Balance is an eternal struggle
One of the things that I always loved about Europe is that they always seem to put their lust for living ahead of work. For decades it appeared to work but as the world is seeing now that their way of life was based on smoke and mirrors. Yet there is still something about the lust for family and the balance of life/work in Europe that although not perfect does leave us with the desire to figure out what is the balance there.
Maternity leave is starting to create some conversation as large companies are changing the rules to benefit young families so that they do not have to choose between work and family. That is a very good thing. The addition of universal health care would be a huge added bonus. If we all embraced the concept of universal child care instead of it falling directly on the backs of families struggling to work and watch their kids the stress level of most young parents might go down.
Bain & Co just put out a study that they did asking 1500 MBA’s and graduate students about their careers and obstacles ahead. What was great to see is that men are almost equal to women with the desire to raise their families as equals to their partners. The fear is how are you able to be a supportive parent/partner and be successful in your career at the same time. You could be if there were support systems for families such as universal childcare mixed with the creation of cultures that applaud family first.
The more conversation about this topic creates change. Preparing people with strategies to do this through classes in higher education that also talk about being efficient with your time could be a step forward. There is something between the balance of working hard and playing hard and being a present partner and parent that might be easier in the next decade. When a company starts rewarding people for going to their kids soccer games or working from home when their kid is sick or forcing people to take vacation what will be realized is that people become better employees because they are happier having found a healthy balance for their minds and families.