As men in the workforce, finding work-life balance is a battle. We struggle to find the balance between these two important aspects of our lives. Navigating this subject is extremely difficult but extremely important. Failure to come to this balance leads to a plethora of challenges ranging from increased stress to major depression.
I’d like to share my typical day with you. I wake up at about 430am if I’m lucky. If I’m not, it’s 5am. My first task is to wake my two high school daughters so they can get ready for the bus-brutal right? While they are getting ready, doing God knows what, I head down stairs. There I make some coffee breathe in deeply and spend about 20 minutes meditating. By 545 I’m checking emails for 15 minutes. At 6am I wake the two younger children and head back down stairs. By 610 I am either doing the dishes from the day before or folding laundry. At 645am they’re on the bus and I head up to take my shower and get ready for work. From 8am until 5pm I’m at work. No lunch break here, just a slew of conference calls, meetings and reporting. By 530pm I’m home to my beautiful wife and kids. We eat dinner together-paramount importance. From 600pm until 730pm, if it’s a good day for me, is play time and hanging out. On many days, I feel so spent that I have a tough time truly being present. And then it’s bed time for the kids. From 8pm until 11pm or 12am I typically work on this blog or some other aspect of The Gents. Then slink into bed next to my sleeping beauty ready to close my eyes and repeat it all again.
There is a lot of talk out there about “work-life balance”. Men want to succeed at work and life and yet, the majority of our waking lives is spent earning money to care for our families. For all this talk, men aren’t speaking up as much as we probably should. While my schedule seems crazy reading it, I know I’m not alone. This type of schedule is repeated day in and day out. Work, life, repeat.
We’ll never sit around a hot cup of tea exchanging stories about our hectic schedules and missing games, concerts and other key moments; but it’s a thing. And in the midst of it all men battle to be the involved parent and successful business man. We may feel some level of success at work, but we feel more like a stranger at home. Like we’re watching the lives of the people we care most about unfold as strangers on some reality TV show.
Rarely will any of us be asked, or for that matter consider, how it feels to be in the workforce and be a dad. Conversely, top women in the workforce are often asked to consider what it is like to be in their position and be a mom. Women face many challenges in the workplace, one’s that no man will ever have to face. But work-life balance is something both genders should acknowledge and face head on.
If you’re like me, your family is the reason you do everything you do. So, let’s take a moment to pause, breathe and consider a few ways we can make the most of the moments we do have at home.
- Choose to make it a priority. Literally, the first step here is to decide that this is important.
- Have dinner with the family, the whole family. I understand that this can be challenging, but even if it’s only once a week, it will make a difference. Studies show that this time makes a huge difference for your kids.
- Have a daily no phone policy. This goes for you and your kids. Set aside a time every day where no phones are allowed. This is especially important at the dinner table.
- Try to get away for a couple of days each year with your family. Leave your laptop behind and turn off the phone. For these couple of days, you’re focus is only on the family.
- Schedule a physical activity with the family as often as possible. This could be a walk around the block, a hike in the woods or rock climbing at the local gym.
- Get help if you need it. If you’re feeling stressed out, don’t be afraid to seek out professional help. Many companies have an EAP program that you can take advantage of. They can provide resources for you ranging from daycare to counseling.
- Realize you are not Superman. You cannot do it all, and that’s okay. So learn to say no and strive for excellence in all things not perfection in all things.
- Find time to exercise. Give back to yourself by exercising and/or meditating. A healthier you will be a happier you and that will translate into healthier happier relationships with your family.
- Spend time thinking about what life will look like when your kids move out. They will leave, go to college, get their own house and start their own careers. You will see them on the couple obligatory holiday’s if you don’t set the standard now. Realistically 90% of the time you will have with your kids is when they are still at home. You’ve got one shot, don’t waste it.
- Make a bucket list with your kids. What things would they love to do? Now consider how you can make one or two of those things a reality with them. Not sure where to start? Check out this article on goals.
Originally published at thehumblegents.com