Here’s how the modern dad can find work-life balance.
Many of us grew up watching television shows where the dad went off to work each morning while the mom prepared the kids for school and took care of the house. Some of us even grew up in similar households. However, the number of women entering the workforce climbed from 50 percent in 1970 to well over 70 percent, according to a study conducted by the United States government, and it has become evident that finding a proper work-life balance is essential for these working mothers.
Now it’s Dad’s turn. Fathers now report more work-life balance conflicts than mothers in dual-earner couples; they want to do more than simply “bring home the bacon.”
As we approach Father’s Day and think of all the sacrifices our dads have made for us, let’s take a look at what an ideal work-life balance for men looks like. Here’s how to balance work and home for today’s working father in order to have an exceptional career and sufficient time to bond with his family.
This is a difficult one, but for younger men out there who plan on having a family, it can be a game-changer. The first few months of a child’s life are a crucial bonding time for parents that can establish roles for the future.
As of 2015, only 17 percent of companies offered paid paternity leave, a key contributor to work-life balance for men and new dads. The good news is that number is on the rise; the bad news is that it still means over 80 percent of American companies do not offer dads the opportunity to spend those first weeks at home with their children.
A few companies, however, are rocking the boat with paid paternity leave that is above and beyond the expected. Netflix offers up to one full year for both new moms and dads, including adoption if they are salaried streaming employees. Etsy just started providing six months to both parents as well, while Facebook and Twitter also jumped on the bandwagon offering four months and 20 weeks respectively. With these companies leading the charge in many of today’s workplace trends, this as a good sign that paternity leave (and better maternity leave) are trending up.
A company’s time-off policies are easy to find, so if you’re in the job market and thinking about expanding your family, take the time to research companies’ paternity leave policies before you jump on board.
Work from home
We are in the digital age 2.0! We don’t just have computers: We have laptops, tablets, and cellphones that can do more than our first desktops could do. It’s easy to stay connected, and many companies are finding that they can lower their overhead by having fewer people taking up space in an office building that requires lighting, heat, air conditioning, and water. Since so many jobs are done primarily on the computer, they allow their employees to do at least some of their work remotely. That means time at home with the kids and time to do a little laundry while staying busy with work.
Flexjobs.com, a website dedicated to helping people find remote work, puts out a list of the Top 100 Companies with Work-From-Home Jobs. The list is noticeably heavy in computer and online fields, but many large companies have certain departments that may not need as much hands-on work, as well.
If you’re looking for a new job, or even if you’re frustrated with your work-life balance at your current position, it’s worth looking into remote work. Find a company that embraces the work-from-home philosophy or try to negotiate it. You may find that you can’t get a deal that keeps you out of the office all five days each week, but even one or two extra days at home can make a big difference.
Does your job have to be a nine-to-five thing? There are a lot of jobs out there that offer different shifts that may be beneficial. If you worked from 11 a.m.–7 p.m., would that allow you to get the kids off to school while your spouse heads off to work? Sometimes the difference of an hour or two can help you and your spouse balance the workload together and help cut down on daycare costs.
Some companies also offer variations on the standard five-day work week. Would you want to work four 10-hour days and have every Friday off? This kind of schedule can help you spend quality time with your kids on long weekends and make for a consistent day to do those afternoon tasks like taking them to the dentist.
Not every company will advertise this kind of flexibility up front, but if you inquire or read reviews from other employees at sites like Glassdoor, you may be surprised. In today’s world, the whole nine-to-five concept simply isn’t as important as it used to be.
Make the most of your home time
Work-life balance for men isn’t just about the number of hours you spend in each place. How can you maximize your time with your family when you are home? Here are some ideas:
Find time to exercise. When you feel good, you’ll have more energy to have quality time with your family.
Enjoy meals together. It’s easy to grab plates and migrate to the TV room, but studies have shown that one of the most beneficial things you can do for your family is to dedicate time to eat dinner together — no electronics allowed.
Say “no” to your kids on occasion. If your kids are involved in every extracurricular activity that comes their way, you’ll find yourself feeling like a glorified chauffeur. You want to let them experience things, but it’s okay to emphasize the importance of family time.
Try to leave work at the office. This one can be really tough. Many jobs have seasonal hot times that mean a month or two of really heavy workload. That may be unavoidable. But, before you lock yourself in the den to work in the evening, take a moment to consider if the work you have to do is worth sacrificing family time.
Take vacations away from home. Do your best to coordinate with your spouse to get away for a few days or a week together with the kids.
Dual-income families generally mean increased financial stability. However, that extra money can come at its own price. Too often the inability to get away can keep Mom, Dad, and the kids all running in separate directions.
The good news is two-fold: More and more companies are trying to find ways to help fathers maintain a suitable work-life balance. Even better, today’s fathers are trying harder to find that balance for themselves.
Click on the following link for more advice on work-life balance.
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