You’re All Done Working, Daddy

Modern Parent
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I don’t want my kids to wake up on Mondays thinking they have to ‘get through the next 5 days.

I don’t want to only have a relationship with my kids on the weekends.

If I don’t control when I work, all three of those fears will become realities

Shifting my career

Before my son was born, I routinely worked from 6 AM to 8 PM, often away from the house. Completing a physical therapy orthopedic residency followed by running 10 clinics takes time.

Once my son was born I realized I needed a change.

I changed roles which afforded more flexibility to work from home. Once the pandemic hit, my time in the clinic plemmeted, leaving me working from home four days a week.

While the work demand remained — closer to home this time — I was reminded that perception is reality.

When is Daddy done?

Every time I step out of my home office, my son looks at me and says “you’re all done working” with a giant smile on his face. The hope is evident.

Nine times out of ten, I am not done. I am stepping out of the room to grab some food, speak with my wife — she often works from home — or use the bathroom. I will take a few minutes to chat with Charlie (he is three, limiting the depth of the conversations) but ultimately return to work shortly.

I am fortunate to have the opportunity to often work from home. It does present challenges, however. It difficult to ‘shut off’ at the end of the day as the work is always available.

Setting limits

I set firm stop times for myself. Often this results in work be pushed into the evenings or weekend nap times — Charlie nap times that is.

It’s an easy tradeoff.

I want to maximize every opportunity I have to be with my children.

As a toddler, Charlie has his infuriating moments. It doesn’t matter. What matters is I am playing with him.

I will make the most of every situation I am in.

The pandemic has been brutal for social relationships. It is harming my child's social development. Therefore, my wife and I seek any opportunity we can to enhance his social development. Part of that is spending more time with him.

That means fewer books and skipping TV shows. Easy decisions.

It also means shorter workouts and less sleep. Less than ideal, but we can make it work.

We got into a groove.

Then we had a second child.

Raising a pandemic baby

All the challenges were magnified the day Caroline was born (infants still think sleep is for the week). The primary driver of the challenge was my mindset did not change.

I want a great relationship with my kids — every day.

My wife and I understand this is a season of life. I have put ‘pandemic side hustles’ I started during the aforementioned groove on the side.

While I love podcasting and still have dreams of publishing a book, they are not the priority.

My wife and I still struggle with finding the right balance.

Linday has taken on a new career — real estate — and my job’s travel has resumed. Our mindset regarding a children remain firm, but we are running out of areas to trim.

Our marriage, our physical health, our mental health still need to be cared for. We fit in lunch and coffee dates when we can. I have changed to high intensity interval training workouts to cut down time. We started watching the Marvel TV shows for some down time one night a week.

It all helps.

My kids won’t remember the pandemic. They won’t understand the challenges parents went through.

It doesn’t matter.

What matters is that we have a great relationship and that my children grow up cared for, loved, and invested in.

What about you? Where challenges have you faced balancing work and family life? How have you managed the socialization challenges with young children?

I’d love to hear the strategies that have worked for you.

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