Friday, January 30, 2009

Work-Life Balance Panel (co-sponsored by WISE-FPP)

Panelists Svetoslava Todorova, a graduate student in Civil and Environmental Engineering at SU; Dr. Melissa Fierke, Assistant Professor, EFB, SUNY-ESFF; Dr. Marina Artuso, Professor, Physics, and Co-Director, WISE, SU;  and Dr. Shobha Bhatia, Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor for Teaching Excellence, Civil and Environmental Engineering, SU represented different stages of an academic career.  Similarly, their children range in age from toddler to college.   Some of their spouses are fellow academics, some have separate professional careers, and one is an at-home dad.  
Their suggestions: 
  • Prioritize, and where possible, separate the priorities in time. 
  • Set goals to stay on target and motivated.
  • Support of family, advisors and friends is critical.  Parents provided childcare for several panelists, either during particularly hectic experiment periods, or allowing the panelist to travel to conferences.
  • Try to keep regular time for family, but don’t feel guilty if need to change it or miss it this week. And also keep some time for yourself to do something you love like reading or running.
  • Focus on the present.  Let go of the guilt for sacrificing housework, limiting social time with classmates, and postponed deadlines. 
  • Pre-pay for vacations/tickets so that you are not tempted to say “I’ve got too much to do right now.”
  • Click here for a the handout.
Did any of you consider working part-time?  No.  Part-time is generally frowned upon, especially for those that have not attained tenure.  Full-time expectations even for those that are part-time.  International students do not have a part-time option.
Childcare Centers?  Great help.  Can’t predict how you will feel about daycare.  Lots of moms think they want a childcare facility, but change their minds after birth.  At the same time, it’s very hard to give up a career you love, even its just for a short period.
“Even the best-laid plans…”.   Timely examples: a fifth panelist cancelled to care for a sick child, and one of the sitting panelists was called away for a period to coordinate assistance for an older child.