Work/Life Balance, the President, and Me

Every Sunday night, I open up my computer to review my schedule for the week. I assess business travel and meetings, review the five-day weather forecast, check camp and sports schedules, consult my husband's work calendar, and browse through cookbooks and recipe websites. I create a weekly grid that plans out where my family is going to be, any appointments or classes, and the dinner plans for every day of the week.

I spend two hours each weekend doing this process to help ensure that a parent is there when my boys are learning a new move at Taekwondo class, and that my husband and I can fulfill (or attempt to fulfill) our work responsibilities and take care of our family.

Attending the White House Summit

A few weeks ago, I had the great honor of attending the White House Summit on Working Families.  I was inspired and I admit even a little star struck by the folks who attended and shared their stories that day - people who I had seen photos of or who I had seen on television but had never expected to see live.

It's not often that you can say that you've been in the same room (albeit a large conference room) with President Obama and Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden and Jill Biden, Robin Roberts, Gloria Steinem, and Maria Shriver, all in the same day.

A Fully Supported Career

There were a lot of personal stories shared that day about what folks have done as they manage work and their families.  When First Lady Michelle Obama shared that she went to a job interview with her daughter in a car seat, I was both thrilled and shocked that she dared to risk such an thing.  I admit that I would not have been so brave.

However, I have been extremely fortunate that I never had to face that choice. As Neera Tanden from the Center for American Progress said, when you find out that you work for someone who embraces your family priorities, you "feel like you have won the boss lottery."

I've been fortunate that each time I shared the news of a baby on the way, I was unafraid that I would either be looked at as a less-valuable employee, or that I was compromising my chance to advance in my career in any way.

I have had the benefit of work-site child care for each of my sons. I have also been able to use back-up care when my sons' school has been closed and I have not had other caregivers available.  I don't have to worry about what my son is doing or learning at preschool because my employer understands that it's not just about access; it's also about quality.  Consequently, 11 years later, I'm still working for Bright Horizons.

Solutions That Support All Employees

My own personal experience of employer supports and a supportive manager is the reason why I am passionate about what I do each day.  I love helping our clients to think about how our programs can help them be great employers and be smart investments.

I think our clients who are providing supports to their employees understand that too.  They understand that employees who aren't worrying about how to find great infant care for a soon-to-arrive son or daughter will stay with their company.

They know that providing back-up care is not just good for employees and their dependents, it also saves bottom lines.  And they know that supportive managers who advocate programs like back-up care help the entire organization, not just the individual team that might be affected by an employee whose father suddenly needs a caretaker.

Looking Ahead

It was an energizing day to be in a room full of people who all agreed that we should try to figure out more ways to support working families.  And the political and celebrity star power didn't hurt either.

I'm proud that Bright Horizons is having those conversations every day with employers.  But most of all, I'm proud to work in a place that makes me feel like I won the boss and employer lottery.  It makes creating my schedule grid every weekend a little easier - knowing that I will be able to ensure that I don't miss time with my family while getting the job done.