Balancing Work and Parenting: How to Be There for Your Kids
Do your kids complain that you work too much?
Want tips on how to prioritize your responsibilities?
To learn more about balancing work and parenting, I interview Wayne Parker for this episode of the Parenting Adventures podcast.
More About This Show
The Parenting Adventures podcast is a show from My Kids’ Adventures.
It’s for parents (and grandparents) who are looking for creative things to do with their kids.
The show format is on-demand talk radio (also known as podcasting).
In this episode, I interview Wayne Parker, who writes about fatherhood for About.com and blogs at PowerDads.com. He’s also the author of the forthcoming book, Power Dads: The 10 Basic Principles Successful Fathers Use to Raise Happy and Responsible Children.
Wayne shares tips for maintaining balance between work and family.
You’ll discover how to be more present when you spend time with your kids and how to have more quality time.
Share your feedback, read the show notes and get the links mentioned in this episode below!
Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:
Work and Parenting
The challenge of work-life balance
Wayne explains that all parents struggle with the attempt to balance work, life, family, personal needs and so on.
According to a study done by Strategy One a few years ago, 90% of Americans believe work-life balance is a problem. Of those people, more than half feel it’s a significant problem. About 60% of those believe their employer is doing a fair amount to help. That’s still a significant number of people who feel their employers are more of a problem than a solution. About 45% of men in the major working demographic (34-54) feel they don’t have adequate work-life balance.
It was much easier 20 or 25 years ago to maintain balance, Wayne says. Jobs were 9-5, and it was easy to engage with your family at the end of the workday. Today, jobs are no longer on a set schedule, since technology keeps us connected to work.
Wayne recalls a time when bosses would send him email at 3am, and expect him to respond. That’s no longer the case for him, but most working parents are constantly on the clock.
Listen to the show to find out the benefits of disconnecting.
The biggest struggles working parents face
Wayne believes being constantly plugged in is a huge issue for parents.
This is especially noticeable where work is concerned. If someone has a work question via text or email, no matter what the time of day, there’s an expectation that you’ll respond. The result: there are no clear lines between work time and family time.
Wayne says there’s a double standard when family interrupts work time. We have a guilt factor when family calls during work, but we don’t feel that way when work calls during the family hour.
Listen to the show to find out what Wayne does to make sure people who enter his home disconnect.
Signs that show you place work above family
Our families will let us know when we’re out of balance. Wayne shares that some hints are subtler than others. You need to listen to your kids’ cues.
For example, if your child taps you on the shoulder while you’re on your laptop and says, “Dad I’m talking to you,” you need to be more aware. One time, when Wayne was reading, his daughter came up to him, grabbed him by the chin and turned his face around. She said, “Dad, pay attention to me.”
One way to keep track of time spent as a family is to count the number of family meals you have together in a week. Keep a running tally, put it on the fridge and see if you can grow that number over time.
Wayne suggests you set aside a weekly family night when everybody’s home, even if it’s just for an hour, same night every week. Then add an element of fun in order to engage your kids. Play a game, ask what’s the craziest thing that happened at school last week or talk about their favorite book or video game.
Once you get them talking, then you can ask gentle questions, like, “How would you rate me as a dad on a scale of 1 to 10? Why?”
Listen to the show to learn how to set boundaries with work.
How to prioritize time with your kids
Wayne believes you should prioritize your kids the same way you would take on a big project at work: think it through, plan ahead, calendar the time and don’t let things get in the way of accomplishing it.
With family time, create sacred time. Turn off the phone and don’t respond to email. Tell people at work when you have scheduled family time, and let them know that you’ll respond after the kids go to bed.
Listen to the show to learn why employers like employees who are dedicated to family.
The importance of saying “no”
Decide what is the best use of your time based on your values, Wayne suggests. Is your best use of time to be your kids’ soccer coach or to engage in a project at home where you have more one-on-one time? Make choices in light of your limited resources, especially when your most limited resource is time.
When you say no, it’s important to not be apologetic.
Wayne lives in a community where the late Stephen Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) and his wife Sandra were his neighbors. Wayne explains how the Coveys got tapped to do all kinds of things, and shares the language Sandra used to decline opportunities without diminishing the value for someone else.
Listen to the show to hear how overcommitting leads to guilt.
Activities that will connect you to your kids
Find activities that your kids like to do to connect with your kids.
Wayne says he always set a monthly date with his daughters. They’d have lunch, go to the Disney store or do whatever it was they were into at the time. Wayne’s son-in-law does something similar with his daughters, except they go to Home Depot.
Wayne and his sons like the great outdoors, so they hike in the canyon and camp out.
When you find activities to do with your kids and then give them undivided attention, there’s a lot of satisfaction on everyone’s part. Plus, you’ll create great memories.
Listen to the show to find out how developing an emotional bank account will help when you have to discipline your kids.
Parenting Adventures Tip
Backyard Water Park Obstacle Course
My Kids’ Adventures’ Jennifer Ballard and Kristin Ammerman share a fun way to get your kids outside having fun this summer: make a backyard water park obstacle course.
It’s like playing in the sprinklers with a twist. All you need is water and enthusiastic kids.
Here are some of the obstacles you can create in your yard.
Make a snare trap: curl a water hose and have your kids hop through it.
Create a crab maze: line up rolled towels. Then have your kids crab-walk through the maze.
Construct a “tightrope”: Set up a 2 x 4 wooden board on a flat area of grass. Then have your kids walk across it while carrying a bucket of water on their heads. Don’t spill!
Be sure to set up all the challenges in a loop, so your kids can go through them again and again.
Listen to the show to learn how to add math, exercise and a treat to your water park obstacle course.
Key takeaways mentioned in this episode:
- Check out Wayne Parker’s websites: Fatherhood on About.com and PowerDads.com.
- Connect with About Fatherhood on Facebook.
- Follow @FatherhoodGuide on Twitter.
- Read more about Strategy One’s Work-Life Balance survey.
- Discover how to turn your backyard into a water park.
Ways to subscribe to the Parenting Adventures podcast:
What do you think? What are your tips for balancing work and family? Please leave your comments below.
Images from iStockPhoto.
I am a dad of three kids, the founder of My Kids' Adventures and the founder of Social Media Examiner. I also host the Parenting Adventures podcast. Other posts by Michael Stelzner »