. I didn’t blog about it last week, however, because I saw Working Mother magazine was this week releasing its own 100 Best Companies list, measuring companies on their “workforce profile, compensation, child care, flexibility, time off and leaves, family-friendly programs and company culture.” I thought a comparison would be more interesting than a rehash of the HRC press release.

The comparison of Working Mother’s Best to HRC’s 100-percenters can’t be apples-to-apples, however. Unlike HRC, which only includes relatively large companies, and not colleges or universities, Working Mother includes private and public firms of any size, including educational institutions, except for those “in the business of providing work/life or child-care services.” They also limit their list to 100 picks, whereas HRC will include any company that meets the 100-percent requirements.

Having said that, I think it’s worth noting the 50 companies that make both lists:

Accenture Dow Chemical Intel Microsoft
Allstate Insurance Dow Corning Johnson & Johnson Morgan Stanley
Arnold & Porter DuPont JPMorgan Chase Northern Trust
Bank of America Eli Lilly KPMG Pfizer
Boston Consulting Group Ernst & Young Kraft Foods Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
Bristol-Myers Squibb Fannie Mae Lehman Brothers Pricewaterhouse- coopers
Capital One Financial Ford Motor Marriott International Principal Financial Group
Carlson Companies Genentech Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Prudential Financial
Chrysler General Mills McKinsey & Co. S. C. Johnson & Son
Cisco Glaxosmithkline Merck & Co. Schering-Plough
Citigroup Goldman Sachs Merrill Lynch UBS
Credit Suisse Securities Hewlett-Packard Metlife Wachovia
Deloitte & Touche IBM    

Seven of the companies on Working Mother’s Top Ten are also HRC 100-percenters: Ernst & Young, General Mills, IBM, KPMG, Pricewaterhousecoopers, UBS, and Wachovia. (Of the other three, Booz Allen Hamilton and McGraw Hill get respectable 80’s from HRC, and Baptist Health South Florida wasn’t rated.)

As I said in my post on these rankings last year, however, there are as many diversity lists and rankings as there are categories of diversity. DiversityInc, for example, has its own overall top diversity picks, as well as ones in various specialty categories, including GLBT. Black Enterprise also compiles its own lists, broken out into Marketing, Supplier, Senior Management, Workforce, and Corporate Board Diversity. With different criteria and sizes of lists, it’s hard to draw any firm conclusions about the fact that a company appears on one and not another. (Working Mother doesn’t rate childcare providers, for example, which means it doesn’t look at Bright Horizons, an HRC 100-percenter.) The companies that appear on more than one list are worth investigating further if you have an interest in those list topics, but they are not the only companies you should consider.

A few glaring differences do stand out, though. Wal-Mart makes DiversityInc’s 2007 Top 50 Companies for Diversity, but gets a paltry 40 from HRC. Colgate-Palmolive is there, too, but with a 58 from HRC.

It also strikes me that these various lists should look harder at the political donations a company makes, to see if they are funding candidates who would undermine their diversity goals. What if a top company for Working Mother is a big supporter of a politician who has voted against SCHIP, for example, even if they are funding him because of his stance on some other piece of legislation? Environmental practices and overall business ethics are also factors to keep in mind, no matter how diverse the firm.

Still, these lists can be valuable if only because they provide some rough guidelines for consumers and prospective employees, and serve as badges of honor to which companies want to aspire in order to attract said consumers and employees. Used judiciously, they’re a good thing, as long as we remain aware of their limitations.

(Want to be depressed? Look at Working Mother’s list of Parent Perks Around the World. Then go to MomsRising to see what they’re doing to work towards such policies—more than mere “perks,” in my opinion—here in the U.S.)

What do you consider when evaluating a company as a consumer or prospective employee? Has parenthood changed this?


ENDA and Our Families

We’ve moved one step closer to an important protection for LGBT Americans. On Tuesday, Representatives Barney Frank (D-MA), Deborah Pryce (R-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Chris Shays (R-CT) introduced the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which makes it illegal to base hiring, firing, promotion, or pay decisions on someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The legislation would provide vital security for all LGBT workers. For LGBT parents supporting children, it protects the children as well.

The introduction of a bill is a far cry from its passage, however. It is important that our voices on this issue be heard, whether we are LGBT Americans, parents, or both. The LGBT community cannot make this happen singlehandedly. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has a page of links to ways you can help promote this legislation, including a simple pre-written (though editable) e-mail to your members of Congress. It takes less time than doing a diaper change or assembling a train set.

(Crossposted with slight variation at Mombian.)


MY Secret…no more!

Yes, I’ve been harboring a huge secret for some time now, and I have to say that keeping my trap shut has been emotionally exhausting.

So at last, I’m unburdening myself…and it feels GREAT!

After 7 years with the same employer, I quit my job yesterday. We are moving to southern California, where I will start a new job April 9th.

I am thrilled and a little sad, but mostly thrilled. My whole family, as well as some of my husband’s, is in southern California. Knowing that my daughter will grow up surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles and dozens of cousins makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

We’ve talked about this before on MT: I believe strongly in the whole “it takes a village” ethos. Well, after 14 years away, I’m returning to the old village. It will be wonderful to have my family’s support as our own little family grows.

I know people move every day, but I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by the logistics. We need to sell our house post-haste, find a new place to live, and find new daycare for my 2-year-old daughter, all in a matter of weeks.

But the hardest part will be leaving the only home Maya has ever known, the place where she took her first steps and uttered her first words. She is young enough that she will likely be unaffected by leaving her house and her “school” and her friends; but this place will always hold such precious memories.

So MTers…please, unload all your helpful moving tips on me. Is there any way to make this transition a little smoother for us and for Maya? Or should I just accept that my life will be enveloped in chaos for the next several months? Take the poll…