For decades, "work-life balance" was the mantra of working mothers, while dads devoted their time to climbing the corporate ladder. But the tides have been shifting, and with each new generation, fathers are becoming more and more involved in family life. Men are no longer choosing between career success and time with their children: Like women, they want to have both.
Care.com is a site that matches individual and corporate clients with qualified care providers. Chris Duchesne, Care.com's vice president of global workplace solutions, is a working father who sees a strong trend toward work-life balance for men with families.
"This generation of fathers are expected to be able to flex how, when and where they do their work," Duchesne said. "These fathers expect recognition of their personal lives from their employers and colleagues. As a group, they are more willing to forgo promotions and pay for flexibility, time with family, and autonomy."
According to Duchesne, employers are recognizing that dads and moms alike crave work-life balance, and are offering flexible work policies and programs to support their employees' family needs, whether it's watching the kids or caring for aging relatives. The best employers, he said, really want their employees to feel like they can succeed in both their personal and professional lives.
Duchesne offered five tips for working dads to balance their careers and their families:
Identify what work-life success means to you. Is it making every recital? Coaching the Little League team? Or is it being responsible for the kids and their activities every weekend. You can't achieve success if you haven't first defined your goals and what success looks like.
Consider your work-life balance timeline. "Balance" can be a misnomer, setting working dads up for expectations they can't meet and a sense of failure. At any given time, either work or your personal life will receive more attention. It’s not possible to have balance every day. Take a long-term view and strive over time to give attention to each.
Recognize that you won't always get it right. Reflect each week on how successful you were in your goals at work and at home. Discuss with your family and get their feedback. Learn from your experience, identify challenges and outline strategies to be more successful going forward.
Integrate your work and personal life. Technology has brought our work and personal lives together. "Leaving it at the office" is a quaint concept—we are always connected. You can't completely wall one off from the other, so think about approaches that allow you to effectively integrate the two. Use the same calendar (yes, on your smartphone) for both your personal commitments and work. Don't treat the two as if they are separate, because they are not. You'll often have to make choices, or at least plan and arrange your calendar and priorities effectively between the two.
Be confident in your decisions to participate with your family. Achieving work-life balance won't have a negative impact on your career. While it may feel uncomfortable, the reality is that your peers and colleagues will often recognize you for your independence and leadership. If you did a good job defining what success looks like for you personally, you can be happy and proud of the decisions you make.
"Whether a formal policy exists or not, clear communication and expectation setting are key to achieving work arrangements that can help you be successful," he said. "If your employer is not providing the partnership and solutions you need to help you be successful, push them to do so!"
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