working-mom.jpgUPDATE
Since I work from home, my schedule is somewhat flexible. Not that I ever can take advantage of it.

Well, this morning I actually am taking advantage of it. I volunteered to go on my son’s field trip to a state park. This is unusual for me. I rarely get involved with anything at my childrens’ schools. It’s a sore point with me. I wish I had time to do more of it.

Recently a good friend of mine actually conjured up horrific mommy guilt juices in me when she said, “you have to volunteer at school. It’s important for your kids and their success at school.”

Ugh, I couldn’t believe how horrible her words made me feel. We constantly get letters home from the teacher and emails from other parents asking us to do this and that at the school. Sometimes I feel like I’m a failure as a mom because I just don’t have the time to spend time in my son and daughter’s classes.

Even though people think I have a lot of leeway in my job because I’m essentially my own boss, that’s just not the way it is. I work more hours now than I ever did as a regular rank and file employee, and the key problem when you for yourself — if you don’t work you don’t get paid.

So, I’m always amazed when people who get a regular paycheck don’t take advantage of or ask for flex time.

People in professional positions tend to ask for flex time more than those in technical or clerical jobs, according to a new survey by Seattle-based Institute for Corporate Productivity. That blew my mind a bit because it’s typically those in lower level, grunt positions that need the flex time most.

Here’s some other interesting findings from the survey, that polled 560 employers across the country:

73% of the 560 responding organizations offer “flextime” (flexible start/end times), while 60% offer part-time work opportunities and 33% provide a compressed workweek option.

Seventy-six percent report that flex work arrangements boost employee morale and 64% say they bolster retention rates. Overall, flexible work options are becoming more common in companies.

Forty five percent of the companies polled report that such option are expected to grow over the next year. Just 7% forecast a reduction in flex work programs.

Measuring the viability of flexible work arrangements is also a priority, the study shows. Sixty eight percent of respondents have established deadlines for flex workers and 64% keep close tabs on those project deadlines. Daily/weekly project status reports are required by 43% of responding organizations, and 27% require periodic status meetings.

Respondents thought that younger employees were more likely to request such arrangements than older workers, and women were seen as more likely to request them than men.

Well, surprise, surprise. Women ask for flex time more often. Sorry guys, but women still do tend to get the biggest share of the family responsibilities no matter how many hours they put in to their daily grind.

What has happened to the school system in our country? I never remember my mom or dad volunteering at my school. They came to spring concerts and the occasional field trip, but volunteering in class the help the teacher out? No way. Actually, being immigrants, they probably wouldn’t have been much help since their English wasn’t great.

It seems odd. Women are working more today than ever and women are being asked to spend more time in the school system. How do we jive this? How do you all do it?

UPDATE:
So, I’m back from the field trip.

Even though I was supposedly taking time away from work, and my blog, while on the field trip with my son Cheiron, I still couldn’t leave my reporter’s hat in the office.

At one point, I was alone with my son’s kindergarten teacher so I figured I’d ask her about parents who don’t ever have time to volunteer in the class and how that impacts your children. She said, “I don’t think it really matters at all if you do things with them at home in the evening and on the weekends.” Being a teacher, she added, she rarely has time to do things in her kids’ classes. Wow, I never thought of that. How do teachers who have children volunteer at their kid’s school?

OK, I felt a bit better. And I really felt better when I saw my son smiling at me on the bus, proud to have his mommy with him.

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