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Sheryl Sandberg tells us how to spend time with our family

Do we have enough pithy posts here on urbanMamas? No! Try this.

Sheryl Sandberg made headlines everywhere by saying in a Makers.com video that she leaves work early every day -- 5:30! -- to spend time with her kids. She has two, ages four and six. "Why can't you?" said the Inc. magazine headline. I don't know if I'm more depressed that this is such a big deal today (OMG someone important spends less than 12 hours at the office) or that even the COO of Facebook is better at spending time with her family than I am.

Also, she's super gorgeous and her husband changes diapers.

[Sorry, comments are now closed. Evidently this is too touchy a debate.]


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When you work in an environment that respects and empowers you, you be the confidence to make these choices. So many people, women more than men but it happens to both, feel replaceable, and not empowering. It's an unfortunate side effect of corporate mis-management. And I'm glad I got out of it years ago.

As a homemaker, I have had tons of time with my kids over the years. My hubby is a great role model for our kids and pitches in on the housework whenever help is needed.

When my oldest was 2, I left a job I generally enjoyed for a less exciting job specifically because the hours at the job I left were ridiculous and due to the nature of the position, there was no way the hours were going to change. My current job is almost always 8-5, no week-ends. It's not going to set the world on fire, but it pays the bills, has decent health insurance benefits, and enables me to see my kids more often. I wish the reasonableness of my work schedule was an option for more parents.

Good for her that she does it, and frankly, her husband SHOULD change diapers, because I'm sure she makes most of the $$$ in their household. Though it isn't mentioned, they probably have a full time nanny (they can certainly afford it).

It actually isn't about the company having an "empowering women" culture or not---it's about HER power at the company, so that they're willing to accommodate HER needs. I can absolutely, positively guarantee you that there are scores of parents at Facebook who work 70+ hour work weeks. They're simply more expendable than she is. And offer less of a marketing/PR opportunity.

Sometimes, it isn't even the "more important" positions that require the long hours, it entry to middle management. When my daughter was an infant I worked a job where, on certain days, it could be a 12-14 hour so intense that I frequently didn't get to PEE until 2 hours after I needed to (yes, for reals). I was paid abysmally low wages and for all intents and purposes on 24 hour call.

We were also (at the time) an Oregon's 100 best companies for work for and our top executive VP was a woman with a family. In other words, again, it's all spin.

Oh yeah, and my husband totally changed diapers back in the day, as well. IN short there are jobs in which you can leave the office and do the daytime thing. There are other jobs in which that simply isn't a possiblity.

Why is this a discussion point? Plenty of people leave early, some people can't. Amount of time does not equate to quality time, which is what counts. This sounds like another story to make working moms who value their career and work long days feel bad about themselves. Enough already, isn't it time to give ourselves a break?

The most depressing commercial I have seen shows a woman eating one of those instant junk microwaveable lunches in her cubicle while a voiceover points to pictures of her kids and how eating at her desk and working longer hours is somehow better for her and her family. Just hits me wrong. Not that it isn't truer probably than most commercials, but how I wish it wasn't.

I think it's awesome. In other articles Ms. Sandberg makes it clear that she works early (presumably before her children wake up) and works late into the night as well. She's making the point that these are the choices she makes to be successful as both a mother and an executive. As a career woman/mother I LOVE to see examples of women who are a) honest about the challenges and b) successful. It's really inspiring to see an intelligent, professional, and, yes, attractive woman who loves her job, her children and her husband.

@Heather I agree with much of what you said but I have to ask, what is inspiring about "attractive"? I find the focus on appearance depressing and part and parcel with patriarchy.

@Kelly - I added the "attractive" comment in response to the original post where the author described her as "super gorgeous." I honestly wouldn't have commented on her appearance otherwise.

I agree that some people are just attractive. I don't know if it's that they have more time to take care of their looks and are happier so they look more attractive, or they are "just born with it." (Maybe it's Maybeline?) But whatever the case, I haven't worn makeup in 4 years and sometimes I look in the mirror and feel less than the most attractive, and sometimes I get mad when I see attractive, busy moms, but that doesn't take away their right to be attractive. Sometimes, some moms tend to seem to have it all, but my guess is they have some killer vice that no one knows about to keep them sane. We all have our little secret coping skills, whether healthy or not.

Judging those who seem to have it all is easy to do, but one can never know what's behind the external. Maybe there's a vice like Debby mentioned, or they have a terminal illness, or their mom has dementia. Maybe good looking people spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about wrinkles?

I'm sorry but after working in a huge corporation for 10+ years ... I have heard this before from the execs male & female alike... the whole we support the "work / life" balance and sure they can they are the VPs, partners, execs etc.... but at most companies ones hours of flexibility is determined by their individual manager so if your manager expects u to be I your seat from 8-6pm sp be it... while another employee's mngr might be very comfortable with his team working from home 2 days a week... but yours does not allow it. I would be curious how Mrs Sandberg ensures all employees can enjoy the balance when most companies are not set up fairly for all to partake?

oh and I too did not think "...and she's gorgeous" comment was necessary in the original post. she's the female executive face of Facebook I did not expect her not to be polished, on trend with her style and clothing... makeup / hair etc.... I can assume her allowance for this is more then most of us could even dream to afford. Not hating just think its not needed to be mentioned in today's times when most are struggling to find a job, keep a job let alone ins position to demand flexibility at work.

@Elle: ITA, it's all spin. Much the same way that most companies are active in the community (and demand their employees give up personal time to volunteer as well)---it isn't about being socially concious, it's about PR.

I have to disagree with many of the points here. I LOVED this video. I work for a Fortune 500 company (let's call it a Fortune 100 company) and subscribe to the belief that we teach people how to treat us (including our employers). When I interviewed for my job after staying home with my child for two years, I frankly explained that I was an excellent employee - they wouldn't find better - but that I needed to work for a company that didn't make me feel like I had to make a choice between work and my children. I explained that it was very important to me that I have a strong work/life balance. I also explained that there is a whole generation of women like myself who were at the top of their game professionally when they took a few years to be a mother exclusively and that we are still the same people returning to the work force. Needless to say, they hired me. Not only do I rarely work overtime, I work remotely full time, I have the option to have flex time, job sharing is possible and I'm required to do community service which, in my case, is volunteering in my son's class at school. I make sure to use my time working as efficiently as possible. In a lovely twist, my boss told me during my review (he now has a young child of his own), that he admired by ability to "turn it off" and the balance I clearly had - he's striving now to have it himself. I've been a manager and/or director for a long time and I've often found that the "over timers" don't manage time as well or there's an underlying insecurity that's driving the extra time at work. I realize everyone's situation is different but I don't doubt that Facebook really IS like this. I suspect it's a very progressive company to work for. You have to be in this day and age to retain top female talent.

Trust if you are an admin or some other pink or blue collar jobn these are not options that are even on the tablem you are often choosing between caring for a sick child or keeping your job. In an at-will work state you can be fired for no reason. Most women in the workplace do NOT have the option of tellig bosses 'how it's gonna be"

VLJ - kudos to you, seriously. I've made some similar decisions in my life, and am in a place where although I feel quite fortunate, I also worked quite hard to get to.

Zumpie - you sound very bitter of your job/situation. I'd suggest channeling that energy to something positive - like change.

I also just recently changed jobs. In the interview I said I loved my job but it required overnight travel and it didn't work for my family any more. I got the job, but it wasn't easy. I was looking well over a year for an opening in my area of expertise with no travel requirements. There were moments when I lost all hopes that such job existed.

VJL, I just want to let you know that I value your opinion and I am sure that other moms here to as well.

My biggest issue, which is not imposed by my boss but by myself, is I often don't take care of myself as well as I should by taking days off when I am not feeling well because I am afraid of using my sick days, when I might need them for my daughter. And often, I feel I might ignore some of her medical complaints and send her to school (she is usually fine) because I can't "afford" to take the time off (we have PTO which combines holidays, sick and vacation time, and man, it would be nice to take a vaca this summer to visit the family in MA!). I think a lot of moms do this, because we also don't want to be taking off more time than other workers without kids, as sometimes it feels we are not pulling our weight. This is the first year that I have actually taken a few hours off here and there to volunteer at my daughter's school. My boss was so supportive, even though she has never had kids.

I'm sorry -- I had no idea this post would cause such a touchy debate. I was hoping we could all agree that the undertones of "why can't you leave work at 5:30 p.m.?" was judgmental and created an impossible, mythological totem out of Sheryl Sandberg -- when's she's clearly not the perfect example of work/life balance (she has also said she sends the first email in the morning and the last email at night; something tells me she's not up late creating a database for the first grade auction for her kids' school or knitting them socks. not that these things necessarily demonstrate love, but... anyway).

evidently, though, we've gone too far. I'm going to unpublish many of these comments that have become personal, even though they do have some valid points imbedded within, because it's too hard to see the valid points with the arguments. I'm also closing comments. if you want to discuss this further, please think about sending in a guest post on the topic of work/life balance. we'd love to hear your thoughts if they can be about your own story and not judging each other's stories (or our word choices. it's hard to get every. last. word. perfect).

I'm sorry for those of you whose feelings were hurt in this debate.

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