WASHINGTON - April 15, 2003 - This Mother’s Day (May 11), renew your commitment to balancing car pools and homework with job deadlines and conference calls. Working parent Donna Klein, vice president of Diversity and Workplace Effectiveness for Marriott International (MAR:NYSE), selected by Working Mother magazine as one of the “100 Best Companies for Working Mothers,” offers her top tips:
Design a family calendar each week. Klein uses a magnetic dry-erase board posted on her refrigerator. Make it a family activity on Sunday night - write in every family member’s travel schedules, school tests and important assignments, PTA meetings, field trips, doctor’s appointments and extracurricular activities. You can also add the week’s dinner menu.
Build-in family time. Schedule your family, friends and leisure, just as you manage your work calendar. For instance, Klein has a “dinner date” with her teenage daughter once a week. “That’s when the real communication happens,” she says.
Avoid morning chaos. Choose a place to keep the household’s book bags and briefcases so that you can “grab and go” in the morning. Get up 20 minutes before the children to gather your thoughts for the day. The night before, read and sign important school notes and pack lunches and other belongings, such as equipment for after school activities.
Use technology to help you stay in touch. “The cell phone and personal digital assistants help you feel connected. If there’s an emergency on the playground, the school can get in touch with you if you’re in a meeting,” says Klein. But be careful. Selectively distribute your contact information to important people in your life or you’ll suffer “message overload.”
Use all your vacation days. Mix it up. Take some time for family vacations, but also use a few days just for yourself. “Occasionally, take a vacation day to do errands in the middle of the week so that you can devote your weekends to fun activities,” says Klein.
Think hard about the way you do your work. Identify work that is low value but time consuming. Can you do it differently or eliminate it? Focus on results, not the time worked.
Set limits. To lead a balanced life, practice moderation. “Too many of us wear stress like a medal of honor,” she says. Remember, just being “busy” doesn’t mean you’re successful.
Foster teamwork. At work, fill in for co-workers when they need to leave early for personal reasons and ask them to return the favor when you need to step out. Outside the office, can a fellow parent offer babysitting duties in exchange for carpool or tutoring assistance from you? At home, assign chores to other family members (and be willing to relax the standards if they don’t meet your high expectations).
Keep romance alive. Each week, include time for your significant other and you. Keep the lines of communication open. “Go for a walk together and talk,” suggests Klein. If you are a frequent business traveler, establish a regular time for friends and family to expect your call.
Live within your financial means. You can avoid a lot of stress by maintaining your financial health. Create a budget - some organizations offer credit counseling services free of charge or for a minimal fee.
For more than 10 years, Donna Klein has led the planning, development, implementation and management of corporate-wide work-life and diversity initiatives for Marriott’s global workforce. She is a nationally known authority on work-life issues and has been the catalyst for several employer-based collaborative projects addressing the needs of working families.
Marriott’s innovative work-life and diversity programs are an extension of founder J. Willard Marriott’s belief that “if you take care of your employees, they’ll take care of your guests who will return again and again.” The company has been widely recognized by industry leaders and consistently appears on listings of outstanding places to work, including Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For,” Washingtonian’s “Great Places to Work” and Working Mother’s best companies for working mothers. Marriott is also a recipient of the 2002 Catalyst Award for its demonstrated success in advancing women’s leadership in the workplace.