Before the industrialization age most men learned the trade of their fathers. A lot of times the trades they learned kept them close to home where they could work closely with their children and their spouse. Then came a time when fathers began to work away from the home.
Historian John Demos says,
“The wrenching apart of work and home-life is one of the great themes in social history. And for fathers, in particular, the consequences can hardly be over estimated…. Of course, fathers had always been involved in the provision of goods and services to their families; but before the nineteenth century such activity was embedded in a larger matrix of domestic sharing…. Now, for the first time, the central activity of fatherhood was cited outside one’s immediate household. Now, being fully a father meant being separated from one’s children for a considerable part of every working day” (Demos 1986, The Changing Faces of Fatherhood, in Past, Present, Personal: The Family and The Life Course in American History; New York: Oxford University Press, 51-52).
Now here we are in the 21st Century where we find fathers working outside of the home. It may not seem odd to us today that this is how life is, but to those pre-industrialized families it would be odd for them to have their fathers working away from home. But this is how life is now, fathers work outside the home. So now the question is how do fathers maintain a work life balance so both their careers and their families don’t become neglected?
Ideas on how to maintain a work-life balance for fathers:
- Choose a career that fits the needs of your family life. This may be different for every man and family. (1) To do this pick a career that will cause you to feel energized and excited about life. (2) Be a good employee. This will open up future opportunities with flexible work-life balance. (3) Choose a job that leaves enough time for family.
- Let your family be present at your workplace. What this means is (1) having a picture of your family displayed prominently where you work. (2) Call home during lunch and on breaks to talk. (3) Encourage children to call you at work to talk about whatever they have on their minds. (4) Bring your children to work so they can see what it is that you do.
- Use your commute time for personal and family development. If you use mass-transit you could (1) read and study up on what you can be doing to be a better father. (2) Plan family activities and family vacations.
- Make the best of your time when you have to travel out of town. (1) Use frequent flyer miles to occasionally bring your wife and/or children. (2) While away from home select a different child to talk to on the phone for an extended period of time. (3) Have your children fax/email their homework to you, so you can see what they have been doing.
- Create family time by using flexible work options. (1) Work a 4/10 schedule. (2) Use work leave to spend time with family especially during major events like the birth of a baby. (3) Go to work early and then volunteer at your child’s school in the afternoon.
- When you are home from work, really be home from work. (1) Don’t bring work pressures and frustrations into the home. (2) Use your commute home to wind down. (3) Mentally prep yourself to be available to your family once you walk through the door.