Usually when we talk about the struggle to balance work and family we focus on moms, but the truth is dads struggle too.
Dads have dreams. They want to be doctors, lawyers, business owners, and artists but they also want to be dads. They want time to be around to see their kids grow, they want to coach little league or be on the PTA. They want to be involved but they also want to be successful in their careers. So, how do you create a healthy balance between the two? How do you have time to continue education, to build a business, to move up the ladder of a company, and help your child with his/her homework?
Here are some tips to help dads (and moms) as they struggle to balance work and family:
1.) Stop trying to be perfect at everything. It is easy when you have less on your plate to be a perfectionist, but the second you add in the demands of life and children something has to give. Rather than strive for perfection, strive to be excellent.
2.) Put electronics away. When you leave the office, leave your work there. It will follow you everywhere if you let it. Turn the phone off (or at least leave it on the counter, or in a drawer). Avoid opening your email. You need some kind of separation. If you work from home, give yourself a time to cut yourself off. Say after 5 p.m. you won’t do anymore work for the day and instead focus on time with the kids and your spouse.
3.) Find time for you too. Get up early to meditate or go for a run. Ten minutes of meditation a day, or a 30-minute workout can do wonders for your mood and your focus. If you get more done earlier in the day, you will have more time later to spend with your family.
4.) Limit time-wasting activities. Some time-wasting can be healthy. It can be time to decompress and let your mind wander to reduce stress, but it can also add up. If you are spending the first two hours of your morning on Facebook or reading funny emails then that is time you could be spending on work or family-related things. Limit yourself to twenty or thirty minutes when you need a mental break, then get back at it.
5.) Change your routine. If you are feeling overwhelmed trying to balance everything in your life, then take a hard look at how you are spending your day. What can you do to make things easier? More time efficient? Is there a chore you can split with your spouse, rather than take all on yourself? Can you alternate who takes the kids to soccer practice, or mows the lawn? Can you wake up 20 minutes earlier? Little things can make a big difference.
6.) Make a schedule and stick to it. By planning ahead you know what you can fit in, and what to expect. Include kid and spouse time in that schedule. You can fully commit during that time to avoid feeling guilty. You made the choice to spend two hours on work, so accept it and get it done. When that time is up, move on to family time.
Take it easy on yourself. It can be overwhelming to be successful at a career and at having a family. Take a deep breath and put things into perspective. The world won’t stop if you turn your phone off for an hour every evening to play a game with your kids, and you and your children will be happier for it.
Featured Contributor: Alison Pidgeon, MA, LPC
Alison is a licensed professional counselor and the owner of Move Forward Counseling, a boutique private practice in Salunga, PA. Her group practice specializes in women’s issues and offers mental health counseling for children, teens and adults. In her free time Alison can be seen running after her two small children and cooking is her therapy.