As a father, how do you juggle your responsibilities?
Balancing your work and home lives can be a challenge. Can you coach your son’s little league game and still nab that promotion? Does taking time off for your daughter’s play make you less likely to get a raise?
Traditionally, moms (even working moms) were expected to handle most of the child-rearing responsibilities. However, times are changing. More fathers are involved in their children’s lives than ever before. The Pew Research Center’s Modern Parenthood Survey revealed that 50% of working fathers found achieving work-family balance to be “very/somewhat difficult.”
How can you, as a dad, achieve work-life balance?
1. Share the Workload
Working dads frequently have to manage multiple responsibilities: parenting, their job, finance management, future planning, and more. The first step on the way to achieving work-life balance is to share some of these responsibilities. As far as parenting is concerned, it’s a good idea to sit down with your partner and coordinate schedules far in advance. That way at least one of you should be able to attend any school events that might come up.
You can also get in touch with any other potential caregivers, such as parents or other relatives. See if they can take care of the kids once in a while so that you can spend an evening out with your partner or go on a vacation out of town. Parents’ day out programs are also an option.
Finally, if you are able to afford it, you may want to look into hiring a financial planner. Such a person can help cut down on your time spent organizing your finances, freeing up that time for your partner or children. At the very least, an expert’s opinion on your current investment strategies can’t hurt anything.
2. Embrace the Give and Take
No matter how well you plan, something can still come up that throws all of those plans out the window. Perhaps you promised your wife that you would make little Molly’s ballet recital on Wednesday so she could attend a conference, but the boss needs you to stay late to finish a huge project. You can’t say no because that could mean saying goodbye to any sort of raise or career advancement. Instead, you have to call your wife explaining that you actually won’t be able to make the recital. Your daughter’s feelings might get hurt as well.
Is there anything you can do to avoid this? Probably not. Being a working dad is all about balance. As horrible as it sounds, there are moments where you will have to prioritize work over your child’s event in the short term in order to better provide for them in the future. Make sure to communicate as much as possible with your spouse and children to ensure that they understand why you have to skip the event.
Hope isn’t lost, however—you just have to accept that work-life balance is all about the give and take. If you stay late one night to complete a career-defining project instead of attending that ballet recital, you’ll need to skip out on a smaller project or networking opportunity in the future. Find an employer that allows you to have flexibility—if you feel like you’re constantly having to choose your career over your kids, you might want to look into a different job.
3. Unplug at Home
And when you are home? Try to unplug from work as much as possible. Spend time with your kids, kick a soccer ball around, go to the park, or just watch cartoons together. Even if you can’t dedicate your entire weekend or day off to the kids, try to schedule at least one or two fun activities.
You can even declare an hour or two each night as “no-screen” time, where everyone engages in a fun family activity that doesn’t involve phones, computers, or the TV.
4. Fight for Flexibility
Once you’ve moved up in a company, you may have the ability to negotiate for more flexibility. The worst thing they can say is no—they’re not going to fire you for asking, especially when you’ve made significant contributions to the company.
Such flexibility may come with a reduced raise, but if that’s worth the flexibility to you then you’re golden. If your position allows for it, you could even ask about working from home occasionally.
However, do make sure to gauge the climate at your company first, just as you would before asking for a raise. If layoffs are happening and everybody is running around like their hair is on fire, it’s probably not a good time to ask for more time off.
Hopefully this helped you working dads out in one way or another