From the Publisher
Winner of the ForeWord Reviews 2013 IndieFab Awards Silver medal in the category of Family & Relationships
Winner of the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2014 Gold medal in the category of Parenting
"Don't believe the myths about women and work - this advice will benefit you now and in the future."
Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In and COO of Facebook
"In light of the ongoing debate over how and if working mothers can have it all, the authors say women can have successful careers and be good moms, but only if their spouses are equal partners in the work at home."
"Getting to 50/50 highlights the perpetual debate about the proper work-life balance for parents, particularly for women."
CBS Money Watch
"A valuable read for working couples contemplating parenthood.
"Authors Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober (and a foreword by Sheryl Sandberg) empower mothers to strive for this goal by highlighting experts’ advice, couples who are making it work, and concrete steps you can take to get to 50/50."
"Getting To 50/50: How Working Parents Can Have It All is a book not just for women. It’s a message of freedom, a guide to empowerment and shows how two spouses working can benefit the entire family unit. Reading it will spark discussion with your husband and whomever you choose to share its views with. Let the dialogue begin!"
"An inspiring and empowering read for all Proud Working Moms."
Proud Working Mom
"Real tips and tricks to make your marriage 50/50 before baby and once the kids have arrived."
Salt and Nectar
"Getting to 50/50: How working parents can have it all is a call to arms."
"An interesting social study into the dynamics of the nuclear family and the demands on working parents. "
"I highly recommend this book for dads that want to give their families more balance."
"Kudos to Meers and Strober for publishing this important, much-needed book."
Working Moms Against Guilt
"All types of families can benefit from shifting perspective from competition between men and women, to cooperation that improves life for everyone involved."
Getting to 50/50 offers hope and help, perspective and advice and ultimately, some extraordinarily practical approaches to making a family work, regardless of the specific challenges that family faces.
"Meers and Strober tell a highly readable story about how a 50/50 commitment to work AND family affects work, marriage, children, and sex. You won’t want to miss Getting to 50/50."
Stew Friedman, Director, Wharton Work/Life Integration Project and author of Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life
"[Sharon and Joanna] have spoken at companies and business schools for more than a decade. They know the culture and the challenges. But they're convinced 50/50 can and should be done."
The Chicago Tribune
Offers advice on how to get husbands to pull their weight around the house."
"Woman's Hour," BBC 4
“Sharon and Joanna are mothers with five young children between them. They understand the challenges and rewards of two career households. The key is tapping into your best resource and most powerful ally the man you married.”
The Green Parent
“Finally! A book about two-income families that speaks the truth and provides solid advice. Every working mom needs to read this book... twice.”
Lois P. Frankel, Ph.D., author of Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office
“Getting to 50/50 presents a solid business case for gender-equal workplaces and families, and then helps us realize how wonderful this solution is for relationships as well.”
Marc and Amy Vachon, authors of Equally Shared Parenting: Rewriting the Rules for a New Generation of Parents
"Wish I'd had a book like this years ago when I was a young working mother. Neither my husband nor I had a clue how to juggle the demands of our careers with the demands of being good parents. Our marriage suffered as a result. Today's working couples are fortunate to have a great book like Getting to 50/50 to turn to for helpful advice.
~ BJ Gallagher, author of It's Never Too Late To Be What You Might Have Been and What Would Buddha Do At Work?
"Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober are pioneers in illuminating the path for working couples to have it all. And as pioneers they have personally travelled the territory and offer an array of insights and options that nourish relationships & careers. If you are struggling with how working couples can have it all, you must read Getting to 50/50 for yourself, for your children and for your career and for your relationship."
Susyn Reeve, author of The Inspired Life
"When I was growing up there was a chewing gum commercial on the radio with a tune that touted, “Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun.” I think it would be a great anthem for this insightful book that wisely shows not only the advantages of being a working couple but also why it is great for the kids as well. And, you, the reader, will surely double your knowledge and pleasure by reading Getting to 50/50.
-Allen Klein, author of Mom’s the Word: The Wit, Wisdom and Wonder of Motherhood
“We all have the capacity to be successful in our career, and in our family life as well. Getting to 50/50: How Working Couples Can Have It All is the ideal resource every spouse needs to make that happen. This book is not only a tool to help improve your work/life balance; it also serves as a timeless gift which benefits the entire family.”
David Mezzapelle, author of Contagious Optimism
Read an Excerpt
The most important career decision you make is whom you marry. (And the deals you make with him.)
INTRODUCTION - Imagine a Full LifeThere's No Need to Choose
Do we know you?
You worked hard to get where you are. You pushed yourself in school, got a job, and gave it your all. You learned your trade and found your strength, spurred on by the challenge of doing things well. When you see the next mountain, you gear up to climb it.
Along the way, you think about meeting the right guy. Or maybe you've met him and he has joined your journey. Either way, you see how linking your life with a man's may change your course.
Setting out, it all see,ms simple. It's fun to be a twosome, and you help each other when the ground gets rocky. If he slips, you steady him; when you lag behind, he pulls you up. You map out your future together, and it's good. Two people joined by love and shared dreams. This is the marriage you hope for.
Then, one day, you take a grand new path: parenthood. No longer a couple, you're a family. While you pause to adjust to this miracle, your husband resumes his course...
You look into your child's eyes and wonder, How much will I miss you when I go back to work? Should I slow down to keep you safeeven stop altogether?
Other voices echo yours. Those who once cheered you on now ask, "Do you have to work? Won't the baby need you? Do you really want to leave your baby with strangers? Does your salary even cover child care?"
Back at work, some colleagues now see you differently.
"You seem less focussed. We'll ask Jack to help you run that project."
"We restructured the group while you were out. Half your team now reports to Charlotte."
"Commitment is important. We'd like to see you here more hours."
And you see things differently, too. Do we need the third staff meeting? Is the trip to Tucson really necessary? you start to asktime is no longer something you give away freely.
You look to your partner for support, but he faces a steep grade himself. Convinced he must "provide for the family," he resolves to work even harder. You call to him for helpdid he hear you? You ask him to take his share of the load, but he worries he'll stumble if he does.
"I know it's my turn to do day-care drop-off, but can you do it? I have an early meeting."
"The baby is calmer with you. He always fusses when I t (with hope that she'll stay there.)ry to feed him."
"There are no other dads at the playground and the moms look at me funny. Can't you do the play date?"
Once day you wake up and wonder, Why not just quit? You see your paycheck depleted by childcare costs and your time vanish as each day repeats itself: dressing your child, feeding her, going to work, coming home, feeding her again, and putting her to bed (with hopes that she'll stay there.) Weekends are cram sessions of diapers, groceries, laundry, errands, and the occasional night out that takes as much planning as a space shuttle launch. You begin to think of your spouse as a kindly roommate who usually remembers to put the seat down.
You're still giving it your best at work, but you're tired and scared about the not-so-subtle signs that no one thinks you'll stick it out. On bad days, you ask yourself, Can't we make do without my incomejust for a while? You certainly wouldn't be the only working mother to "opt out." You can tick off a half dozen ex-colleagues, all mothers, all talented in different ways, who drove off into the sunset, children strapped safely in their car seats. You keep hearing that voice: Is is really worth it?
You bet your kid's college tuition it is.
We're going to show you precisely why working is worth it for you, your children, and your spouse, and how both your family and your career can flourishwhen you tap into a powerful ally. It's not your babysitter, your BlackBerry, or your boss (thugh thy come in handy). Here's a hint: You married him.
We are two working moms who believe that everyone wins when men are full parents and women have full careers. When both parents pay the bills and care for the kids, this life is possiblewe know from experience. In our homes, we don't assume that Mom is destined to be the "primary parent." Our kids see Dad as equal to Mom because we set it up that way. True, we did 100 percent of the breast-feeding and sometimes only we can make the monster under the bed disappear. But Dad loves parenting as much as we doand he's good at it, too. There is also no "primary breadwinner" among us. Mom and Dad are both on the hook for the costs of raising kids, from groceries to braces, from housing to soccer cleats. The payoff? We enjoy rewarding careers and see that our families thrive--not despite our work but because of it.
Chapter Five: Success Does Not Require 24/7
We started our careers in two times-intensive fields - Joanna in law and Sharon in finance. We each looked around our offices and saw men working 24/7, and women doing the same thing - until they became parents. In our mostly male professions, long hours were not only a badge of honor, a sign of status, they were a necessity for anyone who wanted to get ahead. It was clear who the working mothers were (a handful of women who tried to keep more normal hours), but it was hard to tell who the fathers were. Single or with four kids at home, all men arrived at work early and went home late - or so it seemed. Talking to men and women in all kind of jobs, we heard the same story. As young people starting out they, like us, got this message: To succeed, you need to work all the time. To work all the time, you need to be (or act) childless.
We've been lucky to learn this is not true - but only after many years of laboring under the delusion that it was. We've all been duped into thinking that more is better when it comes to our jobs, that somehow the more time we spend at work, from offices to hospitals to test kitchens to newsrooms, the more productive we'll be. It starts from a belief that's largely right: That hard work is good (which it is), that we can do a better job if we put in more hours (which was true when we were talking about bringing the harvest in before the crops froze). "It didn't used to be this intense," says Bill George, who ran Medtronic and now sits on the boards of global companies like ExxonMobil. "It got much worse starting fifteen years ago."
Compounding the problem, some of the most hardheaded leaders romanticize 24/7 life. "I used to show up at the office Saturday morning," writes former General Electric CEO Jack Welch in his best-selling book Winning. He had plenty of company, all men, on these weekend mornings he describes as "a blast." "We would mop up the workweek in a more relaxed way and shoot the breeze about sports."
"I never once asked anyone 'Is there someplace you'd rather be - or need to be - for your family or favorite hobby or whatever?' The idea just didn't dawn on me that anyone would want to be anywhere but at work."
We've created a breed of managers who think 24/7 is a matter of pride and success. The overfocus on hours can lead even bright bosses to stop measuring things that matter more, like results or the inputs that drive them, which take more effort to track. Consider the management maxim that "what gets measured gets done" and it's no wonder we're all at the office even longer.
Studying a large firm, Harvard Business School professor Leslie Perlow heard one boss excuse a failing worker this way: "I think we would have lost faith in him a long time ago. But he works so hard, you just have to assume he's working on something really challenging." Bosses at this firm (as in many) were so focused on hours that they would cut a poor performer slack but pushed out successful workers who put in less time.
Something happens to our sense of time when we become parents. Time becomes a prized commodity, something we'd rather not waste. When our time is being misused - by either ourselves or others - we want to punch the clock, literally. It's always aggravating when the person who called the 2:00 meeting shows up at 2:15 and then blows another fifteen minutes off topic. It's even worse when you'd like to leave by 5:15, not 5:45. That's half an hour your child will be waiting for you at day care (accruing those infuriating late fees).
"'This is the dumbest meeting I've sat through in my life.' That was all I could think. It was an important client but we weren't using our time well and I had to leave to make my daughter's event," said Grace, the advertising executive. "Before kids, I'd bought into this idea 'I'm a partner at this big firm and this is what we do.' But when there are kids who need you for specific things, you acknowledge the truth - that we spend a lot of time doing stupid things at work."
It gets harder to see 24/7 as heroic when you know how much it hurts the well-being of kids (and of your marriage and spouse). You can't get good results unless you put in good, hard work, but as Doug, a professor of psychiatry, says, "Sometimes I think we overdo it. When people feel they're expected to be at the office for twelve hours a day, they spend a lot more time bullshitting at the watercooler."
While it's easy to think that the workplace is kinder than it was a generation ago, we are in fact being asked to work longer, harder, and faster, all in the name of the global competition. If we're really interested in winning, our addiction to midnight oil is a danger. Productivity, efficiency, innovation should be our focus - all more easily achieved by alert minds not working 24/7.
Chapter Nine: Baby up all Night? Good Guys to the Rescue - how 50/50 men save the day
Your baby is sick. Your meeting runs late. Your sitter needs an emergency root canal. The day care closes for the Columbus Day holiday - but your office does not. Early parenthood can feel like a place where Murphy's Law is the only rule on the books.
And if the bombardment of new problems weren't enough, you're having to problem-solve with a deeply sleep-deprived mind (unless you lucked out with the rare infant who sleeps the full night). Kara remembers commuting on the freeway one morning after a rocky night with her six-month-old. "'The cops should pull you over,' I told myself.' I could barely keep my eyes open." "I think it takes six to nine months to rebalance, to recalibrate your life," says Carol, the accounting partner. "You have to know you're going to have rough nights when your kid comes in your bed and throws up on you."
In these stressful first months of parenthood, it's easy to feel like the damsel in distress. If your husband is not rushing to be your 50/50 knight in shining armor, you might share this with him. James
Levine, director of the Fatherhood Project and author of Working Fathers, says that we need to help men stand up and ask for flexibility as often as women do. Levine says too many of us play a game of "Blame the Culture." "Working parents assume that employers won't allow men the same leeway as women. But they rarely ask. Men don't ask their.