When it comes to the topic of balancing having children and a career, focus is usually on mums – predominantly they are the ones who adjust their careers to be able to spend more time with the family, and some take the leap and start their own business to have the flexibility and freedom to fit the parenthood lifestyle. However, even though the internet is booming with information for business mums – from support groups to online magazines, dads who balance life between their families and businesses are getting significantly less attention. But just like for business mums, it’s an equal challenge to juggle the demands of both worlds for dads. So, we asked them directly to share their survival tips and ideas:
Learn to prioritise
Max Jennings, Co-founder of family activity app Hoop suggests investing time in prioritising your workload. “When you have children, your working day becomes a lot more defined, you’re forced to get better at prioritising, so that you can go home and enjoy time with them. At work I prioritise my time on a daily basis and make sure I’m spending it on where I can make the biggest contribution to our company’s growth. At home, I try to keep a pretty fixed routine, so my family know when I’ll be available.”
Some dads even make sure that family is a business priority and embed this approach in their company values. “Although it’s a struggle to juggle it all, we’ve made it a priority at Owlet to put family first. In fact, it’s our number one core value. I set aside time specific to my family each day. The company knows that I have blocked out this time for family and unless it is an emergency, they shouldn’t contact me during these hours. I encourage every employee to do the same.”, say Kurt Workman, a father of three and co-founder of Owlet Babycare.
Take advantage of technology
Dad to eight year old twins and owner of two businesses – The Prompt Payment Directory and Engage Digital, Hugh Gage suggests using mobile tech to make yourself available to clients and customers even if just to say you’ve received their message and you’re busy but will get back to them ASAP – just remember to do so! “Mobile tech and cloud computing services are your friends. Explain to your children that your mobile phone gives you the flexibility to spend more time with them during out of school hours, but try to make sure that you spend as little time as possible on it while you are with them. Show your kids what kind of work you do, so they feel included and inspired”
Work as a team
Discussing working schedules as a team with your partner and finding a rhythm that suits both for how you want to raise your child is essential to build some semblance of a work-life balance. “I thought about the kind of dad I wanted to be and where I wanted my children to grow up. You have to work with your partner as a team. My wife and I share the school drop offs, are present for all school performances and parent evenings and when the weekend comes I take the kids out on a Saturday morning.”, adds Max Jennings. Hugh Gage, also remarks on the importance of team work and remembering you have a partner without whom none of it would be possible.
Caspar Craven, entrepreneur and co-founder of personal development company The Brave You recommends creating a clear family story of your future which all the family is bought into, making sure everyone has their say in crafting the story, as well as creating a family blueprint of all the shared goals you are working towards linking why business success is important to that goal.
Separate work and family time as much as possible
Paul Woodger from Mivyy Creative recommends putting your phone out of reach when you come home as it’s easy to keep working when you leave the office. His view is that clients pay for the life you lead away from work as well as your services, so you should be present for your children even if you go back to work later.
“It’s difficult to balance time with the kids and work. I generally get home and work late on the computer with kids hanging onto me trying to get me to play. It sometimes takes a reminder from my wife to wake me up to this!”, says Andrew Dark from Custom Planet.
He recommends making sure you separate the two things as much as possible. When you leave the office and go home, spend time with the kids first, wait for them to go to bed and then crack on with work if you have to. If you’re in the fortunate position to be able to bring the kids to work at least they can see and understand what work is and why it’s important. Plus, you can get them grafting and instil work ethic into them, while spending some time with them.
Make the most out of sleep
Max Jennings believes that sleep gives you superpowers. “Before I became a parent I took sleep for granted, but since becoming a dad I really value my sleep and prioritise it as much as I can. Sleep makes you more patient, focused and gives you more confidence for work the next day. My wife and I are a team and take it in turns to get up in the night and look after the children, so that each of us can still have enough sleep and be able to achieve our goals the next day.”
Working around children’s sleep is also critical. “My wife went back to work part time after her maternity leave when our little one was 18mths old, so I juggled the time spent with our little one and tried to focus on work during his sleep times. When they’re at that age it’s fairly routine. However, when he changed to just sleep in the evening, that made me double the focus to get work done in that window. So, when our little one is up between 5 or 6am then I’ll get up and work for about 90min and let mum and baby have some time in bed together before they get up and she goes to work. I then usually take him to the park or we go for activities, so he’ll sleep in the afternoon and I can work then. Sometimes after he’s asleep in the evening, I will do some work for an hour or so. Of course, it can be a strain but in the early days of setting up on your own you have to make sacrifices – and for me I guess it’s my sleep”, adds Micky Khanna, Founder of GDPRPLAN.COM.