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Work-Life Balance for Fathers

Published by: LifeWorks,

Every father needs to find a comfortable balance that allows him time for both family and work. Each father’s work-life balance is unique and alters as their children’s needs change and as demands and opportunities at work evolve. Finding a comfortable balance is something you may work on and fine-tune for the rest of your life.

Navigating work and family responsibilities

Many fathers find that navigating work and family demands is challenging.

You may wonder:

  • How can you avoid regularly working through the family dinner or bedtime routine?
  • How can you be a strong contributor on the job and still be available at home for your teenager?
  • How can you succeed at work and also be a true partner at home?

The answers to these questions are as individual as each father.  Factors such as the demands of your job, your manager, company policies and your work group’s culture must be considered alongside your family responsibilities.  Solutions can be reached when flexibility and organizational skills are used and when clear boundaries are set.

Taking advantage of flexible work options

Many roles have some degree of flexibility about where and when they are carried out and some employers offer the following work patterns.

Flexible work hours. Your employer may give you the option of leaving work to attend a child’s sporting event or to have dinner with your family, then to finish your work later in the day or in the evening. Or, you may be able to accrue hours by working longer hours on some days which then allows you to leave earlier on others.

Alternative schedules. You may want to switch to an early-to-work, early-to-leave schedule or to a schedule that is the opposite of your partner’s so that one parent is home with the children.

Working from home. If you can work off-site, you may be able to work part- time or full-time from home, so you can be there when a teenager gets home from school.  Working from home also eliminates commuting time, gaining another hour or two with your family every day.

Plan for regular time at home with your family. Some fathers mark dates in their calendars to leave work early to spent time with their child. They diarize this time and keep the commitment just as they would for an important business meeting.

Work Smart not Hard.  Work smartly by managing your time efficiently. If you know you can stay late to finish your work, you’re less likely to use your time efficiently during regular work hours so, prioritize your tasks, use a “to-do list”, tackling the most important tasks first and ticking them off your list on completion.

Showing your commitment at home

Some fathers feel more comfortable about their work than about their family responsibilities.  This may be due to social pressures or replicating to the example set by their parents.

Communicating well with your partner is key to resolving this situation.

Talk with your partner about the issues that concern you. You’ve probably observed effective delegation and teamwork at work. Explain that you want to be a partner and a full member of the “team” at home.

Put in the time. The more time you spend as a hands-on parent, the closer you will be with your children and the more comfortable you will feel in your role as a father. Pay attention to your child. Listen to what they have to say. Chat with them about what they want to discuss with you. If possible, when you’re focusing on your children, don’t answer the phone or check your email.

Take sole responsibility for your children for long stretches of time on weekends. Go beyond giving your partner a two- or three-hour break. Take a day or part of a day during the weekend to be your child’s main caregiver.

Time for your own needs and for your needs as a couple

Connect as a couple. Have a regular “date night.” Get a babysitter and go out together. Spend time talking together after the children are asleep. Talk on the phone or send a thoughtful text message

Take care of yourself. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise most days of the week. Use your commute as a chance to relax and unwind. Listen to music that you enjoy or to an audio book to take your mind off your concerns.  Park further away from the office or get off public transport one stop before your usual one and walk the rest of the way.

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