Q&A: How to get your way (skillfully)

May 22, 2024 | Burning Question

question

As a new mom with a high-pressure job, I constantly feel pulled in different directions. I’m embarrassed to ask my boss for a more flexible or part-time schedule because I don’t want to seem uncommitted to my work. But the truth is, I’m burning out and need more flexibility. What’s the best way to request an arrangement that allows me to be more present for my family without hurting my career?Kamilla, 30

A. Being a new mom and holding down a high-pressure job is difficult. It takes time to adjust to the responsibilities of parenthood while keeping work projects on track–AND staying healthy and sane. That’s a high bar for anyone! (Remember, it’s also in your employer’s best interest for you to be engaged and healthy.) 🧘‍♀️

Take a breath and focus on what YOU need – without shame or guilt.

You sound clear on your needs. Now, you have the power to make a request. 💪

Your conversation with your manager could go like this: “I thoroughly enjoy working at this company and love my job. I’ve been overwhelmed by the hours required to complete everything, and I feel exhausted at work and home. This isn’t sustainable. I’d like to request [a 4-day schedule for the next 6 months] so I can deliver my best work and meet my family’s needs, too.” 💬

Listen to their response and address any questions. Finish the meeting with “Do I have your support?” Assure your manager that you’ll do a weekly check-in to align on what’s working and what needs attention. A 4-day schedule may require a compensation adjustment. However, if you request flexible hours, be specific about what that entails so expectations are aligned and your goal is accomplished.

It’s possible to be successful at work and home. And it’s more achievable when you make skillful requests to meet your needs. 🏆

question

In my marriage, I’ve fallen into the role of default household manager – doing most of the cooking, cleaning, scheduling, etc. My husband gets defensive when I mention wanting him to share more of that load since we both work full-time. I end up backing down to keep the peace. How do I firmly communicate my need for an equal division of labor without it becoming a fight? – Jaz, 34

A. You’re not alone if you’re feeling bogged down by household chores. This work is often called “invisible labor,” and research shows that women do nearly twice as much as men.

To minimize your husband’s defensiveness, avoid using charged language such as “You don’t do anything around here.” Instead, figure out what YOU need. By the sound of your letter, you want a tidy home and a good relationship with your spouse. To accomplish that, you need his help carrying the load. 💐

This is entirely reasonable AND attainable.

Try this: “Honey, I love the life we’ve built together. I also want to have time to enjoy more of it. I am exhausted by the work required to keep a clean, tidy home and cannot sustain this pace while also trying to advance in my career. I need you to share more of the daily and weekly chores required to manage our household. Specifically, I’d like you to take over [the laundry]. Will you support me on this request?”

If you don’t have a specific request, try using our chore grid. 📝

1. Identify ALL the tasks that are required to run the household. Make this list as exhaustive as possible.

2. Categorize into important/unimportant tasks

3. Circle the tasks that you enjoy (oddly, I enjoy folding laundry but detest unloading the dishwasher) – ask your partner to circle his preferred tasks

4. Evaluate what’s remaining – can you trade/barter with a friend or neighbor? Can you outsource–recognizing that it might be worth it if you reclaim your sanity and some personal time? If you can’t outsource or barter, rotate the responsibility for unselected tasks.

After you agree on who is responsible for individual tasks, set a timeframe to assess the arrangement. Once per month or every few months is reasonable. Stay focused on your goal. Backing down will only breed resentment over time. You deserve a partner who will share the household responsibilities. 🤝

Make that request!

 

If your work.life feels out of control, take control.

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