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Reality Check: When Work Spills into Family Time

Q. My boss keeps asking me to come in on the weekends, which wasn't part of the job when I was hired. How do I explain, without getting fired, that it's my time with my kids?

This is a hard one, particularly with the economy the way it is -- you feel like one missed deadline or refusal to put in extra work could be the difference between a steady paycheck and a spot on the unemployment line. Still, no one deserves to be taken advantage of, and if you want the weekend requests to stop, you have to speak up.

But don't wait until Saturday at 9 A.M., when you're already mad about being there in the first place! Combativeness will get you nowhere. Instead, schedule an appointment during your regular work hours; graciously thank your boss for the opportunity to work there, and then tell him that while you're still excited about your job, you're no longer able to come in on the weekend. No need to bring in pity stories about how you missed the trip to the zoo or the soccer game; he will neither care nor see it as his problem. He'll probably be impressed, however, if you offer up a plan for how you can better get your work done during normal weekday business hours or offer to work later on weeknights to keep your weekends sacred. This way, you're not only presenting the problem but offering a solution. If he's reasonable, he'll understand and stop taking advantage.

Check out the Working Mother 100 Best Companies list to see if your employer made the cut!

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