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pleiades's avatar

What advice do you have for a dad balancing between wife, son & project oriented work?

Asked by pleiades (6571points) May 4th, 2014

As asked! Please share your life experiences. My father wasn’t present in my life, so I never got to see the balancing act. But believe I’m a highly driven individual, just need some help fine tuning the balance between project oriented work and family.

(Projects like art, music, literature)

I’m currently struggling at networking, (or plainly wanting to go out and build friendships with like minded individuals for instance at art galleries etc. My son is 2 years old, and I’d rather stay in with him, is there a point and time where you all of a sudden, “turned it on?”)

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6 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t have kids, but in my experience once children hit the age of 5 things get easier. My advice is if you want more than one, don’t have them too far apart. The first year is “the mother’s.” Not that the dad can’t help and partcipate, but especially if she is breastfeeding the mom usually is consumed with the baby. Then when a sibling comes in the next couple of years, the dad takes over with the toddler and the infant again is with the mother. That’s the usual routine. If you have inlaws and baby sitters that can afford you the time to pursue your own adult life outside of the kids then that’s great. The people I know who get to still go out a lot and pursue their interests, travel, and fun either had a mom-in-law they completely trusted who loved to take the kids, or they had a live in nanny.

Since you rather stay in with your 2 year old I don’t see a problem, it doesn’t seem like you aren’t doing what you want to do. As your son becomes more independent you will evolve also and need more things to fill your own time, going back to previous interests and discovering new ones.

funkdaddy's avatar

I have 21 month-old daughter, a wife, and work for myself, sometimes from home. I think of it as project oriented work and I think we probably face a lot of the same issues.

I don’t feel like I’ve got it all figured out by any means, but some things that have helped me get closer.

> Block off your time and let the others in your life know in advance what your schedule is. That lets them know when to expect you and to incorporate you into their plans, or not. For me, I’m “at work” from 9am to 7pm, regardless of where I’m working from. If I’m at the house and it’s lunch time, I love hanging with “my ladies” for some food, but other than that everyone knows that even if I’m at the house, it’s work time. 7pm to 10pm is family time, that’s all about getting the little one fed, washed, and off to bed, then having at least one good conversation with my wife each day. Nights are mine. Sometimes I end up working, sometimes I just unwind, sometimes that’s when personal projects can take off, sometimes I meet up with friends that don’t mind it being late.
> I try to focus on what’s in front of me, when I’m with my family, it’s about them and being a dad/husband, when I’m at work, it’s about getting it done.
> I consider networking part of my job, so work time gets used for that. That let’s me keep family time as clean as possible.
> Yes, I have less interesting, non-child related stories now than I used to. I do less fun/cool/interesting things than I used to. That’s OK. I’m putting that time and effort into my favorite tiny human. I used to try to take her places I wanted to go and realized (for me at least) it wasn’t usually worth it.
> My wife and I have an agreement that if she ever really needs me, she’ll be up front about it, and I won’t put anything before that. Pushing a project back a day or even upsetting a client isn’t worth harming the most important relationship I have.
> I get my daughter all weekend to myself (my wife works 12 hour shifts on weekends), so I try to keep her as the focus of that time. I don’t always get all my “chores” done, but we always have good time and she knows I love her. I’d say make sure you have time for just you and your son, regardless of what you do.

The hardest part for me is that I don’t really love having a schedule. I’d rather just do whatever is most important right then. What I finally figured out was that it was making me less reliable for the people around me, mostly because they didn’t know what to expect. Before I blocked off time, if I left my family for work, it was disappointing, like I was choosing the work over them. With a schedule that’s not the case, everyone knows I’m leaving and what I’m going to do, even the little one. So I’d say that would be my #1 piece of advice if your life is pretty free-form right now.

Other than that I think I’ve learned that there’s always a new deadline, meeting, trip to the park, family gathering or whatever. You’re going to miss something, do the best you can and keep positive.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

WOW! I want a man like that! ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Ask for help. Balance does not mean perfection. Balance means you stay sane enough to give a lot of yourself to the people and projects that matter.

Smitha's avatar

I must admit my husband is really good at managing the balance between family and work. He normally does not bring extra work home and if he really has to he allots a particular time frame to do it. This way we know that he will be doing work only for a certain time and then he would spent time with us, so we will be much more willing to wait. Practice keeping the same boundaries at work too. The most important thing is always stay connected with your family even when you are busy, by just calling your wife during lunch time, or sending messages etc.Keeping in touch with your family even while you are at work will help you all feel more emotionally close.

rojo's avatar

My father was always a good provider for our family growing up but not really a part of our day to day lives. But, maybe that is what it took to put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads. There was no doubt that he loved us, he just did not seem to have enough time. He actually got to spend more time involved with his grandchildren that his children.

I tried to do it differently, took a job close to home so that I could be there. The pay could have been better elsewhere but that would have meant uprooting the family and moving or spending more time commuting and less time with my wife and the kids. So. based on my childhood, I chose the family. Yes, there were things I missed, but I was heavily involved in the day to day activities, helped with sports coaching and transport, went to school plays and teacher conferences, went camping, hiking, rafting, etc. We did things together as a family. There were challenges along the way but we faced them and overcame them together.

As for turning it on, I never did, but for me work was a means to an end, not an end in itself. I did it to provide and to give us the little extras that made family life more fun. I can say that after all these years doing variations of the same thing, in the same field, it was easy to walk away from it and not look back.

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