Author gives sharing advice to working couples

November 23, 2009 6:27:53 AM PST
It's a question nearly every working parent has asked -- how can I better balance my home life and my work life? Now an author and sought after speaker is offering parents some critical advice on the topic.

A cup of coffee is one thing that helps launch the day for Tina and Warren Jones, but this Menlo Park couple shares a lot more than that -- each has a demanding Silicon Valley job, Tina works at Cadence, Warren at Oracle. They also have twin eight-year-olds and they strive to accomplish it all in what can be called "50-50" style.

"We say 'how does your day look tomorrow?' And then if I need to get up to be gone early in the morning, or if she needs to stay late at work at night, we just make those adjustments on the fly. And then communicate a lot -- a lot of text messages, emails, telephone calls," said Warren Jones.

The Jones share a mindset that it is possible to have a healthy, happy marriage and children, along with successful careers. They're the type of people Bay Area writer Sharon Meers highlights, in a new book she co-authored called: "Getting to 50-50: How working couples can have it all by sharing it all".

"It's about this core belief that men need their kids as much as women do, and women need their jobs as much as men do," said Meers.

Meers says social science research shows that the 50-50 approach fosters more balanced children, and lends to stronger marriages.

"In the United States, the couples with the lowest divorce risk are the couples who almost evenly split earnings and housework," said Meers.

Sometimes house and family duties may turn out to be a 60/40 or 70/30 split, but however you divvy it up, the recommendation is to make a mutual master plan, a "to-do" list.

"We have an Excel spreadsheet that has school, everyone else's schedules, sports, activities," said Tina Jones.

It helps the Jones family manage their time, share responsibility and reduce stress.

"We're getting better about canceling things, about letting go of things that are just not as important," said Tina Jones.

As a former finance executive at Goldman Sachs, Meers knows that 50/50 lifestyles help employees remain an asset to their workplace. It can improve productivity, and help retain female talent, who sometimes quit, because there's a lack of support to balance career and family.

Over the last year, more than a dozen Fortune 500 companies, like Intel, Google and Microsoft, have invited Meers to speak to employees about "Getting to 50-50".

It seems pretty logical, and perhaps that's why it's an attitude shift that's catching on.


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