How Dads Balance Work And Family
It's time that men answered the question, too.
Jennifer Garner recently commented that, while she is often asked how she balances work and family, her husband, Ben Affleck, never is.
Garner’s experiences echo those of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, whose choices surrounding the leave she planned to take for the birth of her child were scrutinized in a way no man’s ever would be.
To address this inequality, BuzzFeed turned the tables and asked men how they balance work and family.
"One thing some prospective dads might fail to grasp is that as well as parenting and having a job, they have a responsibility to support their partner. I now do more housework than I once did to make up for the things she used to do, plus it's my job to make sure she has what she needs. As a result it makes working on weekends and evenings a real challenge.
On a practical basis, now that our son is in child care full-time, I don't come into the office as early as I once did, and I have to leave on time either to pick him up or to be back in time for dinner. I think you have to accept that you're a dad and partner first and foremost."
—Patrick Smith, BuzzFeed
Father of a 10-month-old
"To me, balance is more of an ongoing goal than a target or destination. Aligning all of the uneven edges in my life is a constant process of readjustment and reassessment. There is no "having it all" by my estimation, because you're dealing with a finite substance: time.
I think men don't get the opportunity to weigh in on the topic as much because there are some odd preconceptions in play. When men have children, it's looked at as a stabilizing influence in the workplace. When women have kids, lots of employers act threatened as if the very same process can unmake women in the workforce. This double standard pretends that men don't care about kids, and women have no career goals."
—Charlie Capen, How to Be a Dad
Father of two, ages 5 and 1
"Every parent who works outside of the home has help from someone (whether it's a partner, grandparent, nanny, day care center, etc), so no one should be shamed for that regardless of their gender. When you are home, though, it's important to make the most of that time. Old-timey dads (like Ward Cleaver from Leave It to Beaver) would come home and decompress on the couch with the newspaper, but that isn't a reality for the dads I know. When I get home I take the kids off my wife's hands and focus on them entirely. We eat together, play, have bath time, and do their bedtime routines. Once the kids are asleep I get some time to decompress, but I also often finish up work because, as opposed to before kids, I no longer work late at the office when necessary.
It's a difficult balance which doesn't leave much time for yourself (whether you're a mom or a dad), but I'd much rather make the most of my time with my kids than chill on the couch like Ward Cleaver. I mean, how great of a dad was he really? The Beav was always getting into trouble."
—Mike Spohr, BuzzFeed
Father of two, ages 5 and 1
"Balancing work and family can be as difficult on a dad as it is a mom. I believe this to be true especially if you are a very involved dad... which I am. I change a lot of diapers, cook a lot of meals, make lunches for preschool, and often make time to read a story when I put my son down for bed.
Since I don't work a typical 9-5 schedule I really have to be creative with how I carve out time for my children during the weekday. My wife has to get creative on occasion too because her schedule is just as busy as mine, sometimes worse. Mornings, evenings, and weekends must be maximized, whether it's getting up early with the kids to watch their favorite cartoon or making sure you find playtime when you get home from work. In the evenings we always try to eat together as a family. That is the time we get to catch up on the day's events and talk about what my 3-year-old did at preschool that day.
The weekend is when I give my family my full attention (except Sundays when the Steelers are playing) because it's mentally healthy to take a break from the work week. Whether it's a beach day or running errands, my family is with me almost all of the time. I rarely make plans on the weekends because that's typically when I gain my balance, so to speak."
—Terry City, BuzzFeed
Father of two, ages 3 and 5 months
"I am very fortunate that I am able to work from home, which means my boys cannot remember a day when I was not there to make their breakfast, pack their lunch, take them to school, and then pick them up again. I don't take a moment of that for granted.
The downside is that working from home all too often feels like you are always at work. I get up before the boys to do business across different time zones. I work throughout the day (which often blurs with duties of the house and the chores of being home), and I am back to it once the kids are in bed. I don't get a lot of sleep; however, I get a lot of my family, and that puts everything in balance — except the sleep part."
—Whit Honea, The Honea Express
Father of two, ages 11 and 8
"Balance can be tricky because my wife and I both have weird, idiosyncratic careers. As a result, we both flex in and out for each other, depending on our schedules and the family calendar. Sometimes it gets a little crazy, but we seem to make our odd little dance work — mostly because we constantly communicate, support each other's careers, share the same overarching priorities, and call for help from friends and neighbors.
The best thing is that, since we've done this from the start, we have total confidence in each other. If my wife needs to be away for a few days or I have to go to a conference, we know the other has it totally covered — and so does our son. And of course, we also get a good amount of family time all together."
—Scott Behson, Fathers, Work and Family
Father of a 9-year-old
"I have a dream job in the mobile advertising industry. I also run a social network on the side. It's a fast-paced career, but my work is web-based, so my company gives me the freedom and flexibility to work at home (or anywhere I want, really), as long as I get projects done on time.
Most of my work gets done at my home office, but I've worked everywhere: from school parking lots, from the pediatrician's office, from passenger seats en route to school assemblies, while preparing breakfast from the kitchen counter, from my son's playroom, you name it.
I love my job and the flexibility that it has given me to manage the complex demands and logistics of parenthood, finalizing a divorce, and educating a child with autism, all without the added fear and stress of feeling supervised, micromanaged, or threatened that I'd lose my job, for the sake of being there for my family. Been there, done that.
My company gives me plenty of rope, and I'd never think of hanging myself with it. Nor would I ever disrespect the people who've placed their belief and trust in me since day one.
More companies should adopt flexible and family-friendly work cultures. They'd be surprised just how much added loyalty, motivation, and effectiveness they'd garner from their employees. After all, if things are good at home, that goodness is usually brought to work, and vice versa."
—Ryan Hamilton, Life of Dad
Father of an 8-year-old
"I find that everyone has a different relationship with the whole work-life balance idea. Some are OK with not seeing their kids as much, while others like myself wish they could see them more. Work is obviously essential to providing for my son, but it is hard when a few days go by and I've missed the little growing moments.
Feeling guilty for leaving my wife during a stressful morning and going to work is also a weird new thing I'm dealing with. I have to remind myself that it's a team effort. Also, setting expectations at work is key and only works when your manager is empathetic. Stuff comes up and my family has to be a priority. But yes, it's a balance."
—Regis Courtemache, BuzzFeed
Father of a (nearly) 3-year-old
"Balancing responsibilities to our jobs and our families means different things to different men. As a single dad who works at home, my involvement with both my work and my kids is immersive and immediate, with a lot of overlap. So every day my main challenge is to prioritize — or, failing that, to learn how to multitask. I hear the real parenting Jedis can help a kid with algebra, brine a pork roast, and contribute proactively on a conference call, all at the same time. Which sort of makes me feel condemned to perpetual Padawan status."
—Doug French, Dad 2.0 Summit
Father of two, ages 12 and 10
"I've learned a few tricks along the way as a work-from-home dad, and here are just a few.
1. Let go of your own preconceived notions of what a dad does or looks like. We each come to the table with our parents' old ideas of gender roles and parenting roles and truthfully those just don't fly anymore.
2. Don't be afraid to "man down." That's my own little term for opposing the old, gender-stereotypical idea of having to man up. Just because we are men does not mean that we have to keep it all together. Never fear feeling fearful and expressing it. Men have a hard time with this one; we want to be Superman, and that's just impossible. Take some time for YOU and remember the importance of recharging, re-energizing and re-motivating yourself regularly. A happy family starts with a happy and healthy you, both physically AND emotionally.
4. Use all your organizational skills all the time and in every area of your life. A happy home and a happy office both require planning, and a lot of it. My husband and I constantly link and update our calendars. There is no way we could navigate our busy life without organization.
5. Finally, wake up each and every day with an abundance of gratitude. Fatherhood is a joyous and tremendous responsibility and those of us fortunate enough to parent, front row and center, should be ever so thankful."
—Henry Amador, DADsquared
Father of a 3-year-old