Surely one of the greatest challenges for Christians is to step outside their culture (even the culture within the community of brethren) to accurately determine God’s best plan for their families, and once they have understood it as well as they can, to live it in the middle of the culture in which they find themselves.
And one of the most hotly debated topics within that plan is what constitutes appropriate “women’s work” and how, when, and where it should be accomplished. Women ask themselves:
- Does being a “keeper at home” (Titus 2:5) leave room for me to earn money?
- Is it possible for me to be an excellent homemaker and contribute to the family’s income?
- Is it ok to work away from home?
- Is it better to live solely off my husband’s income?
- Is it ever appropriate for both parents to work a significant number of hours each week?
- Is it possible for my husband to be forced to work too much because I am earning no income at all? Is there a remedy for that?
I do not have all of the answers to these questions, mainly because I think every situation is different and there are a variety of possible solutions for each. Anne Bogel at Modern Mrs. Darcy has written a book that provides good food for thought for women (and their husbands) who are answering these kinds of questions for their own families. Work Shift recognizes the explosion of working opportunities that have emerged in just the last couple of decades:
The workplace has changed dramatically in the last twenty years, and today’s women have work options that simply weren’t available to previous generations… It was a different world then, so now we have to figure things out… And honestly, we’re really struggling to find a way to make it all work.
To help us step back and look at the bigger picture, Work Shift gives a concise review of historical work patterns in western culture, including this:
The lines between work and family didn’t used to be so distinct. There was a time – not too long ago – when the home was the center of production. That’s where the “work” happened, and the family did much of that work together. They wouldn’t have thought to distinguish between what was “life” and what was “work.” Whoever had the skill to do a particular job, did it. (In much of the world, this is still the case.)
Bogel’s tips about how to manage blending work and home life and sharing care of children is perhaps the weakest part of the book, although this perception is largely because the fact that she shares nothing that is really novel is because there is nothing novel about juggling several responsibilities between spouses.
Additionally, Bogel’s book gives numerous real life examples of how people are handling their work/home lives in this new paradigm, with a mix of traditional leave-home-for-work and work-at-home scenarios and a variety of numbers of work hours for both parents.
Finally, there is a useful section called Ages and Stages, which is a topic dear to my heart. Bogel has good advice for women about how they might manage to incorporate paid work into the unique circumstances of their season of life. As a mother who is semi-retiring from the hands-on stage of parenting our children, I find myself transitioning from one season to another, and I am experiencing the challenge of re-ordering my routines and figuring out how to best handle my time productively. Work Shift gave me encouragement to consider several possibilities in ways that might not have occurred to me otherwise.
Perhaps the best value Work Shift offers is the timing of its appearance. Wireless internet capabilities make it easy to work from home (or anywhere else!) in ways that were not possible just a few short years ago. Bogel has much to say about how to use technological advances as an advantage to families who want more time together for home life and work.
Giveaway: Anne offered me a copy of her e-book to give away to one of In My Kitchen, In My Life’s readers. I would not host a giveaway of Work Shift if I did not find worthwhile, but I can happily endorse its value. Here is how the giveaway works:
- Leave a comment below to be entered in a random drawing for a free copy of Work Shift. Comments left between now and midnight on Saturday, September 15, 2012 EDT will be included in the drawing.
- You cannot receive more chances by “liking” or sharing IMK, IML on Facebook or tweeting on Twitter or pinning on Pinterest or “following” me or subscribing to my blog (see the right sidebar to do that) because of the possible illegalities of making those forms of promotion a part of the giveaway, but if you find the content of my blog valuable I would love it if you’d share your feelings in any of those ways. I would very much like my readership to grow and you are my best help to accomplish that, so know you have my gratitude whenever you pass the word to others or subscribe to become a regular reader yourself!