On Preventing Work (and Blogging) from Stealing Family Time

(or, keeping my son from calling me “blah blah blah boring business work man”)

We need to prioritize family time and shield it from the creeping demands of work. How I resolve to do better in Year Two of writing Fathers, Work and Family, and a reminder for us all.

Here's me, hard at work on the blog. Nick hates walking into the living room and seeing me here
Here’s me, hard at work on the blog. Nick hates walking into the living room and seeing me here

Work-Family Balance is Hard, Even for “The Expert”

A few weeks ago, I celebrated the first anniversary of Fathers, Work and Family (a blogaversary!)

While I am grateful for all the blog, and especially you have given me this past year (see the recent “Thank you” post), my first year as a blogger and as a public advocate for fathers’ work-family issues has also been a lot of work. I now find myself balancing my actual career, my family AND this blog and its related ventures. More on my plate than ever before.

On the blog, I have encouraged my fellow busy, working, highly-involved dads to prioritize family time and shield it from the creeping demands of after-hours work. Overall, I am happy that I’ve remained a consistent involved presence for Amy and Nick. But I am not immune to this challenge, and the extra work involved with the blog has sometimes made it hard for me to live by own advice.

The great part about my career as a business school professor and a developing writer is that I have a lot of flexibility in where and when works gets done. The downside is that, because of the flexibility, I can always be working and it is hard to turn off my mental to-do list.

Amy could not be more supportive, but she sometimes bristles at the amount of time I spend on my laptop in my “writing chair.” Nick gets a lot of me, but as a brutally honest 8 year old, he sometimes complains that when I’m working instead of playing with him, I’m being “blah blah blah boring business work man” and that “work isn’t the most important thing.”

He’s right.

A New Year’s Resolution

Nick's right. Moments like this need to be protected from the creeping demands of work
Nick’s right. Moments like this need to be protected from the creeping demands of work

While I do a pretty good job with balance, I sometimes need a reminder. We all do. So, for my Year-Two-of-the-Blog-New-Year’s-Resolution, the next time I catch myself bleeding my work and blog time into family time, I’ll make myself reread the following passage from my favorite author, Bill Bryson. This passage from his book “I’m A Stranger Here Myself“reminds me why I started this blog in the first place and to put first things first.

This may get a little sentimental, and I’m sorry, but yesterday evening I was working at my desk when my youngest child came up to me, a baseball bat perched on his shoulder and a cap on his head, and asked me if I felt like playing a little ball with him. I was trying to get some important work done before going away on a long trip, and I very nearly declined with regrets, but then it occurred to me that never again would he be seven years, one month, and six days old, so we had better catch these moments while we can.

So we went out onto the front lawn and here is where it gets sentimental. There was a kind of beauty about the experience so elemental and wonderful I cannot tell you – the way the evening sun fell across the lawn, the earnest eagerness of his young stance, the fact that we were doing this most quintessentially dad-and-son thing, the supreme contentment of just being together – and I couldn’t believe that it would ever have occurred to me that finishing an article or writing a book or doing anything at all could be more important and rewarding than this.

Powerful stuff. A great reminder for someone who started his blog when his son was seven years, four months, and three days old. A great reminder for all of us.

How do you check yourself when you find work time encorach on family time? Any tips to share? Let’s discuss in the comments section.

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9 thoughts on “On Preventing Work (and Blogging) from Stealing Family Time

  1. That passage from Bill Bryson is fantastic, it does a great job of talking about priorities. I generally try to work on my blog when our son is asleep and when my wife is doing something else. As it happens, I almost lost my thread in this comment as our son woke up and I’ve just changed his nappy before coming back to the computer and remembering what I was in the middle of saying!

  2. This is so very true. It happens a lot with me personally where I work longer hours, and then I forget to keep the time for family and the children. I like the Quote: The most important thing a dad can do is to BE THERE.

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