together we can change ourself

together we can change ourself

Eight Great Lessons From Working Dads

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By Kate Lorenz, Editor

Women aren’t the only ones who find juggling work and family a challenge. Men, too, are striving to find a balance between bringing home the bacon and spending quality time with their families. Here are some lessons from working dads who are successfully managing their work and home lives:

Lesson 1: Flexibility may be the key to happiness.
If it’s possible in your occupation, adopt a flexible schedule. Today, flex schedules are very common and range from compressed work weeks to telecommuting. Propose a flex schedule that starts and ends early so you can attend school functions or sporting events. Investigate opportunities to put in a four-day work week, four 10-hour days, to free up a whole day for field trips or to be home with the kids for an occasional in-service day or school holiday.

In his book “Working Fathers: New Strategies for Balancing Work and Family,” Jim Levine suggests coming up with “win-win” solutions to present to your boss and asking for your boss’ ideas to help you reach a workable balance once your discussion is under way.

Lesson 2: Develop a strong relationship with your boss.
There’s no question that having a solid and trusting relationship with your boss has its benefits. A boss who recognizes your loyalty to the company, your dedication to doing your best on the job, and your level of commitment to your family is likely to become your greatest advocate when it comes to allowing you time for family. Building a strong relationship takes time and is best accomplished through openness, honesty and loyalty.

Lesson 3: Know when to say no.
There will be times in your work life when it may be necessary to turn down or delay special projects or out-of-town trips in order to be present at an important family event.

Alan Weber, a marketing manager for a medium-sized manufacturing firm, was asked to attend a grand opening celebration for a new company warehouse on the same weekend as his daughter’s volleyball championship game. He told his boss about the conflict and was excused from the grand opening. Had he not spoken up, he would have likely missed this important event in his daughter’s life.

Lesson 4: Do your homework at home.
Many men find themselves staying late at the office to catch up on paperwork or e-mails. Instead, pack up your briefcase and laptop and plug in at home. Terry, who works at an office in the city, shares his home office with his kids a few nights a week — they work on their school projects; he works on his sales projections. Not only does this give them more time together, it reinforces that everyone has to do their “homework.”

Lesson 5: Take paternity leave.
While a fairly new option, a handful of progressive companies offer fathers paid time off, ranging from a few days to a few weeks, following the birth of a child. In July 2004, California lawmakers adopted a statewide family leave act that allows workers to receive up to six weeks of partially paid leave per year to care for a new child or seriously ill family member. There are some restrictions, but the benefit will replace up to 55 percent of wages, up to a capped amount per week.

You may also consider taking advantage of the national Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Though unpaid, it does allow you to take up to 12 weeks off. Check with your human resource or benefits representative to understand how the FMLA applies to your situation.

Lesson 6: Take all of your vacation.
Many American workers fail to take all of the vacation time they earn, and some who do often feel guilty about being away from work. But savvy working dads recognize the value of time off from the office and time well-spent with their families.

Jeff, who works at a metal fabrication shop, uses part of his vacation time to attend summer Boy Scout camp with his 12-year-old. “It’s a great way for me to share a special time with my son, and I have a chance to relax in the outdoors. I come back to work rejuvenated and feel a closer bond with my boy.”

Lesson 7: Fast forward 30 years.
Are you happy with the decisions you made? Take a moment and ask yourself, “Is my work consuming me?” If the answer is yes, you may need to take a closer look at your life to get things in better balance. Upon reflection, rarely will a retired executive say he wished he had spent more time at the office. Most often, you’ll hear him say he would give anything to have spent more time with his kids as they grew up. The lesson here is to take the time now to figure out what’s important and act on it to avoid regrets later on.

Lesson 8: Seize the day.
It’s unlikely that whatever led to your out-of-balance life will change without some personal intervention. After more than 15 years in sales, Jim Cozzi got tired of the travel, long hours alone in his car, and missing all of his sons’ ball games. He recently decided to go back to school to get his teaching degree. Not only will teaching provide him with a better quality of life, when he graduates his kids will still be young enough to appreciate his involvement in their activities. If your current job demands aren’t likely to change, perhaps it’s time to change jobs.

Kate Lorenz is the article and advice editor for She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.

Written by Bhushan Kulkarni

January 29, 2007 at 11:19 am

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