Gone are the days where working fathers spent most of their time in the office. Today, there is increasing demand, both on the part of working fathers individually and on the part of society, to find more work-life balance.
The role of the working father is drastically changing, and it's important to assess your own thoughts and ideas for what you want as a working father.
In order to assess what you really want is a working father, here are five questions to ask yourself.
1. What does work-life balance mean to me?
Work-life balance is different for everyone and the balance between work and your personal life will look different for you than it will for your friends and colleagues. It's important to assess what balance means to you, in terms of the hours that you work, where and how you work, the hours that you spend with your family and friends, and what the mix of the two is. Some people prefer to keep work and life completely separate, while others are okay with some overlap, and still others are okay with a lot of overlap. So, what does work-life balance look like to you?
2. Do I know what my priorities are?
In order to find work-life balance and be the type of working father that you want to be, you need to sort out your priorities. At work, are you happy with your career level? Do you have ambitions to rise higher in the company? What specific steps will that entail and what sort of commitment are you making? How does your boss feel about the idea of work-life balance and is it something that you want to make a priority?
At home, ask yourself questions about the time that you spend with your family and friends. Is it a priority for you to make all of your children's school events? Or to be home for dinner every night? Or is it more important to have your weekends free for family time? Essentially, you're doing an evaluation of your priorities to see if where you are spending your time is where you want to be spending your time.
3. In my industry, what options are available to me?
Most people are surprised when they find out about the flexible work options available for them in their chosen profession. With advances in technology over the last decade, more people than ever are taking advantage of work flexibility options like working from home, working a flexible schedule, or even working part time. Do some research to determine what work-life balance options might exist in your industry.
4. Does your current employer have any sort of flexible work options?
If you haven't checked in a while, now is a great time to look at your employee handbook or talk to HR about the possibilities open in your job. If you started a job before you had a family or other work-life balance needs, you may have overlooked these options, but they are often available. Check to see if telecommuting or flextime are supported, or if your company offers paid family leave for things like child and elder care. Basically, know your options.
5. Can I make my job more flexible?
If you've done some research and found that there isn't a specific flexible work policy at your job, or you are unsure of the options available to you, you can always propose a flexible work arrangement to your boss. Think about the type of flexibility that would most help you reach your goals and priorities. Would you like to work from home some or all of the time? Or do you want the flexibility to come in earlier so that you can leave work earlier? Is it possible to work an alternative schedule that saves you from rush hour? There are many different types of flexibility to consider, so before you propose anything to your boss, make sure you know what you're asking for. The second key component to proposing a flexible work arrangement is to understand how this will impact your employer, and to emphasize all of the positive impacts--better productivity, fewer unexpected absences, and potentially even lower operating costs for them.
If, after asking yourself these five questions, you realize that your current role or career is out of line with your priorities as a working father, you might have to make a difficult decision to find a new job or a new career. Career change for the sake of work-life balance is not uncommon these days, nor is requesting and being granted a more flexible work arrangement.
As a working father, you have a responsibility both to your employer and to your family to be honest about what it is that you want and how you're going to get it. Don't be afraid to ask these questions of yourself in the future, because re-evaluation as life changes is an excellent way to make sure that you are meeting your priorities as a working father.
Question: What's one thing that helps you better manage work and family life?