Originally published Meetings Today Blog
Two articles that I read recently—one on the “science of cuteness” from The New York Times and another about “parenthood-indecision therapists” from The Washington Post—took me back to my younger days of deciding whether or not to have children.
In my 20s, I learned, in TIME magazine, of a new organization called, then, the National Organization for Non-Parents (later, the National Association for Optional Parenthood) founded by Ellen Peck and Shirley Radl. I was intrigued.
Like many young people, especially women, our route to adulthood was to graduate from high school, then college, and then marry and have children, with maybe a job along the way. Look, I’m a child of the ‘50s and ‘60s! It was different then.
I’d always thought I would have 1.9 children and then adopt “thousands” and be a true “earth mother,” never giving a thought to how I’d care for or support those. We were the beginning of that part of the women’s movement who thought we could have it all.
Choosing Not to Have Children
When I chose to not have children, the route to ensuring it was arduous: at the time, a woman’s age times the number of children she had had to equal 120 in order for a woman to receive a tubal ligation, or permission from a spouse and at least two psychiatrists.
It wasn’t law but it was policy at hospitals.
I met one of those criteria and had to go through hoops to meet the other. I was certain that parenthood, after giving it much thought, was not something I wanted to do.
“What if you regret it?” I was asked that question in numerous appearances on national radio and TV shows what I would do if I one day regretted my decision.
My response was that it was better to regret not having children than to regret having them once they were there.
Balancing Parenting, Caregiving and Work
Those of you who are parents and work full or part time, from home or in a hotel or convention center or office—or those of you who are caregivers for someone—have multiple jobs. I do not know how you do it. And sadly, I don’t have a convenient list of tips for you.
On days when, at my home office, the two cats are particularly needy, I think about you and wonder how in the world you find time to breathe.
If you are single—that is, without a spouse or partner or someone sharing the responsibilities—the work you do is overwhelming.
And the hours required of us are often obscene.
Those of you in sales have talked to me about the evenings when you have to entertain. Planners often work late, take work home, or feel an obligation to go to events held by those with whom you are doing business. Event Service Professionals (aka CSMs)?
OY! Simply OY. You are never not on call.
No Easy Answers: Analyzing the Research
There is academic research like this “Parenting Stress and Its Associated Factors Among Parents Working in Hospitality …” in which it says:
“The service industry is common for long working hours and shift works. The current study investigated parents working in six types of service industries, including hotel and food & beverages, wholesale and retail, gaming and entertainment, medical health and social welfare, education, and as housewife/man.
“The work nature is further classified as on-shift or non-shift, and whether the family is single-income, double-income or single parent.”
“A Horrifying Path to America for Hotel Workers” shows the nightmare faced by immigrants, women in particular, who are being exploited to fill gaps in hospitality jobs:
“In today’s fragmented, contractor-heavy economy, many hotels, restaurants, and other facilities no longer directly employ their workers. This employment arrangement may seem strange, but ‘it is very common for hotels in the U.S. to contract with labor recruiters in the Philippines (and other countries like Jamaica) to recruit temporary seasonal workers on H-2B visas,’ said Laura Berger, formerly of the City Bar Justice Center, a New York–based pro bono legal organization that represented [one named person] in her immigration case.”
[Related Content: Why Women Are Ideal Hospitality Leaders]
Now the hotel industry is seeking parents to fill post-Brexit staffing gaps, assuming that all plays out as planned (will it or won’t it is still part of the question).
Had I held off on the topic of parenting and caregiving for a Friday With Joan newsletter, where I often interview industry colleagues or others, I know that interviewing parents and caregivers in our industry’s many segments—planners, hotel sales and service, heart-of-the-house hourly workers, and others—would have been one more thing to do to add to their list. I chose to do this separately and let you weigh in at your leisure. How do you balance the demands of parenting or caregiving while working in the hospitality industry?
Additional Reading for Your Consideration
Here’s some additional reading on parenting and hospitality that I discovered:
- Escaping the Restaurant Industry’s Motherhood Trap
- Understanding and Reducing Work-Family Conflict in the Hospitality Industry
[Citations in this show that the topic and research are not new. Still we rarely talk about it except in hushed voices for fear of appearing unable to “balance” the demands].
- Hospitality Industry Must Woo the Parents of Women It Hopes to Employ
- Why Does the $7.6T Travel Industry Discriminate Against Single Moms?
- Hospitality Industry Must Address Its Mental Health Issues
- Balancing Parenting and Work Stress: A Guide
[A more general guide on the topic of balancing parenting and work].
Weigh in With Your Advice and Stories Below
I hope that those reading this—parents and caregivers—will weigh in below in the comments. We need to know what the industry can do to make working in the industry and having children and/or marrying more sensible.
What can the industry do to support you and make life better?
If there are Global Meeting Industry Day (GMID) events in April 2019 addressing the issues of parenting and caregiving, please let us know. I’m pretty sure that combining marriage and/or children and/or caregiving and/or aging in hospitality is not on the radar of enough.
And if you would prefer to have me post a comment anonymously for you, write to me at FridayWithJoan@aol.com and I’ll do so without any identifying information.