Throwing Balance Out With the Recession
Sue Shellenbarger's column today in the Wall Street Journal discusses a disturbing but understandable trend. She describes the nation's financial crisis as a reason why many couples are abandoning their hopes for balanced lives. Scaled back work hours and adequate family time are becoming more difficult to justify or hack. Does the recession mean an end to ESP?
Hardly. While some families are undoubtedly struggling with money (who isn't, these days?), there are other options to survive besides working yourself out of a happy life. Logically, there's the notion that two full-time, full-bore jobs usually require full-time+ outside childcare - at a hefty price (emotionally and financially). Especially if you've got pre-school aged children, two slightly scaled back jobs can net a huge reduction in childcare costs and give both parents lives with breathing room to boot. Spiritually, there's the idea that money isn't the goal anyway. We need enough - that's all. But unless you are truly, truly impoverished, it is hard to really decide what is enough.
This financial mess is going to affect all of us. Some of our worries are currently on paper only. Others, like lost paychecks due to layoffs or lost benefits due to employer belt tightening, are front and center. But I have a secret hope. It may be horribly naive, but I'm hoping that a bit of genuine good comes of this period in history.
I'd love to see a reawakening of priorities. A return to the simple life, where families no longer need all the things that marketers say make up the American Dream. I'd love to see us proudly put our money where it can do the most good - to buy us time to be together.
What's that saying about the baby and the bathwater? We need ESP more than ever.