On the flip side, if you don't have kids and you feel as if your colleagues with children are always dumping their work on your desk, ask to have a calm, candid conversation. You can say, "You've expected me to handle your work on several occasions. While I respect that you have family obligations, I want you to know that I, too, have needs and interests outside of the office. I don't mind pitching in for you every now and then, but I can't do your work on a regular basis."
If you don't speak up, you're giving the other person permission to continue taking advantage of you. Similarly, you're allowing your anger and frustration to fester, which will only create tension in the office.
Focus on compromise. It's unrealistic to assume that the company should always bend to your personal needs. Often, we have to make choices, some of which may have to favor work over home.
As the mother of 8-year-old twins, I am often faced with this dilemma: How do I meet my professional obligations and also stay true to my parenting joys and responsibilities? Compromise is the best -- and only -- solution.
When it's just not possible to attend a school function, I try other backup options to avoid missing my kids in action, but I'm a firm believer that no play or performance is worth risking your job over, nor would I presume to repeatedly ask people in my office to cover for me.
One time when my daughter had a special play that conflicted with a long-standing work commitment, I asked her teacher to allow me to watch a dress rehearsal. I was the only mom who wasn't at the real thing, and I was also the only mom at the rehearsal. My daughter felt like a million bucks, and I got the best of both worlds: I saw her perform, and I honored my professional commitment.
At the end of the day, everyone's time is valuable -- regardless of marital or parenting status. Results and productivity are the drivers. If you're a solid performer, there's a better chance of your employer approving your request for accommodations. Don't ask people to carry your load and don't allow resentment to build if you're doing more than your fair share.
For more information on career advancement or to connect with Tory Johnson, visit www.womenforhire.com.