Being a parent these days is incredibly difficult. While it’s never been easy, now the expectations for both mothers and fathers are changing. Women’s roles as parents continue to about achieving the impossible: being both career woman and amazing there-all-the-time mother (as is the way the system has been designed). But let’s not forget men’s roles as fathers are shifting rapidly. Dads’ levels of involvement with their children and family life are changing for the better. What it means to be an American father, and the responsibilities therein, have evolved radically over the past few decades. To just gain a little perspective on this: In 1975, 45% of families consisted of a male breadwinner and a stay-at-home mom; today, 31% do. Men are now taking on more chores and spending more time with their children than their dads spent with them.
Although this is a fantastic evolution, the blending of the gender roles has done much to confuse the male mind. Men want to spend more time with their children but also want to earn accolades on the job. Men want it both: to be the soccer dad and the vice president of a company.
As many working moms struggle with the dichotomy on a regular basis and feel like they’re failing at both, men are facing the same struggle. According to Boston College’s Center for Work & Family, 86% of dads agreed strongly that “my children are the number one priority in my life.” Although that’s all well and good, at the same time, more than three in four working fathers wished to advance to a position with greater responsibility, and three in five demonstrated a strong desire to reach senior management.
Boston College’s research proves that you also see dads grappling with perceptions of what they really want and the reality of how things really are. According to Pew Research, additionally, half of working dads say they find it very or somewhat difficult to balance the responsibilities of work and family.
So, taken all together what does this all mean? It means that most dads don’t feel like they’re living up to their at-home role. Almost eight in 10 dads want to spend more time with their children on the average work day, and half say that they spend too little time with their kids (only 23% of mothers say they feel that way).
How does a dad solve that ever-present, nagging healthy-work balance equation? Here are four definitive tips to get you on the road to doing so.(P.S. There is no right answer, only suggestions you can try to implement in your own life.)
1. It’s more of a balancing act
Balancing means shifting back and forth between responsibilities and finding a healthy, sane medium. Consider this: Concentrate on work while you’re at work, and when you’re home, your time should be fully devoted to kids. Shut your phone off and only check your emails if and when it’s absolutely dire. Separating both world should help with your focus to do the best you can in both worlds. No one said it was going to be easy, but it’s definitely worth it.
2. Understand there is not an end point
Sara Sutton Fell, the CEO of FlexJobs.com, a job search site focusing on companies that allow for flexible schedules and telecommuting. Her words of advice are such: Think of work-life balance as more of a journey than a destination.
Work-life balance is often mistaken as a goal that we will eventually reach and be done with it. Consider it more of a journey rather than a destination. You will be beating yourself up if you think that there is an end point to all of this. There is no right answer to any of this, but it’s best to just stay positive and keep balancing the best you can. You’ll get the hang of it eventually — after a while it becomes like any routine.
3. Find an employer that is more flexible
Try to find an employer that will embrace that flexibility, Fell says. This is great if your employer is more understanding that fathers are just as involved and important in their children’s lives as their mothers. It’s becoming more of an accepted thing in the workplace, and if it’s possible, again, look for an employer that is more flexible and forgiving when it comes to children/home responsibilities. Your child may be home sick one day, and you may have o take the day off from work to be there.
4. Just remember that you’re doing the best you can
And keep repeating that to yourself as many time as you can when you’re about to pull the hair out of your head. You have to try and overcome your own guilt, and that means accepting your limitations as parents, workers, and people. Make sure you set realistic goals for yourself, and remember, Super Dad, you are more engaged with your children now than previous generations, so all men collectively are doing better, if not up to your standards.