Recession: Are We Working Too Much, Or Not Enough?

By now, there are few of us that haven’t been affected by the recession in some way.

Personally speaking, while I have managed to remain employed by a company that still offers great benefits and good pay…

… Even I am feeling the burn.

Most recently my company froze our salaries, offered a “voluntary” reduced work schedule, reduced our medical coverage, and slashed our 401K match.

Everyone, world-wide it seems, is being forced to make do with less.

We need to be more productive than ever, even as our resources are diminishing.

If we slip up… we could lose our jobs… and with unemployment hovering around 8.5%, we know there are many workers that will be happy to take our places.

At home, we have to figure out a way to continue supporting our families with a smaller number of resources- be it finances, time or energy.

I have a friend, for example, who is a single mother with 2 sons.

She never got much in the way of child support from her ex, so she’s accustomed to having to get creative, figuring things out on her own.

Most recently, my friend, who already works full-time for a large company, had to get a 2nd job.

She has a bachelor’s degree in Finance from a very prestigious university…

… And now finds herself working part-time at Blockbuster Video.

That (small) additional income is buying her groceries every month.

She doesn’t get to spend as much time with her kids as she used to able to…  and now their grades are slipping… they’re developing major attitude problems… their teachers are complaining… she barely recognizes them… but dammit, the mortgage is paid.

I know this problem isn’t a new one.

For generations- well before this particular recession, people- single parents, low income families- have been struggling to learn how to get more out of less.

How do you mandate your children’s behavior, or whether they’re outside playing with friends when they’re supposed to be inside doing homework, when you have 3 jobs- all 3 of which are necessary simply to put food on the table and have gas and electricity?

So many of us are having to choose between that all-important family time and working, so that our rent is paid.

I remember trying to comfort my sobbing friend after her son’s teacher called to let her know he’d been caught stealing another child’s homework… she was also surprised to learn he was failing his classes.

“We’ve talked to your son, and he says you’re never around anymore- that you’re too busy to help him with his studies. You really need to take a more active role in your son’s life”, snarled the teacher.

“Sir, with all due respect, I love my children, and I am doing the very best I can”.

“It’s not good enough”, she was told.

They’re both right.

She is definitely doing the best she can…

… And, as evidenced by her son’s behavior, it isn’t good enough.

So what is it that we’re to do, when the very best we have, simply doesn’t cut it?

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