Your Input On The Work-Home Life Balance

Previous Months' Topics

Below are comments from members of the Fathers for Good Facebook group.

Carlos
I make sure to put myself into the routine at home. I am in charge of the baths and bedtime routine. I work when I am at work and leave it at the door or until the kids are asleep.

Jim I try with varying success to do what Carlos described. Trying to schedule out home time as diligently as I schedule out work time has been helpful. It seems a little cold, but I wouldn’t move a client appointment for anything but an emergency, so play time with the kids gets the same respect.

Valentin
That is a constant problem. It can also be a source of perpetual guilt, because if you are working, your family needs you at home. If you are at home, you aren’t doing as much as you could/should to provide for them.

Joseph
A few years ago, we had my wife cut back to part time. In April, she stopped working. We are lucky because I earn a good salary but also, because most of her salary was being eaten up by taxes – why work so that the government can take most of it? I no longer worry about getting everything done at night. She handles most things and is able to follow-up on things we have let drop over the years.

Bill
As a computer programmer, I’ve found a good balance between work and home life. However, this means sacrificing some evenings and sleepless nights to finish a project. Other times it requires taking a comp day to address some issues at home. Either way, the key is being open with your employer and being trustworthy in all other criteria so you are granted the levity to adjust your schedule as necessary.

I’ve also had a young boss who didn’t have a clue about this, which affected my balance. The market is fragile, so my recommendation is to keep your firm “family-first” footing but tread lightly in expanding your rights with your employer.

Bob
I would shift the topic to family versus everything else. Work and all other extracurricular activities contend with our attention to the family. The issue is that we must evaluate non-family distractions and determine if the activity encourages or discourages our role as husband and/or father. Going to work is a holy activity when our hearts and minds are focused on providing for our family. However if we seek fame and fortune (for fame and fortune’s sake) our family will suffer, regardless of the time spent away or the financial success we win.

Non-work-related activities take away from our focus as well. How many fathers are simply drivers in the evenings/weekends because the kids are involved in various extra-curricular activities? Last time I checked the number of professional athletes was very low compared to the number of prep sports participants. Is spending hours and hours in a sport the best thing for a child? I don't know. What I do know is that no matter the child’s desires, spending time as a family and learning how to be a Christian is infinitely more important.

Gonzalo
I am a teacher at a private boarding school in south-central PA. As it is a boarding school, we have a thing called the “triple threat,” which means I have a full load of four classes to teach, two seasons of assistant coaching (our season lasts 12-16 weeks, about 20 hours per week), and dorm duty (25 hours per month). This does not include other duties as assigned and mandatory meals throughout the week that we must attend. I work, on average, about 55 hours per week on the off season (winter), and about 70 hours per week during season (fall, spring).

My wife and three kids (ages 7, 7 and 2) suffer by not seeing me as often as they could. My wife often brings them to tennis practice so that, afterward, we go to dinner together in the dining hall. Otherwise, I’d be home too late to see them, especially on dorm duty nights. Saturdays, we have tennis matches during the season, which means 12-5 if we are home and, since we play in a boarding school league, 9a-8p if we are away as the drive is often 2-4 hours.

So my life is very hectic. However, because I have a very good salary and I get the perks of being afforded a 4br/2.5ba house and being able to eat at the dining hall for free (aside from the assigned times), my wife and I have chosen this life. Our children will also be able to attend my school (9-12) when old enough for free ($40,000/year). So these are sacrifices we are making. We make sure that when I am in off-season we spend lots of time together.

Of course, we also go to Mass on Sundays and the boys (twins) will be making their first Communion this year, so I have already made arrangements to be free that weekend from any duties. When I am not away on Saturdays of tennis season, we have “family night” which means we play games with the kids (video or board games), watch a family movie, or go out together to the park, the lake, or places like Chuck E. Cheese, which the kids like.

However, life can be rough during season. It has led to some difficult times during our marriage and some bad decisions which we are working on mending and fixing. We now make time for ourselves, hiring a babysitter and going out just the two of us on Fridays, and going to dinner and/or a movie. We make time to go to Mass. We are making time to pray together, although we are inconsistent about that and need to improve on that.

Sorry this is so long, but yeah, life can be busy and it can be rough on our marriage. God keeps us in love and together and we are blessed with our children. We count our blessings every day and after the kids go to bed at 8:30, it is “we time” and we snuggle up to talk, watch TV, pray, and dream. That's what it's all about.