Finding a work/life balance can be difficult for dads. The notion that you have to pour everything into your profession to be successful is rooted in ideals that don’t make sense for the modern family. However, with the right outlook and the right tools, you can easily balance your work life with your family time and have a positive impact on your mental health, too.
Create a Home Office Space for Occasional Telecommuting
Working from home isn’t always an option, especially for the man-in-charge. However, if there’s even the smallest chance that you can do some of your duties from home, then you owe it to your spouse, your children, and yourself to take the shot. You don’t have to work from home exclusively, but designing a dedicated office space at home gives you the option to telecommute a few days a month. That doesn’t mean the kids have carte blanche to run in and out of your office, but all those trips you usually take to chat around the water cooler can be spent checking in with your children and your spouse.
Watch Your Time
There are clocks everywhere, but do you pay attention to where your time is being spent? You can check your phone for the time. You can even set alarms to let you know that it’s time to get home, feed the dog, or get that anniversary gift you left till the last minute. The problem, though, is that you can also ignore all of those things. You probably have before, right? Pressed snooze or okay and gone about your day. Instead of having your phone in hand every second to check the time, consider opting for a watch instead. This is a more tangible reminder of the things you need to do and will not tempt you to check your email when you are at home, like a smartphone.
Don’t just take off your watch once you’re off the clock, though. Pick out a watch that does what you need, including allowing you to set different alarms throughout the day. If you promise the kids that you’ll come to their Saturday afternoon soccer game, then you can’t get distracted by work or relaxation. A watch that matches your lifestyle is a durable, tangible reminder to be conscious of your time. Plus, you can wear the right watch anywhere and with anything—even if you’re out there coaching that soccer match.
Delegate at Work So You Don’t Have to At Home
Just because you’re the CEO doesn’t mean that everything has to fall on your shoulders at all times. You might have trouble giving up control at first but doing so is essential for the health of your family and yourself.
“Even if you run a family-owned business, you still need to delegate higher-level tasks to your employees,” said Doug Root, owner of Atlanta Light Bulbs. “What I’ve discovered over the years is that I could not run my company, nor deliver on my nine-point promise to customers, without the help of my employees. It’s just impossible to do it all on my own.”
Making time for yourself by handing off tasks to others is crucial. That means not obsessing over the minutiae of the office, particularly when you can’t do anything about it right at the moment. Pass off some of your responsibilities to an employee whom you trust. You trained these people; they know you. They will happily carry some of the load, if only for the chance to impress the boss. Once you delegate a few tasks, you can take on a few more activities at home rather than passing off responsibilities to your partner or the babysitter.
Quality vs. Quantity Is Not An Either/Or Question
It’s true that the quality of the time you spend with your family is generally more important than the amount of time you spend with them. Sometimes, however, you want to spend an entire weekend lounging around in the living room while the kids binge-watch their latest favorite show. That’s perfectly acceptable — balance is the key. Don’t veg out in front of the TV every weekend. It should be the exception when you have free time, not the rule. There’s no reason for you to feel guilty that you need to use your off-duty hours to recharge as long as you make up for it with fun activities.
Plan Date Nights with Your Partner and the Kids
In the spirit of enjoying quality time with your family, you can plan it to give each person your undivided attention. You may be a father, but you also have several other roles. Set aside time to spend with your spouse, too. Book a babysitter and make a night of it. You should also look into outings for the whole family, such as a morning at the farmer’s market, an afternoon of apple picking, or a family-friendly performance at the local community theater.
Put Away Your Phone and Have a Plan in Place
“I have learned that multi-tasking is not an option when it comes to juggling time with my kids and work. If I try to deal with the business issue and spending time with my kids at the same time, neither get the attention they deserve,” said Beau Wynja, CEO and co-founder of Color Cord Company. “Typically, this is how this scenario goes down: I queue up a cartoon on my iPad, hand it off to the kids, lock myself in the bathroom, deal with said crises, and return to helping with my kids’ fantastic Lego/art creation.”
Wynja has an excellent point. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” Why waste the energy? In order to make the professional and personal life balance work, you need to set a cut-off time for your work and develop a way to deal with emergencies. If you do get the opportunity to work from home, don’t use that as an excuse to carry around your work devices all day. Put away the distractions!
Schedule Your Family Time and Stick to It
There’s no reason to feel bad if you have to schedule your family time. Your spouse and kids appreciate anything that allows them to see you and hang out with you. You’re a busy man, and they understand that. Weave your family time into your office calendar and your personal planner. If you have an assistant, make sure he or she knows that those scheduled slots are as high-priority as your business meetings and travel dates.
Even if you’re an entrepreneur, your job won’t suffer because you structure your life to spend more time with the people you love. Your family depends on you, and you depend on them. Taking time for self-care will help you to achieve balance, as well.