Written by: Matt Wilhelmi
Just the other day, I was enjoying a hazelnut coffee from Panera while meeting with a local business owner for our monthly coaching session. He confessed that his phone never seems to stop ringing and separating his work from his home life is one of the biggest challenges he’s facing. He’s not alone. Almost every business owner I’ve ever gotten to know, at one point or another, has shared some variation of the same predicament.
“It feels like having a work / life balance is impossible,” he said, “But how can I get out of this rut?”
Aside from being more effective at work, there are many benefits of spending quality time with our kids. A 2008 study found that kids who grew up with active fathers “were less likely to have behavioral and psychological problems. They were also more likely to be independent, intelligent and have improved social awareness.”
So what does having a better work / life balance look like and how do we get there?
Communicate with your spouse and kids
It’s important to tell them what’s going on. Try to let your spouse and, when they’re old enough, your kids know what’s going on at work. Don’t let them think you are gone for hours and hours each week doing nothing! You probably don’t want to hear them say they didn’t learn anything at school, or that nothing happened. So, let your spouse and kids know what you accomplished so they can be proud of you and know the time spent away isn’t in vain.
Schedule unstructured (quantity) time with your family
We’re all guilty of being busy, rushing from here to there. Schedule some hang out time with your family each week. Don’t turn on the TV for three hours and think this counts! What I’ve found is that through this quantity time, you will discover some quality time, too. This time could be spent building something, working towards something, or creating something. Use your imagination. This time should be spent interacting with your family.
Set goals for family time
Most of us have goals at work. Number of calls made, utilization metrics, income statements, and scorecards all are centered around measuring goals and expectations. Don’t set goals for your family without their input! Setting goals as a family is a productive way to be more purposeful with family time. You could even think about doing a community service project together or, for example, help at the local pet shelter.
Mentally decide when enough is enough
It’s important to work hard. Many of us take great pride in our work. If you want to have better work / life balance, you need to make a conscious decision about when to call the end of the day or week what it is. Don’t think you need to work every waking hour to make ends meet! Having a cut-off time, or some other metric, is important so you can both literally and deliberately tell yourself that the work will have to wait.
Take your spouse on a date (without the kids)
Whether your spouse works outside the home full time, works part time, or is a full time parent (which, by the way, is like 2 or 3 full time jobs), it’s important to take him or her out. Don’t think you have to spend tons of money! Even a meal at home (maybe one of you cook or you order) and a walk together through a park may work. It’s a great way to show your spouse you appreciate them and the hard work they do for the family. It’s also something you both can look forward to.
What are some other ways dads can have a better work / life balance?