One of the main issues that confront families and relationships is trying to achieve a balance between work and home life. The word balance tends to indicate a 50/50 arrangement however that’s a big ask. It’s more appropriate to talk about work and home integration to ensure we don’t get too out of balance.
There is no one perfect balance because every family is different, and every work place requirement is different. When machinery is not balanced it will wear and break, this can be the same consequence for family and couple relationships. All work and no play are problematic. Those busy times are necessary and explainable, but we need to ensure we have a catch-up.
So, what happens when we are not integrating work and home life in a balanced way?
- A disconnect can start to occur with our wife/partner, dad, kids, friends and relatives;
- Physical and mental well-being can be affected by issues like stress, anxiety, depression and fatigue;
- Resentment starts to infiltrate as perceived inequalities are felt around home duties, workload, parenting and intimacy;
- Feelings of disrespect, being ignored, being taken for granted, even feeling unloved may arise that can erode the quality of healthy family and couple relationships.
How do we get the balance right?
- Make couple time to communicate how you are each feeling;
- Keep a tab on work time verses home/family hours;
- Talk to your wife/partner/kids about your challenges of transitioning from work to home, so they can see your perspective and for you to see things from theirs;
- Talk/communicate with your partner about the type of parents you both want to be;
- If you are a new dad, take time off to help care and know your baby, help at night with feeding, dressing and that awful job of changing nappies;
- Allocate dad time, this can be every-day routines like taking/dropping kids off to school, the bus stop or sport. This will help develop and maintain connection with the kids by showing interest in their lives;
- It is also very important to leave some regular time for yourself.
How do I switch from work to home mode?
- Arrange your day to do the most difficult tasks first instead of at the end;
- Consider if it might be worth staying a little longer at work to finish up a task instead of bringing it home with you;
- Develop a ritual or routine to help you move from work mode i.e. change out of your work clothes and shower when you get home;
- Switch your thinking to the kids and home as you leave work, putting work to rest.
Being stressed and tired from a hard day’s work can contaminate the time you spend with your children. The family will know if you are present with them or if your head is elsewhere.
If your wife/partner/kids feel second best, feelings about their own self-worth can be affected.
To finish here are a couple of questions you might like to ask yourself: 1. what good memory would you like your children to have of you? 2. when comparing your own upbringing what would you do differently as a dad?
By The Regional Men’s Health Initiative