When we are talking about a smarter future for the world at our house, sustainability is my word of choice. It’s not about the latest recycling instructions, or the fuel-efficiency of our car, or the energy rating of our fridge, as important those things are. It’s about whether as a whole planet, with all 7 billion of uson it, we can sustain life. Sustain a quality life.
My Life: The Micro Picture
I think about the pace of my week. The activities packed into it. The to-ing and fro-ing. Running a business. Household management. The kids’ events. Church. School. Neighborhood. Extended family. Back-to-back meetings. Staying up til1am, yet again, to get caught up. How did Sunday night get here again? Rinse. Repeat.
My Life: The Macro Picture
If there is no big picture behind all of that ‘doing’, then it feels like mice on a wheel, doesn’t it? We have to know what we are doing it all for. When I anchor the week in what really matters, then I make better choices about what to say yes to and what to let go. And our lives as a family become more balanced and yes, more sustainable.
When we evaluate what we allow in to our lives, it must pass the litmus test of personal and family sustainability. As a planet, we have to evaluate our energy sources, our resource supplies and our consumption. Those same principles apply to our time.
My Wish List of PolicyReforms: The Really Macro Picture
Work life balance is not just an individual responsibility. I have a long list of corporate and social support structures I’d like to see shift in fundamental ways to support the realities of modern families and contemporary life, including:
- National paid sick leave
- National paid vacation minimums
- Divorcing healthcare from the workplace
- Elimination of the disproportionate career hit and discrimination mothers take for a few years out of the corporate workforce
- Deeper recognition and encouragement for fathers to be engaged with their children and the community
- Reframing of the worklife balance conversation to disconnect it from being a “mothers issue” whilst acknowledging there would be no flexible workplaces without mothers’ hard fought battles.
And a few hundred more suggestions. I’ve been thinking about this issue for many years. My first encounters with needing flexibility in the workplace came with doing graduate school at night, a hunger to travel and explore the world, and then caring for a dying family member – all this long before marriage and kids.
Back to the Beginning
However, the place where work and family and love and life all blend together in a giant mash-up — with or without social policy reform and better corporate structures — doesn’t mean a thing if we don’t know who we are and what we value most.
It might end with fundamental restructuring of the way we do things around here.
But it always starts with us and what we value most.
What’s on your wish list to change — in your life, in your family, in social attitudes and in public policy — for life to become truly sustainable? Share your answer below and like Smarter Life Better Planet on Facebook to be entered to win a Haier microwave for your family along with an additional microwave to be donated to the Food Bank for New York City!
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