Boomer Lives in Review
Buzzing about your business

Working to live or Living to Work?

Do you live to work? Or do you work to live? Is there a difference? What is it?Stressed-out-woman

Many years ago, when I was a stay-at-home Mom, I was having lunch with a girl friend who worked part-time. She had a unique relationship with her spouse - at least it seemed unique to me. They shared household chores and raising the children.

What a concept! We're talking 20 years ago, folks.

Back then, men rarely did things like vacuuming, mopping, laundry, or even cooking. They carted kids back and forth to soccer or gymnastics or dance, but didn't participate much in the activity. Unless Mom said, "We're on snack duty," and dragged them to recitals where they helped man the snack table.

My friend's relationship with her husband was 50-50. She rightly noted that both of them worked (even though she only worked part time... and I use the word 'only' with reservation since her job as a nurse was a substantial one), and both of them realized that the house was 'their' house, the kids were 'their' kids, and the responsibility was also 'theirs.'

"We work to live," she said. "We're not living to work."

"Interesting," I replied. The concept of looking at your career as a means to support your lifestyle - a lifestyle business, so to speak, was new to me. "My husband feels that because he works outside of the home, he's more important,"I told her. "It's my 'job' to take care of the house and kids. Not his."

That's when she stopped what she was doing, looked me right in the eye, and asked, "Does he LIKE what he does for a living? Is his work satisfying for him?"

No question, the answer was, "Yes. He feels fulfilled at work."

Child-at-play "Well then," she said, "work is play. He should have plenty of energy and time for his family and his home."

Work is play. Wow. Who knew? That conversation has never left me. I asked my husband what he thought of it and did not get a positive response. Perhaps that was the beginning of the end of my marriage.

Today, I embrace the concept that work is play. If you are not working at a career or job that fulfills you, that gives you something to look forward to, that does more than pay the bills, that inspires you but doesn't wear you out, perhaps you should rethink what you're doing. Find a way to turn work into play. Be happy at your business or job. Show your children that they, too, can aspire to a career of play, all day.

Living to work? So passe'. Working to live - so today.


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Even today, things are not so great. Call me cynical, but the appearance of equality is not always the reality. In a heterosexual relationship where both partners have full time jobs, most women in the U.S. still do 70% the cooking, housework, and child care. Yet, we know some things are slowly getting better for women. Women's earnings are now higher than men's in half a dozen cities across the country.
If my personal experience can be trusted, gender roles are being noticeably redefined. As a boomer, I rarely moved beyond the barbecue grill, although I sometimes produced chocolate covered strawberries and other treats for special friends. Now I find myself testing the outer limits: last week I made creme brulee in a toaster oven!
But even more meaningful progress is emerging in the next generation. I have two adult sons who do ALL the cooking and at least half the housework in their households, and my Seattle son recently took off work for two weeks before, and for four weeks after, the birth of his son. What's not to like about that?

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