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Sunday, February 13, 2005

 

A great article about father's desire to have better balance at home

Working dads seek balanced life
Although moms often get the press, more fathers are doing the job-kids juggling act for love of family

Tips for working fathers Tips for dads looking for work/life balance:•
Don't feel guilty for needing time to yourself.
Work out.
Get in a round of golf.
Watch a football game.•
Recognize you can't do it all.•
Realize your value as an employee and a parent.
You can ask for some perks, too, like flex time or telecommuting.•
Remember, the company won't fall apart if you put off some work until tomorrow.•
Prioritize and set goals. (Examples: Try not to take work home on the weekends. Eat dinner every night with the family.)•
Ask to be connected to the office at home. If you need to do work after hours, at least you're still at home.•
Plan some alone time each week with the children.

Sources: Best Life magazine; Star research
Family matters

Spending time with family is an important concern for working men.

Father’s time spent with kids daily:• 1997: 1.8 hours• 2002: 2.7 hours College-educated men wanting to move into jobs with more responsibility:• 1997: 68%• 2002: 52%

Would you take a pay cut if you were guaranteed to leave work by 5 p.m. every night?• Yes: 46%• No: 54%

What men say is essential to living a balanced life:
Spending time with family84%
Time for hobbies38%
Home in time for dinner with family37%
Time for religion34%
Having more disposable income 30%
Spending time with friends28%
Time for exercise26%
Time for mentoring or volunteering11%

If presented with an extra hour each day, most men would:
Spend time with family 38%
Do household chores15%
Pursue a hobby11%
Exercise or play sports11%
Have sex8%
Sleep4%
Read3%
Catch up with friends 3%
Watch TV or use on the computer 2%
Volunteer 1%

Note: Multiple responses were allowed.Sources: Families and Work Institutes' Generation & Gender in the Workplace; Best Life poll of 500 men on men and balance, a telephone survey of 500 men in August 2004 (respondents were ages 25 to 59 employed full time with household incomes of $50,000 or more, married, living with a partner or separated/divorced/widowed with kids living in the house).


By Dana Knight
dana.knight@indystar.com
January 9, 2005

Gonzalo Hernandez works long, pressure-packed days at the Mexican restaurant he manages.
Then he rushes off to pick up his 8-year-old daughter, Lexes, from her after-school program.
He rocks 2-month-old Adair. Cleans up the dinner table. Helps with homework. Plays games, and then gets 4-year-old Allan and 2-year-old Lindsay ready for bed.
As a working dad, that perfect work/life balance often eludes him.
"Sometimes, it gets a little tough when the kids get sick or there are extra things to do," said Hernandez, 27, manager of Qdoba Mexican Grill Downtown. "If I had more time, I would definitely spend it with my wife and kids."
Often forgotten in the plethora of research and self-help resources for working moms are the men who shoulder just as much of the family-plus-career responsibility.
Like their female counterparts, they are desperate to find a way to juggle it all.
Dads today spend 50 percent more time with their children -- 2.7 hours a day -- than they did 25 years ago, but they are working just as much, according to a 2004 study by the Families and Work Institute.
When asked the No. 1 element essential to a balanced life, 84 percent of men said it is spending time with family, according to a Best Life magazine poll.
And in a surprising workplace survey by the Society for Human Resource Management in 2004, men ranked the need to balance work and home life higher than their female colleagues.
"Men don't want to be stick figures in their kids' lives," said Jeff Csatari, executive editor of Best Life magazine. "They want to be very involved in their kids' lives, far more than their fathers were. All of this is adding to the time crunch burden."
Time to do all that's needed with work and family often is a seemingly unreachable goal.
"I'm not always satisfied with how I'm doing either one," said Max Beasley, a social studies teacher at Arlington High School and father of two sons, Chris, 17, and Jarrett, 9. "I feel like I am doing the best I can. I figure we try to learn and grow and leave it at that."
Beasley, who lives in Mooresville, likes the flexibility a teacher's schedule allows him, so he can pick Jarrett up from school.
He starts his day in the classroom at 5:30 a.m. so he can leave when school lets out at 2:45 p.m.
But if he had an extra hour in his day, Beasley said how he would spend it is clear.
"With my family, my kids," he said.
Most men agree with Beasley. The Best Life survey asked men what they would do if they had that extra hour. The No. 1 answer was to be with family and kids, 38 percent, while the second-most-popular answer, 15 percent, was doing household chores.
"Clearly, I'd spend that hour at home with my kids and family," said Chris Felts, a 36-year-old attorney with Barnes & Thornburg in Indianapolis. "There's no way I would do anything else."
Felts, the father of 3-year-old twins Patrick and Madeline and 3-month-old Jacqueline, has concocted his own balance.
While the kids are asleep in the mornings, he works out. Then he goes to the office early so he can be home when the kids are awake.
He and his wife, Paje, also an attorney, try their best to have family dinners together every night.
Felts attributes his success at being an involved father to an understanding work environment.
"Our firm is good about being flexible," he said. "My hunch is that other firms and corporations are doing the same. And if they're not, they should be."
Dad-friendly employers
Father-friendly has taken on a new meaning. It's not just about paternity leave after the birth of a child, according to James Levine, director of The Fatherhood Project, at the Families and Work Institute in New York City.
Major corporations are expanding their support to fathers, like IBM Corp., which offers free compact discs and tips sheets on topics such as becoming a dad and what infants need from fathers. Ernst & Young has regular "dad group" meetings.
Barnes & Thornburg has upgraded its systems so that dads can access work-related materials at home. The firm also has equipped workers with laptops and other technology so they can build their careers around their lives.
"Clearly we try to be flexible," said Bob Grand, managing partner of the Indianapolis office, with more than 300 employees. "We realize how important it is. Whether you're a senior partner or a younger partner, most of us have had children."
In addition to the work connections, Grand said the firm allows its employees to take time off for doctor appointments or school events.
Eli Lilly and Co., often lauded for its efforts to accommodate working mothers, offers just as much to its fathers, like flexible work arrangements, including flextime, flex weeks, part-time hours, job sharing and telecommuting, as well as paid leave for new fathers.
Another employer who understands the need for a work-life balance is Greg Willman, co-owner of Qdoba restaurants.
The 42-year-old is a father of a two-year-old boy and twin boys born last month.
"I really have tried to manage my schedule a little more differently so I can be available," said Willman, who drops his 2-year-old off at preschool and picks him up each day. "I probably have a heightened understanding that those needs exist, and we try to accommodate it as best we can."
Willman will assign employees to stores that are close to their children's schools and work around doctor appointments and sick kids.
Society is slowly but surely beginning to accept that the role of the father isn't just about working and bringing in money but being nurturing and caring and spending quality time with the kids.
"If men work too much, they are going to forget about other sorts of things, like family," said Richard McGowan, a lecturer in business ethics and applied philosophy at Butler University. "When your life is out of balance, it doesn't roll properly."
Media reports and Hollywood movies that focus on women's needs as mothers don't make it easy for dads to ask for those family-related perks at work, McGowan said.
"If a man were to take a leave of absence for the kids, it kills a career," he said. "For women who do, that's expected."
Mr. Mom
But more dads are taking on the part-time, stay-at-home, work-from-home roles.
The number of stay-at-home dads has increased by more than 20,000 in the past decade, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. There are 105,000 stay-at-home dads with children under 15, according to 2002 figures. It's a fraction of the more than 5 million mothers who stay at home, but growing nonetheless.
Other fathers are keeping their full-time jobs and working around their children.
Like Steve Hanson, 36, a salesman whose office is in his home.
When Hanson has to travel, he sometimes schedules appointments around 11-month-old Brooke.
He might wait for her 9 a.m. nap -- and work while she sleeps -- then take her to day care, rather than having her go at 7 a.m. with his wife, Jennifer.
And some days, when he is not traveling, he closes the door to his office with Brooke and lets her play in papers and books while he checks e-mails and makes contacts.
"She's pretty good at playing, and I can actually take phone calls in the office," he said. "I know she's still with me, and that's nice."
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