The hour between babe and hag (New York Times)
I’ve spent most of my career working in higher education, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told I “look young enough to be a student!” Never once did I consider this a compliment. Sometimes it was meant innocently (I presume), and other times it was clearly meant to be condescending. Like the one time that I was getting ready to give a presentation to the University’s Board of Trustees, and a colleague suggested that I should, instead, pretend to be a student—because I looked “so young”—and tell the Board all about the great work his unit was doing. Barf.
As Jess Grose points out in this fantastic article, it seems like women have about 10 good years—approximately between ages 35ish-45ish, when they aren’t dismissed for being “too young”, and not yet old enough to be discarded as “too old”. Not really sure what else to say except: F*ck the Patriarchy.
The case for public child care (The Atlantic)
When I was pregnant with my first child, the book Bringing Up Bebe was all the rage. For those who aren’t familiar, it’s a parenting manual written by an American woman who lived in France, extolling the virtues of the French way of parenting. Though I have forgotten most of the content of the book (excuses à mes enfants), I clearly remember the description of the French crèche system. Crèches are daycares funded by local governments (although sometimes parents have to pay a fee, depending on their income), and care is provided by trained professionals for up to 11 hours a day.
This article makes the argument for the creation of a public childcare system in the US. A public option allows the government to set and enforce standards for educational outcomes (good for children and families) and teacher compensation and training (good for daycare workers). Of course, solutions that are good for teachers lead to increased retention and higher quality care. Seems like a no-brainer investment to me.
Weklabs, along with The Mom Project and Vivvi, recently published their findings from a large study of working parents. Their report reiterates what most of us already know—working parenthood is a marathon, not a sprint. Though parental leave and the transition to working parenthood are hot topics (albeit ones that still need greater corporate and organizational support), we often neglect the needs of working parents across the lifespan. For example, did you know that more women take career pauses when their kids are toddlers, as opposed to infants?
My favorite section of the report focuses on the key drivers of work satisfaction for working parents:
Team and Leader Support: This was, by far, the top driver for satisfaction. Parents want to work with people who see and support them as whole people—with outside lives and priorities.
Compensation and Advancement: Parents want to be given equal access to opportunities and promotions, as well as fair compensation for their work.
Organizational benefits: Paid parental leave and pumping accommodations were top benefits for early-stage parents, while tuition assistance and mental health benefits for dependents were more important to later-stage parents.
Flexibility: Parents—and really, almost all workers—want control over their schedules.
The year in quiet quitting (The New Yorker)
Listen, I know—you’re sick of hearing about “quiet quitting”. I get it. But before you scroll past, consider reading this thoughtful article that contextualizes quiet quitting from a generational lens. The author argues that every modern generation has had to contend with their relationship to work—Millennials have spent years trying to make sense of what actually means to “follow our passion”. Quiet quitting is Gen Z’s response to this age-old dillemma:
This is why so many older people are confused by quiet quitting: it’s not meant for us. It’s instead the first step of a younger generation taking their turn in developing a more nuanced understanding of the role of work in their lives. Before we heap disdain on their travails, we should remember that we were all once in this same position [. . .] What matters is that Generation Z is waking up to the fact that the unnatural melding of self and work induced by an adolescence lived within online spaces isn’t sustainable.
I’ve never worked for an organization that offered egg freezing benefits, but I always wondered about the underlying message it sent. Listen, I’m all for company-sponsored reproductive assistance (I was very grateful when my employer covered part of my IVF treatment), but new research shows that many women worry about what this benefit may signal about the larger organizational culture. Is the expectation that you’ll work so hard that you won’t have time to meet a partner and form a family? The authors of the original study don’t recommend pulling the benefit, but instead contextualizing it for potential new hires.
There’s an episode of 30 Rock where Jack Donnagy (Alec Baldwin’s character) describes the “shower principle”. Jack describes this made-up principle as the moments of inspiration that hit when your brain is distracted with the task at hand; i.e., taking a shower.
There’s no scientific basis for this theory (at least, not that I’m aware of), but anecdotally, it resonates. For me, my best ideas hit when I’m running. To be clear, I am not a natural runner. In fact, this meme was probably made with me in mind:
I almost never go more than 3.5 miles at a time and I won’t be winning any awards for speed, but it doesn’t matter. Because 2-3 times a week, I get outside and go inside my head. That 30 minutes is just for me—I think through issues or conflicts I’m having. I connect to my priorities for the week. I daydream. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to stop because an idea for a newsletter article has popped into my head and I want to capture it in my Notes app before I forget it.
We devote so much energy to others, but it’s important to make time to connect with yourself, too.
Didn't get around to making New Years resolutions? That’s totally fine—seriously! I’ve always felt that New Years resolutions were overrated. You can make a meaningful change at any point during the year, and today is as good a day as any.
What will be different this time next year?
How does this change align with my values? (Hint: aligning change with your values will make it feel more authentic and therefore more likely to stick)
How will I know I’ve been successful at implementing this change? Are there certain measurables or markers?
Who can help keep you accountable for this desired change?
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