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Madeleine Begun Kane,
Humor Columnist,

Madeleine Begun Kane

Lately I've been getting lots of email from women who'd like to return to the workforce. My first instinct is to ask: Why on earth would you want to do that? But certain editors might get angry at me, and then I'd have to return to the workforce. So without further ado, Ms. CareerPerson is at your service, answering workplace questions:

Q: Now that my children are in high school, I'd like to go back to work. What's the best way to handle the housework once I'm employed?

A: Make a list of all routine tasks, noting how hard they are, how long they take, and how often they must be done. Next you should evaluate the skills of each family member. Finally, you assign appropriate tasks and post a schedule.

Q: Does that really work?

Q: Hello. Are you still there?

A: Oops! Sorry about that. The washing machine just broke for the third time this week, I have to take the dog to the vet, there's nothing to eat in the house, and let's just say I'm a tiny bit distracted. What was your question again?

Q: Does your housework assignment method really work?

A: No. But it's great practice for managing subordinates.

Q: After 15 years as a full-time homemaker, I'm getting divorced and I need to find a job. But I'm almost 45 and worried about age discrimination.

A: It's absolutely illegal to discriminate against you based on age.

Q: So I have nothing to worry about?

A: I didn't say that. I said it's absolutely illegal to discriminate against you based on age.

Q: I got a full-time job two months ago, after twelve years as a stay-at-home mother. But the pressure is already getting to me. My family is pulling me in one direction, my boss in another. I desperately want to be a great wife, mom, and employee, but I'm failing at all of them. Help! I feel like I'm on a treadmill.

A: This is a perfectly normal reaction. Just remember that it's one thing to try to be a good wife, mother and employee; it's another to expect perfection. Ease up on yourself and stop trying to be perfect.

Q: But what about my stress?

A: Buy a treadmill.

Q: I'm thinking about going back to work. But I'm worried that nobody will hire me, or that if I get a job, I'll be fired, and then my kids will think I'm a failure. Or that the job will take over my life, and I'll have no time for my family.

A: It's important to...

Q: Or that I'll get a really great job, and then the company will relocate, and I'll have to choose between my family and career.

A: ...focus on the positive and...

Q: Or that I'll love my job, and my husband will be transferred to another state, and I'll be forced to quit.

A: ...not think about all the possible things that could go...

Q: Or that my boss will make me go back to school, or he'll refuse to promote me, or he'll promote me before I'm ready or...

A: Please. I'm begging you. Stay home!

Q: College tuition costs for our oldest will start in three years, so we really need a second income. And after hunting for several months, I've finally found a job.

A: Congratulations! When do you start?

Q: Actually, I haven't accepted the offer yet.

A: Why not?

Q: I'm afraid Dr. Laura will yell at me.

A: Do you know Dr. Laura personally?

Q: No.

A: Are you likely to run into her in the street?

Q: No. But what if I call her and she yells at me?

A: Is anybody likely to chain you to a phone and make you call her?

Q: Of course not. But I really enjoy her show and ...

A: Take two aspirin and call some other doctor in the morning.

Q: I don't want to go back to the work I did before I got married, but I feel too old to start a new career. What do you suggest?

A: How old are you?

Q: 38.

A: 38 is young! Lots of people switch careers in their late thirties, forties, fifties and even older.

Q: But my mind and body are a lot slower than they used to be. I just don't feel mentally and physically able to start over.

A: It's all a matter of attitude. If you want to change careers, there's no reason age should hold you back. As a matter of fact, I had a very successful career change back in my late thirties.

Q: Wow, you're old!

A: This is Madeleine Begun Kane a/k/a Ms. CareerPerson signing off, so I can come up with some other way to keep out of the work-force.

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