Maintaining a Work/Life Balance as a Father
One of the most difficult things about being a parent is finances. The cost of raising a child is higher than ever before and daycare alone can be a major burden on any budget. That is why it is not uncommon for families to have one parent stay at home with the child while the other is responsible for sourcing a significant enough income to support everyone. Unfortunately, for the working parent it means that there is a serious lack of time to be had enjoying the days of their child’s youth. Being able to work enough while trying to maintain health, happiness, and everything else required to be a parent in this day and age has become an overwhelming task. Men are becoming more and more involved with the day-to-day responsibilities at home, but how do we do it without sacrificing our careers entirely?
The traditional roles of women being the primary caregivers at home while fathers worked to bring home the proverbial bacon has long been shifting. More and more mothers are working to improve there careers which means that fathers need to pick up where they have been slacking at home. Women are no strangers to the difficulties of trying to balance a career, self-care, and providing for their children, for men this is more of a modern frame-of-mind. It is expected that parents should be equally responsible for all of the responsibilities and the time has come for fathers to find their own work-life balance that can make them successful in their careers while being available when their children need them. There is no simple answer and the generations before us have given no clues for how men can achieve this balance. It is fresh ground and males today are paving the way.
If you are one of the many fathers that struggle with work-life balance, it is completely normal. You are not alone and it is important not to feel like a bad parent. According to the Modern Families Index Report, out of the 2,750 parents surveyed, one out of every three fathers said that they were feeling burnt out, and one-fifth of them were all working extra hours. There is a concern for people in the workplace that if they cut back their hours than there will enviably be a penalty in lower pay or missing out on promotions. It is not a far-fetched idea as this same concept has been one of the founded reasons for the inequality in wage for women.
There is also a discrepancy in the beliefs of men. While more egalitarian men believe that they should be involved at home as equally as mothers, there are still many others with the traditional ideals that there responsibility is solely involved in bringing in the money. There is also a significant rise in fathers taking on the role reversal and becoming the stay-at-home parent while the mother takes care of the finances. For the most part fathers are pretty conflicted, being raised with the traditional beliefs, but wanting to be a modern mold-breaker, leaves men concerned in the right methods to provide for their families.
The pursuit of a better standing career and financial stability is an understandable desire. Not only will it help your family in the long-run, it is good for your own happiness. At the same time 86% of dads agree that their children are their number one priority. This confliction between career and home has become a common issue among parents, and over half the dads out there agree it is difficult to find a balance. The ability to have a healthy home life and career takes some strategy. There is some planning and integrity involved, therefore I have put together a few tips that can help you along your way to finding the best possible balance for you and your family.
The first thing you will want to do is seriously contemplate what your priorities are and how important they are to you. Whether you want to sit with a pen and paper and list them out from top to bottom or you already have a general idea, knowing where your priorities lay will help you to distinguish what moves you need to make. If your children are at the top of your list, it will be important to make your life reflect that and invest your time where needed. Of course, a successful career is important to your child’s well being, but it does not mean you need to sacrifice everything, just know where your priorities are.
It is essential if you want to be successful at creating a new balance in life, that you share your goals with those around you. You should be open about what you want with your partner and be willing to make compromises based on what they want and their own priorities. At your job, it will be helpful to communicate with those your work with on what your goals are. If you intend to spend more time at home, be open about that, and make the assurances where necessary that your output will not suffer.
Make Small Steps
You will not need to quit your job or completely turn your life around in one day. Making small changes will help you along the way. Cutting back on extra hours at work or initiating a family game night to spend with the children, subtle changes here and there will help everyone ease into your new goals. Developing a new routine slowly will be beneficial for you as there will be no abrupt changes to convolute things for you.
Scheduling Your Time
Now that you have developed a plan for your time, communicated with those involved and begun to make the necessary changes, you can now take a look at everything that you want to get done and build a schedule. Being able to define what time is for work and what time is for home will keep yourself responsible for building boundaries. Having a schedule will also be beneficial in achieving your next goal.
Make Time For Self Care
If you spend all of your time making work and your children happy you run the risk of burning out quickly. It will be vital to make yourself a priority as well. Schedule time to do things that make you happy and give yourself a chance to relax. If you are feeling good it will make sure that you are giving your best to whichever other responsibilities are on your plate.
Don’t Forget to Say “No”
Whether your boss wants you to work on the weekend, or your child wants to join yet another afterschool activity which you would need to drive them to, sometimes you will need to say “no”. After you have defined your boundaries and been able to see how far your time can stretch it will be important not to push things to far. Once and a while we will need to make exceptions and compromises, but you should only allow for so many sacrifices.
The most important thing to remember when trying to find a healthy work-life balance, is that sometimes we need to accept our own limitations. As badly as you may want to work all of those extra hours to excel your career, it also means that you will end up making sacrifices at home. You can only do so much and if you are busy trying to please everyone else, there isn’t going to be much left for you at the end of the day. Once you accept that you can only stretch so far, it will be easier for you to define where the boundaries need to be, and stick to them.
Reaching that balance does not, and should not, be a long-term end goal. It needs to be something that you can achieve as soon as possible, especially if you are a new dad. It is one thing to take a couple of months to transition into your new life, but if you keep pushing it back and pushing it back, before you know it your opportunity will be gone and your kids will be ready to leave the house. Make it a priority because you want to achieve your balance today, not years down the line.
No matter what, don’t let outside sources determine how your family lives their lives. There are plenty of people out there that believe in the traditional ways of doing things, that a mother should be at home all day. That just isn’t the way things are anymore. Whatever you and your partner decide is what will work for your family is the best thing that you can do. The modern father is not defined by sticking to a specific role in the home, the modern dad is all about flexibility, compromise, and consideration. The modern dad is where he needs to be when he is needed. Things have come a long way in the last 50 years.