There’s been plenty written about moms going back to work after having a child and the effects this has on the home, but achieving a healthy, effective family-career balance is just as important for dads as it is for moms.
Fathers, ditch the guilt-working is an important part of being a good dad!
We all have to work for a living, but remember we also get to work for a living! Recent psychological research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison suggests that playing both roles of worker and parent is extremely beneficial for adults’ mental, physical and relationship health. In fact, if we’re having more success at a given time with either parenting or career, it can buffer us from the negative effects of stress or not doing as well in the other (Novotney). And when dads are feeling good about themselves, the family benefits too!
Effective parenting means setting a good example in all aspects of life, including being responsible and dedicating time to your job. So how do you find that elusive sweet spot? How do you effectively divide the hours in your week between being a good dad and bringing in the bacon?
Our favorite 5 tips for balancing fatherhood and work
- Put family on your calendar
You might have an extensive calendar at work, full of meetings, appointments, or places you need to be. In most of these cases, you wouldn’t dream of cancelling or rescheduling. Adopt the same philosophy and dedication to ‘showing up’ for your family. Create and put family activities on your calendar, then be there.
Years from now, your daughter will remember your ‘dates’ at the playground-just the two of you hanging out on the swings, talking. And your son will remember that he could always count on seeing you in the stands for his football games. It doesn’t have to be fancy or cost money. But this kind of involvement creates lasting memories and a legacy for generations. Kids remember that they were important enough to you that you gave them your time.
- Negotiate more work flexibility, if possible
There’s something super-special about an unexpected 3-day weekend. If possible, see if you can negotiate one week a month of working ‘four 10s,’ leaving either a Monday or Friday open for extra-relaxing family time. If you can swing this, be sure to dedicate that day off to being dad and making memories: one-on-one basketball games, visits to the library, cuddling and watching your child’s favorite movie on TV, or whatever you like to do together.
If you can do your work at home, consider a ‘third shift.’ Leave the workplace at 4:30. Enjoy a relaxed dinner with the family before the bedtime routine starts, and then log on to your computer later to do your last two hours of work.
- Pull your eyes away from those screens
Even if you think you’re ‘there’ for your family, you may not be, really. Good parenting usually involves limiting screen-time for kids so that they can get outside and get physical or spend more time on homework, right? What dads may not realize is that they spend as much-if not more-time looking at screens each day, especially if their career involves working at a computer.
There are 168 hours in a week. If 50 are spent sleeping and 60 are spent at work, you have 58 hours each week to spend on enjoying the rest of your life, including your family (Parker). Dads who pull their eyes away from electronic screens and instead spend the majority of those available hours making true memories with their kids reap rewards that last a lifetime.
- No need to be a superhero: simplify your life
Dads don’t have to be superheroes to absolutely everyone! If free time is tight, reserve wearing the cape for your own family. Especially when your kids are young, balancing work and family may mean temporarily foregoing joining the office basketball league, improving your golf game on Saturday mornings or even catching up on that work project over the weekend.
Most employers admire dads who value their family and take the time to nurture those relationships, especially if you are upfront about how important your kids are to you.
- Show equal passion
Commit to being as passionate about raising your children well as you are about earning a living. When you prioritize as equally as possible, the things that are most important to you, both in your job and in your family life, naturally float to the top and the rest gets forgotten-you’ll realize those other things just don’t matter.
Remember, there aren’t any perfect dads and parenting is the hardest work you’ll ever do. If you fall short some weeks, cut yourself some slack and try again!
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Novotney, Amy. “Balancing Kids and Careers.” Http://www.apa.org. American Psychological Association, Oct. 2013. Web. 01 Sept. 2015. <http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/10/balancing-kids.aspx>.
Behson, Scott, PhD. “Respecting the Rhythm of Work and Family – Fathers, Work and Family.” Fathers Work and Family. N.p., 12 Aug. 2015. Web. 01 Sept. 2015. <http://fathersworkandfamily.com/2015/08/12/respecting-the-rhythm-of-work-and-family/>.
Parker, Wayne. “Simplifying Your Life.” About Parenting. About.com, n.d. Web. 01 Sept. 2015. <http://fatherhood.about.com/od/workingfathers/a/simplify.htm>.“10 Ways to Balance Work and Family Life – All Pro Dad.” All Pro Dad. All Pro Dad, 02 June 2010. Web. 01 Sept. 2015. <http://www.allprodad.com/10-ways-to-balance-work-and-family-life/>.