The National Fatherhood Initiative asked NFI’s Director of Corrections Programming, Nate Mathis, for his thoughts on balancing work and family and being the dad his kids need:
I never got one of those “World’s Greatest Dad” trophies or caps or the like. But then last year, as I looked through a box of memorabilia from my kids, there have been plenty of personal notes, cards and hand-made gifts that have said it to me a hundred ways. What man doesn’t want to be considered a GREAT dad!? But being a great dad takes some planning and forethought.
Thankfully, it’s still early enough to think ahead and get some great strategies for balance in 2009.
Family Dates or Family Nights. Before the calendar gets too crammed with meetings and travel appointments, block out time for regular family time: game night, night out, or regular dinners together. Be committed and be sure to let the kids see you’re taking time with/for mom too.
Family Vacation. Get mom’s and the kids’ school schedules now and find that all-too-elusive window of opportunity for everyone to have time off together and enjoy one another. Put it on the calendar now and guard it like a bulldog.
Set & Manage Workplace Expectations. Find ways to communicate and help your co-workers understand that your work is important to you, and so are your family commitments—and that you’re committed to holding them both in high priority without either one relegating the other to 2nd class status.
Stop Justifying. Don’t feel like you have to have a family emergency to justify spending invaluable time with your family. And stop justifying late hours spent at work to your kids. They spell love T-I-M-E, not I’m-Saving-Money-For-Your-College-Education. While that’s a crucial part of providing for you kids, you’ll never get back those years once they are grown.
Budget For The Future. Most of us work long hours because we want to provide for our family. Play with your budget and/or meet with an advisor or friend to see what you can do with a CD, Mutual Fund, or college fund while your kids are still young. Planning now will give you peace of mind about providing for your family without necessarily having to work all that overtime.
Take a Hike! Get out walking, or running with the kids at the end of the day. This will create a great way to wind down from the day’s busyness and give mom a break to boot (if the kids are home with her all day)! If you have a family dog, Rover will appreciate it too. This can be wonderfully therapeutic for everyone and it makes for better winding down at bed time too.
[ Article by | Fatherhood.org ]