We have 24 hours in a day. For the most part, we decide how we spend those 24 hours. A good dad manages work and family. Dad, you must be intentional about how you are spending your time between juggling your work and family priorities. Often, us dads can fall into the trap of letting priorities at work overtake priorities at home.
It's not easy to juggle everything all of the time. However, we can do a better job of working hard AND showing our families we love them. It is absolutely vital that our wife and kids see us as the people who “get things done." How we prioritize will make all the difference in whether our families view us as leaders and influencers or not.
Here are seven ways you can begin balancing work and family:
1) Resolve not to take work home
Challenge yourself to either not take your work home or do it after the kids are in bed. Unplug mentally and physically before you get home. Honestly, I’m the worst at this. The days I do this best are the days that I make myself stop in the driveway, and detach from the day's work.
Recognize that once you enter the house, you’re on borrowed time. It’s not your time to fall on the sofa and rest. Your day is not finished. It’s time to cook, clean and be with the kids. Hug and kiss the wife (before the kids!), hug and kiss the kids and keep working.
Work to be present with your family and not checking emails from your sofa! I’ve done this and I’m repenting as I write (I can do this, I’m a professional!). I don’t want my life to be this way. Only I can change it. For you, it’s your choice. Save the work for after the kids go to sleep, or until the next day!
2) Make sure you come home on time this week
This challenge may sound easier than it is. Dads, this may mean you need to work harder during the day in order to leave on time! This will take planning and purpose on your side to prioritize your day with the end in mind.
3) Get to the office early so you can attend special events
Every week there is something to attend whether it’s a practice or family game night. If you look at your kid’s schedule, there’s probably something you’re missing. Dad, make the extra effort to be physically present and spend time with your family. Go to the practice or take the kids on that boring errand with you.
4) Put your family's schedule on your calendar
A wise man once said if you don’t plan to succeed you plan to fail. Prioritize your duties at work and home. Not that I’m perfect at this, but something that seems to work for me is that I use one to-do list for work and home and one calendar for work and home. My simple theory: If I’m with family, I can’t be doing work and vice versa. Get with your family and review the upcoming months. If that’s too much to ask, start with next week. But be intentional to add the events to your calendar and mark them as the special days that they are. This doesn’t need to be only major events like recitals and family vacations. Mark time in your calendar for down time on a regular Thursday evening at home with your kids. Plan for success!
5) Bring updated pictures of your kids to the office
Take a look at the pictures in your office. My guess is that if you have teenagers, your pictures aren’t of teenagers. If I walked into your office, I’d probably think you had a newborn! Dad, admit it, you’re pictures are old. It is time for an update.
6) Talk to your kids about what you do at your job
My five-year-old asks me daily, “Daddy, did you win at work today?!” I haven’t quite figured out how best to answer her wonderful and uplifting question. So I say, “Yes dear, daddy ‘won’ at work today!” Apparently she thinks I should come home with trophies or something. Regardless, my point here is that your kids may be more interested than you think about what you’re doing when you’re away for hours. Be intentional about explaining what you do on your child's level.
7) Learn about your office's work-family balance policies
This may require you asking for your company’s human resources manual. Scary, I know. The point is you may have extra time you can use to re-prioritize and be with your family. From use of sick time to flextime, there may be ways to take time off from work and be with your family.
Question: On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being “I miss everything or am usually late!” and 10 being “People often ask me how I get everything accomplished!” How would your family rank you? Why?
Find more tips and advice for all dads, including dads who travel for work and military dad at Managing Work and Family Priorities.
photo credit: Ian Sane