As a working mother with a demanding job, a 4-day week worked for me

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By Joann S. Lublin4 minute Learn

I used to be working laborious on the workplace and residential earlier than I delivered my second baby in January 1983. Too laborious.

Eager to spend further time with my household, I sought a four-day schedule following my maternity depart from the Washington bureau of The Wall Road Journal. A lowered workweek is extremely uncommon, I famous in my proposal. However by satisfying an essential private want, the association “would allow me to channel even larger vitality ranges into my Journal assignments.”

Administration rejected my request. Fortunately, I lastly acquired my want in fall 1983, after Norm Pearlstine grew to become the Journal’s managing editor and Al Hunt its Washington bureau chief. Each bosses tremendously valued working girls. Hunt and his spouse, Judy Woodruff, a White Home correspondent for NBC Information, had a toddler son.

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Pearlstine gave me Fridays off with out chopping my pay or advantages as a result of I used to be one of many Journal’s most seasoned feminine reporters. He additionally mentioned I may work regular hours for the remainder of the week and maintain overlaying my beat, which was organized labor. Pearlstine and Hunt believed I’d be simply as productive on a four-day schedule. “An unbelievable deal,” I exulted in my diary that day. Abra was 8 months outdated, and Dan had not too long ago turned 4. My Fridays at residence was such a valuable time for our youngsters and me that Abra nicknamed them “Mommy Day.”

However I selected to hide my unbelievable deal from my Washington, D.C., coworkers. Like many baby-boom era mothers, I saved quiet to guard my fame for being laser-focused on my profession. The opposite workers within the Journal bureau remained clueless about my particular association till a native journalism assessment broke the information a few years later with an article about me and different star journalists. The revelation of my four-day week bothered some males within the bureau. “If I get pregnant, can I take Fridays off, too?” one male reporter needled me.

Profession good points with lowered hours

My lowered hours on the Journal didn’t scale back my output. The standard and amount of my Washington tales stayed wonderful, in response to my supervisor. I finished working a four-day week as soon as the Journal elevated me to information editor of its London bureau in 1987. However Abra was sad that I not stayed residence each Friday. “What occurred to the Mommy Days that had been faculty days?” she implored, tugging at my heartstrings.

Like me, a number of different boomer “energy mothers initially discovered themselves rebuffed over their efforts to work much less and guardian extra. They’re exemplified by Nina McIntyre, who’s chief advertising officer of ETQ, a software program know-how firm. The tech trade veteran delivered her eldest daughter in 1988, when she was a senior product supervisor for a division of Eastman Kodak Firm. Kodak had launched pictures to the plenty on the daybreak of the twentieth century.

Energy Mothers: How Govt Moms Navigate Work and Life by Joann S. Lublin

McIntyre requested for a four-day schedule as soon as her three-month maternity depart ended. “A weekday at residence was actually valuable and value discovering a strategy to make occur,” she mentioned. The brand new mother figured that her boss, the unit’s new vp of selling, would let her take Fridays off as a result of she was a working mother, too.

McIntyre figured unsuitable. The older girl reacted to the four-day proposal by describing how she had worked and attended Harvard Enterprise College full time after giving delivery years earlier.

“She then smiled and mentioned, ‘No, you might not go half time,’” in response to McIntyre. “She simply didn’t imagine partly time . . . as a result of she didn’t want it. So why would anybody else?”

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The primary-time mother resigned weeks later, wooed away by a part-time association at Lotus Improvement Company, a software program maker. Her hiring supervisor was a former Kodak colleague who matched her full-time pay of about $40,000 for a three-day schedule at Lotus.

McIntyre anticipated that her profession development would pause whereas she worked fewer hours. As a substitute, her work acquired recognition. Her excellent efficiency throughout three years of shortened schedules opened doorways to higher-level spots with common hours.

She was the full-time supervisor of 17 staffers when her youthful daughter arrived in 1994. Upon McIntyre’s return from that maternity depart, Lotus elevated her to normal supervisor. She assumed command of a software program growth staff for the primary time, overseeing 83 folks.

“I used to be shocked to be given such a large job,” she remarked. Different employers observed her progress. Invention Machine Company, a small software program supplier, recruited her to be its chief working officer in 1997. She helped the enterprise elevate $10 million earlier than transferring on. She held advertising administration posts at seven extra corporations—interspersed with part-time consulting gigs—earlier than ETQ employed her in 2018.

“Only a few of the businesses I’ve worked in over the past 20 years make it simple for managers to work half time,” she mentioned. However, she advises youthful girls to mimic her instance of intermittent part-time employment.


Joann S. Lublin was the administration information editor for The Wall Road Journal, working with reporters within the U.S. and overseas, till she retired in April 2018. She stays a common Journal contributor.

This excerpt is tailored from Lublin’s Energy Mothers: How Govt Moms Navigate Work and Life revealed on February 16 by Harper Enterprise, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.