Work-at-home dads have a special challenge in finding balance in their lives. Following these steps will help you find the time and attention needed to succeed in your work, in your parenting and in your personal interests and joys.
Time Required: Several hours every day
- Respond to your family's rhythms. Every family has its own rhythm in life. There are certain parts of the day when it is more important to focus on the family; other parts of the day when work takes priority. Watch these rhythms and use them to plan your time.
- Adjust schedules to react to needs. If you have younger preschool kids at home, work around their naptimes. Plan a break when the kids get home from school. You may need to plan work time while the kids are in bed, at playgroup or napping.
- Let the kids help. This can be a sticky one, but engaging the children in your workday can be an important strategy. Maybe they can stuff and lick envelopes or get the mail for you. Perhaps the older kids can help tend the smaller ones after school for an hour or two. Successful work at home dads try to find ways to make the children an asset to their work rather than a liability.
- Consider hiring a father's helper. You might try to find a pre-teen or teenager in the neighborhood who could tend the children for an hour or two after school to give you some quiet time. It can be a comparatively small investment for a big return.
- Hire out some professional or clerical tasks. Work-at-home entrepreneurs may want to consider subcontracting some tasks or hiring out functions like bookkeeping or other clerical tasks. This might end up being a better use of your time than just doing everything yourself--freeing you up to market your business, network, or keep up on current trends in your field.
- Celebate rewards together. When you finish that big project or land the important contract, make your family part of the celebration. When those big events happen in a different workplace setting, you often celebrate in some way with your coworkers. In this case, share the success with your family partners. They'll buy in more to your work, and they'll feel like they are part of the success.
- Be a role model. Work-at-home dads have on advantage over other dads--their kids can see them at work. Help them see how you manage to balance work and home. Let them observe you working hard to support the family. They will learn their attitudes about work from watching you, so teach them well.
- Evaluate and monitor. In any important project, it's important to get feedback and adjust accordingly. It is the same in balancing your work and life as a work-at-home dad. Talk to the family about how it is going. Watch for warning signs of problems. Celebrate when you get it right. And then adjust routines, schedules and priorities as needed.
- Learn to say "no." You can't do everything everyone wants and stay in life balance. Pick and choose
- Do something for yourself every day. In the press of managing a household and a career, it is easy for dads to quit "sharpening the saw." Spend 30 minutes sometime during the day with a favorite book, visiting with a friend, or doing a favorite project around the house. Taking a little time for you will improve the other hours in the day.
- Stay healthy. Work at home dads tend to not get enough exercise nor eat right. Stick to healthy habits, get up a move around a little, and stay with your exercise regimen and it will help you keep emotionally and mentally balanced too.