I found the recent Wall Street Journal article  about family-work balance blogs surprising. After all, in my own family my husband and I frequently check in with one another and analyze how we’re both feeling about the family-work juggle. We’re both guilty of being pretty intent on our navels much of the time. But we find that we haven’t just made static choices about how to divide our work and family lives. It takes frequent dialogue and communication to be sure we’re where we want to be. And, as big fans of the Mama PhD blog site (no bias, really), we’ve come up with five great reasons why we all need to keep talking about work-family life balance, especially as academics.
1. Our stories create community with others facing similar struggles and decisions about how to best split our work and home lives. And if the work environment isn’t conducive to these conversations or if one doesn’t have colleagues with whom to have discussions about accommodating family, a web community is the next best thing to avoid feeling isolated.
2. We exchange information and ideas in an open forum. It’s useful to know how other academic mothers keep their lives organized and stay sane! There are no how-to guides, and we have few role models and sometimes no peers.
3. Sometimes we feel discouraged or doubt the choices we’ve made, especially with an unsupportive peer group. In a forum such as this we find validation for the paths we’ve taken and can support others making similar decisions.
4. We don’t often have in our graduate programs discussions about work and family balance or get any kind of guidance about the difficult decisions we may face when family needs don’t easily mesh with job demands (or study schedule). Sites such as this blog can be a source of advice or a resource as students move forward in their studies or begin careers.
5. Our ideas and concerns may be heard by powers that be and actually effect changes in university family leave policies or inspire ways of accommodating those who fall through the cracks because they’ve left the traditional academic pipeline.