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blogging on high-commitment workplaces

Food, Fashion and a Little History

Good work, moms!: No one seems to know exactly what to thank for the 43% drop in obesity among 2- to 5-year-olds. Michelle Obama? Food stamp changes that make fruits and veggies more affordable for low-income families?
I know who to thank: You…moms. Many factors probably contribute to this huge improvement, but the fact that kids are getting fewer sugar-packed drinks also points to you.

#DoubleBooked: 12 Tips for CLIPS (Career Loving Involved Parents)

This piece, written by Rachel and her husband, Mark Davies, originally appeared at The Huffington Post on February 11, 2014. It also appeared as part of the Religious Action Center’s blog seriesDouble Booked: A Conversation about Working Families in the 21st Century” on Februrary 14, 2014.  Double Booked deals with the many issues that affect working families, and features everything from personal stories to policy analysis. Visit the Double Booked portal to read more posts and subscribe for updates, or join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #doublebooked.

Leaning on Each Other to Lead: Parents have the skills and talents to create meaningful change together

Last November I uploaded my ebook, Lean On and Lead, Mothering and Work in the 21st Century Economy, to the iBooks Store.  In addition to the next-gen interactivity within the book, Apple allows authors to update publications, with readers automatically receiving free updates.  So I designed a new cover (with the help of my artistic teenage son), cleaned up commas and clunky phrases, spruced up graphics, re-worked widgets, and added content.  My 1.1 update went “live” yesterday.

Kids? What Kids? A Working Woman’s Bluff

At a recent business dinner, I was seated next to a woman who had founded  a venture-backed startup. Her company was about four years old, and had raised tens of millions of dollars.

I’m an editor-at-large for Inc and Inc.com. At Inc, we write about entrepreneurs, and about burnout. So I asked her, “We always hear that being an entrepreneur is a 24/7 endeavor. But you’ve been doing this for years, and no one can work all the time without burning out. What do you do to stay sane?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “It’s funny. You just find a way to keep going.”

At some point, I thought, everyone needs a break. Even people who claim they only need four hours’ sleep each night generally take big naps during the day. So I tried again. “Look,” I said. “If you ask me, I’ll tell you I work all the time. But the truth is it’s very hard to get me on the phone or on email between 5:30 and 8:30 on a weeknight. That’s when I see my kids. I’m back online by 9:00, but I don’t literally work all the time.”

“Well, I work an awful lot,” said my dinner companion. “There’s no other choice if you want to run a company like this.”

Author of “Maxed Out” talks about why American moms are on the brink

A few months ago, I received a note from a longtime friend, Joan Blades (co-founder of MomsRising) introducing us to Katrina Alcorn. Joan thought we might support each others’ work, and it turns out that yes, supporting each others’ work was indeed a no brainer. I learned about the book Katrina was writing – Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink – and it definitely sounded intriguing. After all, I’m an American Mom and before ROWE, I definitely would have described myself as being on the brink of many things…insanity being one of them.

When Opting Out Doesn’t Work, and Leaning In Makes You Nuts

Ten years ago, a group of high-powered women quit their jobs to stay home with their kids full-time. They got tons of media attention, including a segment on 60 Minutes.

Writer Judith Warner recently caught up with them in a cover story for The New York Times magazine. The story didn’t look at the happily-ever-afters — the women who are still pleased to be at home full-time. Perhaps there weren’t any, and at any rate, there’s not much drama there. Instead, the story focused on women who now wanted a full-time job and were unable to find one that suited them.

The story talked at length about the difficulties these women were having getting back into full-time work, including networks that had gone cold and the fact that not all volunteer work looks equally great on a resume.

Planning a Career Break? Make Sure It’s a Pause, Not a Dent

A decade ago, Lisa Belkin wrote “The Opt Out Revolution,” a New York Times Magazine piece that became instantly famous. It profiled women who had chosen to leave high-profile careers to stay home full-time, arguing that they had opted out because (to quote one) “women’s brains light up differently.” I subsequently wrote a report documenting that the print media in general, and The New York Times in particular, had been writing precisely this story since the 1970s, announcing over and over again that women had finally discovered that they wanted to stay home rather than work.

Family leave and self-employment

I just watched my three year old “graduate” from her first year of preschool. It was a cute ceremony, and the room was filled with parents that sat in long rows with their cameras trained on the kids up front. But it’s also 11am on a Friday, and that means I was one of the only dads in the room.

There were several moms who couldn’t make it, too. Most parents have to do what their jobs demand. But seven years ago my wife and I began to arrange our careers in a way that would let us both be present for the important moments in our (future) kids lives. When we decided to start our photography business, a lot of people asked why we didn’t want to wait a few years for us to be more established financially. In part, the answer was that I wouldn’t let myself take such a big risk while having kids to feed. I wanted the business itself to be more established by the time we did have kids, because one of the main reasons we started the business in the first place was to be able to parent on our own terms.

Unanticipated rewards

Here’s  a quiz: see if you can figure out what kind of dad I am.

If you ask them, my children may very well tell you I am their “fake daddy”. My children are not biologically related to me, don’t share my last name, and they all don’t even currently live with me. But I can assure you, I’m a real dad when it counts: like at 3am when you’ve had a bad dream, when you skin your knee riding your bike, or when your real parents are having a bit of a problem.

Time’s up. Final answer?

I am a foster dad.

While our family was not created in the traditional way, my wife and I decided that we wanted to open our home to children who need us, whatever that reason may be. We currently have an adorable 5-month-old boy, but we have had toddlers and school-aged children too. In all, we’ve had five foster children pass through our home, and we anticipate having at least a few more.

Real Nurturing Leave

When my partner and I were graced with the news that we were expecting our first child, I was in my fifth year of service as an assistant professor in a research university. Tenure reviews are generally scheduled for the sixth year of service. Thus, in the academic profession, this is the crucial time when a scholar is expected to “publish or perish.” Usually connoting lifetime job security and academic freedom, tenure is one of the great blessings a college or university can award a professor. Conversely, however, being denied tenure (and thus losing one’s job) can act as a major setback to a life and career.

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