Work and family: finding a balance
Becoming a dad can shift your attitude and priorities around work – and often in ways that you didn’t quite expect. You might find that having a family puts work into perspective now you’ve got another human to look after, and stuff that used to bother you seems insignificant.
On the other hand, the pressure of being the main provider for your family can make work seem even more important.
It’s not always easy, and the perfect work-life balance probably doesn’t exist. The main thing is figuring out what’s important to you and what works for your family.
Finding the right balance
A good place to start is by having an open and honest discussion with your partner about your roles within and outside your home.
Questions to consider
- What’s important to each of us about our work life and our home life?
- In our current situation, what are all of our options?
- Who is going to take on the primary responsibilities of staying home with the baby? How does that person feel about being out of the workforce?
- How can we share the load through part time work or other flexible working arrangements?
- What sort of child care options do we have available?
- How will we review how this arrangement is working for us over time?
- What are some other arrangements that might be possible in the future?
Research shows that it doesn’t matter who takes on what roles, as long as you’re both happy.
Flexible working conditions?
The idea of ‘flexible’ working conditions might feel like a myth for many dads. But depending on your employer, there might be some small changes or new habits you can try to give your work-life balance a boost.
- you might be able to work from home occasionally, or try negotiating different start and finish times so you get home before your baby is in bed – even a couple of times a week can make a big difference.
- set boundaries around how much or when you work at home, or how often you check emails when you’re with your baby.
- some dads choose to make bigger changes to spend more time with their families. This could include changing jobs to reduce work hours or be closer to home, or changing shift patterns.
DAD TIP #4
Time with your baby is all about quality over quantity. Ten minutes of really engaged play beats 30 minutes sitting on the couch with your baby while you scroll through Facebook. Make the most of whatever you've got.
The pressure to perform
Many dads feel pressure to perform both at home and work. This juggling act, and the expectations and demands from each side, can leave you feeling as though you can’t get a win. You might think you’re not doing anything as well as you’d like to, and feel you’re letting everyone down as a result.
DAD TIP #23
Remember that you’re probably your own harshest critic. Keeping that internal voice in check can help you manage any feelings of stress, guilt, frustration or anger. Part of this is about being kind to yourself, and remembering that you’re only human.
And while it’s easier said than done, it’s helpful to lower your expectations a couple of notches and accept that for now at least, some things will just need to be done ‘well enough’. This frees you up to focus your energy on the most important things in your life.
It’s an unavoidable fact – having a baby is expensive. Most families experience a dip in household income, which can put huge strain on you and your partner. If you’re having financial difficulties, Centrelink can help. Call 131 794 (or 131 202 for languages other than English) or visit a Centrelink customer service centre to arrange an appointment.
Hunting for the elusive ‘work-life balance’?