Work life balance in the wake of the Newtown shooting

For many of us, Friday was a life changing day. More than a dozen children went to elementary school that morning in Newtown and were dead before lunch. 

While the shooting happened, we sat at our desks, going about our work days and discovered once again that families lives can change horribly in just a few hours. For the last few days, I have thought about those mothers and fathers who had settled into their work routines on Friday, only to hear the news reports or receive a text and learn that their children were in harm's way. It makes me cringe.

Ask a  parent, his or her priorities and most will tell you their families take the top spot. But in the day to day grind of meeting work deadlines, pleasing the boss or responding to emails at all hours, it has become easy to stay a bit later at the office or ignore a child tugging on our sleeve for attention.

I'm reminded in the wake of Newtown that work life balance is about living without regret. Please notice I didn't say guilt.

Just last week, I felt so horrible, so guilty about missing my son's award ceremony at school because of a work conflict. As a working parent, it is impossible to avoid missing some event in your child's life and guilt becomes a way of life.

But as Newtown's grieving parents show us, it's the big picture that counts. 

We need to ask ourselves: Do you I make the most out of the time I spend with my siblings, parents, children, friends, spouse? Are there small changes that could improve the quality and quantity of that time? What would I regret if I didn't have tomorrow with my loved one?

CNN reports that on Friday, Diana Licata was supposed to go to the school later to help build a gingerbread house in her son Aiden's class. She told her husband, who was working from home Friday, that maybe he should go instead. Aiden would love to have Daddy come to class.

Robert planned to be in Victoria Soto's classroom at 2 in the afternoon.

In another Newtown house, 6-year-old Emilie Parker woke up to say goodbye to her father, Robbie, before he left for work at a local hospital.

He had been teaching Portuguese to his daughter, and she practiced by saying "bom dia" (good morning) and asking how he was.

Emilie told her daddy she loved him and gave him a kiss. Then Robbie Parker dashed out the door.

These are parents who are just like us, were struggling with the balance in earning a living and being there for their kids. As technology erodes boundaries, customers grow more demanding, and bosses pile on the work, think of the parents in Newtown and have the courage and discipline to stay true to your priorities. What they wouldn't give to have their child tugging on their sleeve once again!



The Work/Life Balancing Act

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