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 In mindful parents

WorkLife Balance?


Here is the story of Carolina in the workplace:

Carolina was this girl desperately seeking her own financial independence since she was very young. An excellent student who worked and studied hard throughout her university years and found a fully-qualified permanent job at the early age of 23.


She achieved a top position but being young and inexperienced Carolina was allocated in a not exactly desirable area where her only option was to keep working hard and try her best whilst waiting for a better life.


On a more positive note, the great variety of managerial positions she undertook for years in that job gave her the knowledge and skills she would need later on as well as interesting perspectives to matters related to work-life balance.




Eleven long years later she applied for a new job as there were official work-life balance benefits available for working mums and she was gracefully granted a temporary job in the city of her dreams, where she would expect to live for the rest of her life. She was offered new vacancies in management also in this new position, which she refused to take because she thought it was high time she focused on her family.



However, she was strongly encouraged to take this position in management and she decided to face the challenge despite very clearly stating she would not be able to fully engage for two obvious reasons: one child and one toddler.

On second thoughts, given the pressure that she experienced during the first few days, Carolina made up her mind and refused – one more time – to take up this managerial position when it was crystal clear to her she would definitely not be able to compromise. Her own personal stability was going through vulnerable times during one of the hardest financial recessions ever known and she would need to fully focus on her family!.

Then, very unexpectedly, that temporary job was taken away from her for external reasons never even contemplated and she was forced to leave the city of her dreams. Needless to say she would have kept that temporary position in her dream town had she joined the committee in management.



One year later, Carolina was officially allocated back in the same workplace but this time with a permanent full-time position. She became fully involved in management and worked hard for seven long years of financial crisis, childcare responsibilities and big life changes.

But problems grew bigger every time she requested time off work for childcare or family matters, like doctor consultations, mediation meetings, or the random sick leave due to her pure exhaustion. To her colleagues it never ever seemed quite enough work done in the office no matter how hard she tried to juggle all her responsibilities.



Never enough



It all ended in never-ending problems with handling childcare in the workplace to the point that she was forced to take unpaid days off work when her ten-year-old child needed to have tests done in hospital for food intolerance.


That was THE turning point.



She later found out from her supervisors that not only would Carolina have been officially entitled to her day off to take care of her ill child in hospital but legally accountable for it for parenting responsibilities. But she was totally oblivious of that at the time and followed orders from her boss to ask for unpaid permission (she had one full day’s salary withdrawn from her bank account in the least favourable circumstances).



Other examples of childcare intransigence in her workplace at the time were:

  1. acrimonious disposition every time she left scheduled meetings at agreed time in order to pick up her kids from school
  2. unavailability to attend parents’ meetings at the time required from her kids teachers
  3. strong disapproval of her doing remote work while attending feverish kids only because she was wanted «in the office» when in fact she was entitled to take official childcare time-off that she wasn’t taking
  4. permissions denied for unpaid 15-min brunch breaks during long days that started at 5am and never seemed to finish
  5. unacknowledged and unpaid work done online during leaves
  6. extra hours worked ignored – like in extreme illness taking up administrative tasks from delayed colleagues
  7. animosity towards her leaving the office 15 minutes earlier this day when her child was being sick in the school canteen
  8. unpaid and unacknowledged double shifts done to attend corporate meetings in remote places
  9. multitasking gone unacknowledged for 9 to 9 summer social preparations (that fell on her daughter’s birthday on a regular basis) while completing someone else’s administrative work in the office, and attending kids’ summer school events
  10. reluctancy to authorise institutional training periods
  11. compulsory early birds 30-min workshops set up on Friday mornings based on the misconception that face-to-face working hours must be registered every day of the week 
  12. recurrent applications for compatible shifts not granted
  13. part time sick-child leaves registered as full time
  14. not to mention the ruthless references to her PPD leave (which had only been prescribed by higher rank supervisors!)



It was never enough



Over the years, Carolina had always been encouraged by her dearest colleague to stay strong for the kids but the hostile environment at work became suffocating. When at some point, it suddenly dawned on her that there were actually unpaid permissions available which she had never taken in her 20+ years in the office!.


So to avoid further arguments about whether or not she would be entitled to time-off for childcare, she began to apply for her legitimate work-life balance permissions. She would always endeavour to do remote work whenever and wherever possible never leaving her work unattended.



One morning, minutes before an official supervision visit, she was abruptly asked to leave her desk. Why this secretiveness in her own office remained beyond comprehension but that day she did understand one thing: it was about time she made the call that terminated her contract for long-running disagreements that originated in work-life balance issues.

This was going to be the final turning point in Carolina’s work life (or so she thought) and as of that moment Carolina would very simply do her most genuine job away from managerial tasks.





She applied for a part-time position wishing to live happily with her family for ever after.

However, what was round the corner for her was a long list of case scenarios where Carolina felt fooled, disrespected, intimidated and persecuted – like, for example, being summoned on a regular basis to attend staff meetings during non-working hours for part-time employees.



In the end she was taken to court by her former colleagues-in-management on unclear accusations related to her part-time position. The atmosphere at work turned the most suffocating and the day Carolina left that workplace for good felt like massive relief. So here follows the skilful manoeuvering which triggered her exit:




One afternoon she was requested by the latest boss (former colleague whom Carolina had helped selflessly on a personal basis) to attend a surprise meeting-for-four with their new supervisor.

This supervisor must have been presented some facts in the most peculiar manner because during the meeting Carolina was strongly invited to transfer to a different workplace.

Whatever her supervisor had been told about Carolina’s practices must have been turned because she was trying to do nothing but follow institutionalised practices and being creative and innovative within set boundaries. She was implementing schemes already ongoing in other workplaces with long experience, which had been authorised by higher rank supervisors.



Carolina then decided to «play dead» and took a gap year to redirect her profession.

After a very fruitful and reassuring gap year of research and study she took back her position, only just a short while before an unprecedented total lockdown.



After lockdown serious health issues within her family developed and she applied for a new position, within the company, which was located less closely to the hostile workplace she had been experiencing for years.  

But, surprise! Her application was categorically rejected on a false basis by her bosses (former colleagues in management).

She found herself having to present legitimate evidence that she was allowed to occupy the vacancy she had applied for before she could take it. Would this ever end?





The incessant trouble in the workplace were long-lasting and wearing.

Today the events have been narrated for those who heard one side of the story only and leaped up into fallacious conclusions.

These are the facts

just the way Carolina herself lived through her work-family balance experience in this workplace with 99% female leaders.








On ne voit clairement qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible aux yeux (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)



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